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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book I Chapter 35: Death of Ancus, Election of Tarquinius Priscus. Institution of the Ludi Romani
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Ancus reigned twenty-four years, unsurpassed by any of his predecessors in ability and reputation, both in the field and at home. His sons had now almost reached manhood. Tarquin was all the more anxious for the election of the new king to be held as soon as possible. At the time fixed for it he sent the boys out of the way on a hunting expedition. He is said to have been the first who canvassed for the crown and delivered a set speech to secure the interest of the plebs. In it he asserted that he was not making an unheard-of request, he was not the first foreigner who aspired to the Roman throne; were this so, any one might feel surprise and indignation. But he was the third. Tatius was not only a foreigner, but was made king after he had been their enemy; Numa, an entire stranger to the City, had been called to the throne without any seeking it on his part. As to himself, as soon as he was his own master, he had removed to Rome with his wife and his whole fortune; he had lived at Rome for a larger part of the period during which men discharge the functions of citizenship than he had passed in his old country; he had learnt the laws of Rome, the ceremonial rites of Rome, both civil and military, under Ancus himself, a very sufficient teacher; he had been second to none in duty and service towards the king; he had not yielded to the king himself in generous treatment of others. Whilst he was stating these facts, which were certainly true, the Roman people with enthusiastic unanimity elected him king. Though in all other respects an excellent man, his ambition, which impelled him to seek the crown, followed him on to the throne; with the design of strengthening himself quite as much as of increasing the State, he made a hundred new senators. These were afterwards called "the Lesser Houses" and formed a body of uncompromising supporters of the king, through whose kindness they had entered the senate. |
Institution of the Ludi Romani."
- The first war he engaged in was with the Latins. He took the town of Apiolae by storm; and carried off a greater amount of plunder than could have been expected from the slight interest shown in the war. After this had been brought in wagons to Rome, he celebrated the Games with greater splendour and on a larger scale than his predecessors. Then for the first time a space was marked for what is now the " Circus Maximus." Spots were allotted to the patricians and knights where they could each build for themselves stands - called " fori" -- from which to view the Games. These stands were raised on wooden props, branching out at the top, twelve feet high. The contests were horse-racing and boxing, the horses and boxers mostly brought from Etruria. They were at first celebrated on occasions of especial solemnity; subsequently they became an annual fixture, and were called indifferently the "Roman" or the Great Games." This king also divided the ground round the Forum into building sites; arcades and shops were put up.