National Geographic : 1917 Jul
© Underwood.& Underwood A FAMILY OF FAMINE SUFFERERS IN INDIA In twenty-three famines which occurred in India between 1769 and 1900 more than 25,ooo, ooo natives perished. Some of the most terrible periods of distress have befallen the empire at times when the British Government believed that it had solved the problem of famine relief. SHIPS AND MILITARY HIGHWAYS SAFE GUARDED ROME FROM FAMINE From the time of Augustus, through out the days of the empire, Rome seldom suffered from famine-a striking con trast to the frequency of this affliction in the days of the infant republic. The na tion's sources of supply were now so numerous and her far-flung provinces so fruitful that when crops failed in one quarter there was sure to be a bountiful harvest in some other part of the Roman world. Two other factors which con tributed materially toward preventing shortage in food supplies throughout the empire were the excellence of the mili tary highways and the splendid fleets which sailed the Mediterranean. In striking proof of the manner in which the empire's transportation system served to check the ravages of famine, Pliny relates that when, during Trajan's reign, Egypt experienced a low Nile which threatened a great dearth, imme- diately corn ships were dispatched from other provinces and wide-spread suffer ing was prevented. "This vain and proud nation," writes the Roman historian, "boasted that though it was conquered it nevertheless fed its conquerors. But this most fruit ful province would now have been ruined had it not worn Roman chains." Of course, there were some exceptions to this general rule. There was, for ex ample, that terrible period of suffering from 79 to 88 A. D., when the Roman world seemed to be shaken to its physical foundations. In addition to the devas tating drought and famine which swept over the Italian peninsula, during which 10,o00 citizens are said to have died in one day at Rome, there followed the shock of earthquakes and the cataclysmic eruption of volcanoes. Herculaneum and Pompeii were overwhelmed with volcanic ash and lava at this time, and Syria and Africa were blighted by pestilence and famine.