Great People

The Etruscan Kings

By pallin

Before the consuls, before the emperors, before Rome ever reached its zenith at the height of the world, it was a small town ruled by the Etruscan kings. Seven kings of Rome took the throne until the Republic was formed.

The first king of Rome was Romulus, the founder who killed his brother Remus. Ruling from 753 to 716 BC, his rule tainted by the incident with the Sabine women. As Romeís population growth was stagnating, there werenít enough women. So, Romulus invited the entire Sabine population to the festival of Consulia. During the festival, the Roman men abducted the women.

In most monarchies, the eldest son of the king inherits the throne. However, the successors of Roman kings were their sistersí sons. The second king, Numa Pompilius ruled from 715 to 674 BC. Son to Pomponius, Numa himself was born on the day of the founding of Rome. He married Tatia, the daughter of Tatius, but Tatia died thirteen years into the marriage. Numa was known as a pious king and built Janusís temple at the base of the Aventine hill. Another religious measure of his was to create the priests and their constitution. Altering the calendar, Numa designated specific days for religion and some for business. Lasting 43 years, Numaís reign was a peaceful one. He died in 674 BC.

Succeeding Numa was Tullus Hostilius, who reigned from 673 BC to 642 BC. His rule definitely had more turmoil than Numaís, featuring wars with Alba Longa, Fidenae, and Veii. Tullus was the first king to extend Rome beyond its original construction. He had much of the same background as Romulus, being brought up by a shepherd, increasing the population, and disappearing by supernatural means. After such a pious king as Numa, it was startling how unholy Tullus acted. Supposedly, he shunned the gods and was punished. When Rome was stricken with a horrific plague and Tullus himself was contaminated, he appealed to Jupiter (Zeus). Jupiter threw a bolt of lightning which burned Tullus to his death.

The victory of Tullus over the Fidenae and Veii.

After Tullusís violent reign, the Romans decided to choose a king that would follow more along the line of Numa. Ancus Marcius (640-616 BC) may not have even existed. His supposed accomplishments are building the coastal city of Ostia, a prison, a bridge across the Tiber, conquering the Latins. He also fortified the Janiculum, a hill, yet not one of the seven hills of Rome.

Next was Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, from 616 to 579 BC. During his reign, many conquered cities turned Roman, such as Corniculum and Firulea. With his heroic military victories, Lucius brought a great deal of loot back to Rome. Using some of this money, he constructed the Circus Maximus for chariot racing. Lucius also constructed other Roman masterpieces that stood throughout the empire, such as the cloacae, or the sewers. Another one of his works was the Forum. Clearly leaving his mark on Rome, he was most likely the greatest king. However, he was assassinated with an axe by henchmen of the sons of his predecessor Ancus Marcius.

The Roman Forum (click for a larger version of the image).

Servius Tullius (578-535 BC) was the second to last king of Rome. Besides reforming the army and changing the constitution, he also began to shift power into wealthy citizens, or patricians. Serviusís policies shifted, though, as he eventually favored the poorer people. Some of his passed laws were quite objectionable to the patricians. However, his reign closed at the end of a bitter scandal. Turned on by the soon-to-be king, Tarquinius Superbus, and his very own daughter, Tullia. Tullia drove a cart over her own father on the road called the ďVicus Scleratus.Ē (Street of Infamy)

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, also known as Tarquin the Proud, is perhaps the most well-known of the seven kings. He ruled from 535 to 510 BC, before being overthrown in a revolt led by Lucius Junius Brutus. Since Lucius was the son of Tarquin I, he was upset that he didnít inherit the throne. Instead, Servius Tullius, the son of a mere slave, took the throne over him. After declaring himself king of Rome in front of the Senate, Serviusís murder was carried out. Furthermore, Lucius murdered senators supporting Tullius. However, his rogue son, Sextus Tarquinius, brought his rule crashing to an end. He raped a noblewoman, Lucretia, who was so ashamed by this act that she committed suicide. This led to a huge uprising, which ended in Tarquin the Proud and his entire family being expelled from the city.

This paved the way for the Roman Republic, officially started in 509 BC. From there, it would last until Augustus took up the helm as the first Roman emperor.