Category Archives: Kings of Rome

Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy: Making the Roman Republic

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Throughout history there is one thing that is common across almost every populated continent, there are those that have an abundance of wealth and there are those who significantly lack it. Having recently explored the rise of the common people against the nobility (Conflict of the Orders: Plebeians versus Patricians) and celebrated the flight of a king (Regifugium: Celebrating the Flight of a King), we thought it only right to finish off the monarchy of Rome.

That is why today we are going to take a final look at the Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy!

A 16th Century painting by Sandro Botticelli, depicting the rape of Lucretia and the subsequent uprising.

The Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy was a political revolution in Ancient Rome in around 509 BC. It resulted in the expulsion of the last King of RomeLucius Tarquinius Superbus, and the establishment of the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic).

The History of Rome held that 7 Kings of Rome reigned from the establishment of the city in 753 BC by Romulus up to the reign, and expulsion, of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus aka Tarquin.

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, aka Tarquin, the last Roman King.

The accuracy, however, of this account has been doubted by modern historians. What does appear to be accepted is that: 1) there was a monarchy and 2) the last King, Tarquin, was expelled upon the founding of the Republic in the late 6th Century BC.

Tarquin was the son of Rome’s 5th King, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. In around 535 BC Tarquin, together with his wife Tullia Minor (a daughter of the then King Servius Tullius) arranged the murder of Servius, and for Tarquin to become ruler in his stead.

Despite various military victories, Tarquin became an unpopular sovereign. He refused to bury his predecessor, then he put to death a number of the leading Senators whom he suspected of remaining loyal to Servius (one of whom was the brother of Lucius Junius Brutus).

Roman Senate in an uproar.

By not replacing the slain Senators, and not consulting the Senate on all matters of government, Tarquin diminished both its size and authority. In another break with tradition, Tarquin judged capital criminal cases without advice of counsellors, thereby creating fear among those who might think to oppose him.

Having supposedly engaged in treachery with the Foedus Latinum (Latin League), around 510 BC, Tarquin went to war with the Rutuli. At that time according to Livy, the Rutuli were a very wealthy nation and Tarquin was keen to obtain the spoils that would come with victory over the Rutuli in order, in part, to soften the anger of his subjects.

Tarquin unsuccessfully sought to take the Rutulian capital Ardea by storm, and later began an extensive siege of the city. The Roman histories tell that while King Tarquin was away on campaign, his son Sextus Tarquinius was sent on a military errand to Collatia.

Sextus was received with great hospitality at the Governor’s mansion, home of Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, son of the king’s nephew, Arruns Tarquinius, former Governor of Collatia and originator of the Tarquinii Collatini. Lucius’ wife, Lucretia, daughter of Praefectus (Prefect) Spurius Lucretius, made sure that Tarquin’s son was treated as the son of a king should, even though her husband was away at the siege.

Titian’s “Tarquin and Lucretia” (1571).

At night Sextus entered Lucretia’s bedroom by stealth, quietly going around the slaves who were sleeping at her door. When she awakened, Sextus identified himself and offered her 2 choices: she could submit to his sexual advances and become his wife and future queen; or he would kill her and a slave and place the bodies together, then claim he had caught her having adulterous sex with said slave.

The next day Lucretia dressed in black and weeping went to her father’s house in Rome and cast herself down in the suppliant’s position (embracing the knees). Asked to explain herself, Lucretia insisted on first summoning witnesses to verify her story.

After disclosing the rape, Lucretia called on various Roman noblemen for vengeance. While the men debated on how to proceed, Lucretia drew a concealed dagger and stabbed herself in the heart.

Statue of Brutus holding Lucretia while swearing the oath and holding the knife.

According to legend, Tribunus Celerum Lucius Junius Brutus grabbed the dagger from Lucretia’s breast after her death and immediately shouted for the overthrow of the Tarquins. The people of Rome were summoned to the Forum Romanum (Roman Forum) and spurred by Brutus to rise up against the monarch.

Brutus revealed that his pose as fool was a sham designed to protect him against an evil king. He leveled a number of charges against the king and his family: the outrage against Lucretia (whom everyone could see on the dais), the king’s tyranny, the forced labor of the Plēbēs in the ditches and sewers of Rome.

He pointed out that Tarquin had come to rule by the murder of Servius Tullius, his wife’s father, next-to-the-last King of Rome. He “solemnly invoked the gods as the avengers of murdered parents.”

The king’s wife, Tullia, was in fact in Rome and probably was a witness to the proceedings from her palace near the Forum. Seeing herself the target of so much animosity she fled from the palace in fear of her life and proceeded to the camp at Ardea.

Brutus opened a debate on the form of government Rome ought to have; there were many speakers (all Patricians). In summation he proposed the banishment of the Tarquins from all the territories of Rome and appointment of an interrex to nominate new magistrates and conduct an election of ratification.

They had decided on a republican form of government with 2 Cōnsulēs in place of a king executing the will of a Patrician Senate. This was a temporary measure until they could consider the details more carefully.

Brutus renounced all right to the throne. In subsequent years the powers of the king were divided among various elected magistracies.

A final vote of the curiae carried the interim constitution. Lucretius was swiftly elected interrex (he was Prefect of the city anyway).

Lucretius proposed Brutus and Collatinus as the initial 2 Cōnsulēs and that choice was ratified by the Curiae. Needing to acquire the assent of the population as a whole they paraded Lucretia’s body through the streets, summoning the Plebeians to legal assembly in the Forum Romanum.

Once there they heard a further speech by Brutus. It began:

Inasmuch as Tarquin neither obtained the sovereignty in accordance with our ancestral customs and laws, nor, since he obtained it — in whatever manner he got it — has he been exercising it in an honorable or kingly manner, but has surpassed in insolence and lawlessness all the tyrants the world ever saw, we patricians met together and resolved to deprive him of his power, a thing we ought to have done long ago, but are doing now when a favorable opportunity has offered. And we have called you together, plebeians, in order to declare our own decision and then ask for your assistance in achieving liberty for our country….

A general election was held, and the final vote was in favor of a Roman Republic. The monarchy was at an end, even while Lucretia was still displayed in the Forum.

The Roman noblemen, led by Brutus, obtained the support of both the Pātriciī (Roman Aristocracy) and the Plēbēs (Common People) to expel the King and his family and to institute a republic. Leaving Lucretius in command of the city, Brutus proceeded with a group of militia to the Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army) then camped at Ardea.

The King, who had been with the Army, heard of developments at Rome, and left the camp for the city before Brutus’ arrival. The soldiers who had been with Tarquin received Brutus as a hero, and the king’s sons were expelled from the camp.

Meanwhile back in Rome, the King was refused entry into the city and was forced to flee with his family into exile. Tarquin and his 2 eldest sons, Titus and Arruns, went into exile at Caere.

That uprising resulted in the exile or Regifugium, after a reign of 25 years of Tarquin and his family. The Roman Republic was then established with Brutus and Collatinus (both related by blood to Rome’s 5th King Lucius Tarquinius Priscus) as the original Cōnsulēs.

According to Livy, Brutus’ first act after the expulsion of Tarquin was to bring the people to swear an oath never to allow any man again to be king in Rome.

Omnium primum avidum novae libertatis populum, ne postmodum flecti precibus aut donis regiis posset, iure iurando adegit neminem Romae passuros regnare.

First of all, by swearing an oath that they would suffer no man to rule Rome, it forced the people, desirous of a new liberty, not to be thereafter swayed by the entreaties or bribes of kings.

This is, fundamentally, a restatement of the “private oath” sworn by the conspirators to overthrow the monarchy:

Per hunc… castissimum ante regiam iniuriam sanguinem iuro, vosque, di, testes facio me L. Tarquinium Superbum cum scelerata coniuge et omni liberorum stirpe ferro igni quacumque dehinc vi possim exsecuturum, nec illos nec alium quemquam regnare Romae passurum.

By this guiltless blood before the kingly injustice I swear – you and the gods as my witnesses – I make myself the one who will prosecute, by what force I am able, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus along with his wicked wife and the whole house of his freeborn children by sword, by fire, by any means hence, so that neither they nor any one else be suffered to rule Rome.

Brutus also replenished the number of Senators to 300 from the principal men of the Equites. The new Consuls also created a new office of Rex Sacrorum to carry out the religious duties that had previously been performed by the kings.

Brutus in the Forum denouncing Collatinus as a traitor who delighted in war and the profits of tyranny.

The Roman people loathed the name and family of the exiled King Tarquin. It was taken to such an extent that the Consul Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus was forced to resign from his office and go into exile.

