In the midst of this harangue Servius,1
who had been aroused by the alarming news, came up and immediately called out in a loud voice from the vestibule of the Curia: “What means this, Tarquinius?
With what assurance have you dared, while I live, to convene the Fathers or to sit in my chair?” Tarquinius answered truculently that it was his own father's seat he occupied; that the king's son was a fitter successor to his kingdom than a slave was; that Tullius had long enough been suffered to mock his masters and insult them. Shouts arose from the partisans of each, and the people began to rush into the senate-house; it was clear that he would be king who won the day.
Tarquinius was now compelled by sheer necessity to go on boldly to the end. Being much superior to Servius in youth and strength, he seized him by the middle, and bearing him out of the senate-house, flung him down the steps. He then went back into the Curia to hold the senate together.
The king's servitors and companions fled. The king himself, half fainting, was making his way home without the royal attendants, when the men whom Tarquinius had sent in pursuit of the fugitive came up with him and killed him.
It is believed, inasmuch as it is not inconsistent with the rest of her wickedness, that this deed was suggested by Tullia. It is agreed, at all events, that she was driven in her carriage into the Forum, and nothing abashed at the crowd of men, summoned her husband from the Curia and was the first to hail him king.
Tarquinius bade her withdraw from so turbulent a scene. On her way home she had got to the top of the Vicus Cyprius, where the shrine of Diana recently stood, and was bidding her driver [p. 171]
turn to the right into the Clivus Urbius, to take her2
to the Esquiline Hill, when the man gave a start of terror, and pulling up the reins pointed out to his mistress the prostrate form of the murdered Servius.
Horrible and inhuman was the crime that is said to have ensued, which the place commemorates —men call it the Street of Crime —for there, crazed by the avenging spirits of her sister and her former husband, they say that Tullia drove her carriage over her father's corpse, and, herself contaminated and defiled, carried away on her vehicle some of her murdered father's blood to her own and her husband's penates, whose anger was the cause that the evil beginning of this reign was, at no long date, followed by a similar end.
Servius Tullius had ruled forty-four years, so well that even a good and moderate successor would have found it hard to emulate him.
But there was this to enhance his renown, that just and lawful kingship perished with him. Yet, mild and moderate though his sway was, some writers state that he had intended to resign it, as being a government by one man, had not the crime of one of his family interrupted his plans for the liberation of his country.