The Seven Kings of Rome
Roman history is generally divided into three
periods of history:
• Monarchy (a king
ruled)
• 753 BC – 509 BC
• Republic (two
consuls ruled
annually)
• 509 BC – 27 BC
• Empire (typically, one
emperor ruled until
death)
• 27 BC – 476 AD
#1: Romulus
• Romulus was the first
king of Rome.
• After killing Remus,
Romulus was in sole
power. He named the
city that he had
founded Rome.
• The first
settlement was
on the Palatine
Hill.
• The names of
other major hills
are Capitoline,
Aventine,
Esquiline,
Caelian, Viminal,
and Quirinal.
• In later times, the
Palatine Hill was
populated with
houses of the
wealthy. Our word
“palatial” comes from
“Palatine.”
• After establishing laws
and expanding his new
territory, Romulus
realized that a very
important component
to Roman society was
missing: women.
• He, therefore, invited
Sabine families to the
Consualia, a festival
honoring Neptune.
• The Romans carried off
the Sabine daughters
(which is often referred
to as “The Rape of the
Sabine Women” – rapio
is the Latin word for
“carry off”).
• Although the Sabine
families mounted
attacks, the Romans
were too strong and
repelled the Sabines’
advances.
• After a considerable amount of time (at least nine
months!), the Sabine daughters, who were now
Roman wives, asked for a truce between their
Sabine families and their Roman husbands.
• While standing
in the Campus
Martius one
day, Romulus
was taken into
the heavens
during a
thunderstorm.
He became
known as the
god Quirinus.
#2: Numa Pompilius
• Numa was a more
peaceful ruler than
Romulus. His
advisor (and, by
some accounts,
his wife) was the
goddess/nymph
Egeria.
• Numa instituted a
lunar calendar (i.e.,
divided into months).
• Numa founded the
cult of Vestal Virgins,
who were devoted to
the goddess Vesta
(domain: home and
hearth).
• Vestal Virgins served
for thirty years.
• Punishment for a minor
infraction was beating,
which typically drew
blood. However, if a
Vestal broke her vow of
chastity, she was
buried alive in a sealed
underground chamber.
• Although given scant
sustenance and lamp
oil, the Vestal would
eventually die.
• The Vestal Virgins
were charged with
keeping Rome’s
eternal flame burning.
• Romans believed that
their city would fall if
the flame was
extinguished.
• Numa had the Temple
of Janus built.
• Janus was the god of
beginnings and
endings. Our word
“January” is derived
from this god’s name.
• Numa had the
Temple of Janus built.
• The temple had two
doors. The doors
were open during
wartime. However,
they were closed
during Numa’s entire
reign, thus signifying
peace.
Numa coin: note
“NUMA” in crown
• Numa established the
office of the Pontifex
Maximus, or chief
priest.
Back of Numa coin:
Numa about to
sacrifice a goat
#3: Tullus Hostilius
• Tullus Hostilius was a
bellicose king.
• He is responsible for
the destruction of
Alba Longa. Do you
remember Alba
Longa? Ascanius
founded this city.
• Tullus Hostilius built
the first senate house,
or curia. His senate
house was called the
Curia Hostilia.
inside the Curia Iulia (in the
Roman Forum)
exterior of Curia Iulia
• According to legend,
Tullus was struck
down by Jupiter’s
thunderbolt for failing
to pay proper respect
to the gods.
• Historically, Tullus
may have died in a
house fire.
#4: Ancus Martius
• Ancus Martius (also
known as Ancus
Marcius) was the
grandson of Numa
Pompilius.
• True to his ancestry,
Ancus upheld
religious rites.
• Ancus is credited with
the building of the
Mamertine Prison.
• The prison (carcer)
housed inmates until
their executions.
• During the Christian
era, Peter and Paul
were said to have been
incarcerated here.
inside Mamertine, upper level
• The Mamertine is at the foot
of the Capitoline Hill and
near the Forum Romanum.
inside Mamertine, lower level
• Ancus established a deep-sea port at Ostia
(at the mouth of the Tiber). This became a
major port in the ancient world.
• The Pons Sublicius, the first bridge across the
Tiber River, was built during Ancus’ reign.
#5: Tarquinius Priscus
• Ancus Martius was
defeated by the
Etruscans, a people
from Etruria.
• Lucius Tarquinius
Priscus, or Tarquin
the Elder, was the
first Etruscan king of
Rome.
• Tarquin the Elder
ingratiated himself to
Ancus. He was so
trusted that Ancus
appointed Tarquin
guardian of his
children.
• When Ancus died,
Tarquin conveniently
arranged to send
Ancus’ children out of
town. Then, he
convinced the Romans
to elect him as the next
king.
Cloaca Maxima
• Tarquin the Elder is credited
with the construction of the
Cloaca Maxima, the first sewer
in Rome.
• Tarquinius Priscus
instituted the Ludi
Romani (Roman
Games). The Circus
Maximus was built
during his reign.
model of Circus Maximus
Circus Maximus today
#6: Servius Tullius
• After Tarquin was
reportedly killed by a
plot managed by
Ancus’ sons, Servius
Tullius came to
power.
• Servius Tullius was a
son of one of
Tarquin’s servants.
• Servius expanded the city and built the
Servian Wall, which encompassed Rome and
its seven hills.
Do you see the Servian Wall?
• Servius was killed
by a Tarquin, who
was married to
one of Servius’
daughters, Tullia.
• Tullia was so evil that she ran over her father’s
corpse with her carriage.
#7: Tarquinius Superbus
• Lucius Tarquinius
Superbus, or Tarquin
the Proud, was a
tyrant. He was hated
and feared by the
Romans. Even his
peers in the senate
feared him.
• During Tarquin’s reign, a
prophetess with the Sibylline
Books came to him. She
claimed that the books held
Rome’s destiny, and she
offered to sell him the nine
volumes for a high price.
Tarquin declined.
• She burned three of the books
and returned to sell six books
for the original price (of the
nine). Once again, Tarquin
declined, and the prophetess
departed.
• The woman came back yet
again and offered to sell
Tarquin three books – she
had burned three more –
for the original price of nine
books. This time, Tarquin
consulted the senate and
purchased these three
volumes.
• These books were
consulted by appointed
patricians in times of crisis.
• Sextus, Tarquin’s son, was as evil as his
father. When visiting his cousin Collatinus,
Sextus had designs on Lucretia, his cousin’s
wife.
• Sextus was so enamored by Lucretia’s virtue that he
went to her bedroom (during her husband’s absence)
and told her he would kill her if she did not sleep with
him. However, she refused him.
• After Lucretia refused
the evil Sextus, he
threatened to kill her
and a slave and put
them in bed together.
She would not be able
to defend her honor
from the grave.
• Then, Sextus forced
himself upon Lucretia.
• The next morning,
Lucretia told her
father, her husband
Collatinus, and their
friend Brutus what
had happened. Since
she felt she had
sullied the family’s
reputation, she
stabbed herself right
before their eyes.
• Lucius Junius Brutus then took the bloody dagger
from Lucretia’s body and boldly went forth to the
Rostra (speaker’s platform) in the Forum. He told
the citizens of Sextus’ crime. Consequently,
Tarquin the Proud and his family were exiled.
• Since that time, the
Romans had a distinct
dislike of kings. They
established a republic
in 509 BC, and Brutus
and Collatinus were the
first consuls.
Finis