Ancient Roman Kings: 7 Leaders of Early Rome
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Ancient Roman Kings: 7 Leaders of Early Rome

The names and dates of the reigns of the first four kings, as well as the alternation of Sabin and Latin names, are more legendary than historical. The last three kings, of Etruscan origin, have an existence which seems less uncertain.

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Photo by Chad Greiter on Unsplash

It is evident that all this is only a legend although archeology shows us little by little that these kings if they did not exist as the ancient history, describes them, have at least in the very Outlines were real as chief of a shepherd’s tribe. The period when kings ruled Rome could estimate at 245 years.

1. Romulus: 1st King of Rome

Roman King Romulus

Romulus is a name that means, simply, "Roman" as written by Dominique Briquel (archaeologist, a specialist in Etruscology and pre-Roman times): "the name of Romulus is taken from Rome", which suggests that this character is a pure invention of the legend. Nothing makes more reference to a tale than the founding of Rome by the twins Romulus and Remus. We this legend well by the writings of the ancient Romans, notably Cicero, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Livy and Plutarch, let us not forget for a purely imaginary reading Virgil. In fact, the only traces that remain of this period are archaeological works that confirm that a city was built on the Palatine in the 8th century. BC

The myth tells us that her mother's name was Rhea Silvia, and her father would have known to be the god Mars who came to earth attracted by her beauty and raped her in a wood. She was the daughter of the king of Alba, Numitor, who had been ousted from the throne by his brother Amulius. She also bore the name of Ilia, she was obliged by her uncle to become a Vestal, devoted to honor, and, what was most important in the eyes of this uncle, to remain childless. But the god Mars arrived, raped her, she gave birth to twins. Romulus would have been born in second position and thus would have had a nickname: "Altellus" = the little other, opinion defended by Festus; in the eyes of legend, the fact that he spent an abandoned childhood is a sign that he belongs to the domain of heroism. And legend, always, wanted them to be saved from the death that Amelius had reserved for them by those who were charged to execute them, they were moved by their tender age, they deposited them in a wicker basket at the edge of the Tiber.

2. Numa Pompilius: 2nd king of Rome after Romulus

Roman King Numa

It is of Sabine origin, this origin for early kings, is held to be entirely legendary. According to this legend, he was elected by the Senate after a year interregnum. He was a very peaceful and religious king. He is said to have been the founder of the rites of the Roman religion. He created the good and bad days. He constituted the college of Pontiffs, Flamines, Augures, Vestals, Saliens, Féciaux. He was the builder of the temple of Janus which was to remain with the doors open or closed following a state of war or peace.

"... he raised the temple of Janus. This temple, built at the bottom of Argilete, became the symbol of peace and war. Open, it was the signal that called the citizens to arms; closed, he announced that peace reigned among all the neighboring nations. " Livy, 1, 19.

He made 11 shields and placed them in his royal palace ( Regia ), at the birth of this legend, we find the fact that he is said to have received from the hands of Jupiter or Mars a shield (ancile).

Finding that the right of property was not sufficiently protected, he created the gods Terms, which were grossly carved beings that delimited the domains, they served as demarcation, death could punish anyone who touched them. He instituted a new calendar, he added two months (January, February) to the old one, which was only ten months old. He thus synchronized the solar year with the lunar year. Always the legend tells that he was very influenced by the nymph Egeria who lived in a wood near the door Capene. He married her on the death of his wife Tatia who was the daughter of Titus Tatius, the one who ruled for a short time together with Romulus.

