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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Roman Kingdom

753 BC–509 BC
The ancient quarters of Rome
The ancient quarters of Rome
Common languagesOld Latin
Roman religion
GovernmentElective monarchy
• 753–716 BC
• 715–673 BC
Numa Pompilius
• 673–642 BC
Tullus Hostilius
• 642–616 BC
Ancus Marcius
• 616–579 BC
L. Tarquinius Priscus
• 578–535 BC
Servius Tullius
• 535–509 BC
L. Tarquinius Superbus
Historical eraIron Age
753 BC
509 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Alba Longa
Etruscan civilization
Roman Republic
Today part of
Roman SPQR banner.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
ancient Rome
Roman Constitution
Precedent and law
Ordinary magistrates
Extraordinary magistrates
Titles and honours

The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history, when the city and its territory were ruled by kings.

Little is certain about the kingdom's history, as no records and few inscriptions from the time of the kings survive, and the accounts of this period written during the Republic and Empire are thought to be based on oral tradition. According to these legends, the Roman Kingdom began with the city's founding circa 753 BC, with settlements around the Palatine Hill along the river Tiber in central Italy, and ended with the overthrow of the kings and the establishment of the Republic circa 509 BC.

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Hey there, fellow Inquirers! In this mini-series, we will explore the rise and fall of ancient Rome. From humble beginnings as a seemingly insignificant village, to the rise of the Roman Republic and its fascinating economic, political and social structures, to the rise of the Roman Empire and its highest points of power, to the eventual downfall of the western Roman Empire, we will explore the breathtaking history of this extraordinary civilization. And it all started with a legend… Mars, the God of War, was intoxicated by the beauty of Rhea Silvia, the priestess of the goddess Vesta, so he decided to rape her. Vesta was a virgin goddess of earth, home, and family, and her priestesses were expected to guard their virginity, so it was abhorring when Rhea Silvia became pregnant with twin boys. Amulius, her Uncle, who killed all of her brothers and sent her to the House of Vestals to prevent the continuation of the lineage of her father Numitor, whom he had previously overthrown, was filled with rage and ordered his servants to drown Rhea Silvia’s children in the river Tiber, to extinguish the potential threats to his rule. However, his servants had mercy on them, so they put them into a basket, hoping that someone would notice it and save the boys. On its way down the river, the basket stuck in the roots of the nearby fig tree, and the young boys were miraculously found and saved from the inevitable death by Lupa, the She-Wolf. The Lupa provided them with her milk and had been nurturing twin brothers until a shepherd named Faustulus found them in a Lupercal cave on the Palatine Hill. Faustulus had brought the boys to his home, where he and his wife raised them. Once their foster parents told them the story of their origin, Romulus and Remus marched on Alba Longa, killing Amulius and reinstated Numitor as the king. Then they decided to build a city near the place where they were rescued by Faustulus. But, as it often happens in human societies, there is only one ruler. Thirsty for power, the brothers fought until the death. Romulus eventually killed Remus and became the first ruler of Rome. According to a legend, that’s how Rome was founded and got its first king. The beginnings of the ancient Roman civilization are poorly documented. Most of what we know was derived from legends by Roman historians during periods of Republic and Empire. We can claim with a notable amount of certainty that Rome was founded after the Etruscans, a quite mysterious civilization that inhabited the north of Italian peninsula. Etruscans unified these settlements around 753 BC and the consensus among historians is that it is the year of the founding of Rome. Some even claim that there is an exact date – April 21 – but this should be taken with a grain of salt. Rome was situated on the banks of river Tiber in what is today central Italy. It lies very close to the Mediterranean Sea, quite a significant asset considering the utility of maritime trade between coastal civilizations in the age of classical antiquity. Its geographical position was one of the things considered essential for Rome's success. Because of its central position in the region, ancient Rome was at the crossroads of trade routes between Etruscans in the north and the Greeks in the south. Throughout its early evolution, it was heavily influenced by cultures of both civilizations. From Etruscans, Romans borrowed model for trade, their propensity to art and enjoy luxury as well as their uniquely hedonistic way of life. Unsurprisingly, this was mostly reserved for the privileged parts of society. From inhabitants of Greek colonies in the south, Romans borrowed the literacy, religion, architecture and a framework for building a culture. Since its inception, Rome has shown a remarkable skill in borrowing and improving upon elements of other cultures. At the early stages of its development, ancient Roman civilization was organized as a kingdom. Regardless of the historical accuracy of the twin-brothers’ legend, the consensus states that there was a guy named Romulus who was the first king of Rome. The kings had nearly absolute power. But they were not the only holders of power. The Roman Senate had been an essential part of Rome’s identity. As a political institution, the Senate exclusively consisted of patres, the male representatives of common communities, which were the aggregates of clans of Roman families. The Senate initially consisted of one hundred men. The descendants of these men would end up forming the new social class – the patricians, a prestigious social class whose influence slowly faded after the period of the early Republic. The duties of the Senate included serving as a king’s council and as a legislative body jointly with the people. However, the most important