After his exile, Tarquin made a number of attempts to regain the throne. At first, he sent ambassadors to the Senate to request the return of his family’s personal effects, which had been seized in the coup.

In secret, while the Senate debated his request, the ambassadors met with and subverted a number of the leading men of Rome to the royal cause, in the Tarquinian conspiracy. The conspirators included 2 of Brutus’ brothers-in-law, and his 2 sons Titus and Tiberius. The conspiracy was discovered, and the conspirators executed.

“The Lictors Bring Home the Sons of Brutus” by Jacques-Louis David (1784).

Although the Senate had initially agreed to Tarquin’s request for a return of his family’s effects, the decision was reconsidered and revoked after the discovery of the conspiracy. The royal property was instead given over to be plundered by the Roman populace.

Tarquin’s next attempted to regain Rome by force of arms. He began by gaining the support of the cities of Veii and Tarquinii, recalling to the former their regular losses of war and land to the Roman state, and to the latter his family ties.

Model version of the Battle of Silva Arsia.

The armies of the 2 cities were led by Tarquin against Rome in the Battle of Silva Arsia, with the king commanding the Etruscan infantry. Although the result initially appeared uncertain, the Romans were victorious.

The Roman victory wasn’t without its own perils for both Brutus (the Consul) and Arruns (the King’s son) were killed in the battle.

Another attempt by Tarquin relied on military support from Lars Porsenna, king of Clusium. The war led to the siege of Rome, and finally a peace treaty leaving Tarquin unable to regain the Roman throne.

Castor and Pollux fighting at the Battle of Lake Regillus, 1880 illustration by John Reinhard Weguelin.

Tarquin and his family left Clusium, and instead sought refuge in Tusculum with his son-in-law Octavius Mamilius. In about 496 BC, Tarquin and his son Titus fought with Mamilius and the Latin League against Rome, but lost, at the Battle of Lake Regillus where Mamilius perished.

Once more Tarquin was forced to flee, and he took refuge with the tyrant of Cumae, Aristodemus. It was there, in Cumae, in 495 BC that Rome’s last King finally expired.

Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy summarized as a storyboard.

With the rise of the Roman Republic, and the death of its last King, Rome would carry on from 509 – 27 BC (or 482 years for those that are particular). During that stretch Rome would see a lot of growth and troubles, that would all culminate with a General named Julius Caesar.

Gaius Julius Caesar

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey and look forward to having you back again soon. Make sure to check us out daily for you never know who we’ll be checking out or where we’ll be traveling.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Cornell, TimThe Beginnings of Rome. Routledge, 1995. ISBN 978-0-415-01596-7.

Gale, Robert L. A Herman Melville encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995. ISBN 978-0-313-29011-4.

Livy. Ab urbe condita.

Romulus: The Original Rex Romae

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

For the past 6 weeks we have been taking a closer look into the lives of the men that ruled Rome before it was the famous Republic. We carry on this journey as we explore the life of the King that started it all.

Today we investigate ½ of Rome’s foundation myth as we look at Rome’s Original King, Romulus!Romulus

According to Roman tradition, of which Livy‘s account is now the earliest to survive in full, Romulus and Remus were the twin brothers that founded Rome. The story of their birth could be considered that of legend.

The mother of the twins was Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Before the conception of the twins, Numitor’s brother Amulius seized power, killed Numitor’s male heirs and forced Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, sworn to chastity.

Legend has it that Rhea Silvia conceived the twins by the god Mars. Once the twins were born, Amulius had them abandoned to die in the Tiber River.

Capitoline WolfThe twins were saved by a series of miraculous interventions: the Tiber carried them to safety, a She-Wolf found and suckled them, and a woodpecker fed them. A shepherd and his wife found them and fostered the twins into manhood as simple shepherds.Faustulus discovers Romulus and Remus

The twins, still ignorant of their true origins, proved to be natural leaders, each acquiring many followers. When they discovered the truth of their birth, they killed Amulius and restored Numitor to his throne.

Rather than wait to inherit Alba Longa, they chose to found a new city. While Romulus wanted to found the new city on the Palatine Hill, Remus preferred the Aventine Hill.Seven_Hills_of_Rome

The brothers agreed to determine the site through augury but when each claimed the results in his own favor, they quarreled and Remus was killed. Romulus founded Roma, the new city named after himself.Romulus Kills Remus

Romulus completed his city and divided his fighting men into regiments of 3000 Infantry and 300 Cavalry, which he called “Legions“. From the rest of the populace he selected 100 of the most noble and wealthy fathers to serve as his council.

Romulus called these men Patricians for they were to be the fathers of Rome. The Patricians not only cared for their own legitimate citizen-sons, but they had a fatherly care for Rome and its entire people.

They also served as Rome’s elders, and were therefore known as Senators. Romulus thereby inaugurated a system of government and social hierarchy based on the patron-client relationship.

Rome drew exiles, refugees, the dispossessed, criminals and runaway slaves. The city expanded its boundaries to accommodate them settling five of the Seven Hills of Rome (the Capitoline Hill, the Aventine Hill, the Caelian Hill, the Quirinal Hill, and the Palatine Hill).

As most of these immigrants were men, Rome found itself with a shortage of marriageable women. Romulus invited the neighboring Sabines and Latins, along with their womenfolk, to a festival at the Circus Maximus, in honor of Consus (or of Neptune).

The Intervention of the Sabine WomenWhile the men were distracted by the games and befuddled with wine, the Romans seized their daughters and took them into the city. Most were eventually persuaded to marry Roman men.

The Sabine and Latin men demanded the return of their daughters. The inhabitants of 3 Latin towns ( Caenina, Antemnae and Crustumerium) took up arms one after the other.

All were soundly defeated by Romulus, who killed Acron, the king ofRomulus, Victor over Acron Caenina, with his own hands and celebrated the first Roman triumph shortly after. Romulus was noble in victory with most of the conquered land being divided among Rome’s citizens, but none of the defeated was enslaved.

The Sabine king Titus Tatius marched on Rome to assault its Capitoline Citadel. The Citadel commander’s daughter Tarpeia opened the gates for them, in return for “what they wear on their left arms”.

She expected their golden bracelets. Once inside, the Sabines crushed her to death under a pile of their shields.

The Sabines left the Citadel to meet the Romans in open battle in the space later known as Comitiumthe Comitium. The outcome hung in the balance.

The Romans retreated to the Palatine Hill, where Romulus called on Jupiter for help and built a temple to Jupiter Stator (the Stayer). The Romans drove the Sabines back to the point where the Curia Hostilia later stood.

The Sabine women themselves then intervened to beg for unity between Sabines and Romans. A truce was made, then peace.

The Romans based themselves on the Palatine and the Sabines on the Quirinal, with Romulus and Tatius as joint Kings and the Comitium as the common center of government and culture. A hundred Sabine elders and clan leaders then joined the Patrician Senate.Romulus and Tatius

The Sabines adopted the Roman calendar, and the Romans adopted the armor and oblong shield of the Sabines. Rome’s Legions instantly doubled in size.

Romulus and Tatius ruled jointly for 5 years and subdued the Alban colony of the Camerini. Then Tatius sheltered some allies who had illegally plundered the Lavinians, and murdered ambassadors sent to seek justice.

Romulus and the Senate decided that Tatius should go to Lavinium to offer sacrifice and appease his offence. At Lavinium, Tatius was assassinated and Romulus became sole ruler of his city.Romulus vsTatius

As King, Romulus held authority over Rome’s military and judiciary. He organized Rome’s administration according to tribe; one of Latins (Ramnes), one of Sabines (Titites), and one of Luceres.

Each elected a Tribune to represent their civil, religious, and military interests. The Tribunes were Magistrates of their tribes, performed sacrifices on their behalf, and commanded their tribal duties in times of war.

Curia_IuliaRomulus divided each tribe into 10 Curiae to form the Comitia Curiata. The 30 Curiae derived their individual names from 30 of the kidnapped Sabine women.

The individual Curiae were further divided into 10 Gentes, held to form the basis for the nomen in the Roman naming convention. Proposals made by Romulus or the Senate were offered to the Curiate assembly for ratification.

The 10 Gentes within each Curiae would cast a vote. Votes were carried by whichever gens has a majority.

Romulus next formed a personal guard called the Celeres. These were 300 of Rome’s finest horsemen.

