Servius, though he had now acquired an indisputable right to the kingdom by long possession, yet as he heard that expressions were sometimes thrown out by young Tarquin, importing, “That he held the crown without the consent of the people,” having first secured their good will by dividing among them, man by man, the lands taken from their enemies, he ventured to propose the question to the people, whether they “chose and ordered that he should be king,” and was [p. 61]
declared king with such unanimity, as had not been observed in the election of any of his predecessors.
But this circumstance diminished not Tarquin's hope of obtaining the throne; nay, because he had observed that the question of the distribution of land to the people1
was carried against the will of the fathers, he felt so much the more satisfied that an opportunity was now presented to him of arraigning Servius before the fathers, and of increasing his own influence in the senate, he being himself naturally of a fiery temper, and his wife, Tullia, at home stimulating his restless temper.
For the Roman palace also afforded an instance of tragic guilt, so that through their disgust of kings, liberty might come more matured, and the throne, which should be attained through crime, might be the last.
This L. Tarquinius (whether he was the son or grandson of Tarquinius Priscus is not clear; with the greater number of authorities, however, I would say, his son2
) had a brother, Aruns Tarquinius, a youth of a mild disposition.
To these two, as has been already stated, the two Tulliae, daughters of the king, had been married, they also being of widely different tempers. It had so happened that the two violent dispositions were not united in marriage, through the good fortune, I suspect, of the Roman people, in order that the reign of Servius might be more protracted, and the morals of the state be firmly established.
The haughty Tullia was chagrined, that there was no material in her husband, either for ambition or bold daring. Directing all her regard to the other Tarquinius, him she admired, him she called a man, and one truly descended of royal blood; she expressed her contempt of her sister, because, having got a man, she was deficient in the spirit becoming a woman.
Similarity of mind soon draws them together, as wickedness is in general most congenial to wickedness. But the commencement of producing general confusion originated with the woman. She, accustomed to the secret conversations of the other's husband, refrained not from using the most contumelious language of her husband to his brother, of her sister to (her sister's) husband, and contended, that it were [p. 62]
better that she herself were unmarried, and he single, than that they should be matched unsuitably, so that they must languish away through life by reason of the dastardly conduct of others.
If the gods had granted her the husband of whom she was worthy, that she should soon see the crown in her own house, which she now saw at her father's. She soon inspires the young man with her own daring notions.
Aruns Tarquinius and the younger Tullia, when they had, by immediate successive deaths, made their houses vacant for new nuptials, are united in marriage, Servius rather not prohibiting than approving the measure.