logo for the-romans.eu
logo for the-romans.eu

Ancient texts

On the next pages you'll
find links
to the relevant
ancient texts here.

to next page

Roman Kings

The beginning
Romulus was the first, but mythical, of the 7 Roman kings.
One way of making yourself important is to point out that you are from important or even high origin. This is how nobility works. In the times of the ancient peoples, with their many gods, importance would grow even further, if one of the ancestors would be a god.

How to become the son of a god
Alexander the great went all the way to the Libian desert, to the oracle of Siwa, in order to have himself declared descendant from Heracles. That he had to bring a lot of gifts is obvious.
The Romans did a similar thing. Thought the tale is much older, it was Virgilius who wrote it down in the epic Aeneis in order to please his friend and emporer Augustus. This epic would prove that the Romans descended from the kings of Troi and no one less than Venus.

Titus Livius' masterpiece
Livius, another friend and subject of Augustus, wrote the extensive work "Ab urbe condita" (From the founding of the city or History of Rome) in which he described in 141 books the history from the beginning up to his own time. He describes the mythical story of Romulus and Remus, (753-716) followed by the stories of six other Roman kings. Though these kings really existed, the stories , nice to read though, are mostly invented over time, meaning to explain the Roman mores. The stories are still important because they give us great insight in the Roman mores and way of their thinking

Religious rules
After the spectacular death of Romulus the Roman senate  rules Rome for a while. This period is called interregnum.  After a while, Numa Pompilius (715-672) became king. He is alleged to have created the complex religious system of Rome; complete with all the Roman priests. Its is unlikely this is true. This complex system probably is developed over many years, but the honor is given to Numa

Honour of the battlefield
The next of the Roman kings became, after a short second interregnum, Tullus Hostilius (672-640). He had a completely different character than Numa had been.
His reign shows that Roman honor is to be found at the battlefield.
The story of the Horatii is almost certainly a later invention.Waging all these wars, made him neglecting his duties towards the gods and his house was struck by lightning from the angry Jupiter.

Combining good qualities
Ancus Marcius (640-616) tries to reign with the good qualities of both his predecessors. During his reign Lucius Tarquinius comes from Tarquinii  in Etruria to Rome. >/p>

The man from Tarquinii
Tarquinius Priscus (616-578) kind of bought his way into the Roman society and succeeded in becoming king of Rome. He is considered a good king, but his reign is ended by his murder.

Organization of the army
Servius Tullius (578-534) To him is attributed the introduction of the census, a taxing system and organization of the army at the same time.
He is also supposed to have built the wall around Rome. He was the first of the Roman kings who seized the power, be it non violent.

A Tyrant
Tarquinius Superbus (534-509) Tarquinius Superbus murdered Servius and seized power. He acted like a tyrant and when his son Sextus raped the wife of one of the nobles, he and his family were expelled.

Fiction or fact?
Knowing that in these times people had a life-expectation of about 35 years, it's very unlikely that 7 kings in a row died at a very high age. Probably there were more kings but these were the only ones remembered and the various parts of the organization of the Roman society were neatly attributed to these names.
There are traces of a wall around the Aventine dating around 700 BC, so there is some truce in the story of Romulus. The great servian wall dates from early 4th century. Maybe Servius Tullius had built a clay wall.

    Etruscan warrior    

Etruscan nobleman/warrior
Altes Museum Berlin


footer for Romans  page
advertentie Hekate