They were commanded by a Tribune of the Ramnes, for it was said that Celer killed Remus and helped Romulus found the city of Rome. The provision of a personal guard for Romulus helped justify the Augustan development of a Praetorian Guard, responsible for internal security and the personal safety of the Emperor.Praetorian Guard

The relationship between Romulus and his Tribune resembled the later relation between the Roman Dictator and his Magister Equitum. Celer, as the Celerum Tribune, occupied the next hightest place in the state, and in Romulus’s absence had the rights of convoking the Comitia and commanding the armed forces.

For more than 2 decades, Romulus waged wars and expanded Rome’s territory. He subdued Fidenae, which seized Roman provisions during a famine, and founded a Roman colony there.

Then he subdued the Crustumini, who had murdered Roman colonists in their territory. The Etruscans of Veii protested the presence of a Roman garrison at Fidenae, and demanded the return of the town to its citizens.

When Romulus refused, they confronted him in battle and were defeated. They agreed to a 100-year truce and surrendered 50 noble hostages, thus allowing Romulus to celebrate his 3rd and final triumph.

ager_romanusWhen Romulus’s grandfather Numitor died, the people of Alba Longa offered him the crown as rightful heir. Romulus adapted Alba Longa’s government to a Roman model, having its citizens hold annual elections and choose one of their own as Roman Governor.

In Rome, Romulus began to show signs of autocratic rule. The Senate became less influential in administration and lawmaking.

He divided his conquered territories among his soldiers without Patrician consent. Senatorial resentment grew to hatred.

According to the legend, Romulus “mysteriously” disappeared in a storm or whirlwind, during or shortly after offering public sacrifice at or near the Quirinal Hill. A “foul suspicion” arose that the Senate, weary of kingly government and exasperated of late by the imperious deportment of Romulus toward them, had plotted against the life of Romulus and made him away.

It was the Senate’s hope that by disposing of Romulus, Rome’s King, they might assume the authority and government into their own hands. This suspicion they sought to turn aside by decreeing divine honors to Romulus, as to one not dead, but translated to a higher condition.

Romulus_being_taken_up_to_OlympusAnd Proculus, a man of note, took oath that he saw Romulus caught up into heaven in his arms and vestments. He also claimed to have heard Romulus, as he ascended, cry out that they should hereafter style him by the name of Quirinus.

Livy repeats more or less the same story, but shifts the initiative for deification to the people of Rome. Livy infers Romulus’s murder as no more than a dim and doubtful whisper from the past; in the circumstances, Proculus’ declaration is wise and practical because it has the desired effect.

Cicero’s seeming familiarity with the story of Romulus’s murder and divinity must have been shared by his target audience and readership. Dio’s version, though fragmentary, has Romulus surrounded by hostile, resentful Senators and “rent limb from limb” in the Senate-House itself.

An eclipse and sudden storm, “the same sort of phenomenon that had attended his birth”, conceal the deed from the soldiers and the people, who are anxiously seeking their king. A new king must be chosen at once, but a dispute arises whether this king be Sabine or Roman.

The debate goes on for a year. During this time, the most distinguished Senators rule for 5 days at a time as Interreges.

Plutarch says that Romulus was 53 (“in the fifty-fourth year of his age”) when he “vanished” in 717 BC. This then gives the twins a birth-date in the year 771 BC, and Romulus’s founding of Rome at the age of 18.

Dionysius of Halicarnassus says that Romulus began his reign at 18, ruled for 37 years and died at 55 years old.

Ennius refers to Romulus as a divinity without reference to Quirinus,Quirinus whom Roman mythographers identified as an originally Sabine war-deity, and thus to be identified with Roman MarsLucilius lists Quirinus and Romulus as separate deities, and Varro accords them different temples.

Images of Quirinus showed him as a bearded warrior wielding a spear as a god of war, the embodiment of Roman strength and a deified likeness of the city of Rome. He had a Flamen Maior called the Flamen Quirinalis, who oversaw his worship and rituals in the ordainment of Roman religion attributed to Romulus’s royal successor, Numa Pompilius.

There is however no evidence for the conflated Romulus-Quirinus before the 1st Century BC.

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses a description is given of the deification of Romulus and his wife Hersilia, who are given the new names of Quirinus and Hora respectively. Mars, the father of Romulus, is given permission by Jupiter to bring his son up to Olympus to live with the Olympians.

Ovid uses the words of Ennius as a direct quote and puts them into the mouth of the King of the Gods, “There shall be one whom you shall raise to the blue vault of heaven”.

Thanks to divine favor and Romulus’s inspired leadership, Rome became a dominant force. The legend as a whole encapsulates Rome’s ideas of itself, its origins and moral values.

An earlier tradition gave Romulus a distant ancestor in the semi-divine Trojan prince Aeneas was further embellished. Romulus was then made the direct ancestor of Rome’s earliest Imperial dynasty (Julio-Claudian).

Rome’s foundation story has always been a matter of national pride. It was featured in the earliest known History of Rome, which was attributed to Diocles of Peparethus.

2Only a legendary birth could give rise to a city, then Empire, that would become legendary in its own rite. Whatever the circumstances truly are we know Romulus was the Founder of Rome and her 1st King, and would be hard pressed to prove otherwise.

We hope you enjoyed today’s look at possibly the most famous of Rome’s citizens. We look forward to having you back again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Albertoni, Margherita, et al. The Capitoline Museums: Guide. Milan: Electa, 2006.

Beard, M.North, J.; and Price, S. Religions of Rome, vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-521-31682-0.

Cornell, T. The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000–264 BC). Routledge, 1995. ISBN 978-0-415-01596-7.

Feldherr, Andrew, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Livy. The Early History of Rome, 1.16. Translated by A. de Selincourt.

Plutarch. Romulus. Classics, trans. by John Dryden. MIT.

Momigliano, Arnoldo. The classical foundations of modern historiography. University Presses of California, Columbia and Princeton, 1990.

Wiseman, T. P. Remus: a Roman myth. Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-521-48366-7.

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus: The Elder King (#5)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Over the past few weeks we have taken a closer look at the 7 Reges Romae. We have already seen Ancus Marcius: 4th King of RomeLucius Tarquinius Superbus: Last King of RomeNuma Pompilius: Rome’s 2nd Rex, Servius Tullius: 6th King and 2nd Etruscan, and Tullus Hostilius: 3rd Warrior King.

Today we continue on regal tour as we take a look at Rome’s 5th King, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus!Tarquinius-Priscus

Also known as Tarquin the Elder, according to Livy the King came from Etruria. Livy claims that his original Etruscan name was Lucumo, but since Lucumo (Etruscan Lauchume) is the Etruscan word for “King”, there is reason to believe that Priscus’ name and title have been confused in the official tradition.

After inheriting his father’s entire fortune, Lucius attempted to gain a political office. He had been prohibited from obtaining political office in Tarquinii because of the ethnicity of his father, Demaratus, who came from the Greek city of Corinth.

Tarquin_and_the_EagleDisgruntled with his opportunities in Etruria, Tarquin migrated to Rome with his wife Tanaquil, at her suggestion. Legend has it that upon his arrival into Rome in a chariot, an eagle took his cap, flew away and then returned it back upon his head.

Tanaquil, who was skilled in prophecy, interpreted this as an omen of his future greatness. In Rome, he attained respect through his courtesy.

The present king, Ancus Marcius, himself noticed Tarquinius and, by his will, appointed Tarquinius guardian of his own sons.

Although Ancus Marcius, the Roman king, was the grandson of Numa Pompilius, Rome’s 2nd King, the principle of hereditary monarchy was not yet established at Rome. None of the initial 3 Kings had been succeeded by their sons, and each subsequent King had been acclaimed by the people.

Upon the death of King Marcius, Tarquin addressed the Comitia Curiata and convinced them that he should be elected King over Marcius’ natural sons, who were still only youths. In one tradition, the sons were away on a hunting expedition at the time of their father’s death, and were thus unable to affect the assembly’s choice.

Whatever the case, Tarquin was King of Rome from 616 to 579 BC.

According to Livy, Tarquin increased the number of the Senate by adding 100 men from the leading minor families. Among these was the family of the Octavii, from whom the original Roman EmperorAugustus, was descended.

Most ancient writers regarded Tarquin as the father of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the 7th and final King of Rome, but some stated that the younger Tarquin was his grandson. As the younger Tarquin died about 496 BC, more than 80 years after Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, chronology seems to support the latter tradition.

According to the Fasti Triumphales, Tarquin’s first war was wagedConsulting Attius Navius against the Latins prior to 588 BC. King Lucius took the Latin town of Apiolae by storm and took great booty from there back to Rome.

His military ability was then tested by an attack from the Sabines, who received auxiliaries from 5 Etruscan cities. Tarquin doubled the numbers of Equites to help the war effort.

