SERVIUS TULLIUS was the legendary sixth king of Rome , and the second of its Etruscan dynasty. He reigned 575–535 BC. Roman and Greek sources describe his servile origins and later marriage to a daughter of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus , Rome's first Etruscan king, who was assassinated in 579 BC. Servius is said to have been the first Roman king to accede without election by the Senate , having gained the throne by popular support; and the first to be elected by the Senate alone, without reference to the people.
Several traditions describe Servius' father as divine .
Servius' mother as a captured Latin princess enslaved by the Romans;
her child is chosen as Rome's future king after a ring of fire is seen
around his head. The Emperor
Servius was a popular king, and one of Rome's most significant
benefactors. He had military successes against
Veii and the Etruscans,
and expanded the city to include the
Viminal and Esquiline
hills. He is traditionally credited with the institution of the
Despite the opposition of Rome's patricians , he expanded the Roman
franchise and improved the lot and fortune of Rome's lowest classes of
citizens and non-citizens. According to Livy, he reigned for 44 years,
until murdered by his daughter Tullia and son-in-law Tarquinius
Superbus . In consequence of this "tragic crime" and his hubristic
arrogance as king, Tarquinius was eventually removed. This cleared the
way for the abolition of Rome\'s monarchy and the founding of the
* 1 Background
* 1.1 Ancient sources
* 2 Servius\' origins
* 2.1 Parentage and birth * 2.2 Early life
* 3 Reign
* 3.1 Servian reforms
* 3.1.1 Curiate reform and census * 3.1.2 Classes
* 3.2 Tribal and boundary expansions * 3.3 Economy * 3.4 Religion * 3.5 Assassination
* 4 Historical appraisals
* 4.1 Birth * 4.2 Etruscan Servius * 4.3 Legacy
* 5 References * 6 Bibliography * 7 External links
Before its establishment as a Republic , Rome was ruled by kings
(Latin reges, singular rex). In Roman tradition , Rome's founder
The oldest surviving source for the overall political developments of
the Roman kingdom and Republic is
PARENTAGE AND BIRTH
Most Roman sources name Servius' mother as Ocrisia, a young noblewoman taken at the Roman siege of Corniculum and brought to Rome, either pregnant by her husband, who was killed at the siege: or as a virgin. She was given to Tanaquil , wife of king Tarquinius , and though slave, was treated with the respect due her former status. In one variant, she became wife to a noble client of Tarquinius. In others, she served the domestic rites of the royal hearth as a Vestal Virgin , and on one such occasion, having damped the hearth flames with a sacrificial offering, she was penetrated by a disembodied phallus that rose from the hearth. According to Tanaquil, this was a divine manifestation, either of the household Lar or Vulcan himself. Thus Servius was divinely fathered and already destined for greatness, despite his mother's servile status; for the time being, Tanaquil and Ocrisia kept this a secret.
Servius' birth to a slave of the royal household made him part of Tarquin's extended familia. Ancient sources infer him as protégé, rather than adopted son, as he married Tarquinius' and Tanaquil's daughter, named by some sources as Gegania . All sources agree that before his accession, either in his early childhood or later, members of the royal household witnessed a nimbus of fire about his head while he slept, a sign of divine favour, and a great portent. He proved a loyal, responsible son-in-law. When given governmental and military responsibilities, he excelled in both.
In Livy's account, Tarquinius Priscus had been elected king on the death of the previous king, Ancus Marcius , whose two sons were too young to inherit or offer themselves for election. When Servius' popularity and his marriage to Tarquinius' daughter made him a likely successor to the throne, these sons attempted to seize the throne for themselves. They hired two assassins, who attacked and severely wounded Tarquinius. Tanaquil immediately ordered the palace to be shut, and publicly announced from a palace window that Tarquinius had appointed Servius as regent; meanwhile, Tarquinius died of his wounds. When his death became public knowledge, the senate elected Servius as king, and the sons of Ancus fled to exile in Suessa Pometia . Livy describes this as the first occasion that the people of Rome were not involved in the election of the king. In Plutarch, Servius reluctantly consented to the kingship at the death-bed insistence of Tanaquil.
Early in his reign, Servius warred against Veii and the Etruscans. He is said to have shown valour in the campaign, and to have routed a great army of the enemy. His success helped him to cement his position at Rome. According to the Fasti Triumphales , Servius celebrated three triumphs over the Etruscans, including on 25 November 571 BC and 25 May 567 BC (the date of the third triumph is not legible on the Fasti).
