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administration like that of the so-called tyrants of Greece. Those who opposed

him were subjected to persecution. The wealthy were provoked into quarrels which

should end in the confiscation of their property. The poor were compelled to

labor like slaves on the royal buildings, until many-so runs the legend-fell into

despair and killed themselves.

As soon as the power of Tarquin was so firmly established in the city as to make

successful opposition impossible, he made war on the Latins. Most of these people

had already made their submission to the Romans, but a few towns still remained

independent. One of these named Gabii made a stern resistance, and Tarquin was

obliged to resort to a stratagem. The king's son Sextus covered his back with

bloody stripes, and fled into the town. He begged the people of Gabii to-save him

from the cruelty of his father. His story was believed, and he was given command

of a body of troops. At the head of these he sallied from the town, and the

Romans-according to instructions-fled before him. The Gabians, delighted with

their success, made Sextus commander of the city. As soon as he had the place in

his power, he sent word to his father, asking what he should do. The king who was

walking in his flower-garden, cut off the head of the tallest poppies, and sent

them by the messenger to his son. The murderous suggestion was readily

understood. The principal men of Gabii were put to death and the town delivered

over to the Romans.

After this exploit Tarquin undertook to strengthen his influence by making a

league with Octavius Mamilius, king of Tusculum. To him he gave his daughter in

marriage. He also established an annual festival to be celebrated by all the

Latins at the temple of Jupiter Latiaris, on the Alban Hills. He next made war on

the Volscians, who inhabited one of the principal districts of Southern Latium.

Pometia, the Volscian capital, was taken, and the spoils carried to Rome for the

completion of the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill-a structure which had

been undertaken by the king's father. The great sewer, the Forum, and the market-

place were likewise completed, and many other public buildings built and adorned

by the compulsory labor of the poor. Rome began to assume the appearance of a

splendid, if not luxurious, city. The king's extravagant tastes combined with his

unscrupulous ambition to make the Roman capital the metropolis of Central Italy.

When Tarquin was at the height of his power an unknown woman came one day into

his presence and offered to sell him nine books, which she declared to contain

the inspired prophecies of the Sibyl of Cumae. For these treasures she asked what

Tarquin regarded as an extravagant price. He accordingly refused to make the

purchase, and dismissed the woman with ridicule. Thereupon she turned aside, and

burned three of the books in the king's presence. She then offered the remaining

six for the same price previously asked for the whole, and when the king again

refused and laughed at her she burned three more, and offered the remaining three

for the same price as before. Tarquin now came to his senses. Her whom he had

ridiculed as mad he now regarded as inspired, or, at least, sent to him by the

gods. He accordingly purchased what remained of the prophetic treasures, and thus

became possessed of the celebrated Sibylline Books. Two men versed in the Greek

tongue were appointed to take them in charge, with orders to consult them

whenever the city should be menaced with pestilence, famine, or war, to the end

that the will of the gods might be known and the danger averted.

As usually happens in the case of cruel kings, the old age of Tarquin was

troubled with dreams and phantom terrors. Frightened at these shadows he

determined to send an embassy to the oracle of Delphi. As messengers he

dispatched his two sons and a nephew named Junius. Him the people, on account of

an assumed silliness of behavior, had nicknamed Brutus, but he was really a youth

of genius, who but waited his opportunity to be great. When the three were

presented to the Delphic priest the two sons of the king made costly presents,

but Junius gave only a staff. In reality, however, the staff was hollow, and was

filled with gold. The priest returned an answer that he should reign in Rome who

should first kiss his mother. The two princes