The Sabines were defeated after difficult street fighting in the city of Rome. In the peace negotiations that followed, Tarquin received the town of Collatia, and appointed his nephew, Arruns Tarquinius, better known as Egerius, as commander of the garrison there.

Tarquin returned to Rome and celebrated a triumph on 13 September 585 BC. Subsequently, the Latin cities of Corniculum, old Ficulea, Cameria, Crustumerium, Ameriola, Medullia and Nomentum were subdued and became Roman.

Since Tarquin had kept the captured Etruscan auxiliaries prisoners for meddling in the war with the Sabines, the 5 Etruscan cities who had taken part declared war on Rome. Seven other Etruscan cities joined forces with them.The Elder

The Etruscans soon captured the Roman Colonia at Fidenae, which thereupon became the focal point of the war. After several bloody battles, Tarquin was once again victorious, and he subjugated the Etruscan cities who had taken part in the war.

At the successful conclusion of each of his wars, Rome was enriched by Tarquin’s plunder.

Tarquin is said to have built the Circus Maximus, the foremost and largest stadium at Rome, for chariot racing. Raised seating was erected privately by the Senators and Equites, and other areas were marked out for private citizens.Circus_Maximus_in_Rome

There the King established a series of annual games. According to Livy, the opening horses and boxers to participate were brought from Etruria.

After a great flood, Tarquin drained the damp lowlands of Rome by constructing the Cloaca Maxima, Rome’s great sewer. He also constructed a stone wall around the city, and began the construction of a temple in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill with funds plundered from the Sabines.Domitian-Cloaca-Forum

Rendering to Florus, Tarquin celebrated his triumphs in the Etruscan fashion. Riding in a golden chariot drawn by 4 horses, while wearing a gold-embroidered toga and the tunica palmata, a tunic upon which palm-leaves were embroidered, the King was cheered by the people of Rome.

Tarquin also introduced other Etruscan insignia of civilian authorityLictory Carrying Fasces and military distinction: the Sceptre of the King, the Trabea, the Fasces carried by the Lictors, the Sella Curulis, the toga praetexta, the rings worn by Senators, the Paludamentum, and the phalera. Strabo reports that Tarquin introduced Etruscan sacrificial and divinatory rites, as well as the tuba, a straight horn used chiefly for military purposes.

Tarquin is said to have reigned for 38 years. The sons of Ancus Marcius believed that the throne should have been theirs and arranged Tarquin’s assassination.

Disguised as a riot, Tarquin received a fatal blow to the head. Queen Tanaquil gave a statement that the King was merely wounded, and took advantage of the confusion to establish Servius Tullius as regent.

CoinWhen the death of Tarquin was confirmed, Servius Tullius became King, again leaving Marcius’ sons without the royal position. Interesting of note is that Tullius even kept Tarquin’s own sons from inheriting the throne.

We hope that you enjoyed today’s look at the Elder King, and look forward to having you back soon. Make sure to come back in a week though to see who the remaining King will be.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

(and Happy Birthday to my Big Brother Nathan!)


Chisholm, Hugh. “Tarquinius Priscus, Lucius“. Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press, 1911.

Eutropius. Breviarium Historiae Romanae.

FlorusEpitoma de Tito Livio bellorum omnium annorum.

LivyAb Urbe Condita.

Tullus Hostilius: 3rd Warrior King

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Over the past few weeks we have taken a closer look at the 7 Reges Romae. We have already seen Ancus Marcius: 4th King of RomeLucius Tarquinius Superbus: Last King of Rome, Numa Pompilius: Rome’s 2nd Rex, and Servius Tullius: 6th King and 2nd Etruscan.

Today we continue on regal tour as we take a look at Rome’s 3rd King, Tullus Hostilius!Tulius-Hostilius

Tullus Hostilius was the grandson of Hostus Hostilius, who had fought with Romulus and died during the Sabine invasion of Rome. Little is known, or at least has lasted the centuries, about the early years and family of Tullus.

Upon succeeding Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius ruled Rome from 673–642 BC. Unlike his predecessor, Tullus was known as a warlike king.

The principal feature of Tullus’ reign was his defeat of Alba Longa. In the 7th Century BC some Roman and Alban peasants had plundered each other’s lands.

Alba Longa was a vassal state of Rome, but the Alban dictator Mettius Fufetius subsequently betrayed Rome. Ambassadors were dispatched by each side to demand restitution.

With the pretext now in place war was thereafter declared, first by the warlike Roman king Tullus Hostilius, and soon after by the Alban king Gaius Cluilius. Tullus ordered Alba Longa to be destroyed.

The victorious Romans forced the migration of the Alban citizenry to Rome, where they were integrated and became Roman citizens. Livy describes the war as being akin to a civil war, because the The Victory of Tullus Hostilius over the armies of Veii and FidenaeRomans were said to be descended from the Albans.

Tullus also fought successful wars against Fidenae and Veii and against the Sabines.

According to Livy, Tullus paid little heed to religious observances during his reign, thinking them unworthy of a king’s attention. However, at the close of his reign, Rome was affected by a series of prophecies including a shower of stones on the Alban Mount.

In response to the shower of stones, a public religious festival of 9 days was held – a novendialis. A loud voice was said to have been heard on the summit of the mount complaining that the Albans had failed to show devotion to their former gods, and a pestilence struck Rome thereafter.

King Tullus became ill and was filled with superstition. He reviewed the commentaries of Numa Pompilius and attempted to carry out sacrifices recommended by Numa to Jupiter Elicius.

However, Tullus did not undertake the ceremony correctly. Both heTribute to TH and his house were struck by lightning and reduced to ashes supposedly as a result of the Jupiter’s anger.

As with those of all the early Kings of Rome, the events ascribed to the reign of Tullus Hostilius are treated with skepticism by modern historians. Part of this is due to obvious flaws in the literary tradition describing the Kings.

Much like the confusion the Ancients exhibited in attributing identical accomplishments to both Tarquinius Priscus and Tarquinius Superbus, the accomplishments of Tullus Hostilius are thought by many scholars to be rhetorical doublets of those of Romulus. Both were brought up among shepherds, carry on war against Fidenae and Veii, double the number of citizens, and organize the Army.

Additionally, Tullus Hostilius’ warlike and ferocious character seems be little more than a contrasting stereotype to the peaceable, devout Numa Pompilius. The earliest Roman annalists may merely have imputed aggressive qualities to Hostilius by naively parsing his gentile name (Hostilius meaning “hostile” in Latin).

Hostilius was probably a historical figure, however, in the strict sense that a man bearing the name Tullus Hostilius likely reigned as king in Rome. The most compelling evidence is his name: “Tullus” is a unique praenomen in Roman culture, and his gentile name is obscure and linguistically archaic enough to rule out the possibility that he was a crude later invention.

Additionally, 2 distinctive events traditionally ascribed to his reign may be regarded as historical fact in the sense that we know they happened during the early regal period. Although, their association with Hostilius himself is debatable.

The foremost event was the destruction of Alba Longa. It is beyond doubt that the Alban mountains were the site of a large settlement and that this settlement fell under Roman power during the regal period.Reduction_of_Alba_Longa_by_Tullus_Hostilius,_Circa_1430

By whom or when Alba Longa was destroyed is uncertain though. It was almost certainly subjugated at a later date than that given by Livy and may have been destroyed by the Latins and not by the Romans, who might have regarded as impious the destruction of their traditional mother-country.

forum_roman_curiaThe subsequent historical event is the construction of the original Curia Hostilia (Senate House) whose remains on the northwestern edge of the Forum have been dated to around 600 BC. The Forum was universally held by the tradition to have been built by, and thus named in honor of, Tullus.

Although a date of 600 BC would put it well outside of the dates traditionally ascribed to Tullus Hostilius’ reign, this is hardly an issue. The absurdly long reigns of the Roman Kings have never been taken seriously by scholars, since the average length per king was 34 years.

If this was really true, then the traditional chronology would be without historical parallel. Even the remarkably stable and healthy English monarchy has an average reign of only 21 years, in comparison.

foundations-of-romeA more plausible chronology offered by Tim Cornell, and supported by recent archaeological research, reduces the regal period from 240 to around 120 years. It also places the historical accomplishments of the Kings between 625 BC, when the first signs of real urbanization and unification of Rome show up in the archaeological record, and 500 BC.

This would bring the construction of the Curia Hostilia well within the time of a possible reign by Tullus Hostilius. It would also explain the otherwise inexplicable name of the building.

