National Geographic : 1917 Jul
Photograph from Foreign Missions Library ORPHAN BOYS OF INDIA, WHO OWE THEIR LIVES TO THE PROMPT RELIEF MEASURES ADOPTED IN THE FAMINE OF 1900 In spite of the fact that its peasants are among the most frugal in the world and its wheat fields, under favorable conditions, are among the most fertile, India has suffered more from famine than any other country. The density of population in certain areas and the absolute dependence of crops upon an abundance of rain account for the toll which starvation has exacted in this vast empire for 2,000 years. the bodies of their victims. It was dur ing this siege that the Roman youth, Pontius Cominius, swam the Tiber "on corks," and by a secret path scaled the garrison hill, bringing important news to Manlius. In the morning the path was discovered by the enemy, and the following night the Gauls began the ascent, their secret at tack being frustrated only through the cackling of the geese in the temple of Juno, which awakened Manlius in time for him to hurl the leading assailant down upon his comrades and thus save the citadel. Famine and pestilence continuing, the Romans finally agreed to ransom their desolated city for a thousand pounds of gold. In the process of weighing the treasure they protested against the cheat ing of the barbarians; whereupon the Gallic leader cast his sword into the scale, crying, "Vae victis" (Woe to the con- quered), an admonition which, as the present European conflict proves, has not lost its significance in the more than twenty centuries which have rolled over the war-racked world since that direful day. One of the earliest chiefs of system atic famine relief work was Augustus Cesar, who was at war with the Par thians when summoned back to Rome by the disaster of 23 B. C., when the Tiber overflowed, causing wide-spread suffer ing. The starving plebeians proclaimed him dictator and urged him to assume control of the corn supply, which he did with exceptional skill and industry. He sent ships to many quarters of the Mediter ranean to collect corn, and placed his grandson, Tiberius, in charge of the work of unloading the grain at Ostia and trans porting it to the capital, all of which was done with great dispatch.