1. P. Valerius
Volusi F. Publicola, the colleague of Brutus in the consulship in the first year of the republic.
The account given of him in Livy, Plutarch, and Dionysius cannot be regarded as a real history.
The history of the expulsion of the Tarquins and of the infancy of the republic has evidently received so many poetical embellishments, and has been so altered by successive traditions, that probably we are not warranted in asserting any thing more respecting Publicola than that he took a prominent part in the government of the state during the first few years of the republic.
The common story, however, runs as follows. P. Valerius, the son of Volusus, belonged to one of the noblest Roman houses, and was a descendant of the Sabine Volusus, who settled at Rome with Tatius, the king of the Sabines. [VALERIA GENS.] When Lucretia summoned her father from the camp, after Sextus Tarquinius had wrought the deed of shame, P. Valerius accompanied Lucretius to his daughter, and was by her side when she disclosed the villany of Sextus and stabbed herself to the heart. Valerius, in common with all the others who were present, swore to avenge her death, which they forthwith accomplished by expelling the Tarquins from the city. Junius Brutus and Tarquinius Collatinus were first elected consuls, B. C. 509; but as the very name of Tarquinius made Collatinus an object of suspicion to the people, he was obliged to resign his office and leave the city, and Valerius was chosen in his stead. Shortly afterwards the people of Veii and Tarquinii espoused the cause of the Tarquins, and marched with them against Rome, at the head of a large army.
The two consuls advanced to meet them with the Roman forces.
A bloody battle was fought, in which Brutus fell; and both parties claimed the victory, till a voice was heard in the dead of the night proclaiming that the Romans had conquered, as the Etruscans had lost one man more. Alarmed at this, the Etruscans fled, and Valerius entered Rome in triumph. Valerius was now left without a colleague; and as he began at the same time to build a house on the top of the hill Velia, which looked down upon the forum, the people feared that he was aiming at kingly power.
As soon as Valerius became aware of these suspicions, he stopt the building; and the people, ashamed of their conduct, granted him a piece of ground at the foot of the Velia, with the privilege of having the door of his house open back into the street. When Valerius appeared before the people he ordered the lictors to lower the fasces before them, as an acknowledgment that their power was superior to his. Not content with this mark of submission, he brought forward laws in defence of the republic and in support of the liberties of the people. One law enacted that whoever attempted to make himself a king should be devoted to the gods, and that any one who liked might kill him; and another law declared, that every citizen who was condemned by a magistrate should have the right of appeal to the people. Now as the patricians possessed this right under the kings, it is probable that the law of Valerius conferred the same privilege upon the plebeians.
By these laws, as well as by the lowering of his fasces before the people, Valerius became so great a favourite, that he received the surname of Publicola,
or "the people's friend," by which name he is more usually known.
As soon as these laws had been passed, Publicola held the comitia for the election of a successor to Brutus; and Sp. Lucretius Tricipitinus was appointed as his colleague. Lucretius, however, did not live many days, and accordingly M. Horatius Pulvillus was elected consul in his place. Each of the consuls was anxious to dedicate the temple on the Capitol, which Tarquin had left unfinished when he was driven from the throne; but the lot gave the honour to Horatius, to the great mortification of Publicola and his friends. [PULVILLUS.] Some writers, however, place the dedication of the temple two years later, B. C. 507, in the third consulship of Publicola, and the second of Horatius Pulvillus. (Dionys. A. R. 5.21
; Tac. Hist. 3.72
Next year, which was the second year of the republic, B. C. 508, Publicola was elected consul again with T. Lucretius Tricipitinus.
In this year most of the annalists placed the expedition of Porsena against Rome, of which an account has been given elsewhere [PORSENA
In the following year, B. C. 507, Publicola was elected consul a third time with M. Horatius Pulvillus, who had been his colleague in his first consulship, or according to other accounts, with P. Lucretius; but no event of importance is recorded under this year.
He was again consul a fourth time in B. C. 504 with T. Lucretius Tricipitinus, his colleague in his second consulship.
In this year he defeated the Sabines and entered Rome a second time in triumph. Ilis death is placed in, the following year (B. C. 503) by the annalists (Liv. 2.16
), probably, as Niebuhr has remarked, simply because his name does not occur again in the Fasti. Niebuhr supposes that the ancient lays made him perish at the lake Regillus, at which two of his sons were said to have been killed (Dionys. A. R. 6.12
), and at which so many heroes of the infant commonwealth met their death.
He was buried at the public expense, and the matrons mourned for him ten months, as they had done for Brutus. (Liv. 1.58
; Dionys. A. R. 4.67
, &100.20, 21, 40, &c.; Plut. Public.
passim; Cic. de Rep.
2.31 ; Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. i. pp. 498, &100.525, 529, &100.558, 559.)