Incidents from legends surrounding Tullus Hostilius were used as the basis of opera librettos during the Baroque period in music, beginning with a Tullo Ostilio opera performed in Rome in 1694 with music of Giovanni Bononcini. Operatic pastiches with the title Tullo Ostilio performed in Prague in 1727 and Brno in 1735 included music of Antonio Vivaldi.

Consistent with contemporary conventions, the stories concentrate on concocted love stories involving members of the principal character’s family.

Oath_of_the_HoratiiTullus Hostilius has also been mentioned by contemporary authors. He was played by Robert Keith in the 1961 film Duel of Champions, which centered around the Horatii.

Tullus is briefly mentioned in the Aeneid in the description of Aeneas‘ shield. He is described as hauling away the remains of the liar Mettius through the brush.

He is a character in Philip Jose Farmer‘s novel Riverworld. After thetullus_hostilius Resurrection, he has teamed up with Hermann Göring to run a slave-state.

We realize there was not too much to go on, but we hope you enjoyed today’s trip nonetheless. Come back next week to see which King we have coming.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Cornell, T.J. The Beginnings of Rome.

Livy. Ab Urbe Condita.

Servius Tullius: 6th King and 2nd Etruscan

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Over the past few weeks we have taken a closer look at the 7 Reges Romae. We have already seen Ancus Marcius: 4th King of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus: Last King of Rome, and Numa Pompilius: Rome’s 2nd Rex.

Today we take a look at the 6th King, and 2nd of the Etruscan dynasty, Servius Tullius!Servius_by_Rouille

Several traditions describe Servius’ father as divine. Most Roman sources name Servius’ mother as Ocrisia, a captured Latin princess.

Livy depicts Servius’ mother as taken at the Roman siege of Corniculum, enslaved by the Romans, then brought to Rome. Ocrisia is said to be either pregnant by her husband, who was killed at the siege, or a virgin at the time of her capture.

She was given to Tanaquil, wife of king Tarquinius, and though slave, was treated with the respect due her former status. Tanaquil believed Ocrisia to have been divinely impregnated by either Lar or Vulcan, thus already destining the unborn Servius for greatness despite his mother’s servile status.

Servius’ birth to a slave of the royal household made him part of Tarquin’s extended familia. Ancient sources infer him as protégé, rather than adopted son, as he married Tarquinius’ and Tanaquil’s daughter, named by some sources as GeganiaFlames Over His Head

All sources agree that before his accession, either in his early childhood or later, members of the royal household witnessed a nimbus of fire about his head while he slept, a sign of divine favor, and a great portent. He proved a loyal, responsible son-in-law and excelled in his governmental and military responsibilities.

He reigned 575–535 BC. Roman and Greek sources describe his servile origins and later marriage to a daughter of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, Rome’s original Etruscan king.

Servius was variously said to have been the primary Roman king to accede without election by the Senate, having gained the throne by popular support, at the contrivance of his mother-in-law. Servius was also the first to be elected by the Senate without reference to the people.

In any case, Servius Tullius has been described as Rome’s “Second Founder”, “the most complex and enigmatic” of all its kings, and a kind of “proto-Republican magistrate”. So basically Servius was a popular king, and one of Rome’s most significant benefactors.tarquinus-priscus

His personal reputation and achievements may have led to his historical association with temples and shrines to Fortuna. Some sources suggest that the pair were connected during Servius’ lifetime, via some form of “sacred marriage”.

Plutarch explicitly identifies the Porta Fenestella (Window Gate) of the Royal palace, now lost, as the window from which Tanaquil announced Servius’ regency to the people. Later, the goddess Fortuna was said to have later passed through the same window, to become Servius’ consort.

Early in his reign, Servius warred against Veii and the Etruscans. He is said to have shown valor in the campaign, and to have routed a great army of the enemy. According to the Fasti Triumphales, Servius celebrated 3 triumphs over the Etruscans, including on 25 November 571 BC and 25 May 567 BC (the date of the 3rd triumph is not legible on the Fasti).

CoinServius also expanded the city to include the Quirinal, Viminal and Esquiline Hills. He is credited with the institution of the Compitalia festivals, the building of temples to Fortuna and Diana, and the invention of Rome’s first true coinage.

Despite the opposition of Rome’s Patricians, Servius expanded the Roman franchise and improved the lot and fortune of Rome’s lowest classes of citizens and non-citizens. According to Livy, he reigned for 44 years, until murdered by his daughter Tullia and son-in-law Tarquinius Superbus.Death of Servius Tullius

In consequence of this “tragic crime” and his hubristic arrogance as king, Tarquinius was eventually removed. This cleared the way for the abolition of Rome’s monarchy and the founding of the Roman Republic, whose groundwork had already been laid by Servius’ reforms.

His unconstitutional and seemingly reluctant accession, and his direct appeal to the Roman masses over the heads of the Senate may have been interpreted as signs of tyranny. Under these circumstances, an extraordinary personal charisma must have been central to his success.

Hut of RomulusWhen Servius expanded Rome’s influence and boundaries, and reorganized its citizenship and armies, his “new Rome” was still centered on the Comitium, the Casa Romuli or “Hut” of Romulus. Servius became a second Romulus, a benefactor to his people, part human, part divine.

Most of the reforms credited to Servius extended voting rights to certain groups — in particular to Rome’s citizen-commoners (known in the Republican era as Plebs), minor landholders hitherto disqualified from voting by ancestry, status or ethnicity. The same reforms simultaneously defined the fiscal and military obligations of all Roman citizens.

As a whole, the so-called Servian reforms probably represent a long-drawn, complex and piecemeal process of populist policy and reform, extending from Servius’ predecessors, Ancus Marcius and Tarquinius Priscus, to his successor Tarquinius Superbus, and into the Middle and Late Republic. Rome’s military and territorial expansion and consequent changes in its population would have made franchise regulation and reform an ongoing necessity, and their wholesale attribution to Servius “cannot be taken at face value”.Servius' Rome

Until the Servian reforms, the passing of laws and judgment was the prerogative of the Comitia Curiata (Curiate Assembly). The Senate advised the king, devised laws in his name, and was held to represent the entire populus Romanus (Roman people) but it could only debate and discuss.

Its decisions had no force unless approved by the Comitia Curiata. By the time of Servius, if not long before, the tribes of the Comitia were a minority of the population, ruling a multitude with no effective voice in their own government.

Roman tradition held that Servius formed a Comitia Centuriata of commoners to displace the Comitia Curiata as Rome’s central legislative body. This required his development of the first Roman census, making Servius the foremost Roman Censor.

For the purposes of the census, citizens assembled by tribe in the Campus Martius to register their social rank, household, property and income. This established an individual’s tax obligations, his ability to muster arms for military service when required to do so, and his assignment to a particular voting bloc.Century

The Roman Army‘s centuria system and its order of battle are thought to be based on the civilian classifications established by the census. The military selection process picked men from civilian centuriae and slipped them into military ones.

The Servian reforms increased the number of tribes and expanded the city, which was protected by a new rampart, moat and wall. The enclosed area was divided into 4 administrative regiones (regions, or quarters); the Suburana, Esquilana, Collina and Palatina.

Servius himself is said to have taken a new residence, on the Esquiline. The situation beyond the walls is unclear, but thereafter, membership of a Roman voting-tribe would have depended on residence rather than ancestry and inheritance.

Servian-WallThe city of Rome’s division into regiones remained in use until 7 BC, when Augustus divided the city into 14 new regiones. In modern Rome, an ancient portion of surviving wall is attributed to Servius, the remainder supposedly being rebuilt after the sack of Rome in 390/387 BC by the Gauls.

Sometime before the Augustan Compitalia reforms of 7 BC, Dionysius of Halicarnassus reports Servius’ fathering by a Lar and his founding of Compitalia as ancient Roman traditions. In Servius, Augustus found ready association with a popular benefactor and refounder of Rome, whose reluctance to adopt kingship distanced him from its taints.

Augustus brought the Compitalia and its essentially plebeian festivals, customs and political factions under his patronage and if need be, his censorial powers. He did not, however, trace his lineage and his re-founding to Servius – who even with part-divine ancestry still had servile connections – but with Romulus, patrician founding hero, ancestor of the divine Julius Caesar, descendant of Venus and Mars.

Though his slave origins remain without parallel, and make him all the more remarkable, Servius Tullius seems to have made a lasting legacy on his accomplishments on behalf of Rome. Even though there was another king after him, Servius was regarded as Rome’s last good king.Tomba_Francois_-_Liberazione_di_Celio_Vibenna

We hope you enjoyed today’s look into the unique life of a tremendous Roman. Please stop by again soon to see what we have in store for you.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Beard, M.; Price, S.; North, J. Religions of Rome: Volume 1, A HistoryCambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-521-31682-0.

