Sunday, 9 July 2017

Accession : The Kings of Rome

The Roman Republic, although the accounts of this era are semi-legendary at best, was supposed to have been founded after Tarquinius Superbus was ejected from Rome. His reign was productive in some aspects but was nonetheless filled with abuses, particularly against the senators: he marginalized them by refusing to consult them, and tried to reduce their numbers as best he could. He also became tyrannical in his administration of justice, trying capital cases by himself, without counselors, and using this as a way of stamping out opposition. This was capped off by his son's rape of a virtuous noblewoman named Lucretia, which caused Lucius Junius Brutus (the king's nephew, who had survived in Tarquin's regime by pretending to be slow-witted and thus non-threatening) to vow revenge. He summoned the people and inflamed them against Tarquinius, causing the assembly to strip the king of his imperium, the power of command and punishment that kings enjoyed. After Tarquinius was exiled, the Romans used existing voting procedures to select two magistrates (called praetors at the time, but they'd later be termed consuls, and this is how we know them today) and divided the power of imperium between them, so that no man would concentrate enough power in his own hands to tyrannize the Romans again.

Long story short, Tarquinius and his son were so outrageously oppressive (although reading between the lines, it's hard not to conclude that he pissed off the Senate more than the people generally, and that the revolution was motivated primarily by the aristocrats seeking to restore their position) that they completely soiled the concept of kingship for Romans, and the "Romans are free men, we don't need or want a king, kings are tyrants," message was passed down for centuries, with the result that Romans would be perpetually suspicious of people who accumulated too much power.

You pull'd me by the cloak; would you speak with me?

Ay, Casca; tell us what hath chanced to-day,
That Caesar looks so sad.

Why, you were with him, were you not?

I should not then ask Casca what had chanced.

Why, there was a crown offered him: and being
offered him, he put it by with the back of his hand,
thus; and then the people fell a-shouting.

What was the second noise for?

Why, for that too.

They shouted thrice: what was the last cry for?

Why, for that too.

Was the crown offered him thrice?

Ay, marry, was't, and he put it by thrice, every
time gentler than other, and at every putting-by
mine honest neighbours shouted.

Who offered him the crown?

Why, Antony.

Tell us the manner of it, gentle Casca.

I can as well be hanged as tell the manner of it:
it was mere foolery; I did not mark it. I saw Mark
Antony offer him a crown;--yet 'twas not a crown
neither, 'twas one of these coronets;--and, as I told
you, he put it by once: but, for all that, to my
thinking, he would fain have had it. Then he
offered it to him again; then he put it by again:
but, to my thinking, he was very loath to lay his
fingers off it. And then he offered it the third
time; he put it the third time by: and still as he
refused it, the rabblement hooted and clapped their
chapped hands and threw up their sweaty night-caps
and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because
Caesar refused the crown that it had almost choked
Caesar; for he swounded and fell down at it: and
for mine own part, I durst not laugh, for fear of
opening my lips and receiving the bad air.

But, soft, I pray you: what, did Caesar swound?

He fell down in the market-place, and foamed at
mouth, and was speechless.

'Tis very like: he hath the failing sickness.

No, Caesar hath it not; but you and I,
And honest Casca, we have the falling sickness.

I know not what you mean by that; but, I am sure,
Caesar fell down. If the tag-rag people did not
clap him and hiss him, according as he pleased and
displeased them, as they use to do the players in
Theatre, I am no true man.

What said he when he came unto himself?

Marry, before he fell down, when he perceived the
common herd was glad he refused the crown, he
plucked me ope his doublet and offered them his
throat to cut. An I had been a man of any
occupation, if I would not have taken him at a word,
I would I might go to hell among the rogues. And so
he fell. When he came to himself again, he said,
If he had done or said any thing amiss, he desired
their worships to think it was his infirmity. Three
or four wenches, where I stood, cried 'Alas, good
soul!' and forgave him with all their hearts: but
there's no heed to be taken of them; if Caesar had
stabbed their mothers, they would have done no less.

And after that, he came, thus sad, away?


Did Cicero say any thing?

Ay, he spoke Greek.

To what effect?

Nay, an I tell you that, Ill ne'er look you i' the
face again: but those that understood him smiled at
one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own
part, it was Greek to me. I could tell you more
news too: Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarfs
off Caesar's images, are put to silence. Fare you
well. There was more foolery yet, if I could
remember it.

Will you sup with me to-night, Casca?

No, I am promised forth.

Will you dine with me to-morrow?

Ay, if I be alive and your mind hold and your dinner
worth the eating.

Good: I will expect you.

Do so. Farewell, both.


What a blunt fellow is this grown to be!
He was quick mettle when he went to school.

