Episode 20 – Lucius Quinctius Cinncinatus

— His symbols were the plow and the toga, instead of the sword and the fasces.

The life of the man who, when elected Dictator of Rome, decided to give that power back to the Senate, after just 16 days. Why? Simply because he finished the task he was given to do. And then, he went to plant lettuce in the outskirts of Rome.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 20 – Lucius Quinctius Cinncinatus.

— “Marcia! When father told you what happened to your mom, did he tell you what a certain Appius Claudius did? “

— “You mean, To Mom?”

— “No, not to mom. He didn’t do anything to mom, personally. I mean, what he did in general, in Rome. “

Marcia and Aunt Julia stayed up late that night, something very unusual in ancient Rome, where people — especially Plebeians, went to sleep right after sunset, and rose way before sunrise.

Aunt Julia told her the story of the wicked Decemvirs, those ten men elected by the Senate, and how they schemed together to stay in power, and not to return that power to the Senate of Rome. They didn’t care they swore an oath for one, and only one year.

Actually, truth be told, they DID need two years for the Twelve Tables to be written and polished, because every single bit of these laws was analyzed by the Patricians, especially the old Patricians, who used to gather in forums and discuss piece of law by piece of law.

[…]

Between the two dictatorships combined, he did not rule Rome for a single month.

His example inspired the name of the American city of Cincinnati, in the state of Ohio.

That name was given in honor of the Society of the “Cinncinatus,” which honored George Washington.

Washington was considered to be a true “Cinncinatus” by this society, back in the days of the American Revolution.

His symbols were the plow and the toga, instead of the sword and the fasces.

Even though he was incredibly good at using the sword, and incredibly righteous at the use of the fasces.

[…]

Episode 19 – The Battle of Mons Algidus

— Word of what Cinncinatus did to the Senate spread like wildfire through the streets of Rome.

This time Romans don’t fight the Latins. Instead, they have to face the dangerous Aequi tribe.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 19 – The Battle of Mons Algidus.

Last week we saw the arrival of the Twelve Tables.
Written laws so that all Romans could be tried and treated the same way.
And we also saw how all over Rome people learned those laws by heart. Among them, the oh-so-eager eight-year-old boy in our little family saga.

To give you a few more examples of what these Tables contained, lets check out  a few of these laws:

Killing an intruder in one’s own house, if it was nighttime, was OK. No punishment, not even a case. But if it was daytime, the homeowner had to get the intruder to a magistrate for trial.

If the court called a person to appear in front of a judge, and if that person was incapacitated in any way, the court would out send four soldiers, and four slaves to bring the man to the courthouse.
But if the person’s issue was an infectious disease, the date of the trial was postponed until above mentioned infection had passed, up to a period of six months.
During those six months, the other person, the accuser, had the right to go to the defendant’s house every three days, stand in front of the house of the accused, and yell in a loud voice, reminding the accuser that a trial awaited him. The purpose, of course was to embarrass the entire family by this way.

When a lawsuit began, the judge gave two options to the opposing parties:
ONE – To agree and resolve the problem without any involvement from the judge, and
TWO – To not to agree, and go the nearest forum of the court in question, on the next working day. A debate would start there. That debate usually began around sunrise, and by obligation, a judge had to resolve the case before sunset.

[…]

After a crippling march, the Roman army arrived at the height of the mountain.

They arrived at night.

Cinncinatus sent the people in Tusculum a secret message, so that the Romans who were trapped inside the beleaguered city knew, they would be free soon.

[…]

Episode 12 – The First Two Consuls

— That’s what I love about Rome. They kick each other, regardless of family lines, or family ties. So much for family love!

Rome gets to choose two Consuls, then they change their mind about one of their fresh Consuls-elect, and replace him with one of the most famous public servants ever – even today: Publius Valerius Publicola.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 12 — The First Two Consuls.

Last week, we saw—finally, the final moments of the monarchy in Rome.

We saw how Tarquin the Proud got locked out of his own city, after the rebellion started by Lucius Brutus and Lucius Collatinus.

Without any soldiers left, and knowing that the gates of Rome would be blocked, he and the idiot of his son went into exile.

Today we will see how that exile of his went on, and what exactly happened after Romans got to taste their very first hours without kings.

