Lucius Tarquinius Superbus

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Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (535 – 496 BC) was the legendary seventh and final King of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the Roman revolt in 509 BC which would lead to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is more commonly known by his cognomen Tarquinius Superbus (literally, Tarquin the Proud[1]) and was a member of the Etruscan dynasty of Rome. Tarquin killed the preceding king, Servius Tullius to make himself king of Rome.

Tarquin's father, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, was the fifth King of Rome reigning from 616-579 BC. His grand-father was said to be Demaratus the Corinthian, from the Greek city of Corinth. Priscus came from the Etruscan city of Tarquinii. Disgruntled with his opportunities in Etruria, Priscus migrated to Rome with his wife Tanaquil, at her suggestion. A propitious omen is said to have led to Priscus' establishment as King of Rome.

There are few surviving sources on Tarquin's reign, and he is described as a tyrant and dictator when ruling the kingdom. He directed much of his attention to ambitious war plans and he eventually annexed various Latin neighboring city states. In 509 BC the people revolted as a result of his son Sextus Tarquinius' rape of Lucretia, who was an important noblewoman in the kingdom.


Early life

Tarquin's mother, Queen Tanaquil, had aided in the selection of Servius Tullius, Tarquin's brother-in-law, as heir to the Roman throne upon the assassination of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus by the sons of the previous king (Ancus Marcius) in 579 BC.[2]

Both Tarquin and his brother Aruns Tarquinius become married to Servius Tullius' daughters, both named Tullia.[3] According to Livy the elder of the two Tulliae was of fiercer temperament than her younger sister, and was married to Aruns Tarquinius, who had the more mild disposition of the two brothers. The elder Tullia came to despise her husband, Aruns, and she plotted with Lucius Tarquinius. Together, they arranged the murder of their respective siblings, in quick succession, and were thereafter married to each other.[4]

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