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Roman Government

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The Etruscans were a very sophisticated people who controlled land roughly from Cumae (on the northern end of the Bay of Naples) to the Po River. They had great artistic skills and were skilled traders. Eventually, the Etruscans expanded their influence southward and conquered the Romans.

The first Etruscan king of Rome was L. Tarquinius Priscus (616-579 BCE). Priscus chose and cleared the site for the great temple JUPITER OPTIMUS MAXIMUS (meaning "Jupiter best and greatest"), which would be located on CAPITOLINE, on one of the Seven Hills of Rome. In its later years, the civilization of Rome focused itself on CAPITOLINE. This was the temple dedicated to Jupiter who was the father of the gods and therefore most powerful. Priscus also allegedly built the CLOACA MAXIMA, or great sewer.

The 2nd Etruscan king, Servius Tullius (579-534 BCE), was said to have carried on the program of urban renewal begun by his predecessor.

The final Etruscan monarch, Tarquin the Proud, was ejected by means of popular rebellion in 509 BCE. It began because his son Sextus rapped a chaste aristocrat named Lucretia who later committed suicide because of it.

With the final king gone, the way was paved for the formation of the democratic republic. The Etruscan military power fell and those who lived near Rome were absorbed into the new republic.


After the removal of the final Etruscan monarch, two men from the senate were elected by the members of the COMITIA CENTURIA to take the position as consuls; the chief Magistrates of the Roman state who were elected annually. One colleague could veto (meaning forbid) the decision of the other thereby acting as a safe guard against abuse of power.


Tiberius Gracchus was elected to tribune of the people in 133 BCE. He believed he could solve the problems of the poor by redistributing the land. He set up a land commission to distribute ten-hectare plots. He misused his authority when he announced that he would seek re-election as tribune. Such an act was unheard of in this time. This action in sighted a riot within the already angry land owning senators in Rome. 3000 people were killed, amongst them was Tiberius himself. Regardless, the land commission continued and some 80 000 people were resettled.

Gaius Gracchus was elected tribune in 123 BCE. He was an enthusiastic reformer who believed he had the



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