Cornell, T. The beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000 – 264 BC). Routledge, 1995. ISBN 978-0-415-01596-7.

Grandazzi, Alexandre. The foundation of Rome: myth and history. Cornell University Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0-8014-8247-2.

Lendon, J.E. Soldiers & Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity. Yale University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-300-11979-8ISBN 978-0-300-11979-4.

Livy. Ab Urbe Condita.

Plutarch. Moralia.

Numa Pompilius: Rome’s 2nd Rex

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Over the past few weeks we have taken a closer look at the 7 Reges Romae. We have already seen Ancus Marcius: 4th King of Rome and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus: Last King of Rome.

Since we are going out of any order, today we take a look at the Secundus Rex Romae Numa Pompilius!Numa_Pompilius

Numa Pompilius was the legendary 2nd King of Rome, succeeding Romulus. He was of Sabine origin, and many of Rome’s most important religious and political institutions are attributed to him.

According to Plutarch, Numa was the youngest of 4 sons, born on the day of Rome’s founding (traditionally, 21 April 753 BC). He lived a severe life of discipline and banished all luxury from his home.

Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines and a colleague of Romulus, gave in marriage his only daughter, Tatia, to Numa. After 13 years of marriage, Tatia died, precipitating Numa’s retirement to the countryside.

2According to Livy, Numa resided at Cures immediately before being elected king. Livy and Plutarch refer to and discredit the story that Numa was instructed in philosophy by Pythagoras, as chronologically implausible.

Plutarch reports that some authors credited him with only a single daughter, Pompilia. Pompilia’s mother has been identified as either Numa’s first wife Tatia or his second wife Lucretia.

Pompilia is said to have married the future original Pontifex Maximus Numa Marcius. This couple would then give birth to the future king Ancus Marcius.

Whether fictional to enhance their family tree or in truth, other authors credit Numa with 5 sons: Pompo (or Pomponius), Pinus, Calpus, Mamercus and Numa. This is from whom the noble families (gentes) of the PomponiiPinarii, CalpurniiAemilii, and Pompilii respectively traced their descent.

After the death of Romulus, there was an Interregnum of a single year in which the royal power was exercised by members of the Senate in rotation for 5 days in a row. After much bickering between the factions of Romulus (the Romans) and Tatius (the Sabines), a compromise was reached in 715 BC.

The Sabine Numa was elected by the Senate as the next King of Rome. According to Plutarch, Numa was a cunning and calculating person and initially refused the offer.

His father and Sabine kinsmen, including his teacher and the father of Numa’s son-in law, Marcus, along with an embassy of 2 Senators from Rome, banded together to persuade him to accept. In the account of Plutarch and Livy, Numa, after being summoned by the Senate from Cures, was offered the tokens of power amid an enthusiastic reception by the people of Rome.

AugurHowever, Numa requested that an Augur should divine the opinion of the gods on the prospect of his kingship before he accepted. Jupiter was consulted and the omens were favorable.

Thus approved by the Roman and Sabine people as well as the heavens, Numa took up his position as King of Rome.

According to Plutarch, Numa’s primary act was to disband the personal guard of 300 so-called Celeres (the Swift) with which Romulus had permanently surrounded himself. The gesture is variously interpreted as self-protection in the face of their questionable loyalty, a sign of humility, or a signal of peace and moderation.

Numa was traditionally celebrated by the Romans for his wisdom and piety. In addition to the endorsement by Jupiter, he is supposed to have had a direct and personal relationship with a number of deities, most famously the nymph Egeria, who according to legend taught him to be a wise legislator.

According to Livy, Numa claimed that he held nightly consultations with Egeria on the proper manner of instituting sacred rites for the city. Plutarch suggests that he played on superstition to give himself an aura of awe and divine allure, in order to cultivate more gentle behaviors among the warlike early Romans, such as honoring the gods, abiding by law, behaving humanely to enemies, and living proper, respectable lives.Numa and Egeria

Numa was said to have authored several “sacred books” in which he had written down divine teachings, mostly from Egeria and the Muses. Plutarch (citing Valerius Antias) and Livy record that at his request he was buried along with these “sacred books”, preferring that the rules and rituals they prescribed be preserved in the living memory of the state priests, rather than preserved as relics subject to forgetfulness and disuse.

About half of these books, Plutarch and Livy differ on their number, were thought to cover the priesthoods he had established or developed, including the FlaminesCollegium PontificumSalii, and Fetiales and their rituals. The other books dealt with philosophy (disciplina sapientiae).

According to Plutarch these books were recovered some 400 years later, or almost 500 years according to Livy in 181 BC at the occasion of a natural accident that exposed the tomb. They were examined by the Senate, deemed to be inappropriate for disclosure to the people, and burned.

Numa is reputed to have constrained the 2 minor gods Picus and Faunus into delivering some prophecies of things to come. Supported and prepared by Egeria, Numa reportedly held a battle of wits with Jupiter himself during an apparition whereby Numa sought to gain a protective ritual against lightning strikes and thunder.

At a time of a pestilential disease that was playing havoc in the population, a prodigy happened: a shield came to fall from the sky. When it was brought to Numa he declared that Egeria had enlightened Anciliahim that this was a token of safeguard from Jupiter, for which he organized due measures of recognition, thus bringing the plague to an immediate end. This shield became a sacred relic of the Romans and was placed in the care of the Salii.

Recognizing the paramount importance of the sacred shield descended from the skies, King Numa had 11 matching shields made, so perfect that no one, even Numa, could distinguish the original any longer. These shields were the ancilia, the sacred shields of Jupiter, which were carried each year in a procession by the Salii priests.

One of Numa’s first acts was the construction of a temple of Janus as an indicator of peace and war. The temple was constructed at the foot of the Argiletum, a road in the city. After securing peace with Rome’s neighbors, the doors of the temples were shut and remained so for all the duration of Numa’s reign, a unique case in Roman history.

Another, surprising, creation attributed to Numa was the cult of Terminus, a god for boundaries. Through this rite, which involved cult of Terminussacrifices at private properties, boundaries and landmarks, Numa reportedly sought to instill in Romans the respect of lawful property and non-violent relationships with neighbors.

The cult of Terminus, preached Numa, involved absence of violence and murder. The god was a testament to justice and a keeper of peace.

Numa also established the office and duties of Pontifex Maximus and instituted the Flamen of Quirinus, in honor of Romulus, in addition to those of Jupiter and Mars that already existed. Numa also brought the Vestal Virgins to Rome from Alba Longa.

By tradition, Numa promulgated a calendar reform that adjusted the solar and lunar years. Due to this adjustment the months of January and February were originally introduced.Roman-calendar

Dionysius of Halicarnassus devotes much more space to Numa’s religious reforms. In his account the institution of 8 priesthoods is attributed to Numa.

Establishing Worship of the VestalsHowever, the space he devotes to the description of these priesthoods and the official duties they discharged is very uneven. He says only a few words about the Curiones,  Flamines, Celeres, Augurs, while devoting much more attention to the Vestals, Salii, Fetials, and Pontiffs.

His minute prescriptions about the ceremonies and sacrifices were certainly written down in order to remember them correctly. Plutarch records some of these such as sacrificing an uneven number of victims to the heavenly gods and an even number to the nether gods; the prohibition of making libations to the gods with wine; the prohibition of sacrificing without flour; the necessity of making a complete turn on oneself while praying and worshiping the gods.

The ritual of the Spolia Opima is ascribed to Numa too by ancient sources. Finally, it was stated that the Indigitamenta were also attributed to him.

Numa was credited with dividing the immediate territory of Rome into pagi and establishing the traditional occupational guilds of Rome: musicians, goldsmiths, carpenters, dyers, shoemakers, skinners, braziers, potters, and all other handicraftsmen he composed and reduced into a single company.

Based on Roman chronology, Numa died of old age in 673 BC. He was succeeded by Tullus Hostilius.

Livy narrates that while digging in the field of the Scriba L. Petilius at the foot of the Ianiculum, peasants found 2 stone coffers (8 x 4 feet) inscribed both in Latin and in Greek characters. One stated that Numa Pompilus, son of Pompon, King of the Romans was buried (there) and the other that Numa’s books were inside it.

Upon the advice of his friends Petilius opened it, and found that the one inscribed with the name of the king was found empty. The other did contain 2 bundles each of 7 books in Latin dealing with pontifical law, the other 7 in Greek of philosophy as it was in that remote past.

