Front Matter The First Settlers Escape from the Burning City The Clever Trick The Boards Are Eaten The Wolf and the Twins Romulus Builds Rome The Maidens Carried Off Union of Sabines and Romans Death of Romulus Strange Signs of the Romans The Quarrel with Alba The Horatii and Curiatii Tarquin and the Eagle The Roman Youths The King Outwitted The Murder of Tarquin The Ungrateful Children The Mysterious Books Tarquin's Poppies The Oracle of Delphi The Death of Lucretia The Stern Father A Roman Triumph A Roman Triumph (Cont.) Defense of the Bridge The Burnt Hand The Twin Gods The Wrongs of the Poor Fable of the Stomach The Story of Coriolanus The Farmer Hero The New Laws Death of Virginia Plans of a Traitor A School-Teacher Punished Invasion of the Gauls The Sacred Geese Two Heroes of Rome Disaster at Caudine Forks Pyrrhus and His Elephants The Elephants Routed Ancient Ships Regulus and the Snake Hannibal Crosses the Alps The Romans Defeated The Inventor Archimedes The Roman Conquests Destruction of Carthage Roman Amusements The Jewels of Cornelia Death of Tiberius Gracchus Caius Gracchus Jugurtha, King of Numidia The Barbarians The Social War The Flight of Marius The Proscription Lists Sertorius and His Doe Revolt of the Slaves Pompey's Conquests Conspiracy of Catiline Caesar's Conquests Crossing of the Rubicon Battle of Pharsalia The Death of Caesar The Second Triumvirate The Vision of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra The Poisonous Snake The Augustan Age Death of Augustus Varus Avenged Death of Germanicus Tiberius Smothered The Wild Caligula Wicked Wives of Claudius Nero's First Crimes Christians Persecuted Nero's Cruelty Two Short Reigns The Siege of Jerusalem The Buried Cities The Terrible Banquet The Emperor's Tablets The Good Trajan Trajan's Column The Great Wall Hadrian's Death Antoninus Pius The Model Pagan Another Cruel Emperor An Unnatural Son The Senate of Women The Gigantic Emperor Invasion of the Goths Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra A Prophecy Fulfulled First Christian Emperor Roman Empire Divided An Emperor's Penance Sieges of Rome End of the Western Empire

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

The Quarrel with Alba

For a long time the Roman people were in the habit of burying their dead; but by and by they began to burn the bodies, and keep the ashes in little urns.

When Numa Pompilius died, however, the people laid his body in a stone coffin. Many years later, so the Romans said, a farmer in plowing came across the tomb. He opened it, and found in the coffin, besides the king's bones, a number of old books. In them were written the laws which Numa Pompilius had made for his people, and an account of the religious ceremonies of his day.

The farmer, unfortunately, was a very ignorant man. He fancied that such old and musty books were of no value, and so he burned them up. By doing this, he destroyed a very great treasure; for if he had kept those ancient books, we would know much more about the early Romans than we do now.

As Numa was so good and wise a king, the people felt very sorry to lose him; and they said that his death was mourned even by the water nymph Egeria. The Roman mothers used to tell their children that this nymph wept so many tears that the gods, in pity, changed her into a fountain which still bears her name.

Numa Pompilius had no son to take his place on the throne, so the senators elected Tullus Hostilius, a patrician, as the third king of Rome. Unlike the former king, the new ruler was proud and quarrelsome; and, as he enjoyed fighting, the Romans were soon called to war.

Tullus first quarreled with his neighbors in Alba, the city where Amulius and Numitor had once reigned. Neither people was willing to yield to the other, and yet each disliked to begin the bloodshed; for they saw that they were about equally matched, and that their fighting would end only with their lives. As they could not wait forever, the two parties finally decided to settle their quarrel by a fair fight between three picked warriors on either side.

The Albans selected as their champions three brothers named Curiatius, all noted for their strength, their courage, and their great skill in handling arms. The Romans made an equally careful choice, and selected three brothers from the Horatius family. These six men are called the Curiatii and the Horatii, because these are the plural forms of their names in Latin, which was the language of both Rome and Alba.

Now, in the peaceful days of Numa Pompilius, long before there had been any thought of war, the Romans and Albans had often visited each other, and the Horatii and Curiatii were great friends. Indeed, the two families were so intimate that one of the Curiatii was engaged to marry Camilla, the sister of the Horatii.

In spite of this long-standing friendship, both families would have considered it a disgrace not to fight, when selected as their country's champions; and in spite of Camilla's tears and entreaties, all six young men prepared for the coming contest.

Poor Camilla was in despair, for either her brothers would kill her lover, or he would kill them. No matter which way the battle ended, it could not fail to bring sorrow and loss to her, for she was deeply attached to her brothers and lover; and she tried again and again to make them give up this fight.