The Ancient Library

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seizing the person of a debtor. He also compelled the poor to work at miserable wages upon his mag­nificent buildings, and the hardships which they suffered were so great that many put an end to their lives. But he did not confine his oppressions to the poor. All the senators and patricians whom he mistrusted, or whose wealth he coveted, were put to death or driven into exile. The vacant places in the senate were not filled up, and this body was scarcely ever consulted by him. He surrounded himself by a body-guard, by means of which he was enabled to do what he liked. But, although a tyrant at home, he raised the state to great influence and power among the surrounding nations, partly by his alliances and partly by his conquests. He gave his daughter in marriage to Octavius Mamilius of Tusculum, the most power­ful of the Latin chiefs, and by his means he ac­quired great influence in Latium. Under his sway Home became eventually the acknowledged head of the Latin confederacy. According to Cicero (de Rep. ii. 24) he subdued the whole of Latium by force of arms ; but Livy and Dionysius represent his supremacy as due to his alliances and intrigues. Any Latin chiefs, like Turnus Herdonius, who at­tempted to resist him, were treated as traitors and punished with death. At the solemn meeting of the Latins at the Alban Mount, Tarquinius sacri­ficed the bull on behalf of all the allies, and distri­buted the flesh to the people of the league. So complete was the union of the Romans and the Latins that the soldiers of the two nations were not kept separate, but each maniple in the army was composed of both Romans and Latins. The Hernici also became members of the league, but their troops were kept apart from the Roman le­gions.

Strengthened by this Latin alliance, and at the head of a formidable army, Tarquinius turned his arms against the Volscians. He took the wealthy town of Suessa Pometia, with the spoils of which he commenced the erection of the Capitol which his father had vowed ; but great as these were', they were scarcely sufficient even for the founda­tions of this magnificent edifice, and the people were heavily taxed to complete the building. In digging for the foundations, a human head was discovered beneath the earth, undecayed and trickling with blood ; and Etruscan soothsayers expounded the prodigy as a sign that Rome was destined to be­come the head of the world. In the vaults of this temple he deposited the Sibylline books, which the king purchased from a sibyl or prophetess. She had offered to sell him nine books for three hundred pieces of gold. The king refused the offer with scorn. Thereupon she went away, and burned three, and then demanded the same price for the six. The king still refused. She again went away and burnt three more, and still demanded the same price for the remaining three. The king now purchased the three books, and the sibyl disap­peared.

In order to secure his Volscian conquests, Tar­quinius founded the colonies of Signia and Circeii. He was next engaged in a war with Gabii, one of the Latin cities, which refused to enter into the league. Uriable. to take the city by force of arms, Tarquinius had recourse to stratagem. His son, Sextus, pretending to be ill-treated by his father, and covered with the bloody marks of stripes, fled to Gabii. The infatuated inhabitants intrusted


him with the command of their troops, and when he had obtained the unlimited confidence of the citizens, he sent a messenger to his father to in­quire how he should deliver the city into his hands. The king, who was walking in his garden when the messenger arrived, made no reply, but kept striking off the heads of the tallest poppies with his stick. Sextus took the hint. He put to death or banished, on false charges, all the leading men of the place, and then had no difficulty in compel­ling it to submit to his father.

In the midst of his prosperity, Tarquinius was troubled by a strange portent. A serpent crawled out from the altar in the royal palace, and seized on the entrails of the victim. The king, in fear, sent his two sons, Titus and Aruns, to consult the oracle at Delphi. They were accompanied by their cousin, L. Junius Brutus. One of the sisters of Tarquinius had been married to M. Brutus, a man of great wealth, who died, leaving two sons under age. Of these the elder was killed by Tarquinius, who coveted their possessions ; the younger escaped his brother's fate only by feigning idiotcy. On arriving at Delphi, Brutus propitiated the priestess with the gift of a golden stick en­closed in a hollow staff. After executing the king's commission, Titus and Aruns asked the priestess who was to reign at Rome after their father. The piiestess replied, whichsoever should first kiss his mother. The princes agreed to keep the matter secret from Sextus, who was at Rome, and to cast lots between themselves. Brutus, who better un­derstood the meaning of the oracle, fell, as if by chance, when they quitted the temple, and kissed the earth, mother of them all. The fall of the king was also foreshadowed by other prodigies, and it came to pass in the following way: —

Tarquinius was besieging Ardea, a city of the Rutulians. The place could not be taken by force, and the Roman army lay encamped beneath the walls. Here as the king's sons, and their cousin, Tarquinius Collatinus, the son of Egerius, were feasting together, a dispute arose about the virtue of their wives. As nothing was doing in the field, they mounted their horses to visit their homes by surprize. They first went to Rome, where they sur­prized the king's daughters at a splendid banquet. They then hastened to Collatia, and there, though it was late in the night, they found Lucretia, the wife of Collatinus, spinning amid her handmaids. The beauty and virtue of Lucretia had fired the evil passions of Sextus. A few days he returned to Collatia, where he was hospitably received by Lucretia as her husband's kinsman. In the dead of night he entered the chamber with a drawn sword ; by threatening to lay a slave with his throat cut beside her, whom he would pretend to have killed in order to avenge her husband's honour, he forced her to yield to his wishes. As soon as Sextus had departed, Lucretia sent for her husband and father. Collatinus came, accompanied by L. Brutus ; Lucretius, with P. Valerius, who afterwards gained the surname of Publicola, They found her in an agony of sorrow. She told them what had happened, enjoined them to avenge her dishonour, and then stabbed herself to death. They all swore to avenge her. Brutus threw off his assumed stupidity, and placed himself at their head. They carried the corpse into the market­place of Collatia. There the people took up arms, and resolved to renounce the Tarquins. A number

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