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The overthrow of the Roman monarchy, a political revolution in
ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
, took place around 509 BC and resulted in the expulsion of the last
king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two different meanings of magistrate have often overlapped and ...
,
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (died 495 BC) was the legendary seventh and final king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in ...
, and the establishment of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
. The semi-legendary Roman histories tell that while the king was away on campaign, his son
Sextus Tarquinius Sextus Tarquinius was the third and youngest son of the last king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Hist ...
raped a noblewoman,
Lucretia According to Roman tradition, Lucretia ( /luːˈkriːʃə/ ''loo-KREE-shə'', Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the ...

Lucretia
. Afterwards she revealed the offence to various Roman noblemen, and then committed suicide. The Roman noblemen, led by
Lucius Junius Brutus Lucius Junius Brutus ( 6th century BC) is the semi-legendary Organizational founder, founder of the Roman Republic, and traditionally one of its first Roman consul, consuls in 509 BC. He was reputedly responsible for the expulsion of his uncle the ...
, obtained the support of the
Roman aristocracy Social class in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompas ...
and the
people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field wh ...
to expel the king and his family and to institute a republic. The
Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC–395 AD), and its medieval continuation, the (historiographically known as the ). It i ...
supported Brutus, and the king went into exile. Despite a number of attempts by Lucius Tarquinius Superbus to reinstate the monarchy, the citizens established a republic and thereafter elected two
consuls A consul is an official representative of the government of one Sovereign state, state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between th ...
annually to rule the city.


Background: The Kingdom

Roman history held that seven kings of Rome reigned from the establishment of the city in 753 BC by
Romulus Romulus () was the legendary foundation of Rome, founder and King of Rome, first king of Ancient Rome, Rome. Various traditions attribute the establishment of many of Rome's oldest legal, political, religious, and social institutions to Romulus ...
up to the reign of Tarquinius. The accuracy of this account has been doubted by modern historians, although it appears to be accepted that there was a monarchy, and the last king Tarquinius was expelled upon the founding of the republic in the late 6th century BC. Tarquinius was the son of the fifth king,
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, or Tarquin the Elder, was the legendary Kings of Rome, fifth king of Roman Kingdom, Rome and first of its Etruscan civilization, Etruscan dynasty. He reigned from 616 to 579 BC. Tarquinius expanded Roman power through mi ...
. In around 535 BC Tarquinius, together with his wife
Tullia Minor Tullia Minor is a semi-legendary figure in Roman history. She was the last queen of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (m ...
(one of the daughters of the then king
Servius Tullius Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two d ...
) arranged the murder of Servius. Tarquinius became king in his place. Despite various military victories, Tarquinius became an unpopular king. He refused to bury his predecessor, then put to death a number of the leading senators whom he suspected of remaining loyal to Servius (one of whom was the brother of
Lucius Junius Brutus Lucius Junius Brutus ( 6th century BC) is the semi-legendary Organizational founder, founder of the Roman Republic, and traditionally one of its first Roman consul, consuls in 509 BC. He was reputedly responsible for the expulsion of his uncle the ...
). By not replacing the slain senators, and not consulting the Senate on all matters of government, he diminished both the size and authority of the Senate. In another break with tradition, he judged capital criminal cases without advice of counsellors, thereby creating fear among those who might think to oppose him. He also engaged in treachery with the
Latin allies The ''socii'' ( in English) or ''foederati'' ( in English) were confederates of ancient Rome, Rome and formed one of the three legal denominations in Roman Italy (''Italia'') along with the Roman citizens (''Cives'') and the ''Latin Rights, Lati ...
.


