2. Beginnings of Rome
3. Institutions of Early Rome
4. Etruscan Kings of Rome
5. Reorganization of Kingdom

6. Struggle against Kingship
7. Struggle for Economic Rights
8. Struggle for Equal Laws
9. Struggle for Political Equality
10. Conquest of Latium
11. Conquest of Central Italy
12. Conquest of Southern Italy
13. Supremacy of Rome in Italy
14. First Punic War
15. Second Punic War
16. Conquests in East
17. Reduction of Roman Conquests
18. Rome as a World Power
19. Times of Gracchi
20. Times of Marius and Sulla
21. Times of Pompey and Caesar
22. Times of Antony and Octavius

23. Reign of Augustus
24. Julian Emperors
25. Flavian Emperors
26. Five Good Emperors
27. Decline of Empire
28. Reorganization of Empire
29. Extinction of Western Empire
Outlines of Roman History
by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L.
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: American Book Company (1901).



Table of contents




The Expulsion of the Kings, I.The New Republican Government, II.


   The Transition to the Republic.—We have seen how Rome came into existence, and how it gradually grew in extent and power under the regal government. We are now to consider how the Roman kingdom was changed into a republic; and to look at the different struggles by which this change was brought about. The change from the Roman kingdom to the republic was due to the tyranny of the last Tarquin; so that the first struggle for Roman liberty was a struggle against the kingship. When the rule of Tarquinius Superbus became intolerable, he was expelled from Rome, with his whole family (B.C. 510). But with the aid of the Etruscans and Latins he tried to regain his lost power; and the first days of the republic were, therefore, days full of strife and trouble. The stories of this period tell us of many deeds of Roman virtue and patriotism. In them we see the heroic efforts made by a liberty-loving people to rid themselves of a despotic king, and to form a freer government.

   The Story of Brutus and Collatinus.—The legends first tell how the king was driven from Home. This was brought about by the efforts of two patriotic men, Brutus and Collatinus, who determined to avenge the dishonorable deeds of Tarquinius Superbus and his family. These patriots aroused the Roman people, and led them to pass a law to banish Tarquin and his corrupt household. The gates of the city were ordered to be closed against him. The soldiers saluted Brutus as the deliverer of their country. The people declared that the kingship should be abolished forever; and they elected Brutus and Collatinus to rule over them for a year.

   The Conspiracy of Brutus’s Sons.—The banished king then sent messengers to Rome to ask that his property be restored to him. While engaged on this mission, the messengers formed a plot to bring back the king to his throne; and the two sons of Brutus joined in the treacherous scheme. But a slave who happened to hear the plan of the conspirators exposed the whole affair. When Brutus found that his own sons were engaged in this act of treason, he did not allow his feelings as a father to prevent him from doing his duty as a patriot—but condemned them to death as traitors to their country.

   The Attempts of the Etruscans to restore Tarquinius.—When the plot at Rome failed, Tarquinius appealed for help to the Etruscan cities of Veii and Tarquinii, which raised an army to assist him. In a fierce battle which followed, Brutus was slain by the king’s son. The battle, which had been long in doubt, was decided by the god Sylvanus, whose voice was heard in the forest proclaiming that the Romans had won. Tarquinius next appealed to Lars Porsenna, king of Clusium, and the most powerful prince of Etruria. Collecting his army, Porsenna suddenly seized the Janiculum, the hill just across the Tiber, and Rome was saved only by the heroism of Horatius Cocles, who, with two companions, withstood the whole Etruscan army while the wooden bridge was destroyed. Porsenna was thus prevented from entering the city. After ravaging the surrounding country he soon made peace with the Romans and gave no further aid to the Tarquins.

   The Attempt of the Latins.—The Tarquins then turned for aid to the Latins. The thirty Latin cities revolted and joined the cause of the banished king. The danger was so great that the Romans appointed a dictator to lead their armies into the field. Then was fought the noted battle of Lake Regillus, which, according to the old story, was decided by the aid of two gigantic youths, who rode upon snow-white horses in the Roman ranks, and whom the Romans recognized as the twin gods Castor and Pollux. A temple to these gods was built in the Forum in memory of this deliverance.

   Significance of the Legends.—While we cannot believe everything contained in these romantic stories, we can yet see in them the record of a great historical event. We can see that the government of the kings was overthrown. We can also see that this change was not a peaceful change, but was attended by a severe struggle. We can see, finally, that the Romans honored the heroic virtues of courage and patriotism; and that they believed their destiny was in the hands of the gods.


