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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book I Chapter 47: The Assassination of the King (Cont.)
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From that time the old age of Tullius became more embittered, his reign more unhappy. The woman [Note 1] began to look forward from one crime to another; she allowed her husband no rest day or night, for fear lest the past murders should prove fruitless. What she wanted, she said, was not a man who was only her husband in name, or with whom she was to live in uncomplaining servitude; the man she needed was one who deemed himself worthy of a throne, who remembered that he was the son of Priscus Tarquinius, who preferred to wear a crown rather than live in hopes of it [Note 2]. |
"If you are the man to whom I thought I was married, then I call you my husband and my king; but if not, I have changed my condition for the worse, since you are not only a coward but a criminal to boot. Why do you not prepare yourself for action? You are not, like your father, a native of Corinth or Tarquinii, nor is it a foreign crown you have to win. Your father's household gods, your father's image, the royal royal palace, the kingly throne within it, the very name of Tarquin, all declare you king. If you have not courage enough for this, why do you excite vain hopes in the State? Why do you allow yourself to be looked up to as a youth of kingly stock?
Make your way back to Tarquinii or Corinth, sink back to the position whence you sprung; you have your brother's nature rather than your father's." [Note 3] With taunts like these she egged him on. She, too, was perpetually haunted by the thought that whilst Tanaquil, a woman of alien descent, had shown such spirit as to give the crown to her husband and her son-in-law in succession, she herself, though of royal descent, had no power either in giving it or taking it away. Infected by the woman's madness Tarquin began to go about and interview the nobles, mainly those of the Lesser Houses; he reminded them of the favour his father had shown them, and asked them to prove their gratitude; he won over the younger men with presents. By making magnificent promises as to what he would do, and by bringing charges against the king, his cause became stronger amongst all ranks.
At last, when he thought the time for action had arrived, he appeared suddenly in the Forum with a body of armed men. A general panic ensued, during which he seated himself in the royal chair in the senate-house and ordered the Fathers to be summoned by the crier "into the presence of king Tarquin." They hastily assembled, some already prepared for what was coming; others, apprehensive lest their absence should arouse suspicion, and dismayed by the extraordinary nature of the incident, were convinced that the fate of Servius was sealed. Tarquin went back to the king's birth, protested that he was a slave and the son of a slave, and after his (the speaker's) father had been foully murdered, seized the throne, as a woman's gift, without any interrex being appointed as heretofore, without any assembly being convened, without any vote of the people being taken or any confirmation of it by the Fathers. Such was his origin, such was his right to the crown. His sympathies were with the dregs of society from which he had sprung, and through jealousy of the ranks to which he did not belong, he had taken the land from the foremost men in the State and divided it amongst the vilest; he had shifted on to them the whole of the burdens which had formerly been borne in common by all; he had instituted the census that the fortunes of the wealthy might be held up to envy, and be an easily available source from which to shower doles, whenever he pleased, upon the neediest.
Note 1: woman = Tullia the Younger
|Tum vero in dies infestior Tulli senectus, infestius coepit regnum esse; iam enim ab scelere ad aliud spectare mulier scelus. Nec nocte nec interdiu virum conquiescere pati, ne gratuita praeterita parricidia essent: non sibi defuisse cui nupta diceretur, nec cum quo tacita seruiret; defuisse qui se regno dignum putaret, qui meminisset se esse Prisci Tarquini filium, qui habere quam sperare regnum mallet. "Si tu is es cui nuptam esse me arbitror, et virum et regem appello; sin minus, eo nunc peius mutata res est quod istic cum ignauia est scelus. Quin accingeris? Non tibi ab Corintho nec ab Tarquiniis, ut patri tuo, peregrina regna moliri necesse est: di te penates patriique et patris imago et domus regia et in domo regale solium et nomen Tarquinium creat vocatque regem. Aut si ad haec parum est animi, quid frustraris civitatem? quid te ut regium iuvenem conspici sinis? Facesse hinc Tarquinios aut Corinthum; deuoluere retro ad stirpem, fratri similior quam patri." His aliisque increpando iuvenem instigat, nec conquiescere ipsa potest si, cum Tanaquil, peregrina mulier, tantum moliri potuisset animo ut duo continua regna viro ac deinceps genero dedisset, ipsa regio semine orta nullum momentum in dando adimendoque regno faceret. His muliebribus instinctus furiis Tarquinius circumire et prensare minorum maxime gentium patres; admonere paterni beneficii ac pro eo gratiam repetere; allicere donis iuvenes; cum de se ingentia pollicendo tum regis criminibus omnibus locis crescere. Postremo ut iam agendae rei tempus visum est, stipatus agmine armatorum in forum inrupit. Inde omnibus perculsis pavore, in regia sede pro curia sedens patres in curiam per praeconem ad regem Tarquinium citari iussit. Conuenere extemplo, alii iam ante ad hoc praeparati, alii metu ne non venisse fraudi esset, novitate ac miraculo attoniti et iam de Seruio actum rati. Ibi Tarquinius maledicta ab stirpe ultima orsus: seruum seruaque natum post mortem indignam parentis sui, non interregno, ut antea, inito, non comitiis habitis, non per suffragium populi, non auctoribus patribus, muliebri dono regnum occupasse. Ita natum, ita creatum regem, fautorem infimi generis hominum ex quo ipse sit, odio alienae honestatis ereptum primoribus agrum sordidissimo cuique divisisse; omnia onera quae communia quondam fuerint inclinasse in primores civitatis; instituisse censum ut insignis ad inuidiam locupletiorum fortuna esset et parata unde, ubi vellet, egentissimis largiretur.|