Rape of Lucretia

In about 510 BC, Tarquinius went to
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...
with the
Rutuli The Rutuli or Rutulians were an ancient people in Italy. The Rutuli were located in a territory whose capital was the ancient town of , located about 35 km southeast of Rome. Thought to have been descended from the and the , according to m ...
. According to Livy, the Rutuli were, at that time, a very wealthy people and Tarquinius was keen to obtain the spoils that would come with victory over the Rutuli in order, in part, to assuage the anger of his subjects.
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a historian. He wrote a monumental history of and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional founding in 753 BC th ...
, ''
Ab urbe condita 300px, Antoninianus of Pacatianus, Roman usurper, usurper of Roman emperor Philip the Arab, Philip in 248. It reads ''ROMAE AETERANMIL ESIMOET PRIMO'', 'To eternal Rome, in its one thousand and first year.' ''Ab urbe condita'' ( ...
''
1.57
/ref> Tarquinius unsuccessfully sought to take the Rutulian capital Ardea by storm, and subsequently began an extensive siege of the city. Sextus Tarquinius, the king's son, was sent on a military errand to
Collatia Collatia was an ancient town of central Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, continental part, delimited by the Alps, a Italian Peninsu ...
. Sextus was received with great hospitality at the governor's mansion, home of
Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus Lucius Tarquinius Ar. f. Ar. n. Collatinus was one of the first two consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin plural ''consules'') was the title of one of the two chief Roman magistrate, magistrates of the Roman Republic, and subsequently also an i ...
, son of the king's nephew, Arruns Tarquinius, former governor of Collatia and first of the Tarquinii Collatini. Lucius' wife, Lucretia, daughter of Spurius Lucretius, prefect of Rome, "a man of distinction",D.H. IV.64. made sure that the king's son was treated as became his rank, although her husband was away at the siege. In a variant of the story, Sextus and Lucius, at a wine party on furlough, were debating the virtues of wives when Lucius volunteered to settle the debate by all of them riding to his home to see what Lucretia was doing. She was weaving with her maids. The party awarded her the palm of victory and Lucius invited them to visit, but for the time being they returned to camp. At night Sextus entered her bedroom by stealth, quietly going around the slaves who were sleeping at her door. She awakened, he identified himself and offered her two choices: she could submit to his sexual advances and become his wife and future queen, or he would kill her and one of her slaves and place the bodies together, then claim he had caught her having adulterous sex (see
sexuality in ancient Rome Male–female couple on the back of a bronze mirror (''ca.'' 70–90 AD) Sexual attitudes and behaviors in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome ...
). In the alternative story, he returned from camp a few days later with one companion to take Collatinus up on his invitation to visit and was lodged in a guest bedroom. He entered Lucretia's room while she lay naked in her bed and started to wash her belly with water, which woke her up.


Uprising

The next day Lucretia dressed in black and went to her father's house in Rome and cast herself down in the suppliant's position (embracing the knees), weeping. Asked to explain herself she insisted on first summoning witnesses and after disclosing the rape, called on them for vengeance, a plea that could not be ignored, as she was speaking to the chief magistrate of Rome. While they were debating she drew a concealed dagger and stabbed herself in the heart. She died in her father's arms, with the women present keening and lamenting. "This dreadful scene struck the Romans who were present with so much horror and compassion that they all cried out with one voice that they would rather die a thousand deaths in defence of their liberty than suffer such outrages to be committed by the tyrants." In the alternative version, Lucretia summoned Lucius Junius Brutus (a leading citizen, and the grandson of Rome's fifth king Tarquinius Priscus), along with her father
Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus is a semi-legendary figure in early Roman history. He was the first Suffect Consul of Rome and was also the father of Lucretia, whose rape by Sextus Tarquinius, followed by her suicide, resulted in the dethronemen ...
, another leading citizen
Publius Valerius Publicola Publius Valerius Poplicola or Publicola (died 503 BC) was one of four Roman aristocrats who led the Overthrow of the Roman monarchy, overthrow of the monarchy, and became a Roman consul, the Collegiality#Collegiality in the Roman Republic, colleag ...

