Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

The Orator Aristion

Mithridates, the king against whom Sulla went to fight in 87 B.C., was a brave and skilful commander. His kingdom, Cappadocia Pontica, was a district on the south shore of the Black Sea.

The king who ruled before Mithridates came to the throne had tried to enlarge his kingdom, but more than once the Romans had thwarted his ambitious plans.

When Mithridates began to reign in 111 B.C., he knew that no one save the Romans would be strong enough to keep him from adding to his kingdom.

The king proved himself so strong and so good a general that the Greek towns in Asia Minor resolved to throw aside the friendship of Rome and ally themselves with the King of Pontus. It was this revolt that Sulla, with his five legions, went to Greece to subdue.

It was ungrateful of Athens to forsake Rome, for she had been treated most honourably by her in the past, and still was enjoying many privileges when she rebelled.

But the Athenians wished their city to be more glorious in the future than she had been even in the past, and they believed that Mithridates would help them to achieve this better than Rome. So an ambassador named Aristion was sent to the King of Pontus to offer him the friendship of Athens.

The king received Aristion with great respect, and gave to him gifts of gold. Above all, when he took leave of Mithridates, he was presented with a ring, on which was engraved a portrait of the king himself.

When the ambassador returned to Athens and showed the gifts which he had received, the enthusiasm of the people knew no bounds. He was escorted by crowds to the Peiræus, the port of Athens. Here, in the citadel, he was asked to tell what had taken place at the court of the king.

Now Aristion was a great orator, and he knew that his words would influence the people to do as he wished.

So first he reminded them of all the wrongs that Athens had suffered from the Romans, and if these wrongs were not all real, Aristion made them seem so by his eloquence.

Then he spoke of Mithridates, and of the king he had nothing but good to tell, while the magnificence of his court, Aristion modestly declared, baffled even his powers of description.

Before Aristion had finished his oration, the magistrates of Athens had determined to proclaim their republic restored, and to form an alliance with Mithridates. Aristion was appointed chief minister of war, and you shall hear how sadly he failed to do his duty when trouble befell the city.

Sulla having landed with his army at Epirus, at once marched to Athens, for by this time both the city and the Peiræus were strongly fortified, and held by Archelaus, the general of Mithridates.

The Roman commander determined to besiege the citadel, and to surround Athens with soldiers, to prevent the citizens from escaping, or provisions from being sent to their relief.

As he had neither money nor material for the siege, Sulla robbed the temples of Greece of their treasures.

Timber was brought from far and near in carts drawn by mules, ten thousand, it is said, in number. When even this was found not to be enough, Sulla ordered the sacred groves to be cut down, as well as the trees which surrounded the famous academy of Athens.

But, in spite of the forts he built and the trenches he dug, Sulla could not take the Peiræus.

As they worked, the Roman soldiers were often interrupted by Archelaus, who with his troops would sally out of the citadel to attack them.

At length Sulla was convinced that without a fleet he need not hope to take the citadel, for the harbour was commanded by the ships of Mithridates.


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