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Tarquinius Superbus. By Brian Gibbons and Jack La Jeunesse. Biographical Information. Lucius Tarquinius was the last of the seven kings of Rome. (Livy 1.57) He was the son of Tarquinius Priscus, and the son in Law of Servius Tullius, the current and sixth King of Rome. (Livy 1.46)

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Tarquinius superbus

Tarquinius Superbus

By Brian Gibbons and Jack La Jeunesse

Biographical information
Biographical Information

Lucius Tarquinius was the last of the seven kings of Rome. (Livy 1.57)

He was the son of Tarquinius Priscus, and the son in Law of Servius Tullius, the current and sixth King of Rome. (Livy 1.46)

Born of Etruscan descent, ruled from 535 BC to 510 BC, after which Rome became a Republic. (Livy 1.57)

Was exiled from Rome at the end of his reign. His exile stemmed from his tyrannical ways and was also influenced by his son’s rape of Lucretia, daughter of an important Roman official. (Livy 1.57)

Died in exile in Campania in 496 BC, and was replaced by Lucius Junius Brutus, who became the first Roman consul. (Livy 1.58)

Important accomplishments
Important Accomplishments

Tarquinius seized the throne from Servius Tullius in 535 BC. (Livy 1.47)

Different sources say that Tarquinius was angry that his father had not passed power onto him directly, but Livy explains that Tarquinius’s wife, Tullia (the princess), had a central role in planning her father’s death.

As King, Tarquinius ruled as a brutal dictator. He murdered senators opposed to him, repealed edicts that limited his power, and suppressed the lower classes. (Livy 1.48)

Accomplishments cont
Accomplishments (Cont.)

Waged Wars with the Latins and the Etruscans. Tarquinius refused to allow the lower classes to bear arms or fight, but forced them to construct victory monuments. (Livy 1.50)

Tarquinius was a brilliant military leader, but he was often over-ambitious, and in the end often had to use fraud and trickery to win. (Ex. War with Gabii. Had to send his son to Gabii as a “refugee”. His son gained power over Gabii and turned it over to his father.) (Livy 1.54)

Tarquinus purchased the Sybilline books from Cumaean Sybl, and these books were consulted for prophetic use for centuries to come in Roman history.

Fun facts
Fun Facts

  • Tarquinusengaged in numerous domestic projects meant to glorify Rome and himself.

    • Cloaca Maxima-One of the world’s first modern sewers.

    • Constructed a massive temple to Jupiter.

    • Tarquinius was first offered nine sybilline books. However, he believed them to be too expensive, so Cumeae Sybll continued burning them until she reached a number favorable to Tarquinius, which ended up being three books only.

  • Livy wrote that Tarqinius cut the tops of the tallest poppies in his garden as an allegory to teach his son Sextus Tarquinius to gain order in a conquered city by killing its top citizens. We now have the modern expression, “Tall Poppy Syndrome” because of this action which refers to removing individuals who rise above the majority.