1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tarquinius Priscus, Lucius

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19418571911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 26 — Tarquinius Priscus, Lucius

TARQUINIUS PRISCUS, LUCIUS, fifth legendary king of Rome (616–578 B.C.). He is represented as the son of a Greek refugee, who removed from Tarquinii in Etruria to Rome, by the advice of his wife, the prophetess Tanaquil. Appointed guardian to the sons of Ancus Marcius, he succeeded in supplanting them on the throne on their father’s death. He laid out the Circus Maximus, instituted the “great” games, built the great sewers (cloacae), and began the construction of the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol. He carried on war successfully against the Sabines and subjugated Latium. He is said to have raised the number of the senators to 300, and to have doubled the number of the knights (see Navius, Attus). The introduction of many of the insignia both of war and of civil office is assigned to his reign, and he was the first to celebrate a Roman triumph, after the Etruscan fashion, in a robe of purple and gold, and borne on a chariot drawn by four horses. He was assassinated at the instigation of the sons of Ancus Marcius.

The legend of Tarquinius Priscus is in the main a reproduction of those of Romulus and Tullus Hostilius. His Corinthian descent, invented by the Greeks to establish a close connexion with Rome, is impossible for chronological reasons; further, according to the genuine Roman tradition, the Tarquinii were of Etruscan, not Greek, origin. There seems to have been originally only one Tarquinius; later, when a connected story of the legendary period was constructed, two (distinguished as the “Elder” and the “Proud”) were introduced, separated by the reign of Servius Tullius, and the name of both was connected with the same events. Thus, certain public works were said to have been begun by the earlier and finished by the later king; both instituted games, acquired the Sibylline books, and reorganized the army.

For the constitutional reforms attributed to Tarquinius, see Rome: Ancient History; for a critical examination of the story, Schwegler, Römische Geschichte, bk. xv. ; Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Credibility of early Roman History, ch. 11; W. Ihne, History of Rome, i.; E. Pais, Storia di Roma, i. (1898), who identifies Tarquinius with Tarpeius, the eponymus of the Tarpeian rock, subsequently developed into the wicked king Tarquinius Superbus. Ancient authorities:—Livy i. 34–41; Dion. Hal. iii. 46–73; Cic. de Repub., ii 200.