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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces part of
The Epitome of Roman History


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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I: Part 2

Lucius Annaeus Florus

 p3  The two books of the Epitome,
extracted from Titus Livius,
of all the wars of seven hundred years

Book I (beginning)

I. The Period of the Seven Kings, beginning with Romulus.
II. Recapitulation of the Rule of the Seven Kings.
III. On the Change of Government.

 p5  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I. The period of the Seven Kings, beginning with Romulus

Introduction The Roman people during the seven hundred years, from the time of King Romulus down to that of Caesar Augustus, achieved so much in peace and war that, if a man were to compare the greatness of their empire with its years, he would consider its size as out of all proportion to its age. 2 So widely have they extended their arms throughout the world, that those who read of their exploits are learning the history, not of a single people, but of the human race. By so many toils and dangers  p7 have they been buffeted that Valour and Fortune seem to have competed to establish the Roman Empire. 3 So, as the history of Rome is especially worthy of study, yet because the very vastness of the subject is a hindrance to the knowledge of it, and the diversity of its topics distracts the keenness of the attention, I intend to follow the example of those who describe the geography of the earth, and include a complete representation of my subject as it were in a small picture.​1 I shall thus, I hope, contribute something to the admiration in which this illustrious people is held by displaying their greatness all at once in a single view.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 4 If anyone were to contemplate the Roman people as he would a single individual and review its whole life, how it began, how it grew up, how it arrived at what may be called the maturity of its manhood, and how it subsequently as it were reached old age, he will find that it went through four stages of progress. 5 The first period, when it was under the rule of kings, lasted for nearly four hundred years, during which it struggled against its neighbours in the immediate vicinity of the capital. This period will be its infancy. 6 Its next period extends from the consul­ship of Brutus and Collatinus to that of Appius Claudius and Quintus Fulvius, a space of one hundred and fifty years,​2 during which the Roman people subjugated Italy. It was an age of extreme activities for its soldiers and their arms, and may therefore be called its youth. 7 The next period is the hundred and fifty years down to the time of Augustus Caesar, during which it spread peace throughout the world. This was the manhood and, as it were, the robust maturity of the empire. 8 From the time of Caesar  p9 Augustus down to our own age there has been a period of not much less than two hundred years,​3 during which, owing to the inactivity of the emperors, the Roman people, as it were, grew old and lost its potency, save that under the rule of Trajan it again stirred its arms and, contrary to general expectation, again renewed its vigour with youth as it were restored.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I, 1 The first founder both of the city and of the empire was Romulus, the son of Mars and Rhea Silvia. 2 That Mars was his father the priestess confessed when she was pregnant, and presently common report no longer doubted it when, by order of King Amulius, Romulus was thrown with his brother Remus into the river: but his life could not be destroyed; 3 for not only did the Tiber stay its stream, but a she-wolf left her young to follow the infants' cries, offered them her udder and played the part of mother to them. Finding them in these circumstances under a tree, Faustulus, the shepherd of the royal flock, took them to his cottage and brought them up. 4 Alba was at that time the chief city of Latium, having been built by Iulus; he had disdained Lavinium, the city of his father Aeneas. Amulius, of the seventh generation from Aeneas and Iulus, was reigning, having driven out his brother Numitor, whose daughter was mother of Romulus. 5 Romulus, therefore, in the first ardour of youth, expelled his uncle from the citadel and restored his grandfather. He himself, being a lover of the river and mountains amongst which he had been brought up, conceived the idea of building a new city. 6 As he and Remus were twins, they resolved to call in the help of the gods to decide which of them should  p11 inaugurate the city and rule there. Remus took his stand on the Aventine, Romulus on the Palatine hill. Remus first observed six vultures, Romulus was after him in time but saw twelve. 7 Being thus victorious in augury, he began to build the city, full of hope that it would prove warlike; for the birds, accustomed to blood and prey, seemed to indicated this. 8 It was thought that a rampart was enough for the protection of the new city. In derision of its small size Remus leaped over it and was put to death for doing so, whether by his brother's order or not is uncertain; at any rate he was the first victim and hallowed the fortification of the new city with his blood.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Romulus had brought into being the idea of a city rather than an actual city; for inhabitants were lacking. 9 There was in the neighbourhood a grove, and this he made a place of refuge; and immediately an extraordinary number of men flocked thither — Latin and Tuscan shepherds, and even men from across the sea, Phrygians who had entered the country under Aeneas, and Arcadians who had come with Evander. Thus he gathered together a single body consisting of various ingredients and, as king, himself created the Roman people. 