Category Archives: Rome’s Rulers

Creation of the Roman Empire

Julius Caesar Framed
Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar had become the most powerful man in Rome.  He ended the Republic, as the Senate proclaimed him Dictator for life.

He was popular amongst his people, creating a strong and stable government, which meant increased prosperity for the city of Rome, and assassinated in 44 BC by Roman Senators, for his achievements, and in turn became a Roman Martyr.

The conspirators of his murder, included the likes of Brutus and Cassius among them, fearing he would abolish the Senate.

Mark Antony (Marcus Antonius) joined forces with Caesar’s nephew and heir Octavian (Gaius Octavius Thurinus and Caesar’s friend Marcus Aemilius Lepidus to seek revenge upon Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Phillippi in 42 BC.

Octavian, Mark Antony and Lepidus formed Rome’s second Triumvirate, these men were very ambitious, and sought power and wealth for Rome.  Lepidus was neutralised, when Antony and Octavian agreed he should rule Hispania and Africa, keeping him away from Rome’s power play.  Octavian would Rule lands in the west, and Antony ruled in the east.

Antony’s involvement with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII, upset the balance Octavian had sought, and they went to war, against each other.

Antony and Cleopatra’s forces were defeated at the “Battle of Actium” in 31 BC, and shortly afterwards they both took their own lives.

Octavian emerged as sole power in Rome.  In 27 BC, he was granted powers by the Senate, and took the name; Augustus, first Emperor of Rome.

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Roman Empire: Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar Framed
Julius Caesar

Gaius Julius Caesar was born on the 13th July 100 BC in Rome, Italy to parents Gaius Julius Caesar and Aurelia Cotta.  Allegedly Julius Caesar was a descendant of Trojan Prince Aeneas, and his birth marked the beginning of a new chapter in Roman history.

His parents believed in the Populare ideology of Rome, favouring democratization of the government and more rights for the lower class.  Whilst the Optimate factions claimed superiority for the nobility and traditional Roman values, which favoured the upper classes.

With the death of his father in 85 BC, the young Julius Caesar became head of the family.  Belonging to the priesthood appealed to Caesar, bringing most benefit to the family, with this in mind he got himself nominated as the new High Priest of Jupiter.

The position of a priest carried conditions; one must be of patrician stock and married to a patrician.  In 84 BC, Julius Caesar married Cornelia, the daughter of nobleman Lucius Cinna, an influential member of the Populares.  Julius and Cornelia were blessed with a daughter; Julia Caesaris in 76 BC, and in 69 BC, Cornelia died.

When the Roman ruler Sulla declared himself dictator, he systematically purged his enemies and those who held Populare ideology.  Caesar was targeted and ordered to divorce Cornelia, but refused.

Sullar had Caesar’s name added to a list of those to be captured and executed.  Caesar had no choice, but to go into hiding.  The sentence was lifted by the intercession of his mother’s family, the Cotta’s.

Julius Caesar was stripped of his position as priest, his wife’s dowry confiscated.  With no financial means by which to support his family, he had no choice but to join the army.

Julius Caesar, a man of God, proved his worth as a military man, and in 79 BC was awarded the “Civic Crown with Oak Leaves” for saving a citizens life in battle.

Caesar was sent to Nicomedes, to negotiate with the King of Bithynia, to obtain a fleet of ships, in which he proved to be a successful negotiator.

In 78 BC, Sulla the Dictator dies, and Caesar returned to Rome, and became an Orator (Lawyer).  He relocated to Rhodes to study philosophy.

In 75 BC, whilst sailing to Greece, he was captured by Cilician pirates and held for ransom, for thirty-eight days.

When Caesar learned they were asking a mere twenty talents, he proclaimed he was worth far more, and the ransom was increased to fifty talents.

Upon his release, he informed his captors he would hunt them down, crucify them and take back the money, this he did, as a warning to other pirates.  First he cut their throats, to reduce their suffering, as he had been treated well by his captors.

In 74 BC, Caesar put together a private army to take on Mithradates VI Eupator, King of Pontus, who had declared war on Rome.

In 69 BC, Caesar was elected to the post of Military Tribune, and in 67 BC married Pompeia, a wealthy Optimate and grand-daughter of the Emperor Sulla.  Their marriage was short lived, and the couple divorced in 62 BC.

