Seven kings ruled Rome’s early monarchy. The last two were Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus. They were both part of the Tarquin family and the Etruscan dynasty. Although Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus come from the same family, their reigns were very different. They both also rose to power in nontraditional ways. Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus’ stories reveal that power was more important than a clean conscience. Servius Tullius was the sixth king of Rome. He was born to a women named Ocrisia. She was held captive after the town she lived in, Corniculum, was taken over by Tarquinius Priscus. When Tarquinius Priscus’ wife discovered Ocrisia was pregnant, she brought her into the Tarquin household so the baby could be raised there. It is unknown who Servius Tullius’s father was. “He could have been a man from Corniculum, King Tarquinius Priscus, or the god Vulcan”(N.S. Gill). Although Servius Tullius was born to a slave, he managed to become a great king despite the circumstances. Servius Tullius became king in an “illegal way”(N.S. Gill). When Tarquinius Priscus was dying, his wife did not tell the people about it. She told Servius Tullius to step in as king but tell the people he was just standing in place of the king until he recovered. This secured his place as king before the people found out about the death of Tarquinius Priscus. He reigned from 578 B.C. to 535 B.C. . The illegal way that Servius Tullius became king tells us that ancient Romans valued power more than a clean conscience. During his reign, Servius Tullius accomplished many great things. He was a very successful king. A very important treaty between Rome and the Latin League was created, and he founded the earliest and most important shrine of the Latin deity Diana on the Aventine Hill. Also, the Servian Constitution, which divided the citizens into five classes according to wealth, was created. This gave more status to the wealthy and less to the poor, indicating that status was important to ancient values. The silver and bronze coinage was also introduced. Servius Tullius also made Rome bigger and enclosed the seven hills within one wall. This wall was called the Servian Wall. All of these accomplishments attribute to the reason why he is sometimes called the “second founder of Rome”. Servius Tullius was killed by his son-in-law, Tarquinius Superbus, and his younger daughter in 535 B.C. Earlier on in his reign, Servius Tullius married his two daughters off to Tarquinius Priscus’ two sons. Tarquinius Superbus was one of Tarquinius Priscus’ son and hated Servius Tullius very much. Because Tullia and Tarquinius Superbus were not married to each other, they decided to kill their spouses and get married. Together, they came up with a plan to kill Servius Tullius. First, Tarquinius Superbus won over the support of the noble families using gifts. Then, he went to the senate and sat on the king’s throne. Superbus spoke to the senators about how Tullius should not be king because he was born a slave. Servius Tullius showed up at the senate while Tarquinius Superbus was saying this, and they began to argue. Tarquinius Superbus picked up Servius Tullius and threw him down the stairs outside of the senate. Tullius began to run, but Superbus’ men killed him. While Tullia was in her carriage on her way home that night, she saw her dead father and ran over his body. Once again, this event shows that power was more important than family and morality to the ancient Romans. Tarquinius Superbus became the seventh king of Rome in 534 B.C. and reigned until 509 B.C. . He was a “tyrannical but constructive” (Livy) king who ruled without the consent of the people or the senate. Tarquinius Superbus wanted absolute power and killed many senators in order to have that. Although he was a tyrannical leader, many great things were accomplished during his reign. For example, the first treaty between Rome and Carthage was signed, the Capitoline Jupiter was completed, several Latin towns were conquered, and Rome was established at the head of the Latin League. Also, treaties and alliances were made with Latin towns, seats were added to the Circus Maximus, and the Cloaca Maxima drainage system was extended. In 509 B.C., Tarquinius Superbus and his family were exiled from Rome. His son Sextus held Lucretia, the wife of Tarquinius Priscus’ great nephew, at knifepoint and raped her. She killed herself after because of the dishonor that she received. Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, Tarquinius Priscus’ great nephew, used this horrible tragedy as a way to get rid of Tarquinius Superbus. Although Tarquinius Superbus and his family were exiled from Rome, he did not want to give up his throne. Superbus joined forces with a few etruscan cities and attacked Rome but was defeated. Shortly after, he convince the king of Chiusi to attack Rome in 508 B.C. and was defeated again. This is a reason why Rome decided to abolish the monarchy and establish the Roman Republic. Tarquinius Superbus died in 495 B.C. in Campania. In conclusion, the sixth and seventh kings of Rome are significant to Roman history. They were the last kings of early Rome’s monarchy and “helped set the stage for eventually Rome’s supremacy in Italy” (Nelson, Eric D.). Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus also taught us that power and nobility was important to ancient values. Although they might’ve been at the end of the Monarchy, Servius Tullius and Tarquinius had a lasting impact.
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