Lucius Tarquinius now began his reign. His conduct procured for him the nickname of ‘Superbus,’ for he deprived his father-in-law of burial, on the plea that Romulus was not buried, and he slew the leading nobles whom he suspected of being partisans of Servius.
Conscious that the precedent which he had set, of winning a throne by violence, might be used against himself, he surrounded himself with a guard.
For he had nothing whatever by which to make good his claim to the crown except actual violence; he was reigning without either being elected by the people or confirmed by the senate.
As more over, he had no hope of winning the affections of the citizens, he had to maintain his dominion by fear.
To make himself more dreaded, he conducted the trials in capital cases without any assessors, and under this pretence he was able to put to death, banish, or fine not only those whom he suspected or disliked, but also those from whom his only object was to extort money.
His main object was so to reduce the number of senators, by refusing to fill up any vacancies, that the dignity of the order itself might be lowered through the smallness of its numbers, and less indignation felt at all public business being taken out of its hands.
He was the first of the kings to break through the traditional custom of consulting the senate on all questions, the first to conduct the government on the advice of his palace favourites. War, peace, treaties, alliances were made or broken off by him, just as he thought good, without any authority from either people or senate.
He made a special point of securing the Latin nation, that through his power and influence abroad he might be safer amongst his subjects at home; he not only formed ties of hospitality with their chief men, but established family connections.
He gave his daughter in marriage to Octavius Mamilius of Tusculum, who was quite the foremost man of the Latin race, descended, if we are to believe traditions, from Ulysses and the goddess Circe; through that connection he gained many of his son-in-law's relations and friends.