task was electing kings in accordance with the will of the people, which means that after the ruling king passed away, the Senate would name his successor. During Romulus’ reign, Rome had an unnatural abundance of males. This was likely the result of the way in which it was initially populated – by criminals, fugitives and other social outcasts, which were overwhelmingly male at the time. To solve this issue, the Roman men decided to invite young women from across the region to a staged celebration of some festival and abduct them, so they can start families and further grow the city. This incident is known as the rape of the Sabine Women. Populating the city was the main agenda of king Romulus and he clearly thought that the end justified the means. Unsurprisingly, the incident had prompted a war which was miraculously ended by the very women who had previously been abducted, to prevent mutual killing of their brothers and their new husbands. So Roman and Sabine kingdoms united and operated under a two-king system. After the Sabine king Titus Tatius died, Romulus remained the only king, up until his death. The second king of Rome was a Sabine man named Numa Pompilious, whose character was completely opposite to his predecessor’s. He was a deeply religious and cultural man, who moved the order of the Vestal Virgins from Alba Longa to Rome, founded the temple of Janus and established the various priestly colleges. He nurtured peace for the whole period of his reign. He is considered the father of Roman culture, who had paved the way for the transformation of Romans from lowly savages to people who built one of the greatest civilizations in history. But history, as they say, usually comes to a full circle. Numa’s successor was Tullus Hostilious. Ominous name for an ominous king. After an insignificant dispute, Tullus Hostilius decided to declare war on Alba Longa. Alba Longa encouraged another neighboring city, Fidenae, to fight the war against the warmongering Romans, but Rome easily defeated Fidenae. Tullus Hostilious continued to practice violence, this time by attacking Sabine tribes in the area. The only thing that could stop him was the wrath of gods: the outbreak of plague compelled Tullus to make peace. Gods, it seems, were very angry, as lightning struck him and he died shortly thereafter. The fourth Roman king was Ancus Marcius, the grandson of Numa Pompilius. Although he had been chosen as king to restore peace to Rome, he did not disappoint the proponents of the more violent means, as he defeated Prisci Latini tribe, destroyed their city and encouraged them to live in Rome, further raising its population. He built the first bridge over Tiber, known as Pons Sublicius. He was deeply respected by the people up until his death. Lucius Tarquinius Priscus was the first Roman king with Etruscan origins. This was the first time that Etruscans became directly involved in Rome’s business. Roman hostility towards Etruscans had justifiably grown larger, considering that Lucius seized power by deception. However, he had an impressive legacy. He successfully conquered Etruscans, Latins and Sabines. He reportedly built the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, introduced Circus Games, contrived Circus Maximus and proposed city’s sewage system inspired by those in Etruscan city states. He added a hundred members of lesser nobility to the Senate. He was later killed in an assassination ordered by his predecessor’s sons. Lucius Tarquinius Priscus’ successor was Servius Tullius, probably the most celebrated of all Roman kings. It is likely that he was in some way related to his predecessor and that he had an Etruscan origin. Romans mostly engaged in barter when they traded before Servius Tullius. It is believed that he introduced the first forms of money and thus improved trade. He increased the regional awareness and influence of the city by transferring the regional festival of Diana to Rome. He divided the population by wealth in five classes, each class having different voting powers and treatment in the army. He also arranged people into three tribes to alleviate the process of taxation. He was also given the power to reform the army and to create a special political assembly known as the Centuriate Assembly, whose importance will grow later. Servius Tullius was killed by hired assassins, as some of his policies, namely those aimed at improving conditions for lower classes, did not quite suit some of the senators. The seventh and the last Roman king was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, one of those senators that ordered assassination of Servius Tullius. He was essentially a tyrant, sustaining his power through oppression, persecuting his opponents through violence and pronouncing himself as the supreme judge. He successfully conquered two cities and continued building the sewage system as proposed by his predecessor, but he mostly relied on slave labor by plebeians, members of lower classes. Because of his oppressive character, the whole Rome was against him. His sexual assault on noblewoman Lucretia triggered a revolution. After aristocracy stood up to the king, the whole kingdom was relieved. The last king of Rome was exiled. Romans agreed that they will never allow themselves to give so much power to one person. They had written it into their Constitution. It was 509 BC and people of Rome declared the republic. We must emphasize again: the early stage of the development of ancient Rome is wrapped in a veil of secrecy. Most of the things we explored in this video were reconstructed by later-period Roman historians from tales and legends. Stay tuned, because next week we are exploring the period of Roman Republic, an era that is much better documented and far more exciting, in which Rome grew to become the largest city in the world, made the first steps towards serious territorial expansion, and laid the foundation of the art of urban planning. We will have a look at their defeats and triumphs in conflicts, think about effectiveness of their army and see how their political organization influenced evolution of societies. Click like if you enjoyed this video. Share it with your friends! Subscribe for more of our content!



