In the reign of Ancus, Lucumo, a rich and enterprising man, came to settle at Rome, prompted chiefly by the desire and hope of obtaining great preferment there, which he had no means of attaining at Tarquinii (for there also he was descended from an alien stock). He was the son of Demaratus, a Corinthian, who, flying his country for sedition, had happened to settle at Tarquinii, and having married a wife there, had two sons by her.
Their names were 1
Lucumo and Aruns. Lucumo survived his father, and became heir to all his property. Aruns died before his father, leaving a wife pregnant.
The father did not long survive the son, and as he, not knowing that his daughter-in-law was pregnant, died without taking any notice of his grandchild in his will, to the boy that was born after the death of his grandfather, without having any share in his fortune, the name of Egerius was given on account of his poverty.
And when his wealth already inspired Lucumo, on the other hand, the heir of all his father's wealth, with elevated notions, Tanaquil, whom he married, further increased such feeling, she being descended from a very high family, and one who would not readily brook the condition into which she had married to be inferior to that in which she had been born.
As the Etrurians despised Lucumo, because sprung from a foreign exile, she could not bear the affront, and regardless of the innate love of her native country, provided [p. 48]
she might see her husband advanced to honours, she formed the determination to leave Tarquinii.
Rome seemed particularly suited for her purpose. In this state, lately founded, where all nobility is recent and the result of merit, there would be room for her husband, a man of courage and activity. Tatius a Sabine had been king of Rome: Numa had been sent for from Cures to reign there: Ancus was sprung from a Sabine mother, and rested his nobility on the single statue of Numa.
She easily persuades him, as being ambitious of honours, and one to whom Tarquinii was his country only on the mother's side.
Accordingly, removing their effects they set out together for Rome. They happened to have reached the Janiculum; there, as he sat in the chariot with his wife, an eagle, suspended on her wings, gently stooping, takes off his cap, and flying round the chariot with loud screams, as if she had been sent from heaven for the very purpose, orderly replaced it on his head, and then flew aloft.
Tanaquil is said to have received this omen with great joy, being a woman well skilled, as the Etrurians generally are, in celestial prodigies, and embracing her husband, bids him hope for high and elevated fortune: that such bird had come from such a quarter of the heavens, and the messenger of such a god: that it had exhibited the omen around the highest part of man: that it had lifted the ornament placed on the head of man, to restore it to the same, by direction of the gods.
Carrying with them these hopes and thoughts, they entered the city, and having purchased a house there, they gave out the name of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus.
His being a stranger and very rich, caused him to be taken notice of by the Romans. He also promoted his own good fortune by his affable address, by the courteousness of his invitations, and by conciliating those whom he could by acts of kindness;
until a report of him reached even to the palace; and by paying court to the king with politeness and address, he in a short time so improved the acquaintance to the footing of intimate friendship, that he was present at all public and private deliberations, foreign and domestic; and being now tried in every trust, he was at length, by the king's will, appointed guardian to his children.