The dying Tarquinius had hardly been caught [p. 145]
up in the arms of the bystanders when the fugitives1
were seized by the lictors. Then there was an uproar, as crowds hurried to the scene, asking one another in amazement what the matter was. In the midst of the tumult Tanaquil gave orders to close the palace, and ejected all witnesses. She busily got together the remedies needful for healing a wound, as if there were still hope, taking at the same time other measures to protect herself in case her hope should fail her.
Having hastily summoned Servius, she showed him her husband's nearly lifeless body, and grasping his right hand, besought him not to suffer the death of his father-in-law to go unpunished, nor his mother-in-law to become a jest to her enemies.
“To you, Servius,” she cried, “if you are a man, belongs this kingdom, not to those who by the hands of others have committed a dastardly crime. Arouse yourself and follow the guidance of the gods, who once declared by the token of divine fire poured out upon this head that you should be a famous man. Now is the time for that heaven-sent flame to quicken you! Now wake in earnest! We, too, were foreigners, yet we reigned. Consider what you are, not whence you were born. If your own counsels are benumbed in this sudden crisis, at least use mine.”
When the shouting and pushing of the crowd could hardly be withstood, Tanaquil went up into the upper storey of the house, and through a window looking out upon the Nova Via —for the king lived near the temple of Jupiter the Stayer — addressed the populace.
She bade them be of good cheer: the king had been stunned by a sudden blow; the steel had not sunk deep into his body; he had already recovered consciousness; the blood had been [p. 147]
wiped away and the wound examined; all the2
symptoms were favourable; she trusted that they would soon see Tarquinius himself; meanwhile she commanded that the people should obey Servius Tullius, who would dispense justice and perform the other duties of the king.
Servius went forth in the royal robe, accompanied by lictors, and sitting in the king's seat rendered judgment in some cases, while in regard to others he gave out that he would consult the king. In this way for several days after Tarquinius had breathed his last he concealed his death, pretending that he was merely doing another's work, while he was really strengthening his own position; then at last the truth was allowed to be known, from the lamentations which arose within the palace. Servius surrounded himself with a strong guard, and ruled at first without the authorization of the people, but with the consent of the Fathers.
The sons of Ancus, upon the arrest of the agents of their crime and the report that the king was alive and that Servius was so strong, had already gone into voluntary exile at Suessa Pometia.