Shards of terracotta decorative plaques, 6th century BC (Roman Kingdom and Etruscan period), found in the Roman Forum, now in the Diocletian Baths Museum, Rome
Shards of terracotta decorative plaques, 6th century BC (Roman Kingdom and Etruscan period), found in the Roman Forum, now in the Diocletian Baths Museum, Rome

The site of the founding of the Roman Kingdom (and eventual Republic and Empire) had a ford where one could cross the river Tiber in central Italy. The Palatine Hill and hills surrounding it provided easily defensible positions in the wide fertile plain surrounding them. Each of these features contributed to the success of the city.

The traditional version of Roman history, which has come down to us principally through Livy (64 or 59 BC – AD 12 or 17), Plutarch (46–120), and Dionysius of Halicarnassus (c. 60 BC – after 7 BC), recounts that a series of seven kings ruled the settlement in Rome's first centuries. The traditional chronology, as codified by Varro (116 BC – 27 BC), allows 243 years for their combined reigns, an average of almost 35 years. Since the work of Barthold Georg Niebuhr, modern scholarship has generally discounted this schema. The Gauls destroyed many of Rome's historical records when they sacked the city after the Battle of the Allia in 390 BC (according to Varro; according to Polybius, the battle occurred in 387/6), and what remained eventually fell prey to time or to theft. With no contemporary records of the kingdom surviving, all accounts of the Roman kings must be carefully questioned.[1][2]


The kings, excluding Romulus, who according to legend held office by virtue of being the city's founder, were all elected by the people of Rome to serve for life, with none of the kings relying on military force to gain or keep the throne.

The insignia of the kings of Rome were twelve lictors wielding the fasces bearing axes, the right to sit upon a Curule chair, the purple Toga Picta, red shoes, and a white diadem around the head. Of all these insignia, the most important was the purple toga.