Main article: Servian constitution
Most of the reforms credited to Servius extended voting rights to certain groups — in particular to Rome's citizen-commoners (known in the Republican era as plebs ), minor landholders hitherto disqualified from voting by ancestry, status or ethnicity. The same reforms simultaneously defined the fiscal and military obligations of all Roman citizens. As a whole, the so-called Servian reforms probably represent a long-drawn, complex and piecemeal process of populist policy and reform, extending from Servius' predecessors, Ancus Marcius and Tarquinius Priscus, to his successor Tarquinius Superbus , and into the Middle and Late Republic. Rome's military and territorial expansion and consequent changes in its population would have made franchise regulation and reform an ongoing necessity, and their wholesale attribution to Servius "cannot be taken at face value".
Curiate Reform And Census
Until the Servian reforms, the passing of laws and judgment was the prerogative of the comitia curiata (curiate assembly), made up from thirty curiae ; Roman sources describe ten curiae for each of three aristocratic tribes or clans, each supposedly based on one of Rome's central hills, and claiming patrician status by virtue of their descent from Rome's founding families. These tribes comprised approximately 200 gentes (clans), each of which contributed one senator ("elder") to the Senate. The senate advised the king, devised laws in his name, and was held to represent the entire populus Romanus (Roman people) ; but it could only debate and discuss. Its decisions had no force unless approved by the comitia curiata. By the time of Servius, if not long before, the tribes of the comitia were a minority of the population, ruling a multitude who had no effective voice in their own government.
Rome's far more populous citizen-commoners could participate in this
assembly in limited fashion, and perhaps offer their opinions on
decisions but only the comitia curiata could vote. A minority thus
exercised power and control over the majority. Roman tradition held
that Servius formed a comitia centuriata of commoners to displace the
comitia curiata as Rome's central legislative body. This required his
development of the first Roman census , making Servius the first Roman
censor . For the purposes of the census, citizens assembled by tribe
The institution of the census and the comitia centuriata are speculated as Servius' attempt to erode the civil and military power of the Roman aristocracy, and seek the direct support of his newly enfranchised citizenry in civil matters; if necessary, under arms. The comitia curiata continued to function through the Regal and Republican eras, but the Servian reform had reduced its powers to those of a largely symbolic "upper house"; its noble members were expected to do no more than ratify decisions of the comitia centuriata.
The census grouped Rome's male citizen population in classes, according to status, wealth and age. Each class was subdivided into groups called centuriae (centuries), nominally of 100 men (Latin centum = 100) but in practice of variable number, further divided as seniores (men aged 46 – 60, of a suitable age to serve as "home guards" or city police) and iuniores (men aged 17 – 45, to serve as front-line troops when required). Adult male citizens were obliged, when called upon, to fulfill military service according to their means, which was supposedly assessed in archaic asses . A citizen's wealth and class would therefore have defined their position in the civil hierarchies, and up to a point, within the military; but despite its apparent military character, and its possible origins as the mustering of the citizenry-at-arms, the system would have primarily served to determine the voting qualifications and wealth of individual citizens for taxation purposes, and the weight of their vote — wars were occasional but taxation was a constant necessity — and the comitia centuriata met whenever required to do so, in peace or war. Though each century had voting rights, the wealthiest had the most centuries, and voted first. Those beneath them were convened only in the event of deadlock or indecision; the lowest class was unlikely to vote at all.
The Roman army's centuria system and its order of battle are thought to be based on the civilian classifications established by the census. The military selection process picked men from civilian centuriae and slipped them into military ones. Their function depended on their age, experience, and the equipment they could afford. The wealthiest class of iuniores (aged 17 – 45) were armed as hoplites , heavy infantry with helmet , greaves , breastplate , shields (clipeus ), and spears (hastae ). Each battle line in the phalanx formation was composed of a single class. Military specialists, such as trumpeters, were chosen from the 5th class. The highest officers were of aristocratic origin until the early Republic, when the first plebeian tribunes were elected by the plebeians from their own number. Cornell suggests that this centuriate system made the equites, who "consisted mainly, if not exclusively, of patricians" but voted after infantry of the first class, subordinate to the relatively low-status infantry.
TRIBAL AND BOUNDARY EXPANSIONS
The Servian reforms increased the number of tribes and expanded the city, which was protected by a new rampart, moat and wall. The enclosed area was divided into four administrative regiones (regions, or quarters); the Suburana, Esquilana, Collina and Palatina. Servius himself is said to have taken a new residence, on the Esquiline. The situation beyond the walls is unclear, but thereafter, membership of a Roman voting-tribe would have depended on residence rather than kinship, ancestry and inheritance. This would have brought significant numbers of urban and rural plebs into active political life; and a significant number of these would have been allocated to centuries of the first class, and therefore likely to vote. The city of Rome's division into "quarters" remained in use until 7 BC, when Augustus divided the city into 14 new regiones . In modern Rome, an ancient portion of surviving wall is attributed to Servius, the remainder supposedly being rebuilt after the sack of Rome in 390/387 BC by the Gauls.
