- Jul 2019
- New Jersey
I think the problem is that you're not taking into account the vast amounts of time which had elapsed before the first histories were written. Our oldest extant history of Regal Rome is that of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, written c. 35 BC. The oldest Roman history ever is that of Q. Fabius Pictor (c. 220 BC). Tullus Hostilius is said to have reigned from 673 - 642 BC (Varronian chronology). That's over 4 centuries of nobody writing a history book. The oldest records used by any of the Roman historians were the Annales Maximi, and they can only be verified to go back to 4 - 500 BC.The Senate were the educated class in Rome and the Curia Hostilia was their meeting place from the time it was built basically. They weren't morons. How does such a subterfuge happen? With an urban legend about a ghost or something you can see how it could start, but how do the Senators all agree to name the Senate building after a guy who didn't exist? It just doesn't seem plausible. The guy must have been real and had a hand in building it, I don't see what other explanation is possible.
There are also a few other events attributed to him that smack of being real, including the trial of Horatius. Caesar would later invoke the same trial process when having a show trial for Rabirus. It seems strange that he could invoke a trial process used by King Hostilius if he never lived. Where were the records of Horatius trial coming from? Of course I can imagine how this could happen, I could imagine how a lot of the urban legends happened. What I find totally implausible is the Senate all decided to name their building after a fictional King who they would have known didn't exist, because the reason it is named after him is that he built it for them to use. They didn't just come across the building and buy it from a merchant who told many spicy tales about it; it was continually in use from it's construction, in the middle of the freaking forum, and was named for the guy who built it from the point of construction.
Imagine if nobody had written about the history of the US, from Jamestown until now. All we had were a few laconic records from 1776 onward, comprised of an average of a few words per year. How accurate would the stories recalled by popular imagination be (remember, no books)? Well, that's about how accurate the stories of the early Roman kings are. I don't deny that many of these stories were a part of the national consciousness for a long time, but it's absurd to assert that they're substantially accurate. Many of the later historians fabricated stories outright, either to make their histories more exciting or else to claim glory for their gens and heap scorn on their rivals (Valerius Antias, I'm looking at you). Cicero writes this, Livy writes this, every historian ever writes this - it's fairly uncontroversial.
Let me ask you a question: what's the oldest literary or archaeological reference we have to the Senate House being called the Curia Hostilia? And how long after Tullus lived was that?
And I don't understand your point about P. Horatius' trial. Obviously, the story was current by Caesar's time (600 years after the alleged event). That doesn't mean that it actually happened. Are you implying that the Romans actually had real records of trials from back then?