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Helene A. Guerber

The Twin Gods

T ARQUIN had now made two unsuccessful attempts to recover the throne. But he was not yet entirely discouraged; and, raising a third army, he again marched toward Rome.

When the senate and consuls heard of this new danger, they resolved to place all the authority in the hands of some one man who was clever enough to help them in this time of need. They therefore elected a new magistrate, called a Dictator. He was to take command of the army in place of the consuls, and was to be absolute ruler of Rome; but he was to hold his office only as long as the city was in danger.

The first dictator immediately took command of the army, and went to meet Tarquin. The two forces came face to face near Lake Regillus, not very far from the city. Here a terrible battle was fought, and here the Romans won a glorious victory. Their writers have said that the twin gods, Castor and Pollux, came down upon earth to help them, and were seen in the midst of the fray, mounted upon snow-white horses.

When the fight was over, and the victory gained, these gods vanished from the battlefield; but shortly after, they came dashing into Rome, and announced that the battle was won. Then they dismounted in the Forum, in the midst of the people, watered their horses at the fountain there, and suddenly vanished, after telling the Romans to build a temple in their honor.

Full of gratitude for the help of the twin gods, without whom the battle would have been lost, the Romans built a temple dedicated to their service. This building was on one side of the Forum, on the very spot where the radiant youths had stood; and there its ruins can still be seen.


Roman Forum and Temple of Castor and Pollux.

The Romans were in the habit of calling upon these brothers to assist them in times of need; and in ancient tombs there have been found coins bearing the effigy of the two horsemen, each with a star over his head. The stars were placed there because the Romans believed that the twin gods had been changed into two very bright and beautiful stars.

It is said that Tarquin managed to escape alive from the battle of Lake Regillus, and that he went to live at Cumæ, where he died at a very advanced age. But he never again ventured to make war against the Romans, who had routed him so sorely.

The old consul Valerius continued to serve his native city, and spent his money so lavishly in its behalf that he died very poor. Indeed, it is said that his funeral expenses had to be paid by the state, as he did not leave money enough even to provide for his burial.