PART II.-THE REPUBLIC.
CHAPTER LVIII-EARLY ANNALS.
The substitution of the Roman Republic for the monarchy was in the nature of a
reform rather I-than a revolution. The foreign extraction and unpopular methods
of the Tarquin, rather than any essential vice in the kingdom, made necessary the
measures adopted by those whose private wrong combined with public expediency in
the abolition of the old form of government.
The first consuls who were chosen under the new Republican regime were Lucius
Junius Brutus and Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus. The movement which, under their
direction, had been so suddenly successful was largely popular in its nature. The
social instincts of the commons had revolted with great passion against the
wicked deed of Sextus. As for Tarquin himself, he made his escape from Latium and
fled into Etruria. Among the patricians in Rome he still had many adherents; and
with these he sought to open a correspondence, ostensibly to secure his movable
property, but really with a view to his restoration to the kingdom. Failing in
this, his envoys entered into a conspiracy with some of the young nobles of Rome:
but a certain slave, named Vindicius, overheard the plot and revealed it to the
consuls. The conspirators were thereupon arrested, and the slave was rewarded
with freedom and citizenship.
The discovery of the scheme of Tarquin and his confederates proved a terrible
blow to the consul Brutus. It was found that among the plotters who had been
imprisoned were his two sons, who had engaged with the rest to help on the
restoration of the banished king. It thus fell to Brutus either to save his sons
by breaking the law or to vindicate the Republic by condemning, them to death.
Terrible as it was, he chose the latter alternative. The two youths were brought
forth before the eyes of their father, who disdained to ask for them the mercy
which, perhaps, the people would have granted. On the contrary, he had them bound
to the stake, and himself gave the order to the lictor to scourge them and strike
off their heads with an ax. By this merciless deed the wrath of the Romans was
still further kindled against the house of Tarquin.
The Senate refused to give up the property which the banished king owned in and
about the city. His corn-fields along the Tiber were seized and consecrated to
Mars, the grounds in question being ever afterward known as the Campus Martius.
The Senate and people