Ancus reigned twenty-four years, equal to any of the former kings both in the arts and renown of war and peace. His [p. 49]
sons were now nigh the age of puberty, for this reason Tarquin was more urgent that the assembly for the election of a king should be held as soon as possible.
The assembly being proclaimed, he sent away the boys to hunt towards the time of their meeting. He is said to have been the first who earnestly sued for the crown, and to have made a set speech for the purpose of gaining the affections of the people:
“that he did not aim at any thing unprecedented; for that he was not the first foreigner, (a thing at which any one might feel indignation or surprise,) but the third who aspired to the sovereignty of Rome. That Tatius not only from being an alien, but even an enemy, was made king: that Numa, unacquainted with the city, and without soliciting it, had been voluntarily invited by them to the throne.
That he, as soon as he was his own master, had come to Rome with his wife and whole fortune, and had there spent a greater part of that age, in which men are employed in civil offices, than he had in his native country:
that he had both in peace and war thoroughly learned the Roman laws and religious customs, under a master not to be objected to, king Ancus himself; that he had vied with all in duty and loyalty to his prince, and even with the king himself in his bounty to others.”
While he was recounting these undoubted facts, the people by a great majority elected him king. The same ambition which had prompted Tarquin, in other respects an excellent man, to aspire to the crown, followed him whilst on the throne. And being no less mindful of strengthening his own power, than of increasing that of the commonwealth, he elected a hundred into the fathers, who from that time were called Minorum Gentium, i. e.
of the younger families: a party hearty in the king's cause, by whose favour they had got into the senate.
The first war he waged was with the Latins, from whom he took the town of Apiolae by storm, and having brought back thence more booty than the character of the war would lead one to expect, he celebrated games with more cost and magnificence than former kings.
The place for the circus, which is now called Maximus, was then first marked out, and spaces were parted off for the senators and knights, where they might each erect seats for themselves:
they were called fori (benches). They viewed the games from scaffolding which supported seats [p. 50]
twelve feet high from the ground. The show took place; horses and boxers were sent for, chiefly from Etruria.
These solemn games afterwards continued annual, being variously called the Roman and Great (games). By the same king also spaces round the forum were portioned off for private individuals to build on; porticoes and shops were erected.