   The Two Consuls.—When the kingdom came to an end, the power of the kings was put into the hands of two consuls (at first called praetors), elected by the people. The consular power, though derived from the old kingly power, was yet different from it in many respects. In the first place, the power of the king had been a lifelong power; but the power of the consuls was limited to one year. Again, the royal power had been held by one person; but the consular power was held by two persons, so that each was a restraint upon the other. Moreover, the power of the king had been absolute, that is, it had extended to life and death over all citizens at all times; the power of the consuls, on the other hand, was limited, since they could not exercise the power of life and death, except outside of the city and over the army in the field. The consuls retained the old insignia of the king; but when in the city, the ax was withdrawn from the fasces. In this way the chief authority, which was placed in the hands of the consuls, was shorn of its worst features. It must also be noted that the priestly power of the king was not given to the consuls, but to a special officer, called king of the sacrifices (rex sacrorum); and the management of the finances was put in charge of two quaestors elected by the people.

   The Dictatorship.—The Romans were wise enough to see that in times of great danger the power of the consuls might not be strong enough to protect the state. To meet such an emergency a dictator was appointed, who was a sort of temporary king. He had entire control of the city and the army. He was even given the power of life and death over citizens; and his lictors retained the ax in the fasces. But this extraordinary power could be held for only six months, after which time the consuls resumed their regular authority as chief magistrates. With the dictator there was generally appointed another officer, who was second in authority, called the master of horse; but over him, as over everyone else, the dictator was supreme.

   The New Senators.—When the consuls were elected, it is said that one of their first acts was to fill up the senate to the number of three hundred members. The last king had practically ruled without the senate, and he had no reason to fill the vacancies when they occurred. But the new consuls wished the help of the senate, and therefore desired to keep its numbers complete. The new senators who were enrolled were called conscripti; and the whole body of senators became known as patres conscripti.

   The Popular Assemblies.—With the establishment of the republic, the two assemblies with which we are already acquainted, the comitia curiata and the comitia centuriata, both remained. But the former lost a great deal of its old power, which became transferred to the latter. The assembly of the centuries was therefore the body in which the people generally expressed their will. Here they elected the officers, and passed the most important laws. It was this assembly which became the chief legislative body during the early republic.

   The Laws of Valerius Poplicola.—It is said that after the death of Brutus, his colleague Valerius (who had succeeded Collatinus) did not call an assembly to elect another consul. This aroused the fear that Valerius wished to make himself king. But it was soon found that instead of aiming to be king, he was preparing a set of laws which would prevent any one from becoming king, and would also protect the people from the arbitrary power of their magistrates. One of these laws declared that any person who assumed the chief power without the people’s consent should be condemned as a traitor. Another law granted to every citizen the right of an appeal to the people, in case he was condemned for a crime. These laws, known as the Valerian laws, may be called the “first charter of Roman liberty,” because they protected the people from the exercise of arbitrary power. So highly honored was Valerius that he was surnamed Poplicola, or the People’s Friend.

   The Loss of Roman Territory.—We remember how extensive were the lands which were acquired by the Romans under the kings. But they had lost many of these lands during the struggles against the last Tarquin. They had lost their conquests in Etruria, and much of their land in Latium; and the thirty Latin cities had reasserted their independence. So that the authority of the new government was now reduced to a comparatively small strip of territory south of the Tiber, together with the Janiculum on the Etruscan side.


Arnold, Hist., Ch. 7, “Banishing of King Tarquinius” (
Shuckburgh, Ch. 6, “Expulsion of the Kings” (1).
Pelham, pp. 45-51, “Foundation of the Republic” (1).
Liddell, Ch. 6, “Decline of Roman Power” (1).
Mommsen, abridged, Ch. 6, “Change of the Constitution” (2).
Taylor, Ch. 2, “Foundation of the Republic” (1).
Plutarch, “Poplicola” (11).
Livy, Bk. II., Chs. 9-14, Wars of Lars Porsenna (4).


   THE OFFICE OF CONSUL.—Gow, p. 174 (8); How and Leigh, pp. 47-50 (1); Shuckburgh, pp. 203-205 (1); Ihne, Early Rome, pp. 117-122 (5); Mommsen, Vol. I., pp. 323-329 (2); Ramsay and Lanciani, pp. 166-174 (8) ; Harper’s Dict. Antiqq., “Consules” (8).

1 The figure in parenthesis refers to the number of the topic in the
Appendix, where a fuller title of the book will be found.


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