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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book II Chapter 2: Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus[509 BC]
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He next gave his attention to the affairs of religion. Certain public functions had hitherto been executed by the kings in person; with the view of supplying their place a " king for sacrifices" was created, [(1)] and lest he should become king in anything more than name, and so threaten that liberty which was their first care, his office was made subordinate to the Pontifex Maximus. I think that they went to unreasonable lengths in devising safeguards for their liberty, in all, even the smallest points. The second consul -- Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus -- bore an unpopular name -- this was his sole offence -- and men said that the Tarquins had been too long in power. They began with Priscus; then Servius Tullius reigned and Superbus Tarquinius, who even after this interruption had not lost sight of the throne which another filled, regained it by crime and violence as the hereditary possession of his house. And now that he was expelled, their power was being wielded by Collatinus; the Tarquins did not know how to live in a private station, the very name was a danger to liberty. What were at first whispered hints became the common talk of the City, and as the people were becoming suspicious and alarmed, Brutus summoned an assembly. He first of all rehearsed the people's oath, that they would suffer no man to reign or to live in Rome by whom the public liberty might be imperiled. This was to be guarded with the utmost care, no means of doing so were to be neglected.|
Personal regard made him reluctant to speak, nor would he have spoken had not his affection for the common-wealth compelled him. The Roman people did consider that their freedom was not yet fully won; the royal race, the royal name, was still there, not only amongst the citizens but in the government; in that fact lay an injury, an obstacle to full liberty. Turning to his brother consul: "These apprehensions it is for you, Lucius Tarquinius, to banish of your own free will. We have not forgotten, I assure you, that you expelled the king's family, complete your good work, remove their very name. Your fellow-citizens will, on my authority, not only hand over your property, but if you need anything, they will add to it with lavish generosity. Go, as our friend, relieve the common/wealth from a perhaps groundless, fear, men are persuaded that only with the family will the tyranny of the Tarquins depart."
At first the consul was struck dumb with astonishment at this extraordinary request; then, when he was beginning to speak, the foremost men in the common-wealth gathered round him and repeatedly urged the same plea, but with little success. It was not till Spurius Lucretius, his superior in age and rank, and also his father-in-law, began to use every method of entreaty and persuasion that he yielded to the universal wish. The consul, fearing lest after his year of office had expired and he returned to private life, the same demand should be made upon him, accompanied with loss of property and the ignominy of banishment, formally laid down the consulship, and after transferring all his effects to Lanuvium, withdrew from the State. A decree of the senate empowered Brutus to propose to the people a measure exiling all the members of the house of Tarquin. He conducted the election of a new consul, and the centuries elected as his colleague Publius Valerius, who had acted with him in the expulsion of the royal family.
(1): king for sacrifices -- The discharge of these functions by any one of lower rank than a king might be deemed an affront by the gods. A striking instance of the legalism of the Roman religion.
|Rerum deinde diuinarum habita cura; et quia quaedam publica sacra per ipsos reges factitata erant, necubi regum desiderium esset, regem sacrificolum creant. Id sacerdotium pontifici subiecere, ne additus nomini honos aliquid libertati, cuius tunc prima erat cura, officeret. Ac nescio an nimium undique eam minimisque rebus muniendo modum excesserint. Consulis enim alterius, cum nihil aliud offenderet, nomen inuisum ciuitati fuit: nimium Tarquinios regno adsuesse; initium a Prisco factum; regnasse dein Ser. Tullium; ne interuallo quidem facto oblitum, tamquam alieni, regni, Superbum Tarquinium uelut hereditatem gentis scelere ac ui repetisse; pulso Superbo penes Collatinum imperium esse. Nescire Tarquinios priuatos uiuere; non placere nomen, periculosum libertati esse. Hinc primo sensim temptantium animos sermo per totam ciuitatem est datus, sollicitamque suspicione plebem Brutus ad contionem uocat. Ibi omnium primum ius iurandum populi recitat neminem regnare passuros nec esse Romae unde periculum libertati foret; id summa ope tuendum esse, neque ullam rem quae eo pertineat contemnendam. Inuitum se dicere hominis causa, nec dicturum fuisse ni caritas rei publicae uinceret: non credere populum Romanum solidam libertatem reciperatam esse; regium genus, regium nomen non solum in ciuitate sed etiam in imperio esse; id officere, id obstare libertati. "Hunc tu" inquit "tua uoluntate, L. Tarquini, remoue metum. Meminimus, fatemur: eiecisti reges; absolue beneficium tuum, aufer hinc regium nomen. Res tuas tibi non solum reddent ciues tui auctore me, sed si quid deest munifice augebunt. Amicus abi; exonera ciuitatem uano forsitan metu; ita persuasum est animis cum gente Tarquinia regnum hinc abiturum." Consuli primo tam nouae rei ac subitae admiratio incluserat uocem; dicere deinde incipientem primores ciuitatis circumsistunt, eadem multis precibus orant. Et ceteri quidem mouebant minus: postquam Sp. Lucretius, maior aetate ac dignitate, socer praeterea ipsius, agere uarie rogando alternis suadendoque coepit ut uinci se consensu ciuitatis pateretur, timens consul ne postmodum priuato sibi eadem illa cum bonorum amissione additaque alia insuper ignominia acciderent, abdicauit se consulatu rebusque suis omnibus Lauinium translatis ciuitate cessit. Brutus ex senatus consulto ad populum tulit ut omnes Tarquiniae gentis exsules essent; collegam sibi comitiis centuriatis creauit P. Valerium, quo adiutore reges eiecerat.|