In 65 BC Caesar was elected to the post of “Curule Aedile.”  To improve his popularity, he acquired loans from Crassus, to create the Roman games.  Rumours ran rife, that Caesar had an affair with Pompey’s wife; Mucia and other prominent ladies.

In 62 BC he was elected to the post of Praetor, and in 61 BC served as Governor of the Roman Province of Spain.

In 62 BC, Pompey returned victorious from Asia.  He called upon the Senate to grant land, to his veteran soldiers, but this was being blocked by Crassus.

Caesar stepped in, displaying his abilities as a negotiator, earning the trust of both Crassus and Pompey, and convinced them they be better suited as allies instead of enemies.

Caesar went on to promise, if they support him getting elected, he would work in their best interests.

Romans First Triumvirate

In 60 BC Caesar returned to Spain, and the first “Triumvirate” of Ancient was created.  An alliance between Julius Caesar, Gnaeus Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus.  These three men set aside their personal differences, joining forces for the good of Rome.  They dominated Rome’s government and controlled election for the good of the people.

In 59 BC, Caesar was elected Consul against Optimate opposition led by Marcus Porcius Cato, a shrewd politician.

Caesar married off his only daughter, Julia to Pompey to consolidate their alliance.  He himself married Calpurnia, whose father was of the Populare faction.  Their marriage would last until Caesar’s death.

Caesar pushed Pompey’s measures through the Senate; land for veteran soldiers, but every which way he turned he was being blocked.  He had no option but to take a controversial route, a means to an end.  Caesar attempted to buy off Pompey’s soldiers, with public land.  In a stage further, hired Pompey’s soldiers to stage a riot, and amidst all the chaos, Senate stepped down and Pompey’s veteran soldiers got their land.

In 58 BC, Caesar departed Rome for Gaul (Modern day Belgium & France) to take up his post as Governor of Gaul.  In the nine years as Governor of Gaul, he enlarged the army, undertook many campaigns, which would make him one of Rome’s all time leaders.  Caesar conquered the rest of Gaul up to the River Rhine, and proved to be a ruthless warrior.

As Caesar’s power grew, Pompey was envious of his political partner.  Crassus has never completely overcome his dislike for Pompey.  In 56 BC, Caesar, Pompey and Crassus met to renew their coalition in Luca, in light of Pompey’s move towards the Optimate faction.

In 54 BC, Caesar led a three month expedition to Britain, he was the first Roman to cross the English Channel.  He did not establish a Roman base on English soil, just checked out the area, for a future invasion.

Meanwhile Caesar’s coalition with Pompey was going through a rocky period, especially after his daughter Julia, Pompey’s wife had died in childbirth.

In 53 BC, Crassus received command of the Eastern armies, and was defeated and killed by the Parthians.

With the conquest of Gaul completed in 51 BC, Caesar set up a provincial administration to govern the territories.  The Optimate’s in Rome attempted to cut short Caesar’s term as Governor of Gaul.  They made it clear that he would be immediately prosecuted if he returned to Rome as a private citizen, and not a military leader with his army.

Pompey and Caesar were being manoeuvred into a public split; neither could yield to the other without loss of honour, dignity and power.

In 49 BC, Caesar tried to maintain his position legally, but when pushed to the limit, led his troops across the Rubicon River in the January.

Pompey aligned himself with nobility, who saw Caesar as a national threat, and civil war between the two leaders would be the final outcome.

Pompey’s legions were located in Spain, so he and Senate headed to Brundisium and sailed to the East.  Meanwhile Caesar advanced on Rome, setting up a rump Senate and declared himself Dictator.

By 48 BC, Pompey and the Optimate faction had established a strong position in Greece.  Caesar had a dilemma; he had insufficient ships to move all his legions from Brundisium in a single crossing.  He had no choice, but to cross with 20,000 men with minimal amount of baggage, leaving Mark Antony his chief legate and second-in-command to follow with the rest of his forces.

In the final battle between Pompey and Caesar on the Plains of Pharsalus, Pompey had a force of 46,000 men to Caesar’s 21,000.  Even though Pompey had the larger force, Caesar was victorious that day.  Caesar pardoned Roman citizens who had been captured, an act of clemency.