So is he now in execution
Of any bold or noble enterprise,
However he puts on this tardy form.
This rudeness is a sauce to his good wit,
Which gives men stomach to digest his words
With better appetite.

And so it is. For this time I will leave you:
To-morrow, if you please to speak with me,
I will come home to you; or, if you will,
Come home to me, and I will wait for you.

I will do so: till then, think of the world.


Well, Brutus, thou art noble; yet, I see,
Thy honourable metal may be wrought
From that it is disposed: therefore it is meet
That noble minds keep ever with their likes;
For who so firm that cannot be seduced?
Caesar doth bear me hard; but he loves Brutus:
If I were Brutus now and he were Cassius,
He should not humour me. I will this night,
In several hands, in at his windows throw,
As if they came from several citizens,
Writings all tending to the great opinion
That Rome holds of his name; wherein obscurely
Caesar's ambition shall be glanced at:
And after this let Caesar seat him sure;
For we will shake him, or worse days endure.


Kings of Rome
For 150 years, a period of time that stretched across the
entire sixth century B . C ., the city of Rome was under
Etruscan control. The conquest of Alba Longa fifteen miles
southeast of Rome was believed to have occurred during
the time of the Etruscan kings.

There were 7 legendary rulers, or Kings, of Rome:

The first king, Romulus, instituted the Senate; the second king, Numa
Pompilius, established priesthoods; the third king, Tullus
Hostilius, expanded Rome’s influence and glory through
war; and the fourth king, Ancus Marcius, established
procedures for declaring war.

The remaining kings ncluded the fifth, Tarquinius Priscus; the sixth, Servius
Tullius; and the seventh, Tarquinius Superbus.

The first Etruscan king, Tarquinius Priscus, was of Greek descent, and he focused on reforming the army.

Priscus also built a temple on the Capitol to honor Jupiter,
Juno, and Minerva. These three deities, known as the
Capitoline Triad, held a supreme place in Roman religion.
Chapter 1 of this text elaborates on the Capitoline Triad
because these deities figure prominently in the historical
myths about the founding of Rome by Aeneas and

The sixth king, Servius Tullius (578–534 B . C .), organized
Roman society by rank and divided the population into
classes. Men who owned property had political power and
could join the military. He also established the earliest and
most important shrine of the Latin deity Diana on the
Aventine Hill. Diana was concerned with the affairs of
women and later became associated with the Greek
goddess Artemis, who was the goddess of the moon and

The seventh and last king, Tarquinius Superbus, or
Tarquin the Proud, was not elected legally and was not
well liked because he made the Romans do manual labor
for public works. He was dethroned in 509 B . C . According
to legend, he tried to purchase from the Sibyl at Cumae the
Sibylline Books, a set of nine books that contained all of
19Roman Mythology
Apollo’s prophecies of the world. (A sibyl is a soothsayer or
someone who foretells future events by some sort of
supernatural means; Cumae is a port along the southern
coast of Italy.) Apollo had given the books to the Sibyl and
had offered to grant her anything she desired if she would
marry him. The Sibyl agreed on the one condition that he
grant her as many years of life as grains of sand she could
hold in one hand. After Apollo granted the Sibyl her wish,
she quickly reneged on her promise. Apollo then reminded
the Sibyl that because she had forgotten to ask to remain
ageless, he was going to withhold that gift. The Sibyl of
Cumae lived on as an old woman for more than seven
hundred years, until only her small, weak voice survived to
hand down Apollo’s world prophecies.
When Tarquin the Proud asked to purchase the books
from the Sibyl, she agreed to sell them to him—but he
refused to pay her price. So the Sibyl burned three of the
nine books. A year later, the Sibyl offered the king the
remaining six books at the same price. Still, he refused to
pay her price, so she burned three more of the books.
Exasperated, Tarquin the Proud finally agreed to pay the
original price for the remaining three books.
The early Romans did not adapt easily to existing
Etruscan religious practices. The Etruscans followed the
reading of omens by their priests. In these readings, the
priests, or augurs, interpreted for the people the meaning
of messages from the gods, believed to be hidden in the
flight patterns of birds or in the color and consistency of
animals’ entrails.
Over the centuries, many Greeks and Carthaginians
came to live in Etruria, and the Etruscans readily embraced
many aspects of their cultures. The Etruscans, in turn,
introduced a civilized and prosperous way of life to the
Romans. Many Greek gods and goddesses were absorbed
into the growing body of Roman deities. Jupiter became
the Roman equivalent of Zeus, the Greek king of the gods
(Jupiter even adopted Zeus’ symbols of power—lightning
bolts and peals of thunder); Juno became the Roman
equivalent of Hera, Zeus’ wife; and Venus became the
Roman equivalent of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of

In the beginning, when Roman deities became

identified with Greek gods and goddesses, they did not
interact with humans in Roman myths because the
Romans were not comfortable with the Greek idea of
divine intervention in their stories. Eventually, however,
this attitude changed and humans and divinities began to
interact in Roman myths just as they did in Greek myths.
Mars, Venus, and Apollo are included in Chapter 2
because these deities also play an important part in the
myths about the founding of Rome.


