Lucins Tarqninins Priscus ("The Elder"), fifth king of Rome, assassinated about 578 B. C. According to the common story, his father was a Corinthian nobleman named Demaratus, of the family of the Bacchiadae, who fled on the overthrow of his order by Cypselus and settled at Tarquinii in Etruria. The son, whose original name was Lucumo, inherited great wealth, married a noble Etruscan woman named Tanaquil, who was skilled in augury, and at her instigation removed to Rome to seek a higher career than any within his reach in Etruria. He gained the confidence of King Ancus Marcius, became guardian to his children, and on the king's death was elected to the vacant throne, about 616. He destroyed the Sabine town of Apiolre, and subdued a number of Latin towns. His greatest exploit was the defeat of the Sabines, who advanced to the gates of Rome, but were driven back and at length completely overthrown upon the Anio. He built the vast sewers which drained the lower part of the city, and are still perfect; laid out the Circus Maximus, and instituted the Roman games; assigned the shops in the forum to private citizens; and began to surround the city with a stone wall, which his successor finished.
Under Tarquin 100 new members (the 'patres minorum gentium) were added to the senate, and the number of the vestal virgins was increased from four to six. The sons of Ancus Martius, fearing that he would secure the succession to his son-in-law Servius Tullius, planned his death. (See See-vius Tullius).
Lucins Tarquinius Superbus ("The Proud"), the seventh and last king of Rome, son of the preceding, died about 495 B. 0. About 534 he formed a conspiracy, murdered Servius Tullius, and usurped the throne. He immediately, as the semi-legendary story of his reign has it, abolished all the privileges that Servius had given to the plebeians, decreed the death of the senators who had supported them, took the whole administration of justice into his own hands, and put to death or exiled all who were obnoxious to him. The senate was seldom consulted, and its vacancies were not filled. Under him the Latin league was joined by the Hernici and by two Volscian towns, and Rome became the head of the confederacy. With the spoils from the wealthy city of Suessa Pometia he began the erection of the capitol. He subdued Gabii, a Latin city which refused to enter into the league, and about 510 besieged Ardea. While Tarquinius Collatinus, son of Aruns, the brother of Tar-•quinius Priscus, was with the army before this city, his cousin Sextus Tarquinius, the king's son, went to his house at Collatia, and there violated his wife Lucretia. Lucretia sent to the camp at Ardea, and summoned thence her father and her husband.
With them came Lucius Brutus. To these three she told what had happened, enjoined them to avenge her, and stabbed herself with a dagger. Brutus led the way into the market place, whither the corpse was carried, summoned the people, and related the occurrence. So great was the hatred already entertained of the Tarquins and the indignation now excited, that a decree was immediately passed by which the king was deposed, and his family banished from the city. Tarquin hastened to Rome, but found the gates closed against him. Brutus repaired to Ardea, where he was received with joy, and the army renounced its allegiance to the tyrant. Tarquin took refuge at Tarquinii, and thence sent ambassadors to Rome to demand his private property. These ambassadors conspired with some young nobles for the restoration of the king, but were discovered, and with their confederates - among them two sons of Brutus - were executed, and Tarquin's private property was given up to plunder. He now formed an alliance with the Etruscan cities of Tarquinii and Veii, and endeavored to recover the throne by force, but was defeated near the forest of Ar-sia. He next obtained the assistance of Lars Porsena of Clusium, who marched against Rome with a great army. (See Porsena.) Finally the whole Latin confederacy espoused the cause of Tarquin against Rome, and the contest was decided by the Roman victory in the battle of Lake Regillus, about 498. Tarquin retired to Cumse, and there died.