Pompey had escaped the battle, and fled to Egypt, expecting to find friends, from time spent there in the past.  New’s of Caesar’s great victory had reached Egypt before Pompey’s arrival.  The Egyptian’s believed the God’s favoured Caesar, and promptly murdered Pompey as he stepped ashore, and chopped off his head.

In the October of 48 BC, Caesar with a force of 4,000 legionaries landed in Alexandria, and was presented with the head of Pompey, much to his disgust.  Caesar seized the royal palace and declared martial law.

Caesar discovered that the throne was under the joint heirs of Ptolemy XII; Ptolemy XIII and his sister Cleopatra VII.

Pothinus the Eunuch and the Egyptian General; Achillas had driven Cleopatra from Alexandria, sending her into exile, on the orders of Ptolemy XIII.

Cleopatra saw her chance to regain her throne from her brother, seeking assistance from the like of Caesar.  Cleopatra was smuggled into the palace, rolled up in a carpet.

Caesar deposed the co-ruler Ptolemy XIII and aligned himself with Cleopatra; the Egyptian Queen, igniting a war between Caesar’s legions and the Egyptian army loyal to Ptolemy XIII.

Caesar’s forces held onto the palace and harbour, against an onslaught of 20,000 men led by Achillas, for six months until help arrived and the Egyptian forces were defeated in the March of 47 BC.

Queen Cleopatra
Queen Cleopatra

Caesar and Cleopatra became lovers and in the latter months of 47 BC, Cleopatra gave birth to a son; Caesarion son of Caesar.

In 47 BC, Caesar left Alexandria and Cleopatra, his mistress, to crush a rebellion by Pharnaces, son of Mithridates in the East.

Caesar’s forces defeated the armies of the Optimate faction under Cato who had allied themselves with King Juba of Numidia at the “Battle of Thapsus.”  Cato took his own life, rather than be pardoned by Caesar.

On the 25th July 46 BC, a victorious Julius Caesar arrived back in Rome, triumphant over the Gauls, Egyptians, Pharnaces and Juba.  He established his mistress Cleopatra and his son Caesarion, in a luxury villa across the River Tiber in Rome.  Cleopatra had hoped Caesar would recognize and legitimize Caesarion as his son and heir, but Caesar named his grand-nephew, Gaius Octavius Thurinus (Octavian) as his heir.

The Senate were incensed by his indiscretion of a mistress, as he already had a wife.

In April of 45 BC, the sons of Pompey: Gnaeus and Sextus, led a rebellion in Spain.  Caesar met them in battle at Munda, where Gnaeus was killed and Sextus escaped, to become leader of the Mediterranean pirates.

In 44 BC, Julius Caesar received the title: Dictator Perpetuus (Dictator for Life).  At the public festival, Mark Antony offered him a diadem (symbol of the Hellenistic monarchs), but Caesar refused, saying Jupiter alone is King of the Romans.

Caesar’s rule proved instrumental in reforming Rome for his countrymen, land redistribution among the poor and military veterans, relieving debt and reforming the Senate, by increasing its size and opening it up, to represent all Romans.  A benevolent Caesar, even invited some of his defeated rivals to join him in government.

Assasination of Julius Caesar
Assassination of Julius Caesar

On the 15th March 44 BC, Julius Caesar was assassinated by Senators in the portico of the basilica of Pompey the Great.  His assassins were Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, along with sixty conspirators.  Caesar was stabbed twenty-three times, and died at the base of Pompey’s statue.

Following his death, Caesar became a martyr of the new Roman Empire.  Low and middle class Romans gathered at Caesar’s funeral, with angry crowds attacking the homes of Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, for murdering Julius Caesar.

A power struggle ensued in Rome, which led to the end of the Roman Republic.

Caesar’s great-grand nephew; Gaius Octavius Thurinus (Octavian), his chosen heir, put together an army, taking on military troops protecting Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, the leading assassins of Julius Caesar.  Octavian got his revenge over these murderer’s, took the name Augustus, and in 27 BC became the first Roman Emperor.

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My Life: Pompey

pompey 1
Roman Empire: Pompey

Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey was born in 106 BC to Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo.

