The Seven Kings of Rome 753 - 509 BCE

Feb 2011
1,005
Scotland
#21
So when we talk about this 'coming together', is this what is meant by a foundation (as in the alleged 753BCE event) of Rome?
Cornell (writing in 1995) explained that there were settlements on each of the main hills going back to nearly 1000BCE or before. (I suspect Alpin Luke is more up to date on arachaeological finds.). Rome flourished because it is at an important site- on the Tiber, at a river crossing and close to Salt Works. At some stage these settlements coalesced, at which stage 'Rome' could be said to have come into existence. When exactly this took place is hard to say. Beard's view is that, keen to pinpoint a date and founder, later Romans calculated a date (753BCE) and deemed the founder, 'Mr Rome'. (Romulus). This left a gap for the monarchy they believed had existed from 753-509, when the Consular fasti were deemed to have commenced.
 
Likes: Gisco
Apr 2019
57
Ireland
#22
So it appears what can be said is (open to argument):

The identity of the seven (or eight) kings can't be established as historical fact, even if has been suggested the last three (the two Tarquins and Servius Tullius) are possibly closest to real historical personages.

There was some kind of kingship at Rome, not hereditary, possibly elective, although what kind of mechanism was used for selection is very much open to debate.

Many of the developments that have been attributed during the reigns of these kings are backward projections and anachronisms of times when the sources were compiled of the traditions of the people themselves (Senate, peoples assembly, military reform).

There is a lot more concern for the morals of the main actors of these periods than to any historical fact.

In many cases the Archaeology contradicts the sources and the tradition (The Servian Walls?).

There were disparate groups/elements in the area of Rome which came together in common cause for a more central foundation (753 BCE is very debatable, with some giving seventh century BCE as being more likely).

Rome was strategically placed on the Tiber at a junction of North/South routes with a fluvial port and salt resources in the vicinity.
 
Apr 2019
57
Ireland
#23
What kind of Etruscan influences were at Rome and what forms did they take (two of the final three kings were said to be Etruscan)?
 
Mar 2015
836
Europe
#24
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
That´s not clear. When did Greeks spread in Italy?
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].
The dating seems to be as follows:
While traditional history claims that Rome was uninhabited before founding in 753 BC - not itself implausible, the neighbouring village Antemnae was 3 km away, on the same side of Tiber and Anio - archeological evidence shows that villages appeared in 14th century BC and became sizable in 12th century BC. Evidence of Omobono fill.

First evidence of collective action between the cluster of villages comes from late 9th, early 8th century: separate graveyards of Palatine, Velia, Quirinal and Capitoline went out of use and one common graveyard for Rome was established.

First large scale collective action was filling Forum, between 650 and 625 BC.
 
Mar 2015
836
Europe
#26
I think we can assume there were 7 Kings, and those were their names.
I don´t think so.
By the time the Roman historical tradition was defined, the 600...700 years of gradual expansion of sizable village cluster had been forgotten so completely that the Roman tradition imagined founding in an empty place.
It makes sense that the earlier part of the regal period had been distorted to the extent that the Romans were wrong about the number and names of Kings.
 
Feb 2011
1,005
Scotland
#27
So it appears what can be said is (open to argument):

The identity of the seven (or eight) kings can't be established as historical fact, even if has been suggested the last three (the two Tarquins and Servius Tullius) are possibly closest to real historical personages.

There was some kind of kingship at Rome, not hereditary, possibly elective, although what kind of mechanism was used for selection is very much open to debate.

Many of the developments that have been attributed during the reigns of these kings are backward projections and anachronisms of times when the sources were compiled of the traditions of the people themselves (Senate, peoples assembly, military reform).

There is a lot more concern for the morals of the main actors of these periods than to any historical fact.

In many cases the Archaeology contradicts the sources and the tradition (The Servian Walls?).

There were disparate groups/elements in the area of Rome which came together in common cause for a more central foundation (753 BCE is very debatable, with some giving seventh century BCE as being more likely).

