Chronicles From the City Founding of Livius Titus, Book I

Chapter 47

At the instigation of Tullia, Tarquinius seizes the throne.

When, day by day, the old age of Tullius truly approached with increasing troubles, the throne also began to be troubled ; for already the woman looked from one crime to the next. And neither by night nor during the day did she permit her husband to rest, so that the past parricides would not be gratuitous : she had not wanted him so she might be said to have been married, nor silently to be a slave with him ; she wanted someone who considered himself worthy of the throne, who remembered that he was the son of Priscus Tarquinius, who preferred to have rather than to hope for the throne. “If you are he to whom I thought I was married, I call you husband and king ; if, however, you are lesser, then the matter has been changed for the worse because, there, there is a crime with cowardice. Were you not prepared for action? Not for you from Corinth nor from Tarquinium, as for your father, is there any need to strive for foreign thrones. The divine penates of your fatherland, and the likeness of your father, and the royal house, and the chair of state in the regal house and the name of the Tarquinii appoint and name you king. Or if there is a poverty of courage for these things, why do you cheat the state? Why do you allow yourself to be looked upon as a royal young man? Retire hence to Tarquinium or Corinth ; sink back to your stock, more similar to your brother than your father.” By upbraiding him with these and other taunts, she works on the youth, and she herself is unable to rest, for since Tanaquil, a foreign woman, had been able to devise so much in spirit such that two continuous thrones had been given to a man and to his succeeding son-in-law, if she did not herself give rise to royal lineage, then she would have no weight in giving and taking away the throne. Tarquinius, incited by these womanly furies, went around and much solicited the fathers of the lesser tribes ; he reminded them of his father’s beneficence and on his behalf, sought it back again ; he drew young men to himself with gifts ; with promised largesse from him, he increased his power in all places by accusations to the king. Finally when it seemed time that the matter was done, he burst into the forum thronged by a band of armed men. Once everyone there was overwhelmed by terror, sitting in the royal seat before the senate-house, he bid that the fathers be summoned to the senate-house by a herald to Tarqinius as king. They came together at once, some already prepared for this, others in fear, lest they be in harm should they not come, bewildered by the novelty and marvel, they reckoned that it was all over concerning Servius. There Tarquinius began to weave maledictions from the most distant ancestor ; that he was a slave born of a slave after the unworthy death of his own parent, and not by interregnum, as had been done from the beginning, not by holding an assembly, not through the suffrage of the people, not by ancestral origins, he occupied the throne as the gift of a woman. Thus born, thus appointed king, patron of the lowest kinds of men, from which he himself arose, due to a foreigner’s hatred, he had taken land from the earlier, more honourable men and alloted it to the worst rabble ; all the burdens which were once shared, he transferred to the foremost citizens ; he instituted the census so that the good fortune of the more opulent men might be a mark for jealousy, and thus prepared, where he wished, he bestowed lavishly to the neediest.

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