The books were shown to other people and the fact became public. The books were deemed as very dangerous to religion and upon a decision by the Senate the books were burnt by the victimarii.

So even after his passing, Numa Pompilius was still impacting his fellow Romans. That is the way a king should be remembered.numa-pompilius-second-king-of-rome

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey and look forward to having you back again for further adventures. Stop by soon because we never know what will be in store.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



LivyAb urbe conditaLiber 1.

PlutarchParallel Lives, Life of Numa Pompilius.

Silk, Mark. “Numa Pompilius and the Idea of Civil Religion in the West”. Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 2004. doi:10.1093/jaarel/lfh082.

Numa on the Ara Pacis Augustae

Unearthing Rome’s king from the History News Network

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus: Last King of Rome

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Last week we brought you a piece about Ancus Marcius: Rome’s 4th King. As we stated we will bring you the stories of all 7 Kings, but we will do it in an unconventional manner.

That is why today we bring to you Lucius Tarquinius Superbus the final King of Rome!Tarquinius-Superbus

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was the legendary 7th Roman King, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, from his cognomen Superbus (Latin for “proud, arrogant, lofty”).

Ancient accounts of the regal period mingle history and legend. Tarquin was said to have been the son or grandson of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, the 5th King of Rome.

The ProudSuperbus is said to have gained the throne through the murders of both his wife and his elder brother, followed by the assassination of his predecessor, Servius Tullius. His reign has been described as a tyranny that justified the abolition of the monarchy.

Tarquin was the son or grandson of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus and Tanaquil. Tanaquil had engineered her husband’s succession to the Roman kingdom on the death of Ancus Marcius.

When the sons of Marcius arranged the elder Tarquin’s assassination in 579 BC, Tanaquil placed Servius Tullius on the throne, in preference to her own sons. According to an Etruscan tradition, the hero Macstarna, usually equated with Servius Tullius, defeated and killed a Roman named Gnaeus Tarquinius, and rescued the brothers Caelius and Aulus Vibenna. This may recollect an otherwise forgotten attempt by the sons of Tarquin the elder to reclaim the throne.

To forestall further dynastic strife, Tullius married off his daughters, Tullia Major and Tullia Minor, to future king Lucius Tarquinius and his brother Arruns. Their sister, Tarquinia, married Marcus Junius Brutus, and was the mother of Lucius Junius Brutus.

The elder Tullia was of mild disposition, yet married the ambitious Lucius Tarquinius. Her younger sister was of fiercer temperament, but her husband Arruns was not and she came to despise him because of it.Accepts Glory

The younger Tullia conspired with his brother to bring about the deaths of the elder sister and younger brother. After the murder of their siblings, Lucius and Tullia were married.

Together, they had 3 sons: TitusArruns, and Sextus, and a daughter, Tarquinia, who married Octavius Mamilius, the prince of Tusculum.

Tullia encouraged her husband to advance his own position, ultimately persuading him to usurp the throne. Tarquin solicited the support of the Patrician Senators, especially those from families who had received their rank under Tarquin the Elder.

Superbus bestowed presents upon them, and spread criticism of Servius the King. In time, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus felt ready to seize the throne.

He went to the Curia Hostilia (Senate-House) with a group of armed men, sat himself on the throne, and summoned the Senators to attend upon King Tarquin. He then spoke to the Senators while belittling Servius.

Superbus demeaned Servius as being a slave born of a slave; for failing to be elected by the Senate and the people during an Interregnum, as had been the tradition for the election of Kings of Rome; for being gifted the throne by a woman; for favoring the lower classes of Rome over the wealthy; for taking the land of the upper classes for distribution to the poor; and for instituting the census so that the wealth of the upper classes might be exposed in order to excite popular envy.

When word of this brazen deed reached Servius, he hurried to the Curia to confront Tarquin. Servius then leveled the same accusations against his father-in-law, and then carried the King outside and flung him down the steps of the Senate-House and into the street.

The King’s retainers fled, leaving the elder ruler dazed and unattended. As he managed his way toward the palace, the aged Servius was set upon and murdered by Tarquin’s assassins.

Senate HouseTullia, meanwhile, drove in her chariot to the Curia Hostilia, where she was the first to hail her husband as King. But Tarquin bade her return home, concerned that the crowd might do her violence.

As she drove toward the Urbian Hill her driver stopped suddenly, horrified at the sight of the King’s body lying in the street. In a frenzy, Tullia seized the reins herself and drove the wheels of her chariot over her father’s corpse.

The King’s blood spattered against the chariot and stained Tullia’s clothes, so that she brought a gruesome relic of the murder back to her house. The street where Tullia disgraced the dead King afterward became known as the Vicus Sceleratus (Street of Crime).

Tarquin commenced his reign by refusing to bury the dead Servius. He then put to death a number of leading Senators whom he suspected of remaining loyal to Servius.

By not replacing the slain Senators, and not consulting the Senate on matters of government, Superbus diminished both the size and the authority of the Senate. In another break with tradition, Tarquin judged capital crimes without the advice of counselors, causing fear amongst those who might think to oppose him.Tarquinius_Superbus_makes_himself_King

He made a powerful ally when he betrothed his daughter to Octavius Mamilius of Tusculum, among the most eminent of the Latin chiefs.

Early in his reign, Tarquin called a meeting of the Latin leaders to discuss the bonds between Rome and the Latin towns. The meeting was held at a grove sacred to the goddess Ferentina.

At the meeting, Turnus Herdonius inveighed against the Tarquin’s arrogance, and warned his countrymen against trusting the Roman King. Tarquin then bribed Turnus’ servant to store a large number of swords in his master’s lodging.

Tarquin called together the Latin leaders, and accused Turnus of plotting his assassination. The Latin leaders accompanied Tarquin to Turnus’ lodging and, the swords then being discovered, the Latin’s guilt was then speedily inferred.

Turnus was condemned to be thrown into a pool of water in the grove, with a cratis (wooden frame) placed over his head, into which stones were thrown, drowning him. The meeting of the Latin chiefs then continued, and Tarquin persuaded them to renew their treaty with Rome.

Superbus suggested it better to be Rome’s allies rather than her enemies. It was agreed that the soldiers of the Latins would attend at the grove on an appointed day, and form a united military force with the Roman Army.

Next, Tarquin instigated a war against the Volsci by taking the wealthy town of Suessa Pometia. He celebrated a triumph, and with the spoils of this conquest, he commenced the erection of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, which Tarquin the Elder had vowed.City_of_Rome_during_time_of_republic

Up next was a war with Gabii, one of the Latin cities that had rejected the treaty with Rome. Unable to take the city by force of arms, Tarquin resorted to another stratagem.

His son Sextus, pretending to be ill-treated by his father, fled to Gabii covered with the bloody marks of stripes. The infatuated inhabitants entrusted him with the command of their troops, and when he had obtained the unlimited confidence of the citizens, he sent a messenger to his father to inquire how he should deliver the city into his hands.

Receiving the LaurelThe Roman King made no reply while walking in his garden, but kept striking off the heads of the tallest poppies with his stick. Sextus took the hint, and put to death, or banished on false charges, all the leading men of Gabii, after which he had no difficulty in compelling the city to submit.

Tarquin agreed upon a peace with the Aequi, and renewed the treaty of peace between Rome and the Etruscans. According to the Fasti Triumphales, he won a victory over the Sabines, and established Roman colonies at the towns of Signia and Circeii.

At Rome, Superbus leveled the top of the Tarpeian Rock, overlooking the Forum, and removed a number of ancient Sabine shrines, in order to make way for the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill. He constructed tiers of seats in the circus, and ordered the excavation of Rome’s great sewer, the Cloaca Maxima.Map_of_downtown_Rome_Cloaca Maxima

According to one story, Tarquin was approached by the Cumaean Sibyl, who offered him 9 books of prophecy at an exorbitant price. Tarquin abruptly refused, and the Sibyl proceeded to burn 3 of them.

She then offered him the remaining books, but at the same price. He hesitated, but refused again.

The Sibyl then burned 3 more books before offering him the 3 remaining books at the original price. At last Tarquin accepted, in this way obtaining the Sibylline Books.Erythraean Sibyl by Michelangelo

In 509 BC, having angered the Roman populace through the pace and burden of constant building, Tarquin embarked on a campaign against the Rutuli. At that time, the Rutuli were a very wealthy nation, and Tarquin was keen to obtain the spoils that would come with victory, in hopes of assuaging the ire of his subjects.