Rome was strategically placed on the Tiber at a junction of North/South routes with a fluvial port and salt resources in the vicinity.
I'd go with that summary. As with the Trojan War, we have archaeological indications, but tantalisingly no names.
So much isn't known- the Mastarna story might well indicate a period of warlords rather than Kings.

The period of 250 or so years in the traditional version, for 7 kings, just isn't at all probable- averaging 35 years each reign. That is unlikely to happen even now, let alone 2700 years ago. You either push forward the foundation and fit 7 kings into a smaller period, or assume that there were more Kings (or warlord equivalent) but that they have been erased from the group memory. If some of those kings were say, Etruscans who took over Rome at various periods then the Romans' pride might have made them prepared to excise them from the record.
 
Likes: Gisco
Jan 2015
3,508
Australia
#28
I don´t think so.
By the time the Roman historical tradition was defined, the 600...700 years of gradual expansion of sizable village cluster had been forgotten so completely that the Roman tradition imagined founding in an empty place.
It makes sense that the earlier part of the regal period had been distorted to the extent that the Romans were wrong about the number and names of Kings.
Yeh this is where plausibility kicks in and we apply a smell test. I think it's obvious a lot of the facts about these Kings got muddled and lost, especially after the sack of Rome by the Gauls, but I have a hard time imagining how a fairly free and open society of practical and reasonably educated people could successfully have a cult of this sort wholecloth inserted as fact. Usually when some cult like Christianity or Mormonism pulls this off, it's done by a small group of outsiders who begin by indoctrinating a limited number of people, and then the cult slowly spreads from there. In situations where the cult is about the ongoing history of a people as it is happening, like say Islam, there is a pattern; the stories may be exaggerated fictions with myths thrown in, but the figures involved are largely historical. I can't see how these 7 Kings could have just been inserted in such a way wholecloth to the living history of a people. There would also have been evidence available to historians of the time not available to us obviously, things like statues, writings, murals, etc. The Senate Building is a great example. Do you think that the Senate, the educated ruling class of Rome, would have consented to have their Senate building re-named after a fake King to aid in some kind of weird myth making? Or that all the factions would have agreed to it? Remember, if just a few factions don't go along with this scheme then they use it as a lever to condemn the rest and become more popular as a result (which is what would assuredly have happened).

I could certainly see how some Kings or warlords or interregnums might have been deemed to not count and ignored for the records, and the reigns are probably off, but the idea that these 7 Kings in particular just flat out didn't exist? Seems too implausible.
 
Mar 2018
655
UK
#29
You can ignore the Kings / Interregnums that you don't like. Or combine kings that are closely related. Or promote someone who was a general "wise statesmen" to be a king. Or say that a relative of a well known king was also a king, but less famous one, and add him in at a later date. Or a million other distortions that are not completely fabrications. In a society without a written record of its history that relies on oral traditions, twisting things so that it provides a better narrative is pretty much the norm. How many centuries after the supposed reign of the first king is the first surviving record we have of that king?
 
Jan 2015
3,508
Australia
#30
You can ignore the Kings / Interregnums that you don't like. Or combine kings that are closely related. Or promote someone who was a general "wise statesmen" to be a king. Or say that a relative of a well known king was also a king, but less famous one, and add him in at a later date. Or a million other distortions that are not completely fabrications. In a society without a written record of its history that relies on oral traditions, twisting things so that it provides a better narrative is pretty much the norm. How many centuries after the supposed reign of the first king is the first surviving record we have of that king?
I literally just said that. What I'm disputing is that these 7 Kings could have not existed and simply been wholecloth inventions. That is frankly implausible. I also dispute that they had no written records. There might have been plenty of records that gradually faded, but enough that it could be held in the societal memory from more or less clearly from one generation to the next, until some of it was Chinese whispers, etc, but the core facts remained about right. This was not a despotic and illiterate society where you could easily change the historical legends at will. It just wouldn't have worked.
 

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