Pompey’s military career started during the Social Wars (91-89 BC), serving under his father’s army at Asculum in 89 BC.  In 83 BC aged just twenty-three, the young Pompey procured his own private army of three legions; his father’s veteran soldiers , giving him the way with all to fight for Sulla.  Shortly there after Pompey was sent to Sicily, and then Africa, to put down dissident forces.

On the 12th March 81 BC, Sulla gave Pompey the right of triumph, which was only afforded to Generals.

The Right of Triumph:  In classical times, the procession would enter Rome through the “Triumphal Gate.”  It made its way to the capitol, comprising of a four-horse chariot, with out-riders, eminent captives, captured spoils and animals for sacrifice.  Escorted by senate and magistrates.  A slave would ride with him, holding a laurel wreath above his head, a reminder that he be mortal.  (An excerpt from Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth & Religion).

Following the death of his first wife Aemilia, Pompey married Sulla’s step daughter, Mucia Tertia in a political move.

In 78 BC, Pompey supported Lepidus for consulship, and in response Sulla removed Pompey from his will.  In 77 BC, Pompey supported Quintus Lutatius Catulus, and Sulla observed Pompey had learnt his lesson…

In 77 BC, Pompey was dispatched to Spain, to assist in the struggle against Sertorius.

Pompey returned to Rome in 71 BC, wiping out scattered bands of slaves, those loyal to Spartacus.  Pompey tried to take credit, for ending the slave war, when the true victor was Crassus.  Pompey’s victories saw him achieve victory and his second triumph on the 29th December 71BC.

Pompey an experienced warrior by 70 BC, was not eligible for consulship.  The rules were waived in Pompey’s favour, as he stepped into the limelight accepting the post alongside Crassus.  Following his consulship, Pompey opted not to take a province under his control.

According to Gabinian Law of 67 BC, it gave Pompey the power and authority to oppose and dispose of the increasing problem of piracy in the Mediterranean, which posed the greatest of threat’s to Rome’s corn supply line.

Gabinian Laws granted him a command for three years, and within two months he dealt with the pirate problem.  In 66 BC Pompey was given command of the Roman army, against the Mithradates VI of Pontus.  With their defeat under his belt, Pompey took Bithynia, Pontus and Syria, making them Roman provinces, becoming a stepping stone for the Roman conquest of the East. In 62 BC, Pompey returned to his homeland of Italy, disbanded his army, entering Rome on the 30th September 61 BC.

Pompey celebrated a procession of triumph through the streets of Rome, in honour of all his wars at once.  He was represented by Pontus, Armenia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Syria, Albanians, Heniochi, Achaens of Syria and Eastern Iberians.

Some 1,000 strongholds captured, 900 cities, 800 pirate ships captured and 39 new cities founded.

Pompey had hoped the Senate would approve land grants for his army veterans, his request was denied.

With Caesar’s return from Spain in 60 BC, Pompey formed the “First Triumvirate,” with Caesar and Crassus, the three most powerful and influential men in Rome.

In 59 BC, Caesar was appointed consul, supported by Crassus and Pompey, which enabled Pompey to fulfil the land grants to his veteran soldiers.

In 59 BC, Pompey divorced his wife Marcia, and married Julia, the daughter of Julius Caesar.

In 55 BC Pompey and Crassus were appointed joint consulship.  After his term of office had come to an end, Pompey was named Governor of Spain, who chose to stay at home, and have his territories governed by legates.

Pompey dropped out of further political marriage links with Caesar, when his wife Julia died in childbirth in 54 BC.

In 53 BC Crassus was slain at the “Battle of Carrhae.”  With Crassus dead, it spelled doom for the “Triumvirate,” for Caesar and Pompey no longer saw eye to eye.  The deep hatred that had laid dormant, had all the hallmarks of Civil War.  Pompey left Rome bound for Greece with Caesar on his tail.

On the 9th August 48 BC, Pompey and Caesar came face to face in a pitched battle at Pharsalus in Thessaly, where Caesar was victorious.  Pompey fled to Egypt, and on the 28th September 48 BC, was murdered as he disembarked at Alexandria.

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Rome’s First Triumvirate

Romans First Triumvirate

The first Triumvirate of Ancient Rome, was an alliance between Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus, lasting seven years; 60 BC – 53 BC.  An unstable Republic was on the brink of Civil War.  These three men set aside their differences, joining forces for the good of Rome.  They dominated Rome’s government and controlled elections for the good of the people.

