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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book I Chapter 34: Migration of the Tarquins to Rome.
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During the reign of Ancus a wealthy and ambitious man named Lucumo removed to Rome, mainly with the hope and desire of winning high distinction, for which no opportunity had existed in Tarquinii, since there also he was an alien. He was the son of Demaratus, a Corinthian, who had been driven from home by a revolution, and who happened to settle in Tarquinii. There he married and had two sons, their names were Lucumo and Arruns. Arruns died before his father, leaving his wife with child; Lucumo survived his father and inherited all his property. For Demaratus died shortly after Arruns, and being unaware of the condition of his daughter-in-law, had made no provision in his will for a grandchild. The boy, thus excluded from any share of his grandfathers property was called in consequence of his poverty, Egerius. Lucumo, on the other hand, heir to all the property, became elated by his wealth and his ambition was stimulated by his marriage with Tanaquil. This woman was descended from one of the foremost families in the State and could not bear the thought of her position by marriage being inferior to the one she claimed by birth. The Etruscans looked down upon Lucumo as the son of a foreign refugee; she could not brook this indignity and, forgetting all ties of patriotism if only she could see her husband honoured, resolved to emigrate from Tarquinii. Rome seemed the most suitable place for her purpose. She felt that among a young nation where all nobility is a thing of recent growth and won by personal merit, there would be room for a man of courage and energy. She remembered that the Sabine Tatius had reigned there, that Numa had been summoned from Cures to fill the throne, that Ancus himself was sprung from a Sabine mother, and could not trace his nobility beyond Numa. Her husband's ambition and the fact that Tarquinii was his native country only on the mother's side, made him give a ready ear to her proposals. They accordingly packed up their goods and removed to Rome. |
They had got as far as the Janiculum when a hovering eagle swooped gently down and took off his cap as he was sitting by his wife's side in the carriage, then circling round the vehicle with loud cries, as though commissioned by heaven for this service, replaced it carefully upon his head and soared away. It is said that Tanaquil, who, like most Etruscans, was expert in interpreting celestial prodigies, was delighted at the omen. She threw her arms round her husband and bade him look for a high and majestic destiny, for such was the import of the eagle's appearance, of the particular part of the sky where it appeared, and of the deity who sent it. The omen was directed to the crown and summit of his person, the bird had raised aloft an adornment put on by human hands, to replace it as the gift of heaven.
Full of these hopes and surmises they entered the City, and after procuring a domicile there, they announced his name as Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. The fact of his being a stranger, and a wealthy one, brought him into notice, and he increased the advantage which Fortune gave him by his courteous demeanour, his lavish hospitality, and the many acts of kindness by which he won all whom it was in his power to win, until his reputation even reached the palace. Once introduced to the king's notice, he soon succeeded by adroit complaisance in getting on to such familiar terms that he was consulted in matters of state, as much as in private matters, whether they referred to either peace or war. At last, after passing every test of character and ability, he was actually appointed by the king's will guardian to his children.