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in all your throng dare face me on the bloody sand, let them come on “Yet, I was not always thus, a hired butcher, a savage chief of savage men. My father was a reverent man, who feared great Jupiter, and brought to the rural deities his offerings of fruits and flowers. He dwelt among the vineclad rocks and olive groves at the foot of Helicon. My early life ran quiet as the brook by which I sported. I was taught to prune the vine, to tend the flock; and then, at noon, I gathered my sheep beneath the shade, and played upon the shepherd's flute. I had a friend, the son of our neighbor; we led our flocks to the same pasture, and shared together our rustic meal. “One evening, after the sheep were folded, and we were all seated beneath the myrtle that shaded our cottage, my grandsire, an old man, was telling of Marathon and Leuctra, and how, in ancient times, a little band of Spartans, in a defile of the moun. tains, withstood a whole army. I did not then know what war meant; but my cheeks burned. I knew not why; and I clasped the knees of that venerable man, till my mother, parting the hair from off my brow, kissed my throbbing temples, and bade me go to rest, and think no more of those old tales and savage wars. “That very night the Romans landed on our shore, and the clash of steel was heard within our quiet vale. I saw the breast that had nourished me trampled by the iron hoof of the warhorse; the bleeding body of my father flung amid the blazing rafters of our dwelling. To-day I killed a man in the arena, and when I broke his helmet clasps, behold ! he was my friend He knew me, smiled faintly,–gasped,—and died; the same sweet smile that I had marked upon his face when, in adventurous boyhood, we scaled some lofty cliff to pluck the first ripe grapes, and bear them home in childish triumph. I told the praetor he was my friend, noble and brave, and I begged his body, that I might burn it upon the funeral-pile, and mourn over him. Ay, on my knees, amid the dust and blood of the arena, I begged that boon, while all the Roman maids and matrons, and those holy virgins
they call vestal, and the rabble, shouted in mockery, deeming it rare sport, forsooth, to see Rome's fiercest gladiator turn pale, and tremble like a very child, before that piece of bleeding clay; but the praetor drew back as if I were pollution, and sternly said, ‘Let the carrion rot! There are no noble men but Romans!’ And he, deprived of funeral rites, must wander, a hapless ghost, beside the waters of that sluggish river, and look—and look—and look in vain to the bright Elysian Fields where dwell his ancestors and noble kindred. And so must you, and so must I, die like dogs!
“O Rome! Rome! thou hast been a tender nurse to me! Ay, thou hast given to that poor, gentle, timid shepherd-lad, who never knew a harsher sound than a flute-note, muscles of iron and a heart of flint; taught him to drive the sword through rugged brass and plaited mail, and warm it in the marrow of his foe! to gaze into the glaring eyeballs of the fierce Numidian lion, even as a smooth-cheeked boy upon a laughing girl. And he shall pay thee back till thy yellow Tiber is red as frothing wine, and in its deepest ooze thy life-blood lies curdled !
“Ye stand here now like giants, as ye are the strength of brass is in your toughened sinews; but to-morrow some Roman Adonis, breathing sweet odors from his curly locks, shall come, and with his lily fingers pat your brawny shoulders, and bet his sesterces upon your blood! Hark! Hear ye yon lion roaring in his den? 'Tis three days since he tasted meat; but to-morrow he shall break his fast upon your flesh; and ye shall be a dainty meal for him.
“If ye are brutes, then stand here like fat oxen waiting for the butcher's knife; if ye are men, follow me ! strike down yon sentinel, and gain the mountain passes, and there do bloody work as did your sires at old Thermopylael Is Sparta dead? Is the old Grecian spirit frozen in your veins, that you do crouch and cower like baseborn slaves beneath your master's lash? O comrades' warriors! Thracians ! if we must fight, let us fight for ourselves; if we must slaughter, let us slaughter our oppressors; if we must die, let us die under the open sky, by the bright waters, in noble, honorable battle.”
Biographical and Historical: This is a supposed speech of Spartacus written by Elijah Kellogg, a New England clergyman. Spartacus was a Thracian by birth, who served in the Roman army. Having deserted, he was taken prisoner, sold as a slave, and trained as a gladiator at Capua. He escaped and gathered about him a large army of slaves and gladiators, with whom he intended to push northward and allow them all to return to their homes. They, however, after attacking many towns, were finally overcome. Spartacus himself died in battle, and six thousand slaves were crucified on the road from Capua to Rome.
Capua was a city of great luxury, containing an amphitheater nearly as large as the Coliseum at Rome. The ancients attached great importance to the rites of burial, and believed that the soul could not reach the Elysian Fields unless the body had been buried.
MERIT BEFORE BIRTH
You have committed to my conduct, O Romans, the war against Jugurtha. The patricians take offence. They say, “Why, he has no family statues. He can point to no illustrious ancestors.” What of that? Will dead ancestors or motionless statues fight battles? Can your general appeal to them in the hour of extremest danger? How wise it would be, surely, to intrust your army to some untried person without a single scar, but with any number of ancestral statues, who knows not the simplest rudiments of military service, but is very perfect in pedigreel I have known such holiday heroes, raised, because of family, to positions for which they had no fitness. But, then, in the moment of action they were obliged, in their ignorance and trepidation, to intrust every movement, even the most simple, to some subaltern, some despised plebeian.
What they have seen in books, I have seen written on battlefields, with steel and blood. They sneer at my mean origin. Where-and may the gods bear witness, where, but in the spirit of man, is nobility lodged? Tell these despicable railers that their
haughty lineage cannot make them noble, nor will my humble birth make me base. I profess no indifference to noble descent; but when a descendant is dwarfed in the comparison, it should be a shame, and not a matter to boast of ! I can show the standards, the armor, and the spoils which I have in person wrested from the vanquished. I can show the scars of many wounds received in combating the enemies of Rome. These are my statues | These are my honors, to boast of ; not inherited by accident, but earned by toil, by abstinence, by valor, amid clouds of dust and seas of blood. Their titles date from similar acts of their ancestors;
but these detractors did not even dare to appear on the field as
spectators. These are my credentials! These, O Romans, are my titles of nobility Tell me, are they not as deserving of your confidence and reward as those of which any patrician of them all can boast? Biographical and Historical: Sallust, the author of this selection, was a famous Roman historian of the first century B. C. Caius Marius was the son of a small farmer and worked his way up from this humble origin to the highest position, that of consul, in spite of the determined opposition of the senate, and the aristocracy. By the vote of the -Roman people, he was given command of the army in the campaign against Jugurtha, a prince who had usurped the Numidian throne.
RIENZI’s ADDRESS TO THE ROMANS
Of petty tyrants; feudal despots; lords,
Each hour dark fraud,
Such shames are common.
Rouse ye, Romans! rouse ye, slaves!