Ancient Rome—Kingdom of Rome
753 to 510 B.C.
Founding of Rome to Exile of Tarquins
Era Summary—Kingdom of Rome
The stories surrounding the earliest years of the kingdom of Rome are steeped in legend, but they add much romance and interest to the history of the city that grew to be the capital of the western world. According to legend, the founder of Rome was, son of Mars and descended from Venus on his mother's side. After a dramatic childhood, during which they were raised by humble shepherds, Romulus and his twin brother Remus discovered they were of royal descent and decided to found a city on the hill on which they spent their youth.
In order to attract citizens to come and live in his city, Romulus declared Rome a sanctuary. Men in debt; slaves ill-treated by their masters, criminals on the lam, all were granted citizenship and protected from their enemies. In this manner, Rome grew quickly. Romulus solved the problem of a severe shortage of women by kidnapping maidens from the surrounding villages. This, unsurprisingly, caused wars with many of Rome's neighbors, most importantly the Sabines. The happy outcome of the, however, proved to be the joining of the two nations into one. The Sabines were given one of the hills of Rome to settle, and after the rule of Romulus the well-respected Sabine philosopher, , became king.
Numa's reign was long and prosperous for Rome. The city had already established itself as a warlike nation, always ready to defend and expand its territory. Numa, however, sought peace with Rome's neighbors and improved general piety and morals. He was responsible for creating the calendar, declaring early Roman holidays, and establishing worship customs, including the roles of priests and the vestal virgins. However, the king who followed Numa was the warlike, who declared war on Alba and established Rome's predominance over Alba as the foremost city in Latium. Hostilius was followed by , son of the peaceful Numa Pompilius, who like his father sought peace with the surrounding kingdoms.
Ancus died in 616 B.C., and for the following century, the throne was held by the Tarquin family, who were not native Romans but rather of Greek and Etruscan heritage. The first two Tarquin kings,, and were worthy kings who did much good for the city. Under their reigns the swamp in the center of Rome was drained and the Forum was built. They constructed many public building surrounding the Forum, which became the market-place and seat of city government. The Tarquins also built the Circus Maximus for chariot racing and sporting events, and Servius built the Servian wall, which encompassed all seven hills of Rome. Servius was known for passing laws that favored the poor, which made him unpopular with many of the wealthier citizens. He was ultimately murdered by his own daughter and her husband, a son of the Elder Tarquin. This younger Tarquin, known as , or Tarquin the Proud, then seized the throne. After an oppressive reign of twenty-five years, he was exiled by a group of outraged citizens after his son was accused of assaulting , a Roman noblewoman.
and led the effort to oust the Tarquins, and were early consuls and heroes of the republic. Their courageous leadership helped foster unity during the first rocky years, and both made great personal sacrifices for the good of the state. During these first critical years, Rome's enemies allied themselves with the exiled Tarquin Superbus and marched against Rome, with the object of restoring him to the throne. and were both heroes of the war against , an Etruscan general who was allied with Tarquin. The first phase of the was brought to a quick close, leaving the government of Rome securely in the hands of the Senate. But the Tarquin family continued to make alliances with other enemies of Rome, and it was not until the Battle of Lake Regillus, nearly ten years later, that the the last of Tarquins were finally defeated.
Characters—Kingdom of Rome
|Hero of Virgil's Aeneid. Prince of Troy who escaped from the burning city and after a long voyage, settled in Italy and became the ancestor of Romulus.|
|Legendary mother of Romulus and Remus. Daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa, forced to become a Vestal Virgin by her usurping uncle, Amulius.|
|Deposed king of Alba Longa, restored to his throne by his grandsons, Romulus and Remus.|
|Legendary founder of the city of Rome, with brother Remus.|
|Twin brother of Romulus, killed in a conflict over who should rule the new city.|
|Maiden who opened gates of Rome to the Sabines. Gave name to Tarpeian Rock from which Roman traitors were hurled.|
Kings of Rome
|Second king of Rome, instituted calendar, holidays, worship practices.|
|Third king, conquered Alba, made Rome the greatest city of the Latins.|
|Three brothers who won man-to-man combat to resolve Rome/Alba dispute.|
|Fourth king, conquered Latins, built Sublican Bridge across the Tiber.|
|Fifth king, built great sewer, circus, temple of Jupiter, and forum.|
|Sixth king, built Servian Wall; helped plebians, murdered by daughter.|
|Killed Servius and usurped throne, eventually overthrown but tried to regain throne by force.|
|Helped her husband Tarquin Superbus murder her father Sevius Tullus, and seize the throne of Rome.|
|Legendary priestes who presided over the Oracle at Cumae. Presented the Sibylline Books to Tarquin Superbus.|
War Against Tarquinii
|Virtuous Maiden, killed herself after assault by son of Tarquin Superbus.|
|First Consul of Rome; executed sons for plotting against the republic.|
|Consul of Rome during the wars with Porsena.|
|Etruscan king, and supporter of the Tarquins who raised an army to march against Rome.|
|Hero who held the Sublican Bridge against Porsena's entire army.|
|Hero who burned his right hand to defy Porsena.|
|Roman hostage swam across the Tiber to escape from Lars Porsenna.|
Timeline—Kingdom of Rome
|Rome founded byand Remus, twin descendents of Aeneas.|
|Romulus declares Rome a sanctuary city for slaves and debtors.|
|Capture of Sabine maidens and subsequent.|
|Updated Roman calender, assigned holidays|
|Established priests and vestal virgins|
|Combat of Horatti and Curatii|
|Built sewer, Circus Maximus, Forum|
|Reign ofbegins after the murder of Tarquin the Elder|
|Servian wall built around Rome.|
|Citizens organized into classes based on wealth|
|murders Servius, his father-in-law, and assumes the throne.|
|Acquired Sibyline books from a Greek priestess.|
|, besieged city of Gabii.|
|Built temple of Jupiter on Capitoline hill.|
|510||commits suicide after being attacked by Sextus Tarquin.|
|510||The last king of Rome,, is expelled; Roman republic is founded.|
|508||repels the army of at the Battle of Sublican Bridge.|
|496||Final defeat of Tarquin at the Battle of Lake Regillus.|
Recommended Reading—Kingdom of Rome
Read chapters from "core" texts before reviewing study questions.