The Republic was in tatters, and  Rome’s political order in chaos.  Streets alive with violence and rioting.  Marcus Tillius Cicero, exposed a conspiracy led by Senator Lucius Sergius Catiline, to overthrow the Roman leadership.

With the Republic on the brink of collapse, three men stepped in to save the day; Pompey, Crassus and Caesar.

Each man had his own agenda, but realised he could not accomplish it alone.  While each had already attained personal success, each wanted more glory and dignity.  In 60 BC, Pompey, Crassus and Caesar, combined their resources, setting aside personal differences, and seized control of Rome.

Cicero, friend to Caesar and Pompey, took an utter dislike to Optimates (Rome’s Senators) and chose not to join the Triumvirate.  His opposition would bring about his exile, until his return in 57 BC.

In the year 73 BC, Spartacus a Thracian, led a gladiator revolt at Capua, and his followers went on the rampage through Italy.  They became a highly organised and effective fighting machine, repelling Roman legions sent to quash them.  In 71 BC Crassus was ordered to put an end to Spartacus.

Spartacus and some 6,000 of his followers were captured and crucified along the Appian Way… the road between Rome and Capua, as a warning to others.  Pompey upon his return from Spain, attempted to steal some of the limelight, even though, he only rounded up the stragglers.

The Senate called for Crassus and Pompey to disband their armies, following the end of the Gladiator Revolt, and both men refused.

In 67 BC Pompey faced problems in the east, piracy causing food shortages in Rome, and Mithridates of Pontus attacking Roman provinces.

Over a three year period Pompey’s forces marched north to the Red Sea, redrawing the map in the eastern Mediterranean.  He reorganised provinces as client states of Rome, returning home as a hero in 62 BC.

Pompey has disbanded his army, and entered Rome as a citizen, not a military leader.  He wanted land for veteran soldiers… but getting Senate approval was another matter.  Marcus Porcius (Cato the Younger), leader of the Optimates of the Senate would block such suggestions.

Pompey also wanted his military veterans to be rewarded for their years of bravery, whilst Crassus sought dignity in military command.  The third member of the Triumvirate, Julius Caesar, a military hero sought fame and wealth.

To achieve such goals, all three pooled their resources, and set their plan in motion.

Julius Caesar reconciled differences between Pompey and Crassus, and then married his daughter Julia to Pompey, thus sealing the alliance.

Julius Caesar became co-consul in 59 BC with Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, a friend of Cato.

Pompey, Crassus and Caesar formed a pact, swearing to oppose all legislation of which any one of them would disapprove of.

Caesar found the pact had issues, getting new reforms passed through the Senate.  The law stated consul could veto proposals put forward by fellow consul, as was the case by Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, who tried to block the military veterans’ bill.

A frustrated Caesar took his proposal to the General Assembly, instead of fighting with the Senate.  Bibulus attempted to interfere, and was thrown down the steps of the Temple of Castor, and showered with rubbish.

Caesar ruled as sole consul.  Cato admitted defeat and accepted the bill, and the military veterans received their land, as payment for bravery… The Triumvirate worked.

Caesar’s consulship came to an end; he took his army over the Alps into Gaul in 60 BC, returning as a hero ten years later.  Pompey was jealous of Caesar’s success, but received favour from the Senate in 57 BC, taking command of the food riots.  In 55 BC Pompey and Crassus were appointed joint consulship.  After his term was up Pompey was named Governor of Spain, remaining at home and ruled through deputies.  Crassus got his wish at last, to command an army at the “Battle of Carrhae” in 53 BC, where he was defeated by Rome’s long time enemy; the Partians, who decapitated him.  His death spelled doom for the Triumvirate.  Caesar and Pompey no longer saw eye to eye, and it gradually got worse, when Pompey’s wife and Caesar’s daughter, Julia died in childbirth.

With some 40,000 soldiers at his disposal, Caesar returned to Rome, a wealthier and more powerful leader.  He sought a return to politics, opposed openly by Pompey.  Pompey the favoured son of the Senate, named consul in 52 BC, with Cato’s support.

The deep hatred that lay dormant between Caesar and Pompey, led to Civil War.  Pompey would leave Rome bound for Greece, with Caesar on his tail.  In 48 BC they met at the “Battle of Pharsalus,” where Caesar was victorious.