3. Tullus Hostilius: 3rd King of Rome, of Sabine origin

Roman King Tullus

Roman historians tell us that a peaceful king succeeded a warrior king. He was the grandson of a companion of Romulus. He embodies the third function: war, functions defined by DUMEZIL, he compares it to the god INDRA. He was elected king by the Roman people at the end of an interruption that lasted one year. All his life he led Rome to war with his neighbors; This is how he defeated the Veii (VEIES city) and the Fidénates (FIDENE city), Etruscan cities. He declared war on Albe la Longue. In the midst of a fight between the two armies, the Albans and Romans relied on champions; this is how the famous episode of Horaces and Curiaces took place, whose outcome is well known. He conquered the city of Albe (the mother city of Rome) and deported his population to Rome. In the midst of all these wars, he had time to build the house where the Senate met: the CURIA HOSTILIA . He is also at the origin of the curule chair, lictors,) next Macrobe. At the end of his life, he will become mad and perish struck by the thunderbolt that set fire to his palace, it is said that it was Jupiter, himself, who would have launched it because the rituals concerning him, during a sacrifice, would have been respected.

4. Ancus Marcius: 4th king of Rome, of Sabine origin

Roman King Ancus

The legend says of him that he reigned from 641 BC to 616 BC He was the grandson of Numa Pompilius : "The assembled assemblies, Ancus Marcus was elected king by the people. The Senate ratified the election. This prince was grandson of Numa by his daughter. "Titus Live, 1, 32. It should be noted that royalty was elective. Once on the throne, he restores religious practices that had been forgotten in the time of his predecessor. Despite this spiritual side, he was also a warrior king who had to fight against his neighbors; in particular, he had to face the Latins whom he beat, he deported them to the foot of Mount Aventine who then left Rome. It was a builder, in particular we owe him the SUBLICUS bridge which, first, crossed the Tiber. Legend has it that he was at the origin of the port of OSTIE but archeology shows that this creation was later. His wife is initially, according to legend, the adoration of a goddess: " Venus Calva ", with other women, she would have been suffering from a mysterious disease that would have made them bald. To soften the queen's pain, he had a statue of Venus, who was bald, made. At his death, his son was not old enough to rule, the crown was given to Tarquin the Elder who had gained his confidence and was another himself.

5. Tarquin the Elder: 5th King of Rome, of Etruscan origin

Roman King Tarquin the

He created the golden bubble that was the hallmark of youth with the pretext toga. According to Macrobius, these insignia were first of all rewards which he gave to his fourteen-year-old son when he killed a Sabin.

6. Servius Tullius: 6th King of Rome

Roman King Servius

From his real name MASTARNA or MACSTARNA. He was the second king of Rome of Etruscan origin. According to tradition, he reigned from 578 BC to 53. Historians often compare it to Romulus, especially for the miraculous nature of his birth. It would be born of a slave, as I said above, and the appearance of a phallus in the middle of the flames (hence the reference to Vulcan, god of fire); as for Romulus, following some ancient historians, it would have been conceived by a virile member. It appeared in the middle of an intense focus. In fact, following the Emperor Claudius, who was a great specialist in Etruscan history, he would have been, quite simply, a companion ( sodalis ) to a bandleader: VIBENNA. One of the principal acts of the legislation which he established was to define the task of a sensor. Every Roman citizen had to register himself in the register of the "cens" and had to declare all the property of which he was the possessor under penalty; in case failing to be beaten and sold as a slave. He perished, murdered, by a son of Tarquin the Elder, Tarquin the Superb, married to his daughter, TULLIA, who, at the height of horror, rolled his chariot on the body of his father.

7. Tarquin the Superb: 7th and last king of Rome

Roman King Tarquin the

Like its two predecessors, it was of Etruscan origin. He would be the son or grandson of Tarquin the Elder. He ascended the throne in the blood of Servius Tullius, who was also his father-in-law, whom he had murdered. But this relationship, according to historians of our time, has no historical truth. He continued his reign as ancient historians describe it, showing his dictatorial ways. "For all his rights were in force, he who had neither the votes of the people nor the consent of the Senate. Not being able to count on the affection of the citizens, he had to reign by terror. " Livy, I, 49. It is at the origin of the annual festivals of the Latin Fairies which commemorate the assimilation by Rome of 47 tribes of Lazio. He forbade the funeral of the king whom he succeeded, and he eliminated the senators who had been faithful to him.

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