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Quote of the day: He called into his service twelve lictor
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book I Chapter 41: The Accession of Servius.
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Whilst the bystanders were supporting the dying Tarquin in their arms, the lictors caught the fugitives. The shouting drew a crowd together, wondering, what had happened. In the midst of the confusion, Tanaquil ordered the palace to be cleared and the doors closed; she then carefully prepared medicaments for dressing the wound, should there be hopes of life; at the same time she decided on other precautions, should the case prove hopeless, and hastily summoned Servius. She showed him her husband at the point of death, and taking his hand, implored him not to leave his father-in-law's death unavenged, nor to allow his mother-in-law to become the sport of her enemies. "The throne is yours, Servius," she said, "if you are a man; it does not belong to those who have, through the hands of others, wrought this worst of crimes. Up! follow the guidance of the gods who presaged the exaltation of that head round which divine fire once played! Let that heaven-sent flame now inspire you. Rouse yourself in earnest! We, too, though foreigners, have reigned. Bethink yourself not whence you sprang, but who you are. If in this sudden emergency you are slow to resolve, then follow my counsels." As the clamour and impatience of the populace could hardly be restrained, Tanaquil went to a window in the upper part of the palace looking out on the Via Nova - the king used to live by the temple of Jupiter Stator - and addressed the people.
She bade them hope for the best; the king had been stunned by a sudden blow, but the weapon had not penetrated to any depth, he had already recovered consciousness, the blood had been washed off and the wound examined, all the symptoms were favourable, she was sure they would soon see him again, meantime it was his order that the people should recognise the authority of Servius Tullius, who would administer justice and discharge the other functions of royalty. Servius appeared in his trabea attended by the lictors, and after taking his seat in the royal chair decided some cases and adjourned others under pretence of consulting the king. So for several days after Tarquin's death Servius continued to strengthen his position by giving out that he was exercising a delegated authority. At length the sounds of mourning arose in the palace and divulged the fact of the king's death. Protected by a strong body-guard Servius was the first who ascended the throne without being elected by the people, though without opposition from the senate. When the sons of Ancus heard that the instruments of their crime had been arrested, that the king was still alive, and that Servius was so powerful, they went into exile at Suessa Pometia.