By Rider, 9 August 2007; Revised
Contents »

The story of Lucretia is one well known – it tells of how the Kingdom was changed into the Republic and therefore must have been a prized tale during the Republic.


The Oracle of Delphi

The King of Rome was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and he ruled with terror and he was prideful and for that he was nicknamed Superbus – the Proud. On one day, a snake came out of the house of the king and a terrible sign was seen in it. The King sent his sons Arruns and Titus to the Oracle of Delphi and along with them Lucius Junius Brutus who was thought of as a fool but actually, he was most clever and was only waiting for his time to reveal himself.

The Oracle told them that many things but they asked her who would be the successor of Tarquinius Superbus. The Oracle said that the successor will be the one who will kiss their mother first. The Princes draw a lot who would be the one. Brutus however understood that it meant something else and he pretended to fall and kissed Earth for that is the mother of all mortals.



Lucretia contributed to the overthrow of Rome's last King, Tarquinius Superbus
Lucretia contributed to the overthrow of Rome's last King, Tarquinius Superbus
The Romans had however made war upon Ardea meanwhile and during the siege, young nobles boasted with their wives – Tarquinius Collatinus said that his wife, Lucretia, is the best of all. The young men then rode to Rome and said that the one who wins is the one who’s wife awaits husband even then, in the middle of the night. Lucretia was the only one and she accepted the guests. Sextus Tarquinius, son of the king started to like her however. The men rode back to the siege camp, although in a few days, Sextus returned to Lucretia’s house and he was called to the lunch. He was led into the guests’ room for the night. However, he drew the sword when all had fallen asleep and went to Lucretia’s bedroom and told her to remain quiet. Sextus said that he loves her but Lucretia remained unshakeable. Now Sextus said that he will then kill Lucretia and then a slave and bring his body before the bed. Lucretia succumbed and Sextus got what he wanted and left. Lucretia then sent men to his father and husband, saying to bring a friend along.

Her father came with a friend and her husband came with Lucius Junius Brutus. Lucretia told what had happened and the men swore that he would be punished justly. Then she killed herself with a hidden dagger. Brutus then said that Sextus and all of his kin would have to pay for the crime and that he would no longer fight for the King in Rome. Others said that they would support him against the kings.


Defeat of the Kings

They then carried the body of Lucretia to the marketplace and they supported Brutus. They went from Collatia (where the house of Lucretia and Tarquinius Collatinus was) to Forum Romanum in Rome. And at the Forum, Brutus spoke and described the violence of Sextus Tarquinius and the death of Lucretia. Romans considered that as an analogy to what had happened to them and Brutus continued. He kept on talking until the people decided to banish Tarquinius Superbus When the king returned from Ardea, the gates were closed in front of him.

"By this blood - most pure before the outrage wrought by the king's son - I swear, and you, O gods, I call to witness that I will drive hence Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, together with his cursed wife and his whole brood, with fire and sword and every means in my power, and I will not suffer them or any one else to reign in Rome. "
-- The speech of Lucius Junius Brutus, Livy 1

"I swear that with the sword and fire, and whatever else can lend strength to my arm, I will pursue Lucius Tarquinius the proud, his wicked wife, and all of his children, and never again will I let them or any other man be king of Rome. "
-- Junius Brutus’s expulsion of the Tarquin dynasty and declaration of Roman anti-monarchism, Livy 1.6

So it happened that Rome was freed of the kings and after them, two consuls were chosen – the first ones were Tarquinius Collatinus and Lucius Junius Brutus.