Chief Executive

The king was invested with supreme military, executive, and judicial authority through the use of imperium, formally granted to the king by the Comitia Curiata with the passing of the Lex curiata de imperio at the beginning of each king's reign. The imperium of the king was held for life and protected him from ever being brought to trial for his actions. As being the sole owner of imperium in Rome at the time, the king possessed ultimate executive power and unchecked military authority as the commander-in-chief of all Rome's legions. Also, the laws that kept citizens safe from magistrates' misuse of imperium did not exist during the monarchical period.

Another power of the king was the power to either appoint or nominate all officials to offices. The king would appoint a tribunus celerum to serve as both the tribune of Ramnes tribe in Rome and as the commander of the king's personal bodyguard, the Celeres. The king was required to appoint the tribune upon entering office and the tribune left office upon the king's death. The tribune was second in rank to the king and also possessed the power to convene the Curiate Assembly and lay legislation before it.

Another officer appointed by the king was the praefectus urbi, who acted as the warden of the city. When the king was absent from the city, the prefect held all of the king's powers and abilities, even to the point of being bestowed with imperium while inside the city.

The king even received the right to be the only person to appoint patricians to the Senate.

Chief Priest

What is known for certain is that the king alone possessed the right to the auspice on behalf of Rome as its chief augur, and no public business could be performed without the will of the gods made known through auspices. The people knew the king as a mediator between them and the gods (cf. Latin pontifex, "bridge-builder", in this sense, between men and the gods) and thus viewed the king with religious awe. This made the king the head of the national religion and its chief executive. Having the power to control the Roman calendar, he conducted all religious ceremonies and appointed lower religious offices and officers. It is said that Romulus himself instituted the augurs and was believed to have been the best augur of all. Likewise, King Numa Pompilius instituted the pontiffs and through them developed the foundations of the religious dogma of Rome.

Chief Legislator

Under the kings, the Senate and Curiate Assembly had very little power and authority. They were not independent since they lacked the right to meet together and discuss questions of state at their own will. They could be called together only by the king and could discuss only the matters that the king laid before them.

While the Curiate Assembly had the power to pass laws that had been submitted by the king, the Senate was effectively an honorary council. It could advise the king on his action but by no means could prevent him from acting. The only thing that the king could not do without the approval of the Senate and the Curiate Assembly was to declare war against a foreign nation.

Chief Judge

The king's imperium both granted him military powers and qualified him to pronounce legal judgment in all cases as the chief justice of Rome. Though he could assign pontiffs to act as minor judges in some cases, he had supreme authority in all cases brought before him, both civil and criminal. This made the king supreme in times of both war and peace. While some writers believed there was no appeal from the king's decisions, others believed that a proposal for appeal could be brought before the king by any patrician during a meeting of the Curiate Assembly.

To assist the king, a council advised him during all trials, but this council had no power to control his decisions. Also, two criminal detectives (Quaestores Parricidi) were appointed by him as well as a two-man criminal court (Duumviri Perduellionis) which oversaw cases of treason. According to Livy, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and final king of Rome, judged capital criminal cases without the advice of counsellors, thereby creating fear amongst those who might think to oppose him.[3]

Election of the kings

Whenever a king died, Rome entered a period of interregnum. Supreme power of the state would devolve to the Senate, which was responsible for finding a new king. The Senate would assemble and appoint one of its own members—the interrex—to serve for a period of five days with the sole purpose of nominating the next king of Rome. If no king were nominated at the end of five days, with the Senate's consent the interrex would appoint another Senator to succeed him for another five-day term. This process would continue until a new king was elected. Once the interrex found a suitable nominee to the kingship, he would bring the nominee before the Senate and the Senate would review him. If the Senate passed the nominee, the interrex would convene the Curiate Assembly and preside over it during the election of the King.

Once proposed to the Curiate Assembly, the people of Rome could either accept or reject him. If accepted, the king-elect did not immediately enter office. Two other acts still had to take place before he was invested with the full regal authority and power.

First, it was necessary to obtain the divine will of the gods respecting his appointment by means of the auspices, since the king would serve as high priest of Rome. This ceremony was performed by an augur, who conducted the king-elect to the citadel where he was placed on a stone seat as the people waited below. If found worthy of the kingship, the augur announced that the gods had given favorable tokens, thus confirming the king's priestly character.