10 But a population consisting solely of men could only last for a single lifetime; wives were, therefore, demanded from the neighbouring peoples and, when they were refused, were seized by force. For, a pretence being made of holding horse-races, the maidens who had come to look on were carried off. This immediately gave rise to wars. The Veientines were defeated and put to flight; 11 the city of Caenina was captured and plundered. Moreover, Romulus with his own  p13 hands bore to Jupiter Feretrius​4 the "spoils of honour" won from their king Agron. 12 To the Sabines the gates of Rome were betrayed by the maiden Tarpeia. She had craftily demanded as the reward of her act the objects which they carried on their left arms — it is doubtful whether the words meant their shields or their bracelets; they, in order both to fulfil their promise and to take vengeance upon her, overwhelmed her with their shields. 13 The enemy having been thus admitted within the walls, so fierce a battle took place in the very forum that Romulus prayed to Jupiter to stay the disgraceful flight of his men; in commemoration of this a temple was erected and Jupiter received the title of "the Stayer of flight." 14 At last the women who had been carried off, with their hairs dishevelled, interposed between the furious combatants. Thus peace was made and a treaty concluded with Tatius;​5 and a wonderful event followed, namely, that the enemy left their homes and migrated to the new city and, by way of dowering their daughters, shared their ancestral wealth with their sons-in‑law. 15 Their strength rapidly growing, the king very wisely imposed the following new organization upon the State: the young men​6 were divided into tribes and were to keep watch with arms and horses against any unexpected attack, while the policy of the State was to be in the hands of the old men, who were called "fathers" from the authority which they exercised, and from their age "the senate."​7 16 After making these arrangements, Romulus was suddenly borne away from human sight while he was holding an assembly near the lake of the She-goat. 17 Some think he was torn to pieces by the Senate because  p15 of his excessive harshness; but a storm which arose and an eclipse of the sun created the impression that he had been deified. 18 This belief was strengthened when Julius Proculus declared that Romulus had appeared to him in a form more majestic than he had possessed in his lifetime, and also commanded that they should regard him as a deity, and declared that his name in heaven was Quirinus, and that it was the will of the gods that Rome should rule over the world.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I, 2 The successor of Romulus was Numa Pompilius, whom, while he was living at Cures​a in the territory of the Sabines, the Romans of their own accord invited to become king owing to the fame of his piety. 2 He instructed them in sacred rites and ceremonies and all the worship of the immortal gods; he established pontiffs, augurs, the Salii,​8 and the other priesthoods; 3 he divided the year into twelve months and appointed the days upon which the courts could and could not meet; he gave them the sacred shields and the Palladium,​9 the mystic tokens of empire, and the double-faced Janus, the symbol of peace and war; above all he handed over the care of the hearth of Vesta to the Vestal Virgins, that the flame, imitating the heavenly stars, might keep guardian watch over the empire. All these arrangements he attributed to the advice of the goddess Egeria, so that his barbarous subjects might accept them with greater willingness. 4 In a word, he induced a fierce people to rule with piety and justice an empire which they had acquired by violence and injustice.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I, 3 Numa Pompilius was succeeded by Tullus Hostilius, to whom the kingship was voluntarily  p17 offered out of respect for his worth. It was he who founded all military discipline and the art of warfare. 2 So when he had wondrously trained the soldiers of Rome, he ventured to challenge the Albans, an important and for a long time a leading people. 3 But when both sides, possessed of equal strength, were becoming weakened by frequent battles, the fortunes of the two peoples were entrusted, as a method of shortening the war, to the Horatii and Curiatii, triplets of brothers on either side. 4 It was a well-contested and noble struggle and remarkable in the manner of its end. For when three had been wounded on one side and two killed on the other, the surviving Horatius, adding craft to valour, pretended flight in order to separate his adversaries, and attacking them singly, in the order in which they were able to follow him, overcame them. 5 In this way (an honour rarely won on any other occasion) victory was achieved by one man's hand — a hand with which he soon afterwards sullied by murder. He had noticed his sister weeping because he wore the spoils of one who, though he was her betrothed, was her country's foe. The maiden's girlish affection he punished with the sword. 6 Justice arraigned the crime, but his valour saved him from the penalty for murder, and his guilt was accounted less than the glory which he had won.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The Alban people were not long true to their allegiance. For in the war against Fidenae the contingent sent according to the treaty remained neutral and waited to see what fortune would bring. 7 But the crafty king, when he saw that his allies were inclined to join the enemy, raised the spirit of his men by giving out that they did so by  p19 his orders; this aroused hope in the minds of our soldiers and fear in those of the enemy. Thus the deceit of the traitors proved fruitless. 8 So after the defeat of the enemy Tullus bound Mettus Fufetius, the violator of the treaty, between two chariots, and tore him asunder with swift horses. The city of Alba itself, the parent of Rome but also its rival, he destroyed, 9 after first transferring all its wealth and the inhabitants themselves to Rome, in order that thus a kindred State might seem not to have perished but to have been reunited to the body to which it belonged.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I, 4 The next king was Ancus Marcus, a grandson of Pompilius through his daughter, a man of a disposition like that of his grandfather. 2 He both surrounded the city with a wall and built a bridge over the Tiber which flows through it. He also planted a colony at Ostia where the sea and river join, even then evidently foreseeing that it would form as it were the maritime store-house of the capital and would receive the wealth and supplies of the whole world.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I, 5 After him Tarquinius Priscus, though sprung from a country across the seas, petitioned for the kingdom on his own account, and obtained it because of his industry and refinement; for, having been born at Corinth, he had combined the intellect of a Greek with the qualities of an Italian. 2 He augmented the dignity of the senate by raising its numbers and increased the number of knights in the three centuries, since Attius Naevius, a man much skilled in augury, forbade the number of centuries to be increased.​10 3 By way of testing this man, the king asked him whether what he had  p21 conceived in his mind was possible of execution. 4 He made trial by augury and replied that it was possible. "Well, but that I had thought of," replied the king, "was this, whether I could cut this whetstone with a razor." To which the augur replied, "Then you can do it"; and the king cut it. 5 Hence augury became a sacred practice among the Romans. Tarquinius was quite as able in war as in peace; for he subdued the twelve peoples of Etruria by frequent attacks. 6 It was from them that were derived the fasces, robes of State, official chairs, rings, horse-trappings, military cloaks, purple-bordered togas, the practice of riding in triumph in a gilded car drawn by four horses, embroidered robes and tunics adorned with palms — in fact all the ornaments and insignia which serve to emphasize the dignity of office.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I, 6 Servius Tulliusº next entered upon the government of the city, nor was the obscurity of his birth (for his mother was a slave) any hindrance to his advancement. For Tanaquil, the wife of Tarquinius, had trained his extraordinary abilities by a liberal education, and had foretold his future distinction from a flame which was seen playing round his head. 2 And so, through the efforts made by the queen when Tarquinius was on his death-bed, he was put in the king's place on the pretence of a temporary measure, and filled the position, thus obtained by craft, with so much diligence that he seemed to have acquired it by right. 3 It was by him that the Roman people were entered on a census-roll and arranged in classes, being distributed into divisions and corporations, and by the king's extraordinary skill the State was so organized that all distinctions of inheritance, dignity, age, employment  p23 and office were committed to registers, and thus a great State was ruled with the exactitude of a small household.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I, 7 The last of all the kings was that Tarquinius to whom the name of Superbus was given on account of his character. 2 He preferred to seize rather than to wait for the kingdom of his grandfather which was held by Servius, and, having sent assassins to murder him, administered the power thus won by crime no more righteously than he had acquired it. 3 His wife Tullia was of like character, and, driving in her chariot to hail her husband as king, forced her affrighted horses over the bloodstained corpse of her father. 4 Tarquinius himself struck at the senate with executions, at the plebs by scourging them, at all by his pride, which good men think more oppressive than cruelty. When he had exhausted his brutality at home, he at last turned his attention to his enemies. 5 Thus the powerful cities in Latium were captured, Ardea, Ocricolum, Gabii, Suessa Pometia. 6 At the same time he was bloodthirsty towards his own family; for he did not hesitate to scourge his son, in order that, by pretending to be a deserter, he might inspire the confidence of the enemy. 7 When his son had been welcomed at Gabii, as he had intended, and consultedº by messengers as to what action he wished to be taken, he replied, it is true, but in such a way as to give the impression that his pride forbade him to speak, by knocking off with his staff the heads of some of the poppies which happened to be taller than the rest, thus signifying that the leading men were to be put to death. 8 He erected from the spoils of the captured cities a temple, at the consecration  p25 of which the marvel is said to have occurred that, while the other gods permitted its erection,​11 Juventas and Terminus refused to give way. 9 The obstinacy of these deities pleased the seers, since they gave promise that the whole building would be strong and eternal. A more alarming incident was the discovery of a human head in the foundations when they were building the temple; but no one doubted that it was a most favourable omen, portending that here would be the seat of an empire and the capital of the world. 10 The Roman people tolerated the king's pride as long as it was not accompanied by unlawful passion; but outrage of this kind on the part of his sons they could not endure, 11 and when, after one of them had offered violence to Lucretia, a woman of the highest rank, she atoned for her dishonour by stabbing herself, andº the rule of the kingsº was abolished for ever.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] II. Recapitulation of the Rule of the Seven Kings

I, 8 The period of its rule under the Seven Kings forms the first age and, as it were, the infancy of the Roman people. These kings, by a dispensation of fate, possessed just such a variety of qualities as the circumstances and advantage of the State demanded. 2 For where could greater boldness be found than in Romulus? Such a man was needed to seize the kingship. 3 Who was more pious than Numa? Circumstances demanded such a man in order that the temper of a barbarous people might be tamed by the fear of the gods. 4 Again, how  p27 necessary to a nation of warriors was Tullus,º the creator of the army, that he might temper their valour by discipline! Again, how necessary was Ancus, the builder, to give the city a colony​12 to expand it, a bridge to unite it, and a wall to protect it! 5 Further, how much did the ornaments and insignia of Tarquinius add to the dignity of a sovereign people in its very dress! 6 What was the effect of the census carried out by Servius but that the Roman State should be made aware of in spite of strength? 7 Finally, the outrageous tyranny of Tarquinius Superbus was of some, nay, of great service; for its result was that the people, exasperated by the wrongs which he inflicted upon them, were fired with a desire for liberty.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] III. On the Change of Government

I, 9 And so under the leader­ship and guidance of Brutus and Collatinus, to whom the dying matron​13 had entrusted the avenging of her wrong, the Roman people, as though urged by an impulse from heaven to assert the honour of insulted liberty and chastity, suddenly deposed the king, plundered his possessions, dedicated his lands to their god Mars, and transferred the rule to these same champions of their freedom,​14 with a change, however, both of powers and title. 2 For it was resolved that it should be an annual instead of a perpetual office, and that it should be exercised by two instead of by one, lest any abuse of power should arise through its possession by a single person or for a long period of time; and these men they called consuls instead of kings, in order that they might be mindful that they  p29 must consult the interests of their fellow-citizens. 3 So great a delight in this new-found liberty had taken possession of the people that they could scarcely believe in their changed condition, and deprived one of the consuls, the husband of Lucretia, of the fasces and expelled him from the city because he bore the name of the royal house and was related to it. 4 And so Horatius Publicola, who was chosen in his place, strove with the utmost zeal to promote the dignity of the newly-freed people; for he lowered the fasces before them in the public assembly and granted them the right of appeal against the decisions of himself and his colleague. He also removed his abode to the level part of the city, lest he should offend by appearing to occupy a commanding position. 5 Brutus, on his part, courted the favour of the citizens even by the ruin and slaughter of his own family; for, having discovered that his own sons were eager to restore the kings to the city, he dragged them into the forum and, in the public assembly, beat them with rods and then beheaded them, so that he might appear in the guise of the father of the State who had adopted the people in place of his own children.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 6 The Roman people, henceforth free, took up arms against other nations, first to secure their liberty, then to extend their bounds, afterwards in defence of their allies, and finally to win glory and empire; for they were continually harassed by their neighbours on every side, since they possessed not a clod of soil of their own, but the land immediately outside their walls belonged to enemies, and, being placed as it were at the meeting-place of two roads between Latium and Etruria, they met the enemy  p31 outside all their gates. Finally, spreading just as a fever spreads, they attacked their enemies one by one and, by continually fastening on the nearest of them, brought the whole of Italy under their sway.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 i.e. as geographers represent the world in a map.

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2 This number is clearly wrong, since Brutus and Collatinus were Consuls in 509 B.C., Appius Claudius and Quintus Fulvius in 212 B.C.

Thayer's Note: Yet the total of the first period (nearly 400 years) and the next two (150 years each) is in fact correct: from the foundation of Rome in 753 to the birth of Augustus in 63, is just short of 700 years; and following the alternate meaning of the vague phrase "the time of Augustus", i.e., the formal accession of Augustus in 27 (see Introduction, p. viii), it's still just short of 700 years from the foundation of Rome according to one of the other chronologies current in the ancient world: see Oldfather's note to Diodorus, VII.5 (ap. Eusebius).

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3 See Introduction, p. viii.º

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4 Jupiter as the "Striker" of his enemies.

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5 The King of the Sabines.

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6 i.e. men between the ages of twenty and forty.

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7 Senatus from senes, "old men."

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8 Priests of Mars.

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9 The sacred shields were said to have fallen from heaven, and were in the charge of the Salii in the Temple of Mars; the Palladium, an image of Pallas (Minerva), was reputed to have been saved at the sack of Troy.

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10 From Liv. I.36.2 (cp. Cic. de rep. 2.36), it is clear that Tarquinius had wished to add three new centuries, but, owing to Attius' opposition, had to be content with doubling the number of knights in each century (cp. Mommsen, Staatsrecht, III p1073). Centuriis must, therefore, be a dative, or else we must read <in> centuriis with Sauppe.

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11 cp. Liv. I.55, cum omnium sacellorum exaugurationes admitterent aves, in Termini fano non addixere.

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12 Ostia.

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13 Lucretia.

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14 Brutus and Collatinus.

Thayer's Note:

a See the article Cures in the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, with my annotations and links.

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Page updated: 18 Feb 12