Failing to take their capital of Ardea by storm, the King determined to take the city by siege. With little prospect of battle on the horizon, the young noblemen in the King’s Army fell into drinking and boasting while falling out of fighting shape.

Jacques-Louis_David,_Le_Serment_des_HoracesAs Tribune of the Celeres, Brutus was head of the King’s personal bodyguard, and entitled to summon the Roman comitia. This he did, and by recounting the various grievances of the people, the King’s abuses of power, and by inflaming public sentiment with the tale of the rape of Lucretia, Brutus persuaded the comitia to revoke the King’s Imperium and send him into exile.

Tullia fled the city in fear of the mob, while Sextus Tarquinius, his deed revealed, fled to Gabii, where he hoped for the protection of the Roman garrison. However, his previous conduct there had made him many enemies, and he was soon assassinated.

In place of the King, the Comitia Centuriata resolved to electCenturiate_AssemblyConsuls to hold power jointly. Lucretius, the Prefect of the City, presided over the election of the original Consuls, Brutus and Collatinus.

When word of the uprising reached the King, Superbus abandoned Ardea and sought support from his allies in Etruria. The cities of Veii and Tarquinii sent contingents to join the King’s Army, and he prepared to march upon Rome.

Brutus, meanwhile, prepared a force to meet the returning army. In a surprising reversal, Brutus demanded that his colleague, Collatinus, resign the consulship and go into exile, because he bore the hated name of Tarquinius.

Stunned by this betrayal, Collatinus complied, and his father-in-law was chosen to succeed him. Meanwhile, the King sent ambassadors to the Senate, ostensibly to request the return of his personal property, but in reality to subvert a number of Rome’s leading men.

When this plot was discovered, those found guilty were put to death by the Consuls. Brutus was forced to condemn to death his 2 sons, Titus and Tiberius, who had taken part in the conspiracy.

Battle of Silva ArsiaLeaving Lucretius in charge of the city, Brutus departed to meet the King upon the field of battle. At the Battle of Silva Arsia, the Romans won a hard-fought victory over the King and his Etruscan allies.

Each side sustained painful losses. The Consul Brutus and his cousin, Arruns Tarquinius, fell in battle against each other.

After this failure, Tarquin turned to Lars Porsena, the king of Clusium. Porsena’s march on Rome and the valiant defense of the Romans achieved legendary status, giving rise to the story of Horatius at the bridge, and the bravery of Gaius Mucius Scaevola.

Accounts vary as to whether Porsena finally entered Rome, or was thwarted, but modern scholarship suggests that he was able to occupy the city briefly before withdrawing. In any case, his efforts were of no avail to the exiled Roman King.

Tarquin’s final attempt to regain the Roman Kingdom came in 498 or 496 BC, when he persuaded his son-in-law, Octavius Mamilius, Dictator of Tusculum, to march on Rome at the head of a Latin army. The Roman Army was led by the Dictator, Albus Postumius Albus, and his Master of the HorseTitus Aebutius Elva, while the elderly King Superbus and his last remaining son, Titus Tarquinius, accompanied by a force of Roman exiles, fought alongside the Latins.

Battle of Lake RegillusThe Battle of Lake Regillus was hard fought and narrowly decided, with both sides suffering great losses. Mamilius was slain, the Master of the Horse grievously injured, and Titus Tarquinius barely escaped with his life. But in the end, the Latins abandoned the field and Rome retained her independence.

After the Latin defeat and the death of his son-in-law, Tarquin went to the court of Aristodemus at Cumae, where he died in 495 BC. Tarquin is mentioned by William Shakespeare in his plays, Titus AndronicusJulius CaesarMacbeth, and Cymbeline.

In 1765, Patrick Henry gave a speech before the Virginia House of Burgesses, in opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765. Toward the end of his speech, he inserted as a rhetorical flourish, a comparison between King George III and various historical figures who were brought low by their enemies, including Charles ICaesar, and in some accounts of the speech, Tarquin.

1Having the luxury of seeing Rome’s history upon the collapse of its Kingdom, and give birth to the Republic and Empire, we could claim she was better off for it. At the time it may not have seemed as such since there were quite a few civil wars during the Republic.

When all is said and done, and the dust has settled, we can conclude that Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was without a doubt the last King of Rome. We hope you enjoyed taking that journey with us today and look forward to having you back again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Chisholm, Hugh, ed. “Tarquinius Superbus, Lucius“. Encyclopædia Britannica, 26 (11th ed). Cambridge University Press, 1911.

Titus LiviusAb Urbe Condita.

Gaius Plinius SecundusHistoria Naturalis xiii. 88.

Ancus Marcius: 4th King of Rome

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

At some point or another we’ve all heard about the Founding of Rome. We’ve also heard about the extent to which the Empire spread.

I’m sure many are aware of the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic) and its place in history with the handful of events from 509 – 27 BC. But how many people really know about the Rēgnum Rōmānum (Roman Kingdom) and its place in Roman history?

Well that all ends now as we begin our exploration into the lives of the 7 Kings of Rome. We are going a bit out of sequence (think Star Wars) as we take a closer look at Ancus Marcius, the Legendary 4th King of Rome!1899-38068

Ancus Marcius was the son of Marcius (whose father, also named Marcius, had been a close friend of Numa Pompilius), who may be identified with Numa Marcius, and Pompilia (daughter of Numa Pompilius). According to Festus, Marcius had the surname of Ancus from his crooked arm.

Upon the death of the previous King, Tullus Hostilius, the Roman Senate appointed an Interrex. This ruler “Between Kings” in turn called a session of the Assembly of the People to elect their new ruler.Roman Senate

Ancus Marcius became that new ruler. Marcius was believed by the Romans to have been the namesake of the Marcii, a Plebeian family.

According to Livy, his first act as King was to order the Pontifex Maximus to copy the text concerning the performance of public ceremonies of religion from the commentaries of Numa Pompilius to be displayed to the public. This was to guarantee that the rites of religion would no longer be neglected nor improperly performed.

Ancus Marcius successfully waged war against the Latins, and a number of them were settled on the Aventine Hill. According to Livy the war was commenced by the Latins who anticipated Ancus would follow the pious pursuit of peace adopted by his grandfather, Numa Pompilius.Going to War

The Latins initially made an incursion on Roman lands. When a Roman embassy sought restitution for the damage, the Latins gave a disdainful reply.

Ancus accordingly declared war on the Latins. The declaration is notable since, according to Livy, it was the first time that the Romans had declared war by means of the rites of the Fetiales.

3Ancus Marcius marched from Rome with a newly levied army and took the Latin town of Politorium by storm. Its residents were removed to settle on the Aventine Hill in Rome as new citizens, following the Roman traditions from wars with the Sabines and Albans.

When the other Latins subsequently occupied the empty town of Politorium, Ancus took the town again and demolished it. The Latin villages of Tellenae and Ficana were also sacked and demolished.

The war then focused on the Latin town of Medullia. The town had a strong garrison and was well fortified.

Several engagements took place outside the town and the Romans were eventually victorious. Ancus Marcius returned to Rome with much booty.

More Latins were brought to Rome as citizens and were settled at the foot of the Aventine near the Palatine Hill, by the temple of Murcia. Ancus Marcius incorporated the Janiculum into the city, fortifying it with a wall and connecting it with the city by a wooden bridge across the Tiber, the Pons Sublicius.Ancient_Rome_city_growth

On the land side of the city he constructed the Fossa Quiritium, a ditch fortification. Marcius also built Rome’s first prison, the Mamertine prison.

He extended Roman territory to the sea, founding the port of Ostia, establishing salt-works around the port, and taking the Silva Maesia, an area of coastal forest north of the Tiber, from the Veientes. He expanded the temple of Jupiter Feretrius to reflect these territorial successes.

According to a reconstruction of the Fasti Triumphales, Ancus Marcius celebrated at least one triumph, over the Sabines and Veientes.

Ancus Marcius was succeeded by Lucius Tarquinius Priscus who would later be executed by his sons. The Marcii Reges would become a Patricius family of gens Marcia descended from Ancus Marcius, and would remain prominent during the Republic and Empire.

1Although we know the eventual downfall of the Kings of Rome, we do know that Ancus Marcius was a successful ruler by Roman standards. Join us again soon as we further explore the Roman Kings, and check out more across the Empire.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



LivyAb Urbe Condita.

Niebuhr. The History of Rome, Volume 1.

Peruzzi, E. Le origini di Roma I. La famiglia Firenze, 1970.

Plutach’s Parallel Lives, vol. 1.

“Ancus Marcius”. The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 1992.