The second act which had to be performed was the conferral of the imperium upon the king. The Curiate Assembly's previous vote only determined who was to be king, and had not by that act bestowed the necessary power of the king upon him. Accordingly, the king himself proposed to the Curiate Assembly a law granting him imperium, and the Curiate Assembly by voting in favor of the law would grant it.

In theory, the people of Rome elected their leader, but the Senate had most of the control over the process.


According to legend, Romulus established the Senate after he founded Rome by personally selecting the most noble men (wealthy men with legitimate wives and children) to serve as a council for the city. As such, the Senate was the King's advisory council as the Council of State. The Senate was composed of 300 Senators, with 100 Senators representing each of the three ancient tribes of Rome: the Ramnes (Latins), Tities (Sabines), and Luceres (Etruscans) tribes. Within each tribe, a Senator was selected from each of the tribe's ten curiae. The king had the sole authority to appoint the Senators, but this selection was done in accordance with ancient custom.

Under the monarchy, the Senate possessed very little power and authority as the king held most of the political power of the state and could exercise those powers without the Senate's consent. The chief function of the Senate was to serve as the king's council and be his legislative coordinator. Once legislation proposed by the king passed the Comitia Curiata, the Senate could either veto it or accept it as law. The king was, by custom, to seek the advice of the Senate on major issues. However, it was left to him to decide what issues, if any, were brought before them and he was free to accept or reject their advice as he saw fit. Only the king possessed the power to convene the Senate, except during the interregnum, during which the Senate possessed the authority to convene itself.

Kings of Rome

Years BC
Lucius Tarquinius SuperbusServius TulliusLucius Tarquinius PriscusAncus MarciusTullus HostiliusNuma PompiliusRomulus
Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details
Year King Other notable information
753–717 BC Romulus Myth of Romulus and Remus; founder of Rome; established Roman Senate, army, first religious institutions.
716–673 BC Numa Pompilius Established many of Rome's most important religious and political institutions; introduced twelve-month solar calendar.
673–642 BC Tullus Hostilius Defeated and destroyed Alba Longa; integrated the noble Alban families into the Roman aristocracy.
640–616 BC Ancus Marcius Established port of Ostia; defeated the Sabines.
616–579 BC Tarquinius Priscus Expanded Roman hegemony over Latium; doubled membership in the Senate to 600; drained the Roman Forum, and constructed the Cloaca Maxima and the Circus Maximus.
578–535 BC Servius Tullius Established the Servian Tribes and the centuries; built the Temple of Diana and a new wall around the city; instituted the Compitalia.
535–509 BC Tarquinius Superbus Last King of Rome; overthrew Servius; conquered various Latin cities and established colonies; built the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus; deposed and Roman Republic established.


A map of Rome in 753 BC. Colors show topography, with green lowlands and red highlands. The Latin names of hills are included in all caps.
A map of Rome in 753 BC. Colors show topography, with green lowlands and red highlands. The Latin names of hills are included in all caps.

Son of the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia, the legendary Romulus was Rome's first king and the city's founder. After he and his twin brother Remus had deposed King Amulius of Alba and reinstated the king's brother and their grandfather Numitor to the throne, they decided to build a city in the area where they had been abandoned as infants. After Remus was killed in a dispute, Romulus began building the city on the Palatine Hill. His work began with fortifications. He permitted men of all classes to come to Rome as citizens, including slaves and freemen without distinction.[4] He is credited with establishing the city's religious, legal and political institutions. The kingdom was established by unanimous acclaim with him at the helm when Romulus called the citizenry to a council for the purposes of determining their government.[5][6][7] [8]

