Kingship and tyranny in archaic Rome

Fay Glinister

in Ancient Tyranny

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780748621255
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651047 | DOI:
Kingship and tyranny in archaic Rome

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In the sixth century BC, Rome was a major force in Central Italy. It could hold its own with the great Etruscan city-states and was able to conclude with Carthage a treaty that explicitly recognised Rome as the overlord of much of Latium. By this period, Rome was a city-state with a developed urban form, sophisticated communal cults, flourishing markets, and complex political and legal institutions. Roman society was focused around a ruler whose title, rex (attested by contemporary epigraphic as well as later literary evidence), suggests the existence of a formalised monarchical type of government. This chapter explores the interregnum, the process of creating kings in archaic Rome. It shows that the last two kings, Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus, despite their very different reputations, were irregular rulers, defined by their accession as tyrants and comparable to those in contemporary Italy. It also argues that the institution of kingship, along with tyranny, was not a central but an incidental part of the story of regal Rome.

Keywords: Rome; Italy; kingship; kings; tyrants; interregnum; tyranny; Servius Tullius; Tarquinius Superbus

Chapter.  6793 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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