is true that slight earthquakes were not unknown in that region, and that Mt. Vesuvius which stood near had once been a volcano, but of those things men thought little.
But one summer afternoon in the year 79 A.D. a strange thing happened. Over the mountain was seen a huge cloud, now bright, now black and misty in appearance. As it stretched out from the mountain top it looked to some like a huge pine tree. At first people wondered what this strange thing was; soon they were filled with terror. Ashes and stones began to fall; loud rumbling noises were heard; the earth shook, and seemed to rise up and push back the sea. It grew dark, and the air was filled with stifling odors.
In their panic all who could fled, some even putting pillows or cushions on their heads. But in the darkness many lost their way, and all were calling out to each other in horror and despair. It seemed that the whole world was about to be destroyed.
In truth, it was Mt. Vesuvius which had suddenly burst forth in so terrible an eruption that the entire top of the mountain was blown off by the explosion and the country for miles around buried beneath ashes and the streams of lava which rushed down the mountain slopes.
How many people perished in this terrible event we shall never know. But since Vesuvius by its smoke and rumbling gave warning of what was to happen, it is clear that most of the population, though stricken with panic, had time to make their escape. The beautiful towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were, however, overwhelmed and buried, and the slopes of the mountain, once green with orchard and vineyard, were now only wastes of smoking ashes.
Yet for us to-day the destruction of Pompeii has given one good result. In recent times the ashes have been carefully dug away, and we can now see this old Roman city just as it was in the days of the Roman Empire. There are the streets, the market places, the theaters, the houses, the very ruts worn in the pavements by the passing carts and wagons. Even objects like loaves of bread in the oven and jugs of wine for sale in the shops were found just as people left them on that day of terror. Here, too, were discovered the skeletons of some of the unfortunates who could not flee.
Though all the other cities of the once great empire have fallen to hopeless ruin, the visitor to Pompeii can thus see just how the Romans lived and carried on their work and their play.
48. Roman Houses. A city like Pompeii was of course surrounded by a strong wall for defense. The houses were built very close together, and the streets were rather narrow. When crowded with people and carts it must have been a noisy place.
The houses in Pompeii usually had no windows looking out on the street, except in the second story. The light and air came through openings in the roof or from the small courtyard, which every good house had.
When the visitor entered the house of a well-to-do family he first passed through a small vestibule or open space. Sometimes a dog was kept here. One house at Pompeii has a picture of a fierce dog in the paved floor, with the warning words, "Cave canem," "Beware the dog."
After passing through a short hail, the visitor entered a large room, the main living room of the house. If the owner were rich it was adorned with statues and carvings. In the center was always a large opening in the roof, and beneath it a basin or pool to catch the rain.
Opening off the sides of this main room were little rooms and in some cases the stairway leading to the upper story. In the rear corner were two large alcoves, or sometimes rather large separate rooms. In one of these were kept the statues of the gods and of the ancestors of the family. In their honor the master of the house with his wife and children performed worship and offered sacrifices. The other corner room or alcove is thought to have been used as a dining room.
Directly at the rear of the main living room, and usually separated from it by curtains, was the room of the master of the house. We may call it his office or business room. Here he kept his accounts and had his strong box with its treasure.
Passing through the master's room we come next to the most striking part of the whole building. This was the large court or garden open to the sky, beautified by flowers and statues, and surrounded by a colonnade Around this fine court were numerous rooms arranged according to the taste of the family. Here was the kitchen with dining rooms, storerooms, and private apartments.
Though Roman houses differed sometimes in small ways, all were on the same general plan. Sometimes, if the family were very wealthy, there would be a larger garden, with rows of terraces behind the residence. On the outside of the house, along the busy street, there were little shops or stores. These were rented to people who sold different articles. But such shops opened off the street and never into the house.
49. How the Romans Lived. In such a dwelling a well-to-do Roman and his family lived, surrounded by their slaves, who did all the hard work. Here, too, came every morning the master's "clients," that is, poor men who had put themselves under his protection. They wished him good morning, and he greeted them cordially by name, and sometimes even kissed them. A Roman was proud if he had a great number of clients.
The clothing worn by the Romans was not much like ours. Beneath the warm Italian sky close fitting garments such as we wear were not needed. Indoors, the only clothing worn by a Roman man or boy was the "tunic." This was merely a loose woolen shirt, with short sleeves, held up by a girdle at the waist. But when a Roman went forth in public he put on over this the famous "toga." This was a long and heavy white cloak wrapped about the body in such a way as to fall in graceful folds. The togas of men who held important offices were marked by a broad purple stripe on the border.