The very first order of the Roman Senate was to publicly declare Tarquin as an Enemy of the State, and that Rome would never again be ruled by a king.

Neither the king nor his wife Tullia would ever be allowed to put their feet within the city of Rome, and here I want to add that Romans sent a very strong message for Tullia, as a persona non-grata in their city. Do not come back to Rome, as you have killed your own father, back in the time when nobody could do anything about it.

Even though that was decades ago, Romans did not forget.

[…]

I don’t know if you guys realized, but both these guys were relatives of the king Rome had just kicked out.

Excuse me? They kick a king out of their city, and they put two of his relatives as the first two Consuls of Rome?

Yep. Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus was the ex-king’s cousin, and Lucius Junius Brutus was the ex-king’s nephew.

That’s what I love about Rome. They kick each other, regardless of family lines, or family ties.

So much for family love!

[…]

Episode 9 – Killed by his own Daughter

— That’s right, Tullia, wife of Lucius, and daughter of Servius Tullius, carefully maneuvered the chariot so that the wheels sliced the old man’s body in two.

The Tale of Rome – Servius Tullius ends up under the wheels of a chariot, driven by none other than his very own daughter Tullia. We are also approaching the birth of the Republic of Rome.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 9 — Killed by his own Daughter.

Last week we saw the end of Tarquin the Elder, and how Servius Tullius became the sixth king of Rome.

This week, we’ll see how this Tale continues.

The one thing we need to highlight again, is that the last three kings were the father—Tarquin the Elder, followed by his adoptive son—Servius Tullius, and then followed by his true blood son, Tarquin the Proud.

[…]

The tale goes, that—and this is according to Livy himself, the very own daughter of Servius, took a chariot and drove over the dying body of her father, effectively finishing his reign.

That’s right, Tullia, wife of Lucius, and daughter of Servius Tullius, carefully maneuvered the chariot so that the wheels sliced the old man’s body in two.

[…]

Episode 8 – Tarquin the Elder

— So, first a fighter. Then a pacifist. Then another fighter, and finally another pacifist…

The Tale of Rome. The life and death of the first of the Tarquins, and a curious prophecy that came true.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 8 — Tarquin the Elder.

Last week we saw the life of Ancus Marcius and Rome’s expansion to the Mediterranean Sea.

This week we’ll see the life of Tarquin, aptly nicknamed “the Elder” –after he managed to send away the two sons of Ancus Marcius away from Rome, and have himself elected king of Rome by a more-than-willing-to-oblige bunch of Senators.

And here I’d like to add that the tale of the Kings of Rome can be roughly divided into two big sections.

The first one consisted of Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, and Ancus Marcius.

So, first a fighter. Then a pacifist. Then another fighter, and finally another pacifist who saw himself forced to wage wars, and ultimately did just that.

And so, today we are officially starting the second part of the tale of the Kings, because the three kings we haven’t seen yet, they all belong to one—the same family. The Tarquins.

And first among these is Lucius Tarquinius Priscus.

Then, we have Servius Tullius, an adopted son of Tarquin the Elder, and lastly, the real son of Tarquin, whom history named Tarquin the Proud, who took the throne by force, and who ended up being such a bad king, that the Romans kicked him out of Rome, and decided never again to have kings.

[…]

Let’s quickly mention here, that this was not out of the customary, since kings often sat at the forum, and acted as judges in people’s differences and disputes.

But then, when the king, too, was going to take his seat, one of the guys, ran to the king, and took out an axe that he had hidden in his robes.

In a single stroke, he lodged the axe, blade-deep, into the head of the king.

[…]

Episode 7 – Ancus Marcius Founds Ostia

— Come on! Don’t make me laugh!

The Tale of Rome – Ancus Marcius, the grandson of Numa Pompilius, shows that he is neither a lame priest nor a cruel bully.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 7 — Ancus Marcius Founds Ostia.

Last week we saw the life and death of Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome, and we also saw how Rome itself became a synonym of war.

In fact, Rome—again, became all the things nobody wanted to have in a neighbor.

This week’s episode deals with the fourth king of Rome, a man named Ancus Marcius.