Pompey fled to Egypt, only to be murdered on the beach, on the orders of Ptolemy XIII, and beheaded.  His head was presented to Caesar.

In the year 45 BC, Julius Caesar was appointed dictator for life and hailed as the Father of his country.  On the Ides of March in 44 BC, he was assassinated by Longinus and Brutus.

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Republic of Rome

Romes Legacy - The Colosseum
Romes Legacy – The Colosseum

Rome found itself divided by class lines.  The ruling classes called themselves Optimates, whilst the lower classes were known as the Populares.  These names were based on choice of political ideology, but not strict political parties.

The Optimates favoured the power of the Senate of Rome and the prestige of the ruling classes.  Whilst the Populares, favoured reform of the Roman Republic.

These opposing ideologies, would clash and bring about the end of the Roman Republic.

Three men would rise from its ashes, creating the First Triumvirate of Rome:

  • Marcus Licinius Crassus
  • Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great)
  • Gaius Julius Caesar

Crassus and Pompey were of the Optimates, whilst Caesar was of the Populares.  Each man was equally ambitious, and vying for power, and able to keep each other in check, to make Rome prosper.

Crassus was the richest man in Rome, and corrupt to the core.  He forced wealthy citizens to pay him for protection.  Crassus charged a fee, not to burn down their property, if no money paid, the property would be razed to the ground, and then he would charge for his people to put the fire out.

Crassus created Rome’s first fire department…

Pompey and Caesar were great generals of their time, who through their conquests, made Rome wealthy.  Though the richest man in Rome, Crassus sought the respect, as Pompey and Caesar received for their military achievements.  Crassus led a military force against the Parthians at Carrhae in 53 BC, where he lost his life, when negotiations for peace broke down.

With Crassus dead, the first Triumvirate disintegrated, as Pompey and Caesar declared war against each other.  Pompey attempted to eliminate his rival, by legal means.

In 48 BC, Pompey and Caesar met at the Battle of Pharsalus in Greece, where Caesar was victorious on the battlefield.  Pompey fled to Egypt, seeking sanctuary, but was assassinated upon his arrival.

The news spread like wildfire, that Caesar had been victorious against Pompey.  Friends and allies of Pompey, swiftly sided with Caesar, in the belief he was favoured by the Gods.

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Seven Kings of Rome (2/2)

King Tarquinius Priscus of Rome
King Tarquinius Priscus of Rome

King Tarquinius Priscus 616-579 BC:  According to legend, Tarquinius the son of a Corinthian noble and refugee named Demaratus, moved to Rome, to rid themselves of their past, and claim a social status, made up by their own doings.

Tarquinius wealth and behaviour won him many friends in Rome, including King Ancus who appointed him as guardian of his children, upon his death.

With the death of King Ancus, Tarquin acting as guardian to the late Kings children, saw his chance to become King of Rome.

When the boys returned from their hunting trip, they discovered to their horror, their guardian had outmanoeuvred them, by obtaining the people’s votes as best possible choice of King.

First he saw off military challenges by neighbouring tribes, which always flared up at the ascension of a new monarch.

Tarquin created one hundred new senators.  Then he waged war against the Latins.   He took their town of Apiolae and in honour of the victory, started the Ludi Romani (Roman Games) which consisted of boxing and horse racing.  Tarquin marked out the spot that would become the Circus Maximus.

The Sabines soon attacked Rome, and the first battle ended in a draw, but after Tarquin increased the Roman Cavalry, he defeated the Sabines, forcing an unequivocal surrender.

Soon he set his sights on Latium, and one by one the towns capitulated.

In areas of Rome where water could not drain, he built drainage systems to empty into the River Tiber.

Tarquin’s end was a brutal one!  The scorned sons of King Ancus sought revenge, and hired two assassins, who murdered King Tarquinius Priscus.

King Servius Tullius of Rome
King Servius Tullius of Rome

King Servius Tullius 578-535 BC:  With the murder of King Tarquinius Priscus, the sons of Ancus Marcius being implicated in the murder, made it impossible by their own hands to step forward, and enter the contest for the next King of Rome.  The sons of Ancus Marcius were forced into exile.