Publius Valerius Publicola
, and her husband
Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus Lucius Tarquinius Ar. f. Ar. n. Collatinus was one of the first two consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin plural ''consules'') was the title of one of the two chief Roman magistrate, magistrates of the Roman Republic, and subsequently also an i ...
(also related to Tarquinius Priscus) to
Collatia Collatia was an ancient town of central Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, continental part, delimited by the Alps, a Italian Peninsu ...
after she had been raped. Lucretia, believing that the rape dishonored her and her family, committed suicide by stabbing herself with a dagger after telling of what had befallen her. According to legend, Brutus grabbed the dagger from Lucretia's breast after her death and immediately shouted for the overthrow of the Tarquins. The four men gathered the youth of Collatia, then went to Rome where Brutus, being at that time '' Tribunus Celerum'', summoned the people to the forum and exhorted them to rise up against the king. The people voted for the deposition of the king, and the banishment of the royal family.
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a historian. He wrote a monumental history of and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional founding in 753 BC th ...
, ''
Ab urbe condita 300px, Antoninianus of Pacatianus, Roman usurper, usurper of Roman emperor Philip the Arab, Philip in 248. It reads ''ROMAE AETERANMIL ESIMOET PRIMO'', 'To eternal Rome, in its one thousand and first year.' ''Ab urbe condita'' ( ...
''
1.59
/ref> Brutus summoned the
comitia curiata The Curiate Assembly (''comitia curiata'') was the principal assembly that evolved in shape and form over the course of the Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the ...
, an organization of patrician families used mainly to ratify the decrees of the king and began to harangue them in one of the more noted and effective speeches of ancient Rome. He began by revealing that his pose as fool was a sham designed to protect him against an evil king. He leveled a number of charges against the king and his family: the outrage against Lucretia, whom everyone could see on the dais, the king's tyranny, the forced labor of the
plebeians In ancient Rome, the plebeians (also called plebs) were the general body of free Roman citizenship, Roman citizens who were not Patrician (ancient Rome), patricians, as determined by the capite censi, census, or in other words "commoners". Both ...

plebeians
in the ditches and sewers of Rome. He pointed out that Superbus had come to rule by the murder of
Servius Tullius Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two d ...
, his wife's father, next-to-the-last king of Rome. He "solemnly invoked the gods as the avengers of murdered parents." The king's wife, Tullia, was in fact in Rome and probably was a witness to the proceedings from her palace near the forum. Seeing herself the target of so much animosity she fled from the palace in fear of her life and proceeded to the camp at Ardea. Brutus opened a debate on the form of government Rome ought to have; there were many speakers (all
patricians The patricians (from la, patriciusPatricius may refer to: People * Patricius (consul 500), prominent East Roman general and consul *Patricius (jurist), 5th-century Roman jurist * Patricius (usurper) (died 352), leader of the Jewish revolt aga ...
). In summation he proposed the banishment of the Tarquins from all the territories of Rome and appointment of an
interrex The interrex (plural interreges) was literally a ruler "between kings" (Latin ''inter reges'') during the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Republic. He was in effect a short-term regent. History The office of ''interrex'' was supposedly created followi ...
to nominate new magistrates and conduct an election of ratification. They had decided on a republican form of government with two consuls in place of a king executing the will of a patrician senate. This was a temporary measure until they could consider the details more carefully. Brutus renounced all right to the throne. In subsequent years the powers of the king were divided among various elected magistracies. A final vote of the curiae carried the interim constitution. Spurius Lucretius was swiftly elected interrex (he was prefect of the city anyway). He proposed Brutus and Collatinus as the first two consuls and that choice was ratified by the curiae. Needing to acquire the assent of the population as a whole they paraded Lucretia's body through the streets, summoning the plebeians to legal assembly in the forum. Once there they heard a further speech by Brutus. It began: A general election was held. The vote was for the republic. The monarchy was at an end, even while Lucretia was still displayed in the forum. Brutus, leaving Lucretius in command of the city, proceeded with armed men to the Roman army then camped at Ardea. The king, who had been with the army, heard of developments at Rome, and left the camp for the city before Brutus' arrival. The army received Brutus as a hero, and the king's sons were expelled from the camp. Tarquinius Superbus, meanwhile, was refused entry at Rome, and fled with his family into exile.


