"It is proposed to rehearse the lustrous story of Rome, from its beginning in the mists of myth and fable down to the mischievous times when the republic came to its end, just before the brilliant period of the empire opened. As one surveys this marvellous vista from the vantage-ground of the present, attention is fixed first upon a long succession of well- authenticated facts which are shaded off in the dim distance, and finally lost in the obscurity of unlettered antiquity. The flesh and blood heroes of the more modern times regularly and slowly pass from view, and in their places the unsubstantial worthies of dreamy tradition start up. The transition is so gradual, however, that it is at times impossible to draw the line between history and legend. Fortunately for the purposes of this volume it is not always necessary to make the effort."