The new consuls filled up the senate to the proper number of three hundred; and the new senators were called “Conscripti,” while the old members retained their old name of “Patres.”
Continuing Romans Establish Republic,
our selection from A History of Rome by Henry George Liddell published in 1855. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in eight easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Romans Establish Republic.
Time: 510 BC
And King Tarquin, with his sons Titus and Aruns, went into exile and lived at Cære in Etruria. But Sextus fled to Gabii, where he had before held rule, and the people of Gabii slew him in memory of his former cruelty.
So L. Tarquinius Superbus was expelled from Rome, after he had been king five-and-twenty years. And in memory of this event was instituted a festival called the “Regifugium” or “Fugalia,” which was celebrated every year on the 24th day of February.
To gratify the plebeians, the patricians consented to restore, in some measure at least, the popular institutions of King Servius; and it was resolved to follow his supposed intention with regard to the supreme government–that is, to have two magistrates elected every year, who were to have the same power as the king during the time of their rule. These were in after days known by the name of Consuls; but in ancient times they were called “Prætors” or Judges. They were elected at the great Assembly of Centuries; and they had sovereign power conferred upon them by the assembly of the Curies. They wore a robe edged with violet color, sat in their chairs of state called curule chairs, and were attended by twelve lictors each. These lictors carried fasces, or bundles of rods, out of which arose an axe, in token of the power of life and death possessed by the consuls as successors of the kings. But only one of them at a time had a right to this power; and, in token thereof, his colleague’s fasces had no axes in them. Each retained this mark of sovereign power (Imperium) for a month at a time.
The first consuls were L. Junius Brutus and L. Tarquinius Collatinus.
The new consuls filled up the senate to the proper number of three hundred; and the new senators were called “Conscripti,” while the old members retained their old name of “Patres.” So after this the whole senate was addressed by speakers as “Patres, Conscripti.” But in later times it was forgotten that these names belonged to different sorts of persons, and the whole senate was addressed as by one name, “Patres Conscripti.”
The name of king was hateful. But certain sacrifices had always been performed by the king in person; and therefore, to keep up form, a person was still chosen, with the title of “Rex Sacrorum” or “Rex Sacrificulus,” to perform these offerings. But even he was placed under the authority of the chief pontifex.
After his expulsion, King Tarquin sent messengers to Rome to ask that his property should be given up to him, and the senate decreed that his prayer should be granted. But the king’s ambassadors, while they were in Rome, stirred up the minds of the young men and others who had been favored by Tarquin, so that a plot was made to bring him back. Among those who plotted were Titus and Tiberius, the sons of the Consul Brutus; and they gave letters to the messengers of the king. But it chanced that a certain slave hid himself in the place where they met, and overheard them plotting; and he came and told the thing to the consuls, who seized the messengers of the king with the letters upon their persons, authenticated by the seals of the young men. The culprits were immediately arrested; but the ambassadors were let go, because their persons were regarded as sacred. And the goods of King Tarquin were given up for plunder to the people.
Then the traitors were brought up before the consuls, and the sight was such as to move all beholders to pity; for among them were the sons of L. Junius Brutus himself, the first consul, the liberator of the Roman people. And now all men saw how Brutus loved his country; for he bade the lictors put all the traitors to death, and his own sons first; and men could mark in his face the struggle between his duty as a chief magistrate of Rome and his feelings as a father. And while they praised and admired him, they pitied him yet more.
Then a decree of the senate was made that no one of the blood of the Tarquins should remain in Rome. And since Collatinus, the consul, was by descent a Tarquin, even he was obliged to give up his office and return to Collatia. In his room, P. Valerius was chosen consul by the people.
This was the first attempt to restore Tarquin the Proud.
When Tarquin saw that the plot at home had failed, he prevailed on the people of Tarquinii and Veii to make war with him against the Romans. But the consuls came out against them; Valerius commanding the main army, and Brutus the cavalry. And it chanced that Aruns, the king’s son, led the cavalry of the enemy. When he saw Brutus he spurred his horse against him, and Brutus declined not the combat. So they rode straight at each other with levelled spears; and so fierce was the shock, that they pierced each other through from breast to back, and both fell dead.
Then, also, the armies fought, but the battle was neither won nor lost. But in the night a voice was heard by the Etruscans, saying that the Romans were the conquerors. So the enemy fled by night; and when the Romans arose in the morning, there was no man to oppose them. Then they took up the body of Brutus, and departed home, and buried him in public with great pomp, and the matrons of Rome mourned him for a whole year, because he had avenged the injury of Lucretia.
And thus the second attempt to restore King Tarquin was frustrated.
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