The Ancient Romans could not have picked a better spot for a city that was to
"destined for greatness" (see geography). Rome was constructed on the Tiber
River, where the flood plain becomes narrow, providing for good defense, and where
overland trade routes from the north and south would cross the river at its lowest point.
of the legendary founding of Rome under seven kings is debatable at best. Factually,
it was probably been romanticized by Roman historians, either to add flare or because they
simply did not know what was happening during the time period. In any event, the
legends to give us a rough estimation of exactly how Rome was begun under the seven kings.
The of these kings was
Romulus, one of the two legendary founders of Rome, the city bearing his namesake.
Legend has it that for a short time following his death, Rome was ruled for a brief
time by powerful senators. Soon, however, the residents of the city demanded a new
king. Numa Pompillius, a Sabine, was chosen, and proved himself to be a peaceful man
and wise king. He ordered the creation of fairer laws, and chose not to initiate
combat with any of Rome's neighbors. It is said Numa built temples and named a great
number of men to care for them, he selected the Vestals, built a temple dedicated to
Janus, and he developed Rome's original lunar calendar based on the cycles of the moon.
He reigned for forty-five years.
Again, there was a
short period before reigns, and afterwards Tullus Hostillius rules Rome. Numa
Pompillius, a wise man, had wanted peace for the fledgling city, but as indicated by his
name, Tullus was bold and fierce and hurriedly went off to war. Despite the fact the
Roman people were not very enthused about war at the time, the struggled fiercely with the
Albans. Repeatedly Rome waged war in Alban fields and was driven back. At the
time the Albans were almost the equals of Rome, and neither city was always the victor.
Ancus Marcus, the
grandson of Numa Pompillius, was the fourth king of Rome. As monarch, he acted
wisely, and, like his grandfather, wanted to avoid confrontation. However, at the
time Rome was being fiercely attacked by the Latins, and Ancus acted quickly, destroying
the Latin city and leading its population back to Rome to inhabit the Aventine Hill.
During his reign, a wooden bridge was built across the Tiber, and by means of this
the Janiculum was joined with the city. A prison was built beneath the Capitoline
and Ostia, Rome's chief port, was founded. He extended the territory of Rome to the
After Ancus Marcus
Etruscan leaders obtained the Roman monarchy. Tarquinius Priscus had migrated with
his wife out of Etruria to Rome. As as a Roman, he was lauded by the people and the
king himself. He served as the tutor, or guardian, of the kings own two
sons. Following Ancus' death, he cleverly maneuvered himself into the throne.
He waged many wars and seized the territories of a large number of enemies.
He also built the Circus Maximus and established the Roman games. Both in war
and in peace, Tarquin ruled Rome well.
However, trouble was
brewing. The two songs of Ancus Marcus determined to Kill Tarquinius and seize the
throne. The ordered two shepherds to kill the king, but the shepherds only
succeeding in mortally wounding him, and the king lay on his deathbed for several days
before passing. Tanaquil, the queen, did not announce the death of her husband until
she had used her influence to allow Servius Tullius to gain the people's favor, and he was
quickly made king by the people. He prudently used his power, ordering the first
census of the Roman people.
Still, there was a
problem remaining. Lucius Tarquinius, son of Tarquinius Priscus, desired the throne,
and with his evil wife, daughter of Servius Tullius, he planned to kill the king and rule
himself. He succeeded, and Rome was ruled by this unfair king for many years.
A large number of citizens were either driven from the city or killed. He
murdered his sisters sons because he worried they would attempt to overthrow him.
However, one boy named Janius pretended to be mentally retarded, and avoided death
because he was not thought to be a threat. He was nicknamed Brutus.
In the meantime, a
great number of citizens was demanding that Tarquinius (nicknamed Superbus, proud
or haughty) be expelled from the kingdom, at the time to no avail. And as if things
couldn't become worse, Rome soon discovered Superbus' son, Sextus, was worse than the king
himself. Brutus, the former member of Tarquin's house, witnessed a roman lady,
Lucretia, kill herself on account of Sextus. Irate, he vowed to the father and
husband of the woman, "Hear me! I will drive Lucius Tarquinius with his wife
and all his children out of the city Rome! Never again will a Tarquin rule
Thereby, Brutus became
a leader of the Roman people, and proceeded to expel Tarquin's wife, along with his
friends and sons, from the city. The king attacked the walls of Andea, nearby, and
when he realized he was fighting a losing battle, marched on Rome. However, the
guards shut the gates of the city on sight of the monarch, and seeing the danger, the King
escaped to Etruria, where Sextus was killed by his enemies. Thereby, the kings were
expelled from Rome, and two consuls, Lucius Junius Brutus and Tarquinius Collantinus, were
elected to administrate. A small faction of Romans were not happy with the new
republic, and the songs of Brutus were among them. They planned to overthrow their
father, but hearing of their plan, Brutus made it clear that the future of Rome was more
important to him, and promptly had his sons executed for treason.
The above is the
mythical history of Rome's seven kings. While much of it is probably based on fact,
that is most certainly not the 100 percent truth. However, we do know that during
the Monarchy, a bridge, the Pons Sublicus, was built around 600 BC. It is
noteworthy that the title of the head priest in Rome, pontifex maximus, still
given to the Pope today, comes from the Latin for "bridge-builder in chief."
At the end of the 6th
century BC the first great temple was built to Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline
Hill. It was constructed in the Etruscan style of "triad worship,"
containing statues of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. It was built on a high stone
podium with mudbrick and stuccoed walls.
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