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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book I Chapter 55: Public Works in Rome.
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After the acquisition of Gabii, Tarquin made peace with the Aequi and renewed the treaty with the Etruscans. Then he turned his attention to the business of the City. The first thing was the temple of Jupiter on the Tarpeian Mount, which he was anxious to leave behind as a memorial of his reign and name, both the Tarquins were concerned in it, the father had vowed it, the son completed it. That the whole of the area which the temple of Jupiter was to occupy might be wholly devote to that deity, he decided to deconsecrate the fanes and chapels, some of which had been originally vowed by king Tatius at the crisis of his battle with Romulus, and subsequently consecrated and inaugurated. |
Tradition records that at the commencement of this work the gods sent a divine intimation of the future vastness of the empire, for whilst the omens were favourable for the deconsecration of all the other shrines, they were unfavourable for that of the fane of Terminus. This was interpreted to mean that as the abode of Terminus was not moved and he alone of all the deities was not called forth from his consecrated borders, so all would be firm and immovable in the future empire. This augury of lasting dominion was followed by a prodigy which portended the greatness of the empire. It is said that whilst they were digging the foundations of the temple, a human head came to light with the face perfect; this appearance unmistakably portended that the spot would be the stronghold of empire and the head of all the world. This was the interpretation given by the soothsayers in the City, as well as by those who had been called into council from Etruria. The king's designs were now much more extensive; so much so that his share of the spoils of Pometia, which had been set apart to complete the work, now hardly met the cost of the foundations. This makes me inclined to trust Fabius - who, moreover, is the older authority - when he says that the amount was only forty talents, rather than Piso, who states that forty thousand pounds of silver were set apart for that object. For not only is such a sum more than could be expected from the spoils of any single city at that time, but it would more than suffice for the foundations of the most magnificent building of the present day.