Romulus established the senate as an advisory council with the appointment of 100 of the most noble men in the community. These men he called patres (from pater, father, head), and their descendants became the patricians. To project command, he surrounded himself with attendants, in particular the twelve lictors.[5][9] He created three divisions of horsemen (equites), called centuries: Ramnes (Romans), Tities (after the Sabine king) and Luceres (Etruscans). He also divided the populace into 30 curiae, named after 30 of the Sabine women who had intervened to end the war between Romulus and Tatius. The curiae formed the voting units in the popular assemblies (Comitia Curiata).[10]

Growth of the city region during the kingdom
Growth of the city region during the kingdom

Romulus was behind one of the most notorious acts in Roman history, the incident commonly known as the rape of the Sabine women. To provide his citizens with wives, Romulus invited the neighboring tribes to a festival in Rome where the Romans committed a mass abduction of young women from among the attendees. The account vary from 30 to 683 women taken, a significant number for a population of 3,000 Latins (and presumably for the Sabines a well). War broke out when Romulus refused to return the captives. After the Sabines made three unsuccessful attempts to invade the hill settlements of Rome, the women themselves intervened during the Battle of the Lacus Curtius to end the war. The two peoples were united in a joint kingdom, with Romulus and the Sabine king Titus Tatius sharing the throne.[11][12][13] In addition to the war with the Sabines, Romulus waged war with the Fidenates and Veientes and others.[14]

He reigned for thirty-seven [15] or thirty-eight [16] years. According to the legend, Romulus vanished at age fifty-four[16] while reviewing his troops on the Campus Martius. He was reported to have been taken up to Mt. Olympus in a whirlwind and made a god. After initial acceptance by the public, rumors and suspicions of foul play by the patricians began to grow. In particular, some thought that members of the nobility had murdered him, dismembered his body, and buried the pieces on their land.[17] These were set aside after an esteemed nobleman testified that Romulus had come to him in a vision and told him that he was the god Quirinus.[18] He became, not only one of the three major gods of Rome, but the very likeness of the city itself.[19][20]

Numa Pompilius

After Romulus died, there was an interregnum for one year, during which ten men chosen from the senate governed Rome as successive interreges. Under popular pressure, the Senate finally chose the Sabine Numa Pompilius to succeed Romulus, on account of his reputation for justice and piety. The choice was accepted by the Curiate Assembly.[21][22][23]

Numa's reign was marked by peace and religious reform. He constructed a new temple to Janus and, after establishing peace with Rome's neighbours, closed the doors of the temple to indicate a state of peace. They remained closed for the rest of his reign.[24] He established the Vestal Virgins at Rome, as well as the Salii, and the flamines for Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus. He also established the office and duties of Pontifex Maximus. Numa reigned for 43 years.[25][26] He reformed the Roman calendar by adjusting it for the solar and lunar year, as well as by adding the months of January and February to bring the total number of months to twelve.[24]

Tullus Hostilius

Tullus Hostilius was as warlike as Romulus had been and completely unlike Numa as he lacked any respect for the gods. Tullus waged war against Alba Longa, Fidenae and Veii and the Sabines. During Tullus's reign, the city of Alba Longa was completely destroyed and Tullus integrated its population into Rome.[27]

Tullus is attributed with constructing a new home for the Senate, the Curia Hostilia, which survived for 562 years after his death.

According to Livy, Tullus neglected the worship of the gods until, towards the end of his reign, he fell ill and became superstitious. However, when Tullus called upon Jupiter and begged assistance, Jupiter responded with a bolt of lightning that burned the king and his house to ashes.[28][29]

His reign lasted for 31 years.

Ancus Marcius

Following the mysterious death of Tullus, the Romans elected a peaceful and religious king in his place, Numa's grandson, Ancus Marcius. Much like his grandfather, Ancus did little to expand the borders of Rome and only fought wars to defend the territory. He also built Rome's first prison on the Capitoline Hill.[30]

Ancus further fortified the Janiculum Hill on the western bank, and built the first bridge across the Tiber River. He also founded the port of Ostia on the Tyrrhenian Sea and established Rome's first salt works, as well as the city's first aqueduct. Rome grew, as Ancus used diplomacy to peacefully unite smaller surrounding cities into alliance with Rome. Thus, he completed the conquest of the Latins and relocated them to the Aventine Hill, thus forming the plebeian class of Romans.[31]

He died a natural death, like his grandfather, after 25 years as king, marking the end of Rome's Latin-Sabine kings.