Ancus Marcius was a man with many different and sometimes contrasting aspects. For one, he was the son of Numa Marcius, who in turn was elected by Numa Pompilius to become Rome’s very first Pontifex Maximus, which we talked about in Episode five.

[…]

We also cannot reliably assess all these events, and their dates. Anecdotes, above all, are to be read as a tale, and rather than taking them as pure facts, they serve the purpose of answering questions of the origins of Rome to the romans that lived centuries later, as well as trying to teach morals.

As a perfect example of these quite incredible mess-ups with dates, we have that Numa Pompilius, the now well-known second king of Rome, was born on April 21st of the year 753 BC, which just so happens to be the day Rome was founded.

Come on! Don’t make me laugh!

The other thing that we can kind of be sure of, is that one of the major jobs Ancus Marcius had to do, was to transcribe all those documents left by Numa Pompilius, about the religious ceremonies of Rome, since the third king of Rome, Tullus Hostilius ignored that job completely.

[…]

Episode 6 – Tullus Hostilius’ Holy Cow

— Tullus! Come on, man! Faking being dragged into a war, is the second oldest trick in human history of civilizations!

Who was Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome? The bully of ancient Rome, or another king that ended up in god Jupiter’s frying pan?

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 6 — Tullus Hostilius’ Holy Cow.

Last week we saw how—after forty years of peace, Rome went back to its martial virtues. By the hand of King Tullus Hostilius, Rome went back to war, and it doesn’t seem strange to me, that the English word “hostile” or “hostilities” come from this king’s last name.

Before we really dive into the rest of the life of Tullus Hostilius, I want to add a very short anecdote here.

When the Sabines attacked Rome in the year 752 BC, because of the issue of their kidnapped women, Romulus organized a counterattack, as you might remember from Episode 3 of this podcast.

You also might remember that the counterattack did not really bring any results, and that the Sabine women themselves solved the issue, at the end of the day.

Finally, you also might remember how those Sabines took their time to carry out their attack, and so, almost a whole year had passed between the kidnapping and the actual attack of the Sabines.

So. On the day of the attack, and while the two armies were stuck in a stalemate near the citadel of Rome, a warrior named Hostus Hostilius fought alongside Romulus and the other Romans.

And at one moment during that fight, this guy Hostus Hostilius, singlehandedly went on the attack, and while he was holding his sword high in the air, he ran towards the Sabines, screaming and going berserk.

Needless to say, a moment or two later, his companions joined in on the run.

And even though they got nothing out of this whole thing, the lone act of brave, crazy warrior made the Sabines pull back for a moment, and this deserved him a thank-you-speech, given by Romulus himself, on the next day of the battle.

Well… That was because Hostus Hostilius was one of the few casualties on that day.

Why do I mention this?

You see, Hostus Hostilius was also the grandfather of our third king of Rome, Tullus Hostilius.

And as it seems, the itch to fight ran deep in the veins of the Hostilius family.

Good. End of anecdote. Back to Tullus.

We now know that the name of the king—Tullus, was an extremely rare name at the time, but his last name—Hostilius, not – so – much.

We also know that there was a building that is said to have been built by this king, and the building was named the Curia Hostilia, and that THAT was the first building where the early senators of Rome used to meet and hold their sessions.

[…]

Episode 5 – Numa, the God Whisperer

— There could be only one such Pontifex Maximus, and the job was for life.

Life and death of the second king of Rome.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 5 — Numa, the God Whisperer.

Last week we talked about the end of Romulus, the first king of Rome.

[…]

Numa also gets credit for almost all the most important religious institutions in Rome, and here goes a short list of his achievements:

ONE – Numa created the institution of Pontifex Maximus, which was the equivalent of the highest priest of Rome. There could be only one such Pontifex Maximus, and the job was for life.

Think of a Supreme Court Justice, in the US—unless a Justice quits or resigns, he gets to have the job forever.

The number one responsibility of a Pontifex Maximus was to overview the preparation and the delivery of religious services in Rome.

The number one privilege was that he was pretty much the only person in the city who was allowed to dismiss, and in some instances, disobey, both the Senate and the king of Rome, as you will see in future episodes.

