Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago - Julia D. Cowles

Marcus Enters Grammar School

After their return from the farm, Marcus, still attended by Glaucon, entered the grammar school.

This school was quite different from the elementary. The walls of the room were decorated with marble tablets; busts of authors were placed here and there; and lutes, to be used in studying music, were hung upon the walls.

When Marcus first entered this school, he looked about the beautiful room, and then at his book, the first one that he ever had owned. It was "The Odyssey," a poem of the Trojan War, written by the Greek poet, Homer. Marcus' heart filled with pride, and he determined to do his best to win the praise of his new master.

Because of Glaucon's careful teaching, Marcus could speak the Greek language well. But now he would learn to read and write it, also.

In Rome, every boy was expected to be ready for the duties of a soldier, so that he could serve his country well in time of war. This was made a part of the training of the grammar school.

Every day, Tullius and Marcus went together to the Campus Martius, where they were given lessons in riding, wrestling, running, leaping, and boxing. They also had lessons in swimming, for a Roman soldier never knew when he might have to swim a stream that lay across the army's line of march. The river Tiber, which flows through Rome, bounded the Campus Martius on two sides, and gave the boys a fine place for swimming.

The Campus itself was a large, level, open space between the Tiber and two of the seven famous hills of Rome. It was a fine place for all kinds of athletic exercises and military drills, and it was called the playground of Rome.

The schoolboys enjoyed this part of their military training immensely, and groups of citizens often gathered to watch them at their exercises.

"Oh, I wish I were old enough to drill as Marcus does," sighed Lucius one day.

"You will learn to be a soldier quite soon enough, my son," said Gaia. "And, besides, you can begin even now to practise being a soldier."

"How can I do that?" asked Lucius eagerly.

"By being brave, and manly, and obedient," said Gaia. "A soldier, you know, obeys commands instantly. A very small boy can practise that."

"Yes," replied Lucius, "I will try to do that; but I wish I could ride, and swim, and run, and wrestle, too."

"Would you like to go to the Campus Martius, some day, and watch Marcus and Tullius at their exercises and athletic drills?" asked Gaius.

"Oh, yes, indeed, Father," cried Lucius eagerly.

"Very well," said Gaius, "I will take you with me to see them."

Lucius ran to tell Terentia, for this would be almost as nice as taking part in the exercises themselves.

"Oh, Marcus," he called, when Marcus came in to dinner, "Father has promised to take me to the Campus to watch you and Tullius drill."

"That will be fine," said Marcus, "but I hope my horse will not throw me when you are there, as he did to-day."

"Were you hurt?" asked Lucius. "How did it happen?"

"He had not been ridden for a day or two and was feeling pretty good, and I was perhaps a bit careless in handling the reins. No," Marcus added, answering the first question last, "I was not hurt, but I had a pretty good shaking, which I can feel in my bones yet."

"What did the riding master say?" asked Lucius, who was as full of questions as boys of his age usually are.

"Fortunately," replied Marcus with a laugh, "he did not see the tumble.

"I wonder if dinner is ready," he added. "My shaking up has given me an appetite."

"Father is not here, yet," said Lucius. "Won't you tell me a story while we wait for him?"

"I think," said Marcus, "that I have told you the story of Romulus, who founded Rome." "Yes," replied Lucius, "but I want to hear it again. I hope," he added, "that when I am older I can remember the Roman stories as well as you do."

"Then this is the first one for you to know," said Marcus, "so listen well, and I will tell it to you very briefly:

"Romulus and Remus were twin brothers who were born in Italy before there was any such city as Rome. But while they were little babies they were thrown into the river Tiber to be drowned, because the king of the country was afraid that when they grew up, they would take his throne from him. He knew that he had no right to the throne, and that the grandfather of these boys should have been king instead.

"But the boys, who were in a wooden cradle, floated ashore instead of drowning, and a she-wolf heard them crying. She went to them, and because the gods were protecting them, she nursed them instead of harming them.

"In this way the boys were kept alive until they were found by a shepherd, who took them home to his wife.

"When they had grown to be men, Romulus and Remus helped to restore the throne to their grandfather. They then determined to build a city upon the spot where they were saved from the Tiber, and so they founded the city of Rome. In order to decide which one the city was to be named after, the brothers each went to the top of a hill and waited for some sign from the gods. Remus saw a flight of six vultures, but Romulus saw a flight of twelve, so the city was named after Romulus, and called Rome."

"Ah, here comes father," exclaimed Lucius, as Marcus brought his story to an end. Then he added, "I shall surely try to remember that story