Maat - To know the history to create the future




Not Etruscans, Not Latins But Romans

Locality: Rome

Age: 578-534 a.C.

Tarquinius Priscus

In 616 b.C. a Tarquinian of the city of Tarquinia became the fifth king of Rome.

Tarquinius was the son of Demarato, a Greek escaped from the city of Corinth about 657 after that the tyrant Cypselus took the power, who had turned upside down the bacchiade aristocracy .

The name Tarquinius is the latinized form of the Etruscan name tarcna

Servius Tullius

The successor of Tarquinius Priscus was Servius Tullius, who reigned between 578 and 534 b.C.

His name is associated with two facts: the Servian constitution and the temple of Diana on the Aventinus hill.

It does not seem on the contrary that the so-called Servian walls may be attributed to him, at least in the condition in which they are conserved.

The distinctive character of his reign was the attempt to blend natives and Etruscans.

Ocrisia, mother of Tullius

Servius was the son of Ocrisia, native of the Latin city of Corniculum, probably Monte dell'Incastro, little east of Rome.

It is narrated that Ocrisia remained pregnant due to a God, fact not unknown to mythology and used when persons lacking in genealogical tree wanted themselves to be exalted.

His mother was captured when Tarquinius Priscus conquered the city of Corniculum.

The name of Ocrisia derives from an ancient italic root ocher wich means mount.

Servius king of Rome

Servius was educated in Rome in the royal palace. He married the daughter of Tarquinius.

In 579 Tarquinius was killed by persons tied to the environment of the sons of Ancus Marcius, fourth king of Rome.

Tanaquilla succeeded to impose Servius to the people like the sixth king of Rome.

Mastarna for the Etruscans, Servius Tullius for the Romans

The Emperor Claudius, author of a history of the Etruria, speaking in Senate in favor of the concession of Roman citizenship to the inhabitants of the Gallia Comata, in order to emphasize the Roman tradition of open acceptance of the foreigners, narrated a different history.

According to Claudius, Servius Tullius, with the name of Mastarna, would have had an important role in the history of Vulci, Etruscan city. Friend of Celius and Aulus Vibenna, masters of Vulci, would have fought at their side without fortune. With the rests of the army he would have put himself at the service of Tarquinius, who, as a reward, would have allowed him to live with his companions on the hill to which he gave the name of Celius, in honor of his master.

This version could hide a more serious fact: an army, coming from Vulci, would have occupied Rome and the Tarquinians would have been chased; they could have re-entered the city at the death of Servius Tullius, commander of the invading army.

Mastarna is a Latin name converted in Etruscan, it derives from magister and could mean something of analogous to " the conductor ".

The term servus, not of Indo-European origin and perhaps Etruscan, meant foreigner without rights, stateless person.

Essentially the sixth king of Rome would have been known with an Etruscan name in Rome and one Latin in Etruria.

The Temple of Diana on the Aventinus hill

The construction on the Aventinus hill of the temple dedicated to Diana, the Greek Artemis, was a deed of international politics.

The temple of Artemis at Ephesus was considered the symbol of the federation of the cities of the Ionians in Asia Minor. The cult of Diana and the idea of federation had to be very lively in the western Mediterranean Sea after the rebuilding, happened in 540 b.C., of the Greek colony of Marseilles. The statue of Diana was put in the Roman temple as Artemis in the temple of Marseilles.

The temple on the Aventinus hill, constructed about 540 b.C., aimed to re-unite politically and religiously Rome, Latium and the southern Etruria, like the Etruscan federal system of the Twelve Peoples.

The temple was constructed outside of the city, on a hill scarcely inhabited. Only in 465 the Aventinus hill will become residential zone with a law ascribed to the tribune of plebs L. Icilio. The external position probably was chosen to attract the greater number of persons, poors, immigrants, slaves, etc

The foundation of the temple was celebrated on 13 August.

The temple of Mater Matuta, of the goddess Fortune and Fors Fortuna

Servius Tullius erected twin temples of Mater Matuta and of the goddess Fortune in the Forum Bovarium, the market along the banks of the river Tiber.

Mater Matuta is an italic divinity, with the main temple at Satricum, city to the south of Rome.

The goddess Fortune, traditional Latin divinity, was symbolized by a veiled statue, like those of the Etruscan gods of Fate.

The foundation of the twin temples was celebrated on 11 june.

The temple of Fors Fortuna was constructed on the other side of the Tiber, outside of the city walls and the slaves celebrations could participate to the celebrations.

Citizens of Rome

Servius Tullius divided the Roman population according to the territory, independently from ethnic or birth criteria . The citizenship depended on the place of residence. In such a way many immigrates, merchants, Etruscan agriculturists or of other origins could become Roman citizens, faithful to Rome before the family or the ethnic group.

There were defined 4 city tribes: Suburana (the Celius), Palatina, Esquilina, Collina. The number of the extra-urban tribes, initially 16, arrived after at 31.

The belonging to a territorial district (tribus) based on the domicile, allowed the development of a cadastre in order to estimate the land assets and to assign to the citizens to one class and to fix the relative tributum.

Classes and centuries

The Roman people were divided in five classes of citizens/soldiers according to the census.

Every class supplied the army with a certain number of centuries, groups of one hundred men. In the first class, the richest, 18 centuries of knights and 80 infantrymen were recruited. In the second, third and fourth one 20 centuries and in the fifth 30. A system of taxation proportional to the revenues.

The citizens with a very low revenues (the capite censuses) were exempted from the military service and from connected expenses.

The centuries inside every class were distinguished in those formed by seniores, the reserve of the citizens above 46 years, and those formed by iuniores, the effective combatants. The centuries of iuniores and seniores were in equal number.

Armament of the classes

The first class was armed with helmet, round shield, cuirass and greaves, lance, javelin and sword.

The second class was armed like the first, but without cuirass. It carried a smaller and lengthened shield.

The third class had helmet and offensive weapons.

The fourth class had lance and javelin.

The fifth class had slings.

Political rights and duties

The political rights were proportional to the services that the citizens supplied to the army.

Every century, as unit of combat was one ballot unit. The capite censuses formed one single century.

Two centuries were reserved to the engineers (carpenters and blacksmiths) and voted with the first class.

Two centuries were reserved to the musicians and voted with the fourth class.

In total there were 193 centuries, with absolute majority of the first class (80+18).

The system eliminated privileges of the birth or the ethnics, and at the same time it avoided the disadvantages of the tyranny of the number.

The Comitia Centuriata constituted the assembly of the soldiers and they gathered outside the sacred borders of the city. This assembly became the dominant entity after the fall of the monarchy, both from the legislative and electoral point of view.


Bibliographical references:

Levi M. A.

L'Italia antica


Scullard H. H.

Storia del mondo romanp


Clemente G.

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Heurgon J.

Il Mediterraneo Ocidentale dalla preistoria a Roma arcaica


Piganiol A.

Le conquiste dei Romani


Ogilvie R. M.

Le origini di Roma

Il Mulino

Alfoldy G.

Storia sociale dell'antica Roma

Il Mulino