Course: Introduction to Roman History Instructor: Michel Cottier
3. Rome of the kings
Cf. CHAPTERS III and IV of your textbook.
In your source book, read texts nos.:
1 on pp. 2-3 (Livy, A history of Rome 2.10);
15 on p.17 (FIRA 1, p. 8 = Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman antiquities 2.26-27; especially for the concept of
232 on pp. 190-191 (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman antiquities 4.23.4-8; on manumissions);
407 and 408 on pp. 366-368 (Catullus, Poem 34, and A book about famous men [anonymous] 220 respectively; on
Greek influence on Roman religion and on the introduction of new foreign deities).
DATES TO REMEMBER:
- Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero): 106-43 BC.
- By around 625 BC, as far as architecture, urbanization and institutions are concerned, Rome has become both 'city'
and a state.
PLACE NAMES AND OTHER GEOGRAPHICAL DETAILS TO BE ABLE TO LOCALIZE ON A MAP:
- IMAGE 1: Lavinium and Alba Longa (see the map on the inside cover of your textbook).
RECONSTRUCTING EARLY ROMAN HISTORY
- Traditional literary accounts on the foundation of Rome, the regal period, and the beginnings of the Roman
Republic date to hundreds of years after the events they describe.
- As a consequence: frequent contradictions between literary accounts and archaeological evidence.
- Is the evidence too uncertain to try to reconstruct the early centuries of Roman history? No, but it is quite a
- Four authors of the first century BC-beginning of the first century AD are our major literary sources for that period:
1. Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero): 106-43 BC.
2. Livy (Titus Livius): 59 BC-AD 17 (or 64 BC-AD 12).
3. Dionysius of Halicarnassus: lived during the reign of Augustus (30 BC-AD 14).
4. Diodorus of Sicily: born around 60-57 BC
These men were not only historians but also literary writers => their histories are highly rhetorical and sometimes
Among the four, Livy became the source of the dominant historical narrative on the first centuries of Rome's
existence and his account was at the base of later accounts.
- Four poets of the Augustan age are also important:
1. Vergil/Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro): 70-19 BC.
2. Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus): 65-8 BC.
3. Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso): 43 BC-AD 17.
4. Propertius (Sextus Propertius): born between 54 and 47 BC, died before 2 BC.
- The sources of all these historians and poets were the antiquarians and annalists of the late third and early second century BC. A literature which for us is either completely lost or at best extremely fragmentary.
- Importance of oral traditions (familial, historical, institutional, religious), Etruscan and Greek records, early
- Later authors had to make sense out of all this material. The reconstruction of the Roman past was done according
to what the Romans at various times thought about their own origins and how they like to see themselves.
- The developed version of the story about Roman origin contained two main narratives, those of Aeneas and
Romulus, which were artificially combined at an unknown date (but certainly before 300 BC).
Note that, according to Roman historical/mythological tradition, Romulus was the son of Mars, the Roman god of
war. Thus, from an early date the concepts of military conflict and conquest were embedded in the Roman mind-set.
- IMAGE 2: As proved by archaeological excavations, one or more villages were established on the hills of Rome
(including the Palatine) from the later part of the Bronze Age (c. 1200-1000 BC).
- IMAGE 2: Graves dating to between 1000 and 830 BC found in what would become the Roman Forum (at first
cremation, then inhumation burials) (see map, p. 3 of your textbook).
- IMAGE 2: New burial site opened up on the Esquiline (see map, p. 3 of your textbook) around 830 (only
inhumation burials this time) => growth of population.
- Mid-eighth century BC: first traces of urbanisation = birth of a town/city.
- Not surprisingly this was a society of farmers and herders as attested by their language, religious festivals and the
material found in their graves.
- Etruscan and Greek goods started to appear in graves around 770 BC and Phoenician material a bit later, in the
- The first Sublician bridge ('Pons Sublicius') bridging the Tiber at the level of Rome was built in wood in the late
seventh century BC => generating more traffic => helping in the growth of the town.
- Archaeological excavations conducted in the Roman Forum have shown that by the end of the seventh century some
houses were already built with stone walls and roofs of clay tiles supported on wooden beams.
- The Forum also received at the same time its first pavement. Of the same period also dates the 'Cloaca Maxima'
(Very Great Drain/Sewer), the first drain built in Rome.
ROME OF THE KINGS
a. IMAGE 2: Pomerium: the sacred boundary between the civil and the military spheres, a line which did not
necessarily correspond with the city's walls or the zone of habitation.
b. IMAGES 2 then 3: The 'Regia' (King's House): on the Roman Forum, close to the temple of Vesta and the house of
the Vestal Virgins; later (after the time of the monarchy) = headquarters of the 'pontifex maximus' (the head priest of
the Roman state religion).
The seven kings:
- Romulus [Latin]
- Numa Pompilius [Sabine]
- Tullus Hostilius [Latin]
- Ancus Marcius [Sabine]
- Tarquinius Priscus (Tarquin 'the Elder') [Etruscan]
- Servius Tullius [Latin or Etruscan]
- Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin'the Proud/Arrogant') [Etruscan]
How to become a Roman king: - The responsibility for the choice of a king fell on the 'patres' (= fathers) of the community; they were probably
senators of patrician 'gentes' (sg. 'gens'), i.e., clans whose members enjoyed the exclusive right of holding the
priesthoods of various archaic cults.
- The accepted nomination needed to receive the official approval/stamp of the 'populus' (people = all adult members
of the community able to bear arms). This was done by acclamation in the 'comitia curiata' (the Curiate Assembly).
- Through this formal investiture the new king received its 'imperium' (= power of command).
Position of the king in the society: