Zonaras 7.8 Part II: Lucius Tarquinius the Autocrat

Lucius Tarquinius consolidates his power among the senate and people:

This opinion however, did not last. When Ancus Marcius died, Lucius Tarquinius did wrong by Marcius’ sons, and made the throne his own. When the senate and people were on the verge of selecting the sons of Marcius as their rulers, Tarquinius went to hold an interview with the most powerful of the senators, and sent the two orphan boys off to a hunt; and by what he did and said he contrived to have the throne voted to himself. Having thus made himself the master of Roman political affairs, he managed the Romans in such a way as to prevent the two boys from ever being chosen as kings. As he made the sons of Ancus more accustomed to luxury he charmed their souls and bodies into destruction. He lived in fear because he operated this way, and so he girded himself about with force in assembly meetings. He enlisted into the senate and patrician order about two-hundred men who were favorablly disposed toward him. In this way, he placed the senate and many of the common people under his own influence. He also transformed his clothing into something more befitting his greatness. This took the form of a toga and a tunic which were entirely purple, inlaid with gold, as well as a crown set with gold stones and an ivory chair. After all of this, other people holding the the imperial throne enjoyed absolute political supremacy. He also paraded in triumphs on a four-horse chariot, and had twelve lictors through his life.

᾿Αλλ’ οὐ προσέμεινε μέχρι τέλους αὐτῷ ἡ ὑπόληψις. τοῦ Μαρκίου γὰρ τελευτήσαντος κακῶς περὶ τοὺς ἐκείνου διετέθη δύο υἱεῖς, καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν ἐσφετερίσατο. τῆς τε γὰρ βουλῆς καὶ τοῦ δήμου τοὺς τοῦ Μαρκίου παῖδας χειροτονεῖν μελλόντων, ἐκεῖνος τῶν βουλευτῶν τε τοὺς δυνατωτάτους μετῆλθε, καὶ τοὺς ὀρφανοὺς πόρρω ποι πέμψας εἰς θήραν, οἷς τε εἶπε καὶ οἷς ἔπραξεν αὐτῷ τὴν βασιλείαν ψηφίσασθαι παρεσκεύασεν, ὡς ἀνδρωθεῖσιν αὐτὴν δῆθεν τοῖς παισὶν ἀποδώσοντι. ἐγκρατὴς δὲ καταστὰς τῶν πραγμάτων οὕτω τοὺς ῾Ρωμαίους διέθετο ὥστε μηδέποτε ἐθελήσειν ἀνθελέσθαι τοὺς παῖδας ἐκείνου· καὶ τὰ μειράκια δὲ πρὸς ῥᾳστώνην ἐθίζων τάς τε ψυχὰς αὐτῶν καὶ τὰ σώματα σὺν χάριτι δή τινι ἔφθειρε. δεδιὼς δὲ καὶ οὕτως ἔχων, ἰσχὺν ἑαυτῷ ἐν τῷ συνεδρίῳ περιεποιήσατο. τοὺς γὰρ φιλίως αὐτῷ ἐκ τοῦ δήμου διακειμένους περὶ διακοσίους ἐς τοὺς εὐπατρίδας ἐνέγραψε καὶ τοὺς βουλευτάς, καὶ οὕτω τήν τε γερουσίαν ὑφ’ ἑαυτὸν καὶ τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐποιήσατο. καὶ τὴν στολὴν πρὸς τὸ μεγαλοπρεπέστερον ἤμειψεν· ἡ δὲ ἦν ἱμάτιον καὶ χιτὼν ὁλοπόρφυρα καὶ χρυσόπαστα, στέφανός τε λίθων χρυσοδέτων καὶ σκῆπτρον δίφρος τε ἐλεφάντινα, οἷς καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα οἵ τε ἄλλοι καὶ οἱ τὴν αὐτοκράτορα ἔχοντες ἡγεμονίαν ἐχρήσαντο. καὶ τεθρίππῳ ἐν τοῖς ἐπινικίοις ἐπόμπευσε, καὶ ῥαβδούχους διὰ βίου δώδεκα ἔσχε.

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