Legend relating to Servius Tullius tells us of one account, where his head was covered in flames, yet he slept through the event and suffered no ill effects.

Word of this reached the ears of Tarquinius Priscus, who deemed it be a sign that the boy was marked for greatness, and duly became a protégé of Rome.

One of the impressive ideas ascribed to Servius Tullius, would have been the census, which counted the people and placed them in five classes, ascending to their wealth.

During his reign, he completed the construction of the Great Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which had been started during the reign of his predecessor; Tarquinius Priscus.

According to legend, Servius Tullius, faced a coup instigated by his daughter Tullia and her husband Lucius Tarquin.  Servius Tullius policies made him unpopular with his senators and Lucius Tarquin, used this to exploit the King.  It is believed a conspiracy was hatched to overthrow the King.

Lucius Tarquin attended senate in royal robes and summoned senators to acknowledge him.  It was the start of actions, which would see Servius Tullius deposed from power.  Servius rushed to the senate, only to be bodily thrown from the hall.  Chaos ensued, and King Servius was stabbed to death by assassins.

Tullia, daughter of Servius witnessed her husband Lucius Tarquin being sworn in as the new ruler.

Tullia Tarquin ran over her father’s dead body with her carriage.  This street came to be known as the “Street of Guilt.”

King Tarquinius Superbus of Rome
King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus of Rome

King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud) 534-510 BC:  Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was the seventh and last King of Rome.  He being the son or grandson of Tarquinius Priscus and son-in-law of Servius Tullius.

He came to power by means of a violent conspiracy, with no legitimacy to the position of King.  Tarquin was nothing more than a tyrant, and similar to those who had seized power in other Kingdoms.

He declared himself as supreme judge of Rome, with complete authority over capital cases, with the accused having no recourse.  He was judge – jury and executioner.

Tarquin governed Rome as a vindictive tyrant on one hand, whilst on the other hand, he being a military commander and diplomat.  He harassed and cajoled the Latin League into accepting Rome as its office, thereby tying Latin’s into the Roman way of life, effectively increasing Rome’s military power.

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus legacy of court intrigue and scandal led to the end of the Etruscan rule of Rome.  It was Tarquinius son, Tarquinius Sextus, was raped the Roman noble woman; Lucretia, the wife of his cousin Tarquinius Collatinius, and for her rape brought about the end of the Etruscan rule of Rome.

Lucretia’s rape was scandalous on several levels, it came about because of a drinking party during which her husband and other Tarquins agreed about, which one had the most beautiful wife.  Sextus was aroused by the discussion, and entered Lucretia’s bed and raped her.

She had been violated, and demanded revenge from her family, when her call went unanswered, she committed suicide.

A revolt against the corrupt Etruscans was led by Tarquin’s nephew; Lucius Junius Brutus and Lucretia’s husband, Tarquinius Collatinus.  The outcome, Tarquinius and his family were expelled from Rome.

Along with the end of the Etruscan Kings of Rome, the power of the Etruscans was weakened.  Rome replaced the Etruscan rulers with a Republic.

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Seven Kings of Rome (1/2)

Titus Livius (Livy), a Roman historian who lived from 59 BC – 17 BC, wrote of many major events in Roman history.

King Romulus
King Romulus of Rome

King Romulus 753-715 BC:  The first recognised King and founder of Rome was Romulus.  He who founded Rome’s Senate.

It is said he pursued a policy of expanding its population by any means possible; all were welcome including warriors, slaves, beggars and criminals.  To secure wives for his citizens, Romulus stole women from the Sabines, in an attack referred to as the Rape of the Sabine Women.

Abduction of the Sabine Women
(Painting) Abduction of the Sabine Women by Nicolas Poussin

The story goes that Romulus staged celebrations, inviting neighbouring tribes to attend.  Mid way through the celebration the festival came to an abrupt end, at which time the Romans revealed their true intentions, taking possession of young and single Sabine women, and claiming them as their brides.  The Sabine town of Cures, ruled by Titus Tatius declared war.

The Intervention of the Sabine Women
(Painting) The Intervention of the Sabine women by Jacques-Louis David

According to legend, Sabine women, wives to Romans, are said to have intervened calling a halt to the war, calling for peace between Sabines and Romans.

