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The Martyr of the Catacombs A Tale of Ancient Rome   By:

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THE MARTYR OF THE CATACOMBS

A TALE OF ANCIENT ROME

If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? ST. PAUL

ILLUSTRATED

NEW YORK: HUNT & EATON

CINCINNATI: CRANSTON & CURTS

CONTENTS.

I. THE COLISEUM II. THE PRETORIAN CAMP III. THE APPIAN WAY IV. THE CATACOMBS V. THE CHRISTIAN'S SECRET VI. THE CLOUD OF WITNESSES VII. THE CONFESSION OF FAITH VIII. LIFE IN THE CATACOMBS IX. THE PERSECUTION X. THE ARREST XI. THE OFFER XII. POLLIO'S TRIAL XIII. THE DEATH OF POLLIO XIV. THE TEMPTATION XV. LUCULLUS

Illustrations.

THE BOY MARTYR PLAN OF THE CATACOMBS A PASSAGE IN THE CATACOMBS THE COLISEUM

CHAPTER I.

THE COLISEUM.

"Butchered to make a Roman holiday."

It was a great festival day in Rome. From all quarters vast numbers of people came pouring forth to one common destination. Over the Capitoline Hill, through the Forum, past the Temple of Peace and the Arch of Titus and the imperial palace; on they went till they reached the Coliseum, where they entered its hundred doors and disappeared within.

There a wonderful scene presented itself. Below, the vast arena spread out, surrounded by the countless rows of seats which rose to the top of the outer wall, over a hundred feet. The whole extent was covered with human beings of every class and every age. So vast an assemblage gathered in such a way, presenting to view long lines of stern faces, ascending far on high in successive rows, formed a spectacle which has never elsewhere been equaled, and which was calculated beyond all others to awe the soul of the beholder. More than one hundred thousand people were gathered here, animated by one common feeling, and incited by one single passion. It was the thirst for blood which drew them hither, and nowhere can we find a sadder commentary on the boasted civilization of ancient Rome than this her own greatest spectacle.

Here were warriors who had fought in foreign wars and were familiar with deeds of valor, yet they felt no indignation at the scenes of cowardly oppression displayed before them; nobles of ancient families were here, but they could find in these brutal shows no stain upon their country's honor. Philosophers, poets, priests, rulers, the highest as well as the lowest in the land, crowded these seats; but the applauding shout of the patrician was as loud and as eager as that of the plebeian. What hope was there for Rome when the hearts of her people were, universally given up to cruelty and brutal oppression?

Upon a raised seat in a conspicuous part of the amphitheater was the Emperor Decius, near whom the chief people among the Romans were gathered. Among these there was a group of officers belonging to the Pretorian guards, who criticised the different points in the scene before them with the air of connoisseurs. Their loud laughter, their gayety, and their splendid attire made them the object of much attention from their neighbors.

Several preliminary spectacles had been introduced, and now the fights began. Several hand to hand combats were presented, most of which resulted fatally, and excited different degrees of interest according to the courage or skill of the combatants. Their effect was to whet the appetite of the spectators to a keener relish, and fill them with eager desire for the more exciting events which were to follow.

One man in particular had drawn down the admiration and applause of the multitude. He was an African from Mauritania; of gigantic strength and stature. But his skill seemed equal to his strength. He wielded his short sword with marvelous dexterity, and thus far had slain every opponent.

He was now matched with a gladiator from Batavia, a man fully equal in stature and strength to himself. The contrast which the two presented was striking. The African was tawny, with glossy curling hair and glittering eyes; the Batavian was light in complexion, with blonde hair and keen gray eyes. It was hard to tell which had the advantage, so nearly were they matched in every respect; but as the former had already fought for some time, it was thought that the odds were rather against him... Continue reading book >>




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