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus was the fifth king of Rome and the first of Etruscan birth. After immigrating to Rome, he gained favor with Ancus, who later adopted him as son. Upon ascending the throne, he waged wars against the Sabines and Etruscans, doubling the size of Rome and bringing great treasures to the city. To accommodate the influx of population, the Aventine and Caelian hills were populated.[32]

One of his first reforms was to add 100 new members to the Senate from the conquered Etruscan tribes, bringing the total number of senators to 200. He used the treasures Rome had acquired from the conquests to build great monuments for Rome. Among these were Rome's great sewer systems, the Cloaca Maxima, which he used to drain the swamp-like area between the Seven Hills of Rome. In its place, he began construction on the Roman Forum. He also founded the Roman games.

Priscus initiated great building projects, including the city's first bridge, the Pons Sublicius.[33] The most famous is the Circus Maximus, a giant stadium for chariot races. After that, he started the building of the temple-fortress to the god Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. However, before it was completed, he was killed by a son of Ancus Marcius, after 38 years as king. His reign is best remembered for introducing the Roman symbols of military and civil offices, and the Roman triumph, being the first Roman to celebrate one.[34]

Servius Tullius

A map of the City of the Four Regions, roughly corresponding to the city limits during the later kingdom. The division is traditionally, though probably incorrectly, attributed to Servius Tullius. The seven hills of Rome are shown in green, with Latin names.
A map of the City of the Four Regions, roughly corresponding to the city limits during the later kingdom. The division is traditionally, though probably incorrectly, attributed to Servius Tullius. The seven hills of Rome are shown in green, with Latin names.

Priscus was succeeded by his son-in-law Servius Tullius, Rome's second king of Etruscan birth, and the son of a slave. Like his father-in-law, Servius fought successful wars against the Etruscans. He used the booty to build the first wall all around the Seven Hills of Rome, the pomerium. He also reorganized the army.

Servius Tullius instituted a new constitution, further developing the citizen classes. He instituted Rome's first census which divided the population into five economic classes, and formed the Centuriate Assembly. He used the census to divide the population into four urban tribes based on location, thus establishing the Tribal Assembly. He also oversaw the construction of the temple to Diana on the Aventine Hill.

Servius’ reforms made a big change in Roman life: voting rights based on socio-economic status, favoring elites. However, over time, Servius increasingly favored the poor in order to gain support from plebs, often at the expense of patricians. After a 44-year reign, Servius was killed in a conspiracy by his daughter Tullia and her husband Lucius Tarquinius Superbus.[35]

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus

The seventh and final king of Rome was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. He was the son of Priscus and the son-in-law of Servius whom he and his wife had killed.[36]

Tarquinius waged a number of wars against Rome's neighbours, including against the Volsci, Gabii and the Rutuli. He also secured Rome's position as head of the Latin cities. He also engaged in a series of public works, notably the completion of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, and works on the Cloaca Maxima and the Circus Maximus. However, Tarquin's reign is remembered for his use of violence and intimidation to control Rome, and his disrespect of Roman custom and the Roman Senate.[37]

Tensions came to a head when the king's son, Sextus Tarquinius, raped Lucretia, wife and daughter to powerful Roman nobles. Lucretia told her relatives about the attack, and committed suicide to avoid the dishonour of the episode. Four men, led by Lucius Junius Brutus, and including Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, Publius Valerius Poplicola, and Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus incited a revolution that deposed and expelled Tarquinius and his family from Rome in 509 BC.[38]

Tarquin was viewed so negatively that the word for king, rex, held a negative connotation in Latin language until the fall of the Roman Empire.[citation needed]

Brutus and Collatinus became Rome's first consuls, marking the beginning of the Roman Republic. This new government would survive for the next 500 years until the rise of Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus, and would cover a period during which Rome's authority and area of control extended to cover great areas of Europe, North Africa, and the West Asia.[39]