Establishment of the republic

That uprising resulted in the exile or ''
RegifugiumThe Regifugium ("Flight of the King") or Fugalia ("Festival of the Flight") was an annual religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worl ...
'', after a reign of 25 years, of Tarquinius and his family, and the establishment of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
, with Brutus and Collatinus (both related by blood to Rome's fifth king Lucius Tarquinius Priscus) as the first
consuls A consul is an official representative of the government of one Sovereign state, state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between th ...
. Tarquinius and his two eldest sons, Titus and Arruns, went into exile at
Caere : Caere (also Caisra and Cisra) is the Latin name given by the Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = ...
. According to Livy, Brutus' first act after the expulsion of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was to bring the people to swear an oath (the Oath of Brutus) never to allow any man again to be king in Rome. : ''Omnium primum avidum novae libertatis populum, ne postmodum flecti precibus aut donis regiis posset, iure iurando adegit neminem Romae passuros regnare.'' : First of all, by swearing an oath that they would suffer no man to rule Rome, it forced the people, desirous of a new liberty, not to be thereafter swayed by the entreaties or bribes of kings. This is, fundamentally, a restatement of the "private oath" sworn by the conspirators to overthrow the monarchy: : : By this guiltless blood before the kingly injustice I swear – you and the gods as my witnesses – I make myself the one who will prosecute, by what force I am able, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus along with his wicked wife and the whole house of his freeborn children by sword, by fire, by any means hence, so that neither they nor any one else be suffered to rule Rome. There is no scholarly agreement that the oath took place; it is reported, although differently, by
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
(''Poplicola'', 2) and
Appian Appian of Alexandria (; grc-gre, Ἀππιανὸς Ἀλεξανδρεύς ''Appianòs Alexandreús''; la, Appianus Alexandrinus; ) was a historian with citizenship who flourished during the reigns of , , and . He was born c. 95 in . Afte ...
(''B.C.'' 2.119). Brutus also replenished the number of senators to 300 from the principal men of the
equites The ''equites'' (; la, eques nom. singular; literally "horse-" or "cavalrymen", though sometimes referred to as "knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representati ...
. The new consuls also created a new office of
rex sacrorum In ancient Roman religion, the ''rex sacrorum'' ("king of the sacred", also sometimes ''rex sacrificulus'') was a senatorial priesthood reserved for patricians. Although in the historical era, the ''pontifex maximus The (Latin Latin (, ...
to carry out the religious duties that had previously been performed by the kings.
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a historian. He wrote a monumental history of and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional founding in 753 BC th ...
, ''
Ab urbe condita 300px, Antoninianus of Pacatianus, Roman usurper, usurper of Roman emperor Philip the Arab, Philip in 248. It reads ''ROMAE AETERANMIL ESIMOET PRIMO'', 'To eternal Rome, in its one thousand and first year.' ''Ab urbe condita'' ( ...
''
2.1–2
/ref> Because of the Roman people's revulsion at the name and family of the exiled king, the consul Tarquinius Collatinus was forced to resign from the office of consul and go into exile.


Attempts to reinstate the monarchy

After his exile, Tarquinius made a number of attempts to regain the throne. At first, he sent ambassadors to the Senate to request the return of his family's personal effects, which had been seized in the coup. In secret, while the Senate debated his request, the ambassadors met with and subverted a number of the leading men of Rome to the royal cause, in the
Tarquinian conspiracy The Tarquinian conspiracy was a conspiracy amongst a number of senators and leading men of ancient Rome in 509 BC to reinstate the monarchy, and to put Lucius Tarquinius Superbus back on the throne. The conspirators were discovered and executed. T ...
. The conspirators included two of Brutus' brothers-in-law, and his two sons
Titus Titus Caesar Vespasianus ( ; 30 December 39 – 13 September 81 AD) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles thro ...
and
Tiberius Tiberius Caesar Augustus (; 16 November 42 BC – 16 March AD 37) was the second Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors use ...
. The conspiracy was discovered, and the conspirators executed. Although the Senate had initially agreed to Tarquin's request for a return of his family's effects, the decision was reconsidered and revoked after the discovery of the conspiracy, and the royal property was given over to be plundered by the Roman populace. Tarquinius next attempted to regain Rome by force of arms. He first gained the support of the cities of
Veii Veii (also Veius; it, Veio) was an important ancient Etruscan civilization, Etruscan city situated on the southern limits of Etruria and only north-northwest of Rome, Italy. It now lies in Isola Farnese, in the Comuni of the Province of Rome, co ...

