Chronicles From the City Founding of Livius Titus, Book I

Chapter 41

Tanaquil secures the throne for Servius

Once those who were around him had withdrawn dying Tarquinius, lictors apprehended the fleeing men. There was from this a clamour  and a press of the people, wondering about the affair. Amidst the crowd, Tanaquil orders the palace to be shut, casts out the spectators. And simultaneously she sedulously prepares what there is need of for attending to the wound, insofar as there is any hope, at the same time should hope forsake her, she sets other defenses in motion. Servius was hastily summoned, and once she had shown him the nearly exsanguinated man, holding his right hand, she beseeches that he not permit the death of his father-in-law to go unavenged, nor his mother-in-law be in mockery to his enemies. “The throne is yours, Servius, ” she says, “if you are a man, not theirs who by the hands of others have done this worst of misdeeds. Rouse yourself and follow the gods as your leaders, who once portended that this head would be illustrious by a divine fire poured out around it. Let that heavenly flame now stir you ; awaken now for true. We foreigners have reigned : reflect upon who you would be, not whence you were born. If your plans by this sudden matter lie torpid, you shall at least follow my plans.” When the clamour and the push of the multitudes could scarcely be withstood, from an upper part of the house, through a window looking out on New Street—for the king dwelled facing Jupiter Stator—Tanaquil addresses the people. She bids they be in good cheer : that the king had been stunned by a sudden blow ; that the iron had penetrated his body by scant depth : already he had returned to himself ; that the wound was inspected, the blood wiped away ; that all things were salubrious ; that he was confident that he would soon see them himself. In the meantime, he bid the people to be attentive to the words of Ser. Tullius : that he would render the laws and discharge the other functions of the king. Servius comes forth with the robe of state and the lictors, and sitting in the royal seat, he decides some matters, and concerning others pretends that he will consult the king. And so for several days, after Tarquinius had already breathed his last, the death was concealed, and through a pretext of performing the offices of another, he strengthened his own power ; then at last it was done openly by a lamentation that arose in the palace. Servius, protected by a firm guardian, the first without the command of the people, became king by the will of the fathers. The children of Ancus by this time, when their accomplices were apprehended for their crimes, when it was announced that the king lived and the power of Servius was so great, had already gone into exile at Suessa Pometia.

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