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The Roman Republic: the Revolt Against King Tarquin

In: Historical Events

Submitted By kidkronik
Words 950
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In 510 BC, Rome witnessed a revolt against the rule of the Etruscan kings. According to George Reiff, there is a traditional story about this revolt. It was in this time that King Tarquinius Superbus’s son, Sextus, raped the wife of the nobleman, Tarquinius Collatinus (George Reiff, 2011. Retrieved from Kevin Thalersmith added that Tarquinius Collatinus’s wife Lucreatia felt so ashamed that she committed suicide, consequently enraging the Romans. Moreover, Thalersmith stated that the Romans were so angered by this tragedy that they reached the point of revolting and overthrowing King Tarquin and eventually form the Roman Republic (Kevin Thalersmith, 2009. Retrieved from According to Klaus Bringmann in an excerpt of his book, A History of the Roman Republic, the revolt against King Tarquin was led by Lucius Ionius Brutus, who was the nephew of the king himself through marriage. He may have been the king’s relative, but Brutus still hated Tarquin because his father Marcus was illegally seized of his wealth after his death, leading Brutus to realize that Tarquin was being an abusive king, using the power to steal his inheritance. Furthermore, Brutus was viewed as a fool by Tarquin and he was ridiculed by being promoted to Tribunus Celerum or second in command, a gesture which showed that he was mocked by a tyrant. His older brother was also killed as part of the plot. So Brutus led the city’s nobility in a revolt (Bringmann, 2007, retrieved from Meanwhile, Reiff said that Sextus fled to Gabii but was killed. The king along with his two brothers, however, managed to escape to Caere. Tarquin later attempted to reclaim his city against his rebellious people, but he did not succeed (Reiff, 2011). In Bringmann’s book, he said that the rebellion against Tarquin failed to give Rome its final independence, but it paved the way for the Roman Republic to be established. It was after said rebellion that the senate brought to power two consuls, initially being called praetors, a title which was to become the name of a different sector of the republic. These two consuls stayed in service for a year, ruling Rome as kings, both having equal power (Bringmann, 2007). Reiff further stated that it should be kept in mind that the rebellion was indeed a revolt by Rome’s aristocrats. Rome never let the people govern it like the democracy that we know today, nor as the Greeks understood it. All power would reside in the hands of the Roman aristocracy, or what they would call the patricians in the early Roman Republic (Reiff, 2011). The first two consuls to be elected were Lucius Ionius Brutus, the leader of the revolt who was humiliated by King Tarquin in many ways, and Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, the nobleman whose wife was involved in the tragedy that sparked the rebellion. But with the latter being a Tarquin, the people soon turned against him simply for being related to the despised tyrant. As a result, Tarquinius was exiled and was later replaced by Publius Valerius Publicola. Soon, a significant plot was discovered, with the central goal being to get King Tarquin back in his throne. Brutus’ own two sons were identified as the conspirators, and were sentenced to death. In 509 BC, King Tarquin sought to take back his city with the aid of the city of Veii, but he did not succeed. The battle, however, led to the death of the Republic’s founder, Brutus. This resulted to his co-consul Publius Valerius Publicola to solely command the Romans in battle and eventually lead them to victory. Therefore, it was Valerius who was the first ever Roman commander to lead his troops to a win through Rome (Bringmann, 2007). Kevin Thalersmith insists that the rebellion against King Tarquin had great significance. First, he pointed out that without King Tarquin’s overthrowing, Rome would have not risen to become the great empire that we know and study in our history classes today. This was because the Etruscan rulers limited Rome’s advancement and development. The Etruscan kings stopped any expansion as Roman territory would have overlapped with other territories in Italy that were also controlled by the Etruscans. Also, Rome’s early territorial expansion was a result of defensive wars in which Rome felt the need to completely eradicate and chase away any remnants of its enemies. This kind of hostility only comes when the attacker was controlled by a foreign power. Thalersmith’s second point was Rome’s legacy in its model of a republic and a democracy. Greece may have been the first to have the idea of democracy through Plato, but most democracies of today are based on Rome’s societal model. The Romans prospered when they had democracy as a form of government, and it was the emergence of mob rule that changed it into an empire. The third point that Thalersmith stated was that the revolt against King Tarquin was conceded through history and inspired other revolutions, as in the American and French revolutions, which were modeled after Roman imagery. Both regimes took Roman law and integrated them into their "new" government form. (Thalersmith, 2009).


Reiff, George, “Early Roman Republic”, 2011. Retrieved from Thalersmith, Kevin, “The significance of the revolt against King Tarquin”, 2009. Retrieved from Bringmann, Klaus, A history of the Roman republic, 2007. Excerpt retrieved from…...

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