In the reign of Ancus one Lucumo, a man of energy and wealth, took up his residence in Rome, chiefly from ambition and the hope that he might there achieve a station such as he had found no opportunity of attaining in Tarquinii; for though he had been born there himself, his race was alien to that place also.
He was the son of Demaratus of Corinth, who had been driven from home by a political upheaval. Happening to settle in Tarquinii, he had married there and had two sons, named Lucumo and Arruns. Lucumo survived his father and inherited all his property; Arruns died before his father, leaving his wife with child.
Demaratus did not long survive Arruns, and, unaware that his son's wife was to become a mother, he died without making provision for his grandson in his will. When the babe was born his grandfather was dead, and having no share in the inheritance, he was given the name of Egerius,1
in consequence of his penniless condition.
Lucumo, on the other hand, was heir to the whole estate. The self-confidence implanted in his bosom by his wealth was heightened by his marriage with Tanaquil, who was a woman of the most exalted birth, and not of a character lightly to endure a humbler rank in her new environment than she had [p. 125]
enjoyed in the condition to which she had been born.2
The Etruscans looked with disdain on Lucumo, the son of a banished man and a stranger. She could not endure this indignity, and forgetting the love she owed her native land, if she could only see her husband honoured, she formed the project of emigrating from Tarquinii.
Rome appeared to be the most suitable place for her purpose; amongst a new people, where all rank was of sudden growth and founded on worth, there would be room for a brave and strenuous man; the City had been ruled by Tatius the Sabine, it had summoned Numa to the sovereignty from Cures, even Ancus was the son of a Sabine mother, and could point to no noble ancestor but Numa.
She had no trouble in persuading a man who was eager for distinction, to whom Tarquinii was only his mother's birthplace.
They therefore gathered their possessions together and removed to Rome. They had come, as it happened, as far as Janiculum, when, as they were sitting in their covered waggon, an eagle poised on its wings gently descended upon them and plucked off Lucumo's cap, after which, rising noisily above the car and again stooping, as if sent from heaven for that service, it deftly replaced the cap upon his head, and departed on high.
This augury was joyfully accepted, it is said, by Tanaquil, who was a woman skilled in celestial prodigies, as was the case with most Etruscans. Embracing her husband, she bade him expect transcendent greatness: such was the meaning of that bird, appearing from that quarter of the sky, and bringing tidings from that god; the highest part of the man had been concerned in the omen; the eagle had removed the adornment placed upon a mortal's head that it might [p. 127]
restore it with the divine approbation.
their hopes and their reflections as they entered the City. Having obtained a house, they gave out the name of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus.
The Romans regarded him with special interest, as a stranger and a man of wealth, and he steadily pushed his fortune by his own exertions, making friends wherever possible, by kind words, courteous hospitality, and benefactions, until his reputation extended even to the palace.
He had not long been known in this way to the king before the liberality and adroitness of his services procured him the footing of an intimate friend. He was now consulted in matters both of public and private importance, in time of war and in time of peace, and having been tested in every way was eventually even named in the king's will as guardian of his children.