Peace was agreed as Sabines of Cures and Romans became one.  Rome was ruled by Romulus and Titus Tatius.

Romulus being taken up to Olympus
(Painting) Romulus being taken up to Olympus by Mars by Jean-Baptiste Nattier

The death of Romulus is nothing more than a legend.  Romulus is said to have performed a ritual sacrifice to the gods at the river, when he was struck by a thunderstorm.  Many ran for cover, leaving Romulus and the Senators behind, when the storm had finished, Romulus had vanished.  Another version of his death, is that Rome’s senators stabbed Romulus to death.

King Numa Pompilius of Rome
King Numa Pompilius of Rome

King Numa Pompilius 715-673 BC:  Numa Pompilius came to power amidst rumours surrounding the death of Romulus.  Senator Julius Proculus claimed Romulus had appeared to him in a vision, and had taken the form; God Quirinus.  Thus absolving Rome’s senators of his death, preparing the way for Julius Proculus to become Rome’s next King.

The people of Rome, did not like where Julius Proculus was taking Roman leadership.  The Sabines intervened, demanding the next King, should be of the Sabines… Roman’s agreed providing the choice be theirs.

Numa Pompilius, be a religious and cultural figure, not a warrior.

Numa the man who moved the Order of the Vestal Virgins from Alba Long to Rome and founded the Temple of Janus, establishing priestly colleges, including the Order of the Fetiales, who held the power to declare war and make peace.

During the 43 years of Numa’s reign, Rome enjoyed peace.

Much of his wisdom was said to be due to receiving divine guidance from the gods.  He was said to have received advice from the nymph and the prophetess Egeria, who became his lover, following his wife’s death.

To the Roman people, King Numa Pompilius was the father of their culture, he who turned peasants, criminals and semi-barbarians, to something that resembled a civilisation.

The high esteem which the Romans held with this King, suggests he played a significant role in the creation of their identity as a people.

King Tullus Hostilius
King Tullus Hostilius of Rome

King Tullus Hostilius  673-642 BC:  With the death of Numa Pompilius, rule passed to the warlike Tullus Hostilius.  One of Numa Pompilius legacies was how he chose to resolve issues, opting for diplomatic measures, but his successor was of a different breed, for he chose the sword over diplomacy.

When a dispute arose between Rome and Alba Longa, Tullus Hostilius declared war, which grew into a Civil War.  To avoid large scale slaughter of each other’s armies, their leaders; Tullus Hostilius and Mettius Fufetius agreed to a contest of champions.  Three brothers from each side would replace the armies.

The Horatius brother’s represented Rome, and the Curiatius brother’s represented Alba Longa, a battle to the death.  The fight ended, with only one man standing, a brother Horatian.

The Roman victory meant Alba Longa had to swear allegiance to Rome.  King Mettius may have been beaten but had no intention of abiding to the contest rules, and accepting Roman supremacy.  Instead he provoked another war with Roman forces.  The Albans were quickly crushed, and the city of Alba Longa destroyed.

The Albans had to accept their fate, and so took up residence at Caelian Hill in Rome.

The population of Rome increased in size, and a new Senate meeting place was called for.  Tullus Hostilius approved such a building, built at the western end of the Forum at the foot of the capital.

As destroyer of Alba Longa, Hostilius brought religious orders including Vestal Virgins to Rome.  The fall of Alba Longa at the hands of the Romans, brought prestige to the city and throughout the region.

King Ancus Martius of Rome
King Ancus Marcius of Rome

King Ancus Marcius  642-617 BC:  Rome’s fourth King was the grandson of Numa Pompilius; Ancus Marcius the chosen ruler to restore peace and quite as Romans had enjoyed under his grandfather; Numa Pompilius.  Rome’s neighbours believed the people of Rome could be a pushover, and unlikely to retaliate in their eagerness for peace.  The first to test this premise were the Aeneas.

King Ancus Marcius proved to be as much a mighty warrior as an administrator, priest and diplomat.  The Prisci Latini were defeated, their city swallowed up by the Romans, and their people absorbed into Rome.

It is believed that Ancus Marcius founded the city of Ostia, but archaeology evidence suggests the founding of Ostia could be of a later time.

The first bridge built over the River Tiber was the wooden Sublician Bridge, built during the reign of Ancus Marcius, which was fortified.

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