Ancus reigned four and twenty years, a1
king inferior to none of his predecessors in the arts of peace and war and in the reputation they conferred. By this time his sons were nearly grown. Tarquinius was therefore all the more insistent in urging that the comitia should be held without delay to choose a king.
When the meeting had been proclaimed, and the day drew near, he sent the boys away on a hunting expedition. Tarcuinius was the first, they say, to canvass votes for the kingship and to deliver a speech designed to win the favour of the commons.
He pointed out that it; was no new thing he sought; he was not the first outsider to aim at the sovereignty in Rome —a thing which might have occasioned indignation and astonishment, —but the third. Tatius indeed, had been not merely an alien but an enemy when he was made king; while Numa was a stranger [p. 129]
to the City, and, far from seeking the kingship, had2
actually been invited to come and take it.
As for himself, he had no sooner become his own master than he had removed to Rome with his wife and all his property. For the greater part of that period of life during which men serve the state he had lived in Rome, and not in the city of his birth.
Both in civil life and in war he had had no mean instructor —King Ancus himself had taught him Roman laws and Roman rites. In subordination and deference to the king he had vied, he said, with all his hearers; in generosity to his fellow-subjects he had emulated the king himself.
Hearing him advance these not unwarranted claims, the people, with striking unanimity, named him king. The result was that the man, so admirable in all other respects, continued even after he had obtained the sovereignty to manifest the same spirit of intrigue which had governed him in seeking it; and being no less concerned to strengthen his own power than to enlarge the state, he added a hundred members to the senate, who were known thenceforward as Fathers of the “lesser families,” and formed a party of unwavering loyalty to the king, to whom they owed their admission to the Curia.3
His first war was with the Latins, whose town of Apiolae he took by storm. Returning thence with more booty than the rumours about the war had led people to expect, he exhibited games on a more splendid and elaborate scale than former kings had done.
It was then that the ground was first marked out for the circus now called Maximus. Places were divided amongst the Fathers and the knights where they might each make seats for themselves; these were called 'rows.'
They got their view from seats [p. 131]
raised on props to a height of twelve feet from the4
ground. The entertainment was furnished by horses and boxers, imported for the most part from Etruria. From that time the Games continued to be a regular annual show, and were called indifferently the Roman and the Great Games.
It was the same king, too, who apportioned building sites about the Forum among private citizens, and erected covered walks and booths.