Rome's Final King

1640 WordsJul 8, 20187 Pages
The story of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last of the seven legendary kings of Rome and son (or perhaps grandson) of the nobly depicted King Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, provides an excellent demonstration of how Livy intended his history to be a “splendid monument” (Livy Preface, p.4) from which one could find both examples to follow and ones to learn from. While most of the legendary kings are described in a largely positive light and seem to demonstrate the honor and tradition of the romans, and are therefore among the examples to be followed. Tarquinius Superbus is without a doubt an example to be learned from, a story of trickery and tyranny, which was very different from the others, and which future generations must seek to avoid.…show more content…
All of which is contrary to being a good Roman, and very different from the other kings. From this it can be posited that the difference between the rise of the last king and those that came before him is meant to demonstrate the consequences of the deterioration of Roman cultural values and ancient traditions that lead to unjust rule by a man who illegally seized the throne. In order to further debase the reader’s view of the new tyrannical king, and differentiate him from the others, Livy goes on to write of the king’s need to cow his people and illegitimately remove his political opponents (Livy 1.49, p.58). One episode Livy describes at length in order to demonstrate the methods which Superbus employed is the story of Turnus who while waiting for Superbus to arrive “sharply attacked the absent Tarquin” (Livy 1.50, p.59). In response, since “his power at Rome did not allow him to openly kill Turnus in this place” he instead plotted to frame him for rebellion, the punishment for which was death (Livy 1.51, p.59-60). Superbus hoped that by doing such a despicable thing he could “intimidate the Latins in the same way he had broken the spirit of the citizens at home.” (Livy 1.51, p.59). Livy claims that this strategy worked, for once Superbus proposed the renewal of a
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