At that time, a prodigy occurred in the palace, wonderful both in its appearance and in its result. They relate, that the head of a boy, called Servius Tullius, as he lay fast asleep, blazed with fire in the sight of many persons.
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by the very great noise made at so miraculous a phenomenon, the royal family were awakened; and when one of the servants was bringing water to extinguish the flame, that he was kept back by the queen, and after the confusion was over, that she forbade the boy to be disturbed till he should awake of his own accord.
As soon as he awoke the flame disappeared. Then Tanaquil, taking her husband into a private place, said, “Do you observe this boy whom we bring up in so mean a style? Be assured that hereafter he will be a light to us in our adversity, and a protector to our palace in distress. From henceforth let us, with all our care, train up this youth, who is capable of becoming a great ornament publicly and privately.”
From this time the boy began to be treated as their own son, and instructed in those arts by which men's minds are qualified to maintain high rank. The matter was easily accomplished, because it was agreeable to the gods. The young man turned out to be of a disposition truly royal. Nor, when they looked out for a son-in-law for Tarquin, could any of the Roman youth be compared to him in any accomplishment; therefore the king betrothed his own daughter to him.
This high honour conferred upon him, from whatever cause, prevents us from believing that he was the son of a slave, and that he had himself been a slave when young. I am rather of the opinion of those who say that, on the taking of Corniculum, the wife of Servius Tullius, who had been the leading man in that city, being pregnant when her husband was slain, being known among the other female prisoners, and, in consequence of her high rank, exempted from servitude by the Roman queen, was delivered of a child at Rome, in the house of Tarquinius Priscus.
Upon this, that both the intimacy between the ladies was improved by so great a kindness, and that the boy, having been brought up in the house from his infancy, was beloved and respected; that his mother's lot, in having fallen into the hands of the enemy, caused him to be considered the son of a slave.