The Seven Kings of Rome 753 - 509 BCE

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,533
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#11
So perhaps this then is evidence of a monarch at Rome in the seventh century BCE, if it is not just to a Rex Sacrorum.
It's absolutely improbable that there was a primitive form of Republic at the beginning of the history of Rome. The populations of central Italy knew centers with "kings" [or chiefs] and there is nothing which suggests that the villages around river Tiber were different. What is still argument of debate is if the villages got united by an act of a powerful lord [chief of one of those villages] or it was the result of an evolution leaded by the growing economical activity in the area requesting something more "solid" and durable than a group of villages.
 
Likes: benzev
Apr 2019
57
Ireland
#12
A part that the last King of the modern Italian Kingdom wasn't a saint [he was guilty of something for real], usually when there is a revolution the "Ancient Regime" becomes the symbol of the evil and historians exaggerate in drawing a negative picture of it.
A good point.

P.S. Today historians underline that, reading well the sources of the tradition, the Kings were 8, not 7, since TItus Tatius ruled over Rome as well.
Ah yes Titus Tatius of Sabine fame.
 
Feb 2011
1,005
Scotland
#13
Cornell brings forward the date for Rome 'coming together' to about 650BCE to try to reconcile the Kings's list to reasonable average spans.

According to Mary Beard in SPQR, the important substantial evidence for the presence of regnant Kings is the cache beneath the Lapis Niger, which has an inscription in archaic latin including the term recei, interpreted as reference to a 6th century King.

There is no actual evidence for the names of any Roman kings. Beard considers that Romulus is a made up title- 'Mr Rome' - ascribed to a mythical founder.

There is a clear gap between the first Consuls on the fasti and the traditional date of foundation and it is likely that Roman historians and annalists of the last century and a half of the republic tried to fill the gap with legendary figures which threw lustre on their specific families. Such history of the period is a reflection of late republican politics projected backwards. It is unlikely that the sizeable annual battles recorded through the monarchy and the 5th century were more than raids. There is little or no evidence for any of the main figures such as Cincinnatus or Camillus either; it is not until about 300BCE that genuinely historical figures can be accounted for. This doesn't mean that the earlier figures in the histories didn't exist- just that there is no other historiographical or archaeological evidence to corroborate them.

As regards the Roman army and the Servian reforms, Beard consideres these also a back-projection. Armstrong in his 'Early Roman Warfare' contends that the early Roman army was a mixture of city levies and loose-organised rural warriors who were bound to peripatetic warlords, some of whom became part of Roman society such as the Claudians. It also accounts for the separate actions fought by the Fabii. Emperor Claudius seems to have been aware of a mural in an Etruscan tomb (visible today) showing Mastarna, a semi mythical Etruscan warlord who may have become one of the Roman kings.
 
Jan 2015
3,508
Australia
#14
What archaeology tells us [see the works by Andrea Carandini] is that in the moment when the Tradition says that Rome had created actually walls had built on those hills [on Palatino, VIII century BCE]. We don't know who did it [there are no documents mentioning Romulus from that time], but a city was born. The position was strategical and we should remind that river Tiber was and is navigable [Rome has always had a wide and alive fluvial port]. Who created the city understood the potentiality of that place: in the middle between the Etruscan power and the rich South [with the Greek colonies].

Generally salt is indicated as the base of the "international" trade of primordial Rome [the "salaria" road is still there and literally it's the "way of the salt". If not for preservation, it could be still open to car traffic ...].

This said, about the Kings of Rome, the historical problem is that we've got later sources and epitomes as main base to reconstruct their life.

What we know is that there were Kings ... excavations in Rome have found objects with the word "rex" from VII century BCE. And on the famous "Lapis Niger" there is the mention of "regi" [because of a form of Latin this reference has been recognized as a reference to a Monarch, not to a later Rex Sacrorum, that is to say the priest who played the religious role of the early Kings in the Republican age].

Regarding the Sovereigns, as for I know, the last three are considered historically real, the first 4 are a mystery, in the sense that there is nothing, but the Tradition to confirm their existence.
Actually the senate building burnt down by the mob after Clodius death was (and seemingly had always been) named the Curia Hostilia, after one of the first 4 Kings, who was said to have built the original versin of it, and it's such an odd name with no obvious other Roman connections that it kind of rings true that it'd be legit. I think there probably were 7 Kings, but the facts about them are obviously lost to the mists of time, etc.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,533
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#15
Actually the senate building burnt down by the mob after Clodius death was (and seemingly had always been) named the Curia Hostilia, after one of the first 4 Kings, who was said to have built the original versin of it, and it's such an odd name with no obvious other Roman connections that it kind of rings true that it'd be legit. I think there probably were 7 Kings, but the facts about them are obviously lost to the mists of time, etc.
Let's say that it's improbable that in Republican Age they invented that the Curia Hostilia was older than the Republic, but we cannot know [archaeology about that building doesn't help that much] when it had built and by which authority [with accuracy].

