Chronicles From the City Founding of Livius Titus, Book I

Chapter 34

Tarquinius Priscus comes to Rome and becomes very popular.

During the reign of Ancus, Lucumo, an energetic man and powerful in riches, migrated to Rome for greatest desire and in hope of great honour, the obtaining of which at Tarquinium—for there also he was descended from foreign offspring—there was no opportunity. He was the son of the Corinthian, Demaratus, who on account of revolt was a fugitive from his home, when he had by chance settled at Tarquinium, and having taken a wife he sired two sons. Their names were Lucumo and Arruns. Lucumo was the surviving heir of all his father’s goods : Arruns died earlier than his father, leaving behind a pregnant wife. But the surviving father did not remain long after the son, and since he did not know that his daughter-in-law bore her belly, he had departed forgetful of his grandson in making his will, and the boy, after the death of his grandfather, since he was born with no allotment of wealth, was given the name Egerius due to his poverty. Lucumo, by contrast, the heir of all the goods, when riches had already made him high-spirited, took Tanaquil in marriage, born in the highest station and who, with little ease, allowed humbler circumstances than those in which she had been born, and who increased the wealth which she married into. When the Estruscans scorned Lucumo, arisen from a exiled stranger, she could not bear the indignity, and forgetting any inborn affection for her fatherland, as long as she saw that her man was honoured, she seized upon the plan of migrating from Tarquinium. Rome seemed to be the most powerful for this : amongst a new people, where all distinction was abrupt and from merit, that there would be a place her brave and vigorous husband ; that Tatius the Sabine had reigned, summoned in the reign of Numa from Cures, and Ancus, born of a Sabine mother and made noble by the single mask of Numa1. She easily persuades him to a desire for honours and that for him the fatherland of Tarquinium was only maternal. And so, having taken up the affair, they went away to Rome. They had come by chance to the Janiculum : there, sitting in a carriage with his wife, an eagle descended lightly from its elevation and took away his cap with its wings, and flying over the the carriage with a great clamour and back again, just as if divinely sent for some office, deftly returned it to his head ; from there it went away aloft. Tanaquil is said to have received this augury joyfully, being a woman instructed in heavenly portents, as is common of the Etruscan. She embraced her man and bid him to expect the highest and lofty things : that the bird had come from that region of the sky and as a messenger of its god ; that it had made its auspice at the very crown of the man ; that it had raised the ornament placed upon a human head so that it might divinely return it to the same. Carrying these hopes and thoughts with them, they came into the city, and once they procured a domicile, they gave out the name L. Tarquinius Priscus. For the Romans, his novelty and riches made him conspicuous ; and he himself gave aid to fortune by kindly address, by the courtesy of entertaining, and by winning over to himself whom he was able by favours, until report about him was conveyed even to the palace. And by discharging his duties with generosity and skill, he soon developed this acquaintance among the royal house into the privileges of a familiar friendship, such that he took part equally in counsels both public private, whether in war or at home and tested through all, he was even at the last made the guardian to the children of the king in his will.

1. From Gould & Whitely: “It was custom for noble Roman families to display in the atria of their houses the masks or the busts of those ancestors who had distinguished themselves by attaining high office.”

Chapter 35

Tarquin becomes king

Ancus reigned for four years and twenty, being equal of the former kings in the arts of war and peace and in glory. His sons were now nearly the age of manhood. More for this, Tarquinius insisted that elections be held as soon as possible for appointing a king. Once this was declared, immediately afterward, he sent the boys away for hunting. And he was said to have sought the throne first by canvassing and to have had a speech composed for winning over the hearts of the plebs : that he did not seek a new affair, for naturally he was not a first, a thing which anyone could marvel at or be indignant of, but would in fact be the third foreigner of Rome seeking the throne ; Tatius, not only from foreign stock, but even from enemy, was made king, and Numa was ignorant of the city, not seeking but actually invited to the throne : that he, as soon as the power was his, had settled in Rome with his wife and whole fortune ; that for the greater part of the age during which men carry out their civic duties, he had lived in Rome than in his older fatherland ; at home or in war, under a teacher hardly to be repented, king Ancus himself, he had learned Roman laws and Roman rites ; that in obedience and observance to the king, he had vied with all others, and in kindness toward others, with the king himself. Reminding them of these things, scarcely false, the Roman people, by a large consensus, bid him to be king. Thus the man, outstanding in all other ways, even on the throne continued the pursuit of favor which he had employed in seeking it ; and no less mindful of strengthening his reign than augmenting the public weal he chose a hundred men for the fathers, who were afterwards called the lesser of tribes, a faction  of the king without a doubt by whose beneficence they had come to the senate-house.

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