Front Matter The Lady Roma The She-Wolf The Twin Boys Numitor's Grandson The Sacred Birds The Founding of Rome The Sabine Maidens The Tarpeian Rock The Mysterious Gate The King Disappears The Peace-Loving King Horatius Slays His Sister Pride of Tullus Hostilius King Who Fought and Prayed The Faithless Friend A Slave Becomes a King Cruel Deed of Tullia Fate of the Town of Gabii Books of the Sibyl Industry of Lucretia Death of Lucretia Sons of Brutus Horatius Cocles Mucius Burns Right Hand The Divine Twins The Tribunes Coriolanus and His Mother The Roman Army in a Trap The Hated Decemvirs The Death of Verginia The Friend of the People Camillus Captures Veii The Statue of the Goddess Schoolmaster Traitor Battle of Allia The Sacred Geese The City Is Rebuilt Volscians on Fire Battle on the Anio The Curtian Lake Dream of the Two Consuls The Caudine Forks Caudine Forks Avenged Fabius among the Hills Battle of Sentinum Son of Fabius Loses Battle Pyrrhus King of the Epirots Elephants at Heraclea Pyrrthus and Fabricius Pyrrhus is Defeated Romans Build a Fleet Battle of Ecnomus Roman Legions in Africa Regulus Taken Prisoner Romans Conquer the Gauls The Boy Hannibal Hannibal Invades Italy Hannibal Crosses the Alps Battle of Trebia Battle of Lake Trasimenus Hannibal Outwits Fabius Fabius Wins Two Victories Battle of Cannae Despair of Rome Defeat of Hasdrubal Claudius Enjoy a Triumph Capture of New Carthage Scipio Sails to Africa Romans Set Fire to Camp Hannibal Leaves Italy The Battle of Zama Scipio Receives a Triumph Flamininus in Garlands Death of Hannibal Hatred of Cato for Carthage The Stern Decree Carthaginians Defend City Destruction of Carthage Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi Tiberius and Octavius Death of Tiberius Gracchus Death of Gaius Gracchus The Gold of Jugurtha Marius Wins Notice of Scipio Marius Becomes Commander Capture of Treasure Towns Capture of Jugurtha Jugurtha Brought to Rome Marius Conquers Teutones Marius Mocks the Ambassadors Metellus Driven from Rome Sulla Enters Rome The Flight of Marius Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius Marius Returns to Rome The Orator Aristion Sulla Besieges Athens Sulla Fights the Samnites The Proscriptions of Sulla The Gladiators' Revolt The Pirates Pompey Defeats Mithridates Cicero Discovers Conspiracy Death of the Conspirators Caesar Captured by Pirates Caesar Gives up Triumph Caesar Praises Tenth Legion Caesar Wins a Great Victory Caesar Invades Britain Caesar Crosses Rubicon Caesar and the Pilot The Flight of Pompey Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr Caesar is Loaded with Honours Nobles Plot against Caesar The Assassination of Caesar Brutus Speaks to Citizens Antony Speaks to Citizens The Second Triumvirate Battle of Philippi Death of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra Battle of Actium Antony and Cleopatra Die Emperor Augustus

Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

Sulla Besieges Athens

The Peiræus could not, indeed, be starved into submission as long as the king held the harbour, but Athens was already suffering from famine.

Now the Athenians were a gay and careless people, little accustomed to endure hardships, yet no one grumbled at the lack of food, but each bore his hunger manfully, or tried to stay its pangs as best he could.

Some fed on herbs, which they gathered painfully, for they had grown feeble with long fasting. Others hunted for old leather shoes or pieces of oilskin, and when they found them, soaked them in oil, and so made a sorry meal.

But while the inhabitants of Athens starved, Aristion, the orator and minister of war, who was largely responsible for the misery of the people, lived at his ease, and ate and drank as much as he pleased. Nor did he feast in secret, but before the eyes of the famished folk, for he was as careless of their sufferings as of his own responsibilities.

At length the senators and priests went to the tyrant, for such had Aristion proved, and begged him to make terms with Sulla before the citizens died of hunger. But Aristion did not wish his pleasures interrupted by such solemn messengers. He drove them from his presence, bidding his servants to send a flight of arrows after the procession as it turned sadly away.

A little later, however, he appeared to yield to the wishes of the senators, and sent two or three of his gay companions to meet the Roman general.

But they had no serious terms to propose, and were not commissioned to accept any. All they seemed able to do, was to talk eloquently about their ancient towns and games, until at length Sulla grew impatient and said: 'My good friends . . . begone. I was sent by the Romans to Athens, not to take lessons, but to reduce rebels to obedience.'

Soon after this, Sulla, by chance, found out how the city might be taken.

Two old men were talking to each other of Aristion's follies, and Sulla overheard them blame him for leaving a certain weak part of the city walls unguarded.

The Romans at once set to work to find out the weak spot in the defences, and when it was found an attack was made at that point.

Only a few sentinels were on duty, and they fled at the approach of the enemy, so a breach was soon made, through which Sulla marched into the city at the head of his troops.

In their triumph at having taken the city the soldiers ran wild, plundering and slaying the wretched inhabitants, many of whom killed themselves rather than fall into the hands of their cruel conquerors.

Sulla looked on, heedless of the fate of the citizens, careless, too, of the destruction of the beautiful city. Only when two citizens, who had refused to give up their friendship with Rome, flung themselves at his feet and begged him to spare the city for the sake of her ancient renown and her famous Athenians, did he yield.

Even then it was with ungracious voice and sullen face that he bade his soldiers desist from further plunder. Then, turning to those who had pleaded with him to save the city, he said: 'I forgive the many for the sake of the few, the living for the dead.'

Soon after this the Peiræus also fell, and Sulla ordered it to be destroyed, and the docks and magazines to be burnt.

In the same year as Athens and the Peiræus fell, Sulla met the troops of Mithridates at Chæronea, where a great battle was fought. Archelaus was defeated, although he had nearly four times as large a force as Sulla.

Greece now began to repent of her folly in having rebelled against Rome. Mithridates seemed unable to help them as much as Aristion and their own hopes had led them to expect. So, many of the Greek cities in Asia Minor left the king and submitted to the Romans.

But Mithridates determined to make one more great effort to regain his power. He met the Romans at Orchomenus, and here another great battle was fought in the autumn of 86 B.C.

At first the Romans began to give way before the fierce attack of the king's troops. But Sulla saw the danger, and leaping from his horse he seized a standard and rushed into the thick of the fight, shouting: 'To me, O Romans, it will be glorious to fall here. As for you, when they ask you where you betrayed your general, remember to say at Orchomenus.'

Stung by their general's words his men rallied, and after a desperate struggle the battle was won, and the power of Mithridates broken.

In 84 B.C. the king was forced to make terms with the Romans, while those cities which had fought by his side had to pay enormous sums of money to Sulla.

The victorious general was now anxious to go back to Rome, to punish those who had declared him a public enemy. So, in the spring of 83 B.C., he set out for Italy with his army.