Some Roman historians believed
Servius is credited with the construction of Diana\'s temple on the
Aventine Hill , to mark the foundation of the so-called
Latin League ;
His servile birth-mythos, his populist leanings and his
reorganisation of the vici appear to justify the Roman belief that he
founded or reformed the
In Livy's history,
Claims of divine ancestry and divine favour were often attached to charismatic individuals who rose "as if from nowhere" to become dynasts, tyrants and hero-founders in the ancient Mediterranean world. Yet all these legends offer the father as divine, the mother – virgin or not – as princess of a ruling house, never as slave. The disembodied phallus and its impregnation of a virgin slave of Royal birth are unique to Servius. Livy and Dionysius ignore or reject the tales of Servius' supernatural virgin birth; though his parents came from a conquered people, both are of noble stock. His ancestry is an accident of fate, and his character and virtues are entirely Roman. He acts on behalf of the Roman people, not for personal gain; these Roman virtues are likely to find favour with the gods, and win the rewards of good fortune.
The details of Servius' servile birth, miraculous conception and
links with divine
Painting from the François Tomb at Vulci, depicting the liberation of Caelius Vibenna. Macstarna is on the left
Claudius' story of Servius as an Etruscan named Macstarna was
published as an incidental scholarly comment within the Oratio Claudii
Caesaris of the
Lugdunum Tablet . There is some support for this
Etruscan version of Servius, in wall paintings at the François Tomb
Servius' political reforms and those of his successor Tarquinius Superbus undermined the bases of aristocratic power and transferred them in part to commoners. Rome's ordinary citizens became a distinct force within Roman politics, entitled to participate in government and bear arms on its behalf, despite the opposition and resentment of Rome's patricians and senate. Tarquinius was ousted by a conspiracy of patricians, not plebeians. Once in existence, the comitia centuriata could not be unmade, or its powers reduced: as Republican Rome's highest court of appeal, it had the capacity to overturn court decisions, and the Republican senate was constitutionally obliged to seek its approval. In time, the comitia centuriata legitimized the rise to power of a plebeian nobility, and plebeian consuls .
Servius' connections to the Lar and his reform of the vici connect
him directly to the founding of
* ^ According to
Livy , Ab Urbe Condita; the dates are accepted by
most ancient Romans writers.
* ^ A B Cornell, TJ (1995). The Beginnings of Rome. London:
Routledge. pp. 135–139.
* ^ Based on the reckoning of Roman historians, the Roman kingdom
lasted about 250 years; either the list of kings is implausibly short,
or their reigns are implausibly long. The earliest kings in particular
could represent the attributes and achievements of several distinct
personalities. See further discussion in Cornell, 120 - 121, 226.
* ^ Cornell, pp. 57 - 60
* ^ Cornell, pp. 120 - 121, 226.
* ^ Cornell, p.2
* ^ Cornell, pp. 6, 199 - 122.
* ^ Cornell, pp. 21 - 26.
* ^ For Claudius' theory on Servius' origins, see the text of the
Lyons Tablet .
Livy gives her husband's name as Servius Tullius, chief man of
Corniculum (" qui princeps in illa urbe fuerat "); the son is named
after the father. See Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1.39. Dionysius offers a
near identical version as "the most likely".
* ^ Plutarch, Moralia, On the fortune of the Romans, 10, 64:
available online (Loeb) at Thayer's website
* ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1.39.
* ^ Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1.39: see also Dionysius, 4.
* ^ Plutarch, Moralia, On the fortune of the Romans, 10, 64:
available online (Loeb) at Thayer's website .
* Beard, M., Price, S., North, J., Religions of Rome: Volume 1, a
Cambridge University Press
* v * t * e
* v * t * e
Etruscan -related topics
Founding of Rome
CULTURE AND SOCIETY
Battle of Alalia (540 BC–535 BC)
Siege of Rome (509 BC)
Siege of Rome (508 BC)
Battle of the Cremera (477 BC)
Battle of Cumae
Corpus Inscriptionum Etruscarum
* English words of Etruscan origin
* Spanish words of Etruscan origin
* v * t * e
Ancient Roman religion and mythology
* Metamorphoses * Fasti
CONCEPTS AND PRACTICES
* WorldCat Identities * VIAF : 77702256 * LCCN : n83302325 * GND : 119010259 * SUDOC : 027436721 * BNF : cb119478