Veii
and
Tarquinii Tarquinia (), formerly Corneto, is an old city in the province of Viterbo Viterbo ( it, provincia di Viterbo) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancie ...
, recalling to the former their regular losses of war and land to the Roman state, and to the latter his family ties. The armies of the two cities were led by Tarquinius against Rome in the
Battle of Silva Arsia A battle is an occurrence of combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or devic ...
. The king commanded the Etruscan infantry. Although the result initially appeared uncertain, the Romans were victorious. Both Brutus (the consul) and Arruns (the king's son) were killed in battle. Another attempt by Tarquinius relied on military support from
Lars Porsenna Lars Porsena (Etruscan: Pursenas; sometimes spelled Lars Porsenna) was an Etruscan civilization, Etruscan king known for his Roman-Etruscan Wars#War with Clusium in 508 BC, war against the city of Rome. He ruled over the city of Clusium (Etruscan l ...
, king of
Clusium Clusium ( grc-gre, Κλύσιον, ''Klýsion'', or , ''Kloúsion''; Umbrian:''Camars'') was an ancient city in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a ...
. The
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...
led to the siege of Rome, and finally a peace treaty. However, Tarquinius failed to achieve his aim of regaining the throne. Tarquinius and his family left Clusium, and instead sought refuge in
Tusculum Tusculum is a ruined Classical Rome, Roman city in the Alban Hills, in the Latium region of Italy. Tusculum was most famous in Roman times for the many great and luxurious patrician country villas sited close to the city, yet a comfortable distanc ...
with his son-in-law
Octavius Mamilius Octavius Mamilius (died 498 BC) was ''princeps'' ("leader, prince") of Tusculum, an ancient city of Latium. He was the son-in-law of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last king of Rome. According to tradition, the ''Mamilia gens, gens Ma ...
. In about 496 BC, Tarquin and his son Titus fought with Mamilius and the
Latin League The Latin League (c. 7th century BC – 338 BC)Stearns, Peter N. (2001) ''The Encyclopedia of World History'', Houghton Mifflin. pp. 76–78. . was an ancient confederation of about 30 villages and tribes in the region of Latium Latium ( , ; ...
against Rome, but lost, at the
Battle of Lake Regillus 250px, Prataporci site, where the battle took place, view from Monte Porzio Catone The Battle of Lake Regillus was a legendary Roman victory over the Latin League shortly after the establishment of the Roman Republic and as part of a wider ...
at which Mamilius perished. Subsequently, Tarquinius fled to take refuge at the court of the tyrant of
Cumae Cumae ( grc, Κύμη, (Kumē) or or ; it, Cuma) was the first ancient Greek colony on the mainland of Italy, founded by settlers from Euboea in the 8th century BC and soon becoming one of the strongest colonies. It later became a rich Roma ...

Cumae
,
Aristodemus In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief ...
, where he died in 495 BC.
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a historian. He wrote a monumental history of and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional founding in 753 BC th ...
, ''
Ab urbe condita 300px, Antoninianus of Pacatianus, Roman usurper, usurper of Roman emperor Philip the Arab, Philip in 248. It reads ''ROMAE AETERANMIL ESIMOET PRIMO'', 'To eternal Rome, in its one thousand and first year.' ''Ab urbe condita'' ( ...
''
2.21
/ref>


References

{{ancient Rome 509 BC 6th-century BC conflicts 6th century BC in the Roman Kingdom Rebellions in ancient history Democratization Coups d'état Revolutions