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Ancient Tyranny$
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Sian Lewis

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748621255

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621255.001.0001

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Kingship and tyranny in archaic Rome

Kingship and tyranny in archaic Rome

(p.16) (p.17) Chapter 2 Kingship and tyranny in archaic Rome
Ancient Tyranny

Fay Glinister

Edinburgh University Press

In the sixth century BC, Rome was a major force in Central Italy. It could hold its own with the great Etruscan city-states and was able to conclude with Carthage a treaty that explicitly recognised Rome as the overlord of much of Latium. By this period, Rome was a city-state with a developed urban form, sophisticated communal cults, flourishing markets, and complex political and legal institutions. Roman society was focused around a ruler whose title, rex (attested by contemporary epigraphic as well as later literary evidence), suggests the existence of a formalised monarchical type of government. This chapter explores the interregnum, the process of creating kings in archaic Rome. It shows that the last two kings, Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus, despite their very different reputations, were irregular rulers, defined by their accession as tyrants and comparable to those in contemporary Italy. It also argues that the institution of kingship, along with tyranny, was not a central but an incidental part of the story of regal Rome.

Keywords:   Rome, Italy, kingship, kings, tyrants, interregnum, tyranny, Servius Tullius, Tarquinius Superbus

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