Now, check this out:

Numa knew that the future of Rome would be filled with wars, as soon as he would be gone, and he knew that if a king would also be a Pontifex Maximus, religious services all over Rome would suffer, because such king would obviously give priority to war over all other things.

So, Numa solved this by simply setting in stone that kings or any future type of supreme rulers of Rome could not be elected to the office of Pontifex Maximus, while they reigned with the city.

He simply explained that the gods would punish Rome with plagues, floods, earthquakes, and all other kinds of disasters, if ever a king was elected to that office, and if ever the services to the gods were not properly done.

And in fact, the office of the Pontifex Maximus was left in peace by rulers for centuries. It wasn’t until the first emperor of Rome, Augustus dared to take the office of chief priest of Rome in his own hands, that Numa’s rule was being respected.

And that should speak volumes. Furthermore, the office itself still exists today.

That’s right, the institution created by Numa Pompilius is currently being exercised by the Vatican’s Pope, as the head of the Catholic Church, and that’s a tradition that’s been unbroken for some 2,600 years, now.

TWO – Numa Pompilius instituted the first vestal virgins within Rome.

[…]

Episode 4 – Throne of Thunders

— Not because they were better or smarter, or because they were right all along, and certainly not because they were God’s chosen people…

The end of Romulus’ life, the way the Romans describe it.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 4 — Throne of Thunders.

Last week we saw how Romulus dealt with three top topics of the day: the army of Rome, the female population of Rome, and the Senate of Rome.

This week we will see the rest of his life and how his life ends, not an ounce less mythological than his whole life before.

But before we start, I would like to make something clear: Rome, the city on the Seven Hills, had Seven Kings.

Right? Right.

From the year 753 BC until the year 509 BC, Rome had a grand total of Seven Kings. That means, those Seven Kings ruled Rome for 244 years.

Let’s see. Seven Kings – 244 years.

If I divide 244 by 7, I get 34.8, which means that each king must have ruled Rome for an average of 34 years and 9 months.

Even though this is not a physical impossibility, I can tell you something right away. In the course of human history, there has not been any empire, or state, or nation, or even a private company or entity that has been so blessed to rule for so long, and have only seven rulers.

The exceptional case of her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, is by far one of the longest reigns in recent history, but this cannot be seen as the norm.

Yes, she has ruled since 1952 which means she held the crown for 65 years. But that will not be repeated two, three, or—let alone, seven times.

A little more on that in a bit, but first let’s go to the Latin Word of the Week.

[…]

A big thunder cracked down on them, and a great dust cloud rose up, all around the throne and around the people standing by Romulus.

But… When the cloud dissipated, Romulus was no longer seated on his throne.

According to the legend, the senators who were next to Romulus during the military exercise, searched everywhere, but never found the body of their king.

He was gone with a thunder while sitting on his throne!

[…]

Episode 3 – Roman M Seeking F

— After all, all those immigrants were nothing more than a bunch of despicable losers!

Romulus takes care of setting up an army and a Senate. Also, he makes sure of getting wives for his new Roman citizens.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China.

Welcome to the Tale of Rome, Episode 3 — Roman M Seeking F.

Last week we saw how, after many generations, Rome was established at the edge of the river Tiber, and we also saw how Romulus, Numitor’s grandson—and son of Rhea Silvia and god Mars, became the first King of Rome.

I think if for a common man there is nothing as sweet as having a home of his own, for a man the size of Romulus, there couldn’t have been anything sweeter than having a city of his own.

The only tiny problem for the moment was that his city was still not able to defend itself, and it also couldn’t grow.

So, we are going to see how Romulus addressed these two issues of high priority.

[…]

After Romulus founded his city, it became pretty obvious that it would be necessary to attract people to the city.

Rome needed new inhabitants.

To that end, Romulus opened the gates of his city, but what happened next was that the first immigrants to the new city were, to put it in nice words, characters of a colorful past.

OK, let’s be more honest here! The first arrivals were people on the run from other places.

Fallen or escaped gladiators, crooks and beggars, fugitive slaves and prisoners of war, people who owed too much money and people who used to collect too much money from others, pimps and smugglers, pickpockets and murderers, and a whole lot more.

You name it, Rome had it!

Anyone who offended any of men’s laws or any of god’s laws, moved to Rome to have a fresh start.

[…]