Public offices after the monarchy

The Capitoline Brutus, an ancient Roman bust from the Capitoline Museums is traditionally identified as a portrait of Lucius Junius Brutus
The Capitoline Brutus, an ancient Roman bust from the Capitoline Museums is traditionally identified as a portrait of Lucius Junius Brutus

To replace the leadership of the kings, a new office was created with the title of consul. Initially, the consuls possessed all of the king's powers in the form of two men, elected for a one-year term, who could veto each other's actions. Later, the consuls’ powers were broken down further by adding other magistrates that each held a small portion of the king's original powers. First among these was the praetor, which removed the consuls’ judicial authority from them. Next came the censor, which stripped from the consuls the power to conduct the census.

The Romans instituted the idea of a dictatorship. A dictator would have complete authority over civil and military matters within the Roman imperium. Since he was not legally responsible for his actions as a dictator, he was unquestionable. However, the power of the dictator was so absolute that Ancient Romans were hesitant in electing one, reserving this decision only to times of severe emergencies. Although this seems similar to the roles of a king, dictators of Rome were limited to serving a maximum six-month term limit. Contrary to the modern notion of a dictator as a usurper, Roman dictators were freely chosen, usually from the ranks of consuls, during turbulent periods when one-man rule proved more efficient.

The king's religious powers were given to two new offices: the Rex Sacrorum and the Pontifex Maximus. The Rex Sacrorum was the de jure highest religious official for the Republic. His sole task was to make the annual sacrifice to Jupiter, a privilege that had been previously reserved for the king. The Pontifex Maximus, however, was the de facto highest religious official and held most of the king's religious authority. He had the power to appoint all vestal virgins, flamens, pontiffs, and even the Rex Sacrorum himself. By the beginning of the 1st century BC, the Rex Sacrorum was all but forgotten, and the Pontifex Maximus given almost complete religious authority over the Roman religion.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Asimov, Isaac (1991). Asimov's Chronology of the World. New York: HarperCollins. p. 69. ISBN 0-06-270036-7.
  2. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 12.
  3. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1.49
  4. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:8
  5. ^ a b "Titus Livius (Livy), The History of Rome, Book 1, chapter 8". Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  6. ^ Everitt 2012, p. .
  7. ^ Everitt 2012, p. 22-23.
  8. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 17.
  9. ^ He may have chosen this number from the number of the birds who foretold his sovereignty
  10. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:8, 13
  11. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:9–13
  12. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 19-20.
  13. ^ Everitt 2012, p. 21-22.
  14. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:14–15
  15. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1.21
  16. ^ a b Plutarch Life of Romulus 29.7
  17. ^ Livy Ab Urbe Book I ch.16
  18. ^ Plutarch Life of Romulus Book I ch. 28
  19. ^ Everitt 2012, p. 24-25.
  20. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 20-21.
  21. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:17–18
  22. ^ Everitt 2012, p. 25-26.
  23. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 22.
  24. ^ a b Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:19
  25. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:20
  26. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 25.
  27. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 26-28.
  28. ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:31
  29. ^ Matyszak 2003, p.29.
  30. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 30.
  31. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 31.
  32. ^ Everitt 2012, p. 30
  33. ^ Everitt 2012, p. 28
  34. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 36.
  35. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 38-39.
  36. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 40.
  37. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 41.
  38. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 42.
  39. ^ Matyszak 2003, p. 43-45.


Further reading

  • Forsythe, Gary. A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.
  • Livy, Aubrey De Sélincourt, R. M Ogilvie, and S. P Oakley. The Early History of Rome: Books I-V of The History of Rome From Its Foundations. London: Penguin Books, 2002.
  • Miles, Gary B. Livy: Reconstructing Early Rome. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995.
  • Neel, Jaclyn. Early Rome: Myth and Society: A Sourcebook. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.
  • Ogilvie, R. M. Early Rome and the Etruscans. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1976.

External links

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