Tarquin had now gained considerable influence amongst the Latin nobility, and he sent word for them to meet on a fixed date at the Grove of Ferentina, as there were matters of mutual interest about which he wished to consult them.
They assembled in considerable numbers at daybreak; Tarquin kept his appointment, it is true, but did not arrive till shortly before sunset. The council spent the whole day in discussing many topics. Turnus Herdonius, from Aricia
, had made a fierce attack on the absent Tarquin.
It was no wonder, he said, that the epithet ‘Tyrant’ had been bestowed upon him at Rome —for this was what people commonly called him, though only in whispers-could anything show the tyrant more than his thus trifling with the whole Latin nation? After summoning the chiefs from distant homes, the man who had called the council was not present.
He was in fact trying how far he could go, so that if they submitted to the yoke he might crush them. Who could not see that he was making his way to sovereignty over the Latins?
Even supposing that his own countrymen did well to entrust him with supreme power, or rather that it was entrusted and not seized by an act of parricide, the Latins ought not, even in that case, to place it in the hands of an alien.
But if his own people bitterly rue his sway, seeing how they are being butchered, sent into exile, stripped of all their property, what better fate can the Latins hope for? If they followed the speaker's advice they would go home and take as little notice of the day fixed for the council as he who had fixed it was taking.
Just while these and similar sentiments were being uttered by the man who had gained his influence in Aricia
by treasonable and criminal practice, Tarquin appeared on the scene.
That put a stop to his speech, for all turned from the speaker to salute the king.
When silence was restored, Tarquin was advised by those near to explain why he had come so late. He said that having been chosen as arbitrator between a father and a son, he had been detained by his endeavours to reconcile them, and as that matter had taken up the whole day, he would bring forward the measures he had decided upon the next day.
It is said that even this explanation was not received by Turnus without his commenting on it; no case, he argued, could take up less time than one between a father and a son, it could be settled in a few words; if the son did not comply with the father's wishes he would get into trouble.