Not until a boy was old enough to be a full Roman citizen could he wear the man's toga. When he first put it on there was an impressive ceremony, when he was taken before a public officer at Rome and introduced by his father.
The Romans wore shoes and boots much like ours, but in the house they often used sandals. Hose or stockings they never wore. Workmen and sailors sometimes had caps or hats, but the wealthy usually went bareheaded, except when upon a journey.
Roman women wore three garments instead of two. Over the inner tunic was a longer outer covering, and on the street Roman ladies had a graceful cloak or mantle much like the toga, though it was never called by that name.
A Roman family generally rose very early in the morning, often about daylight. For breakfast they ate little, sometimes only bread and honey. The chief business of the day was done in the morning. About half-past eleven, as we reckon time, they had lunch. This, too, was a rather light meal. After lunch everybody went to sleep for an hour or so. This "siesta" was a regular part of the program for the day, and seldom indeed omitted.
Every afternoon the master of the house went forth to his bath, which in the city was usually enjoyed in one of the magnificent public buildings erected by the emperor. Here the Roman met his friends and conversed with them or played games for exercise.
Finally he returned to a great dinner, which was to the wealthy the crowning enjoyment of the day. Instead of sitting at the table, as we do, the guests reclined on cushions. The meal occupied hours, and the diners were often entertained by slaves who played musical instruments and sang or danced. In later times, as the Romans grew more and more fond of luxury, the entertainment often went on far into the night, and many drank heavily of wine.
For the Roman children the task of the day was of course quite different. Until they were about seven they were taught at home, perhaps by their parents, but more often by some educated slave. Then the boys usually, and the girls sometimes, went to school. School began very early, and the children often bought their breakfasts at some baker's shop on the way. The children of the wealthy were always in charge of reliable old slaves called "pedagogues," who went with them and carried their books.
In the earlier days of Rome not many subjects were taught at school,--only reading, writing, and a little arithmetic. For music and the beautiful things which so delighted the Greeks the Romans at first cared little. But since the boys must some day be soldiers they were taught to swim, to ride, and to throw the javelin.
Later, after Greece had been conquered, the Romans became enthusiastic about everything Greek. Soon, in the higher schools, the Roman youths began to study the Greek language just as we now try to learn something of French or German. Greek teachers, who taught the poems of Homer and other Greek writings, also came to Rome.
Often the children of the rich were actually sent to Greece to visit Athens for a short time and perhaps to listen to the famous Greek philosophers.
But when the time approached to begin the real business of life, the sons of noble Romans all wanted to be statesmen and to hold public office, to become soldiers, or to be judges and lawyers. Though they bad once been such a practical people, the Romans, like the Greeks, had come to have the foolish idea that all labor with the hands is fit only for slaves.
SUGGESTIONS INTENDED TO HELP THE PUPIL
The Leading Facts. 1. In the center of Rome was the famous Forum or public square. 2. In their buildings the Romans copied the Greeks, but also used arches and domes. 3. The city of Rome was the busiest place in the world. 4. One of the grandest occasions was when a triumph was celebrated after a victory in war. 5. The Romans took a cruel joy in the combats of gladiators. 6. The city of Pompeii was buried by the ashes and lava from an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. 7. Pompeii has now been uncovered, and we can thus see just how a Roman city looked. 8. A Roman house was not very much like ours. 9. The daily life of both grown people and children was also difierent in many ways from that of our day.
Study Questions. 1. How did the public buildings of Rome differ from those of Greece? 2. Look at the picture of the Pantheon, and then describe it. 3. What are some of the things that you would have seen in the streets of Rome in the time of the emperors? 4. Describe a Roman triumph. 5. What were the gladiatorial shows? 6. How did the Romans feel as they looked at them? 7. Tell the story of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius as if you had been one of those who fled from a villa near Pompeii. 8. What are some of the things that have been found in this city? p. Describe a Roman house. 10. What are some of the ways in which it differed from our houses? 11. What seems to you the most beautiful feature of a Roman house? 12. How did the clothing of the Romans differ from ours? 13. Tell how a Roman family spent their day. 14. What were some of the ways in which a Roman school differed from yours?
Suggested Readings. Harding, The City of the Seven Hills,
2 1 2-223, 239-250; Lovell, Stories in Stone from Jhe Roman
Forum, I-66 Retold from "St. Nicholas": Stories of Greece and
Rome, 119-198; Church, Roman Life in the. Days of Cicero, 1-26;
Guhi and Koner, The Life of the Greeks and Romans Described
from Antique Monuments, 357-375, 390-424, 476-511.