Today the most optimistic scholar about the myth of the origins of Rome is the archaeologist Andrea Carandini, who have discovered that the Vesta Sanctuary had built in VIII century BCE. Not to say that he found, under the VII century BCE floor of the "Foro" an other floor, a century older.

Anyway, I prefer to be cautious. To have proved that on some hills there was a visible degree of urbanization in VIII century BCE doesn't mean to have proved that the early Kings existed and that they were the ones in the list of the legend.

I repeat that the area was strategical and to control the trades [and to protect who controlled those trades, defending that section of the river Tiber] it was obvious that the local communities thought to build concrete walls [just imitating the Etruscan power and the Greek colonies]. Than, that those fortified villages decided to gather together creating something more important, functional and effective was something in the evolution of the context.
 
Likes: benzev
Apr 2019
57
Ireland
#16
As regards the Roman army and the Servian reforms, Beard consideres these also a back-projection. Armstrong in his 'Early Roman Warfare' contends that the early Roman army was a mixture of city levies and loose-organised rural warriors who were bound to peripatetic warlords, some of whom became part of Roman society such as the Claudians. It also accounts for the separate actions fought by the Fabii. Emperor Claudius seems to have been aware of a mural in an Etruscan tomb (visible today) showing Mastarna, a semi mythical Etruscan warlord who may have become one of the Roman kings.
It appears that a lot of the tradition involves backward projection like you say. The existence of a senate and a peoples assembly at the time of the monarchy may also be an example of this. The sources also seem to be more concerned with morals rather than historical fact. It has been suggested that the discrepancies between some of the sources suggest that the Romans were themselves unsure about the details.
As for Mastarna, it seems that a case has been put forward for him being Sevius Tullius, however this suggestion also has it's detractors.
 
Likes: benzev
Apr 2019
57
Ireland
#17
Cornell brings forward the date for Rome 'coming together' to about 650BCE to try to reconcile the Kings's list to reasonable average spans.
So when we talk about this 'coming together', is this what is meant by a foundation (as in the alleged 753BCE event) of Rome?
 
Likes: benzev
Apr 2019
57
Ireland
#18
I repeat that the area was strategical and to control the trades [and to protect who controlled those trades, defending that section of the river Tiber] it was obvious that the local communities thought to build concrete walls [just imitating the Etruscan power and the Greek colonies]. Than, that those fortified villages decided to gather together creating something more important, functional and effective was something in the evolution of the context.
Is it possible that the different communities around the area of Rome, in the face of a threat (perhaps to the salt) or perhaps a common interest in trade was the main catalyst for a more central foundation?
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,533
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#19
Is it possible that the different communities around the area of Rome, in the face of a threat (perhaps to the salt) or perhaps a common interest in trade was the main catalyst for a more central foundation?
Today scholars tend to give importance to the archaic "forum boarium". It was substantially what we would call a stable market, along river Tiber, already active in VIII century BCE. It was at the meeting point of the Salaria and the Campana ways. There was also a fluvial port and in origin the Greek traders controlled it.

The Latins took over that market and probably it was the reason why they gathered. They lived in fortified villages which surrounded that rich ancient market ... probably it was quite attractive. Substantially the forum boarium became the core of the new urban settlements giving to early Rome the nature of an emporium [Italian archaeologists talk of an "emporium" when they make reference to early Rome].
 
Likes: Gisco
Feb 2011
1,005
Scotland
#20
It appears that a lot of the tradition involves backward projection like you say. The existence of a senate and a peoples assembly at the time of the monarchy may also be an example of this. The sources also seem to be more concerned with morals rather than historical fact. It has been suggested that the discrepancies between some of the sources suggest that the Romans were themselves unsure about the details.
As for Mastarna, it seems that a case has been put forward for him being Sevius Tullius, however this suggestion also has it's detractors.
Romans interested in their history naturally assumed that their traditions were of the highest antiquity. The sparse evidence - even in their own time- gave them free rein. May Beard places the structure and practice of the Senate and officeholders that are now familiar at around 4th-3rd centuries BCE- much later than the late Republican historians placed it.
 

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