Then attention was paid to religious matters, and as some part of the public worship had been performed by the kings in person, that they might not be missed in any respect, they elect a king of the sacrifices.
This office they made subject to the pontiff, that honour being added to the name might be no infringement on their liberty, which was now their principal care. And I know not whether by fencing it on every side to excess, even in the most trivial matters, they may not have exceeded bounds.
For when there was nothing else to offend, the name of one of the consuls became an object of dislike to the state. “That the Tarquinii had been too much habituated to sovereignty; Priscus first commenced; that Servius Tullus reigned next; that though an interval thus intervened, that Tarquinius Superbus, not losing sight of the kingdom as the property of another, had reclaimed it by crime and violence, as the hereditary right of his family.
That Superbus being expelled, the government was in the hands of Collatinus: that the Tarquinii knew not how to live in a private station; the name pleased them not; that it was dangerous to liberty.”
—Such discourses were at first gradually circulated through the entire state by persons sounding their dispositions; and the people, now excited by jealousy, Brutus convenes to a meeting. There first of all he recites the people's oath: “that they would suffer no one to be king, nor any thing to be in Rome whence danger might result to liberty.
That it ought to be maintained with all their might, and nothing that could tend that way ought to be overlooked; he said it with reluctance, for the sake of the individual; and would not say it, did not his affection for the commonwealth predominate; that the people of Rome do not believe that entire liberty has been recovered; that the regal family, the regal name, was not only in the state but even in the government; that was unfavourable, that was injurious to liberty.
Do you, L. Tarquinius,” says he, “do you, of your own accord, remove this apprehension. We remember, we own it, you expelled the royal family; complete your kindness; take hence the royal name —your property your fellow citizens shall not only restore you, by my advice, but if any thing is wanting they will generously supply. Depart in [p. 82]
amity. Relieve the state from a dread which is perhaps groundless.
So firmly are they persuaded in mind that only with the Tarquinian race will kingly power depart hence.” Amazement at so extraordinary and sudden an occurrence at first impeded the consul's utterance; then, when he was commencing to speak, the chief men of the state stand around him, and by many importunities urge the same request.
Others indeed had less weight with him. After Sp. Lucretius, superior in age and rank, his father-in-law besides, began to try various methods, by entreating and advising alternately, that he would suffer himself to be prevailed on by the general feeling of
the state, the consul, apprehending lest hereafter these same things might befall him, when again in a private station, together with loss of property and other additional disgrace, he resigned his consulship; and removing all his effects to Lavinium, he withdrew from the state.1
Brutus, according to a decree of the senate, proposed to the people, that all the family of the Tarquins should be banished from Rome; and in an assembly by centuries he elected P. Valerius, with whose assistance he had expelled the kings for his colleague.