Who's there?

A Roman.

Casca, by your voice.

Your ear is good. Cassius, what night is this!

A very pleasing night to honest men.

Who ever knew the heavens menace so?

Those that have known the earth so full of faults.
For my part, I have walk'd about the streets,
Submitting me unto the perilous night,
And, thus unbraced, Casca, as you see,
Have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone;
And when the cross blue lightning seem'd to open
The breast of heaven, I did present myself
Even in the aim and very flash of it.

But wherefore did you so much tempt the heavens?
It is the part of men to fear and tremble,
When the most mighty gods by tokens send
Such dreadful heralds to astonish us.

You are dull, Casca, and those sparks of life
That should be in a Roman you do want,
Or else you use not. You look pale and gaze
And put on fear and cast yourself in wonder,
To see the strange impatience of the heavens:
But if you would consider the true cause
Why all these fires, why all these gliding ghosts,
Why birds and beasts from quality and kind,
Why old men fool and children calculate,
Why all these things change from their ordinance
Their natures and preformed faculties
To monstrous quality,--why, you shall find
That heaven hath infused them with these spirits,
To make them instruments of fear and warning
Unto some monstrous state.
Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man
Most like this dreadful night,
That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars
As doth the lion in the Capitol,
A man no mightier than thyself or me
In personal action, yet prodigious grown
And fearful, as these strange eruptions are.

'Tis Caesar that you mean; is it not, Cassius?

Let it be who it is: for Romans now
Have thews and limbs like to their ancestors;
But, woe the while! our fathers' minds are dead,
And we are govern'd with our mothers' spirits;
Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish.

Indeed, they say the senators tomorrow
Mean to establish Caesar as a king;
And he shall wear his crown by sea and land,
In every place, save here in Italy.

I know where I will wear this dagger then;
Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius:
Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong;
Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat:
Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron,
Can be retentive to the strength of spirit;
But life, being weary of these worldly bars,
Never lacks power to dismiss itself.
If I know this, know all the world besides,
That part of tyranny that I do bear
I can shake off at pleasure.

Thunder still

So can I:
So every bondman in his own hand bears
The power to cancel his captivity.

And why should Caesar be a tyrant then?
Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf,
But that he sees the Romans are but sheep:
He were no lion, were not Romans hinds.
Those that with haste will make a mighty fire
Begin it with weak straws: what trash is Rome,
What rubbish and what offal, when it serves
For the base matter to illuminate
So vile a thing as Caesar! But, O grief,
Where hast thou led me? I perhaps speak this
Before a willing bondman; then I know
My answer must be made. But I am arm'd,
And dangers are to me indifferent.

You speak to Casca, and to such a man
That is no fleering tell-tale. Hold, my hand:
Be factious for redress of all these griefs,
And I will set this foot of mine as far
As who goes farthest.

There's a bargain made.
Now know you, Casca, I have moved already
Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans
To undergo with me an enterprise
Of honourable-dangerous consequence;
And I do know, by this, they stay for me
In Pompey's porch: for now, this fearful night,
There is no stir or walking in the streets;
And the complexion of the element
In favour's like the work we have in hand,
Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.

Stand close awhile, for here comes one in haste.

'Tis Cinna; I do know him by his gait;
He is a friend.


Cinna, where haste you so?

To find out you. Who's that? Metellus Cimber?

No, it is Casca; one incorporate
To our attempts. Am I not stay'd for, Cinna?

I am glad on 't. What a fearful night is this!
There's two or three of us have seen strange sights.

Am I not stay'd for? tell me.

Yes, you are.
O Cassius, if you could
But win the noble Brutus to our party--

Be you content: good Cinna, take this paper,
And look you lay it in the praetor's chair,
Where Brutus may but find it; and throw this
In at his window; set this up with wax
Upon old Brutus' statue: all this done,
Repair to Pompey's porch, where you shall find us.
Is Decius Brutus and Trebonius there?

All but Metellus Cimber; and he's gone
To seek you at your house. Well, I will hie,
And so bestow these papers as you bade me.

That done, repair to Pompey's theatre.


Come, Casca, you and I will yet ere day
See Brutus at his house: three parts of him
Is ours already, and the man entire
Upon the next encounter yields him ours.

O, he sits high in all the people's hearts:
And that which would appear offence in us,
His countenance, like richest alchemy,
Will change to virtue and to worthiness.

Him and his worth and our great need of him
You have right well conceited. Let us go,
For it is after midnight; and ere day
We will awake him and be sure of him.


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