14

The early history of Ancient Rome is notoriously poorly documented. The Gaul Sack of Rome (390 BC) has destroyed much early written records. What evidence do we have that remains of the Roman Kingdom? I am no expert in Roman history, but is it even certain that the Roman Kingdom existed?

  • 6
    What are your reasons for excluding "texts written after 400 B.C."? A truly rigorous history must be built upon all available information by carefully analysing their reliability - not by arbitrarily excluding large volumes of data for no given reason. – Semaphore Oct 16 '14 at 17:33
  • 2
    What @Semaphore said!! – Felix Goldberg Oct 16 '14 at 17:38
  • 3
    You're drawing a distinction between "Roman myths and propaganda" and historical documents. I'm not sure that distinction is valid. Most of our historical sources are someone's propaganda. – Mark C. Wallace Oct 16 '14 at 18:06
  • 3
    Such evidence is going to be hard to find. One theory is that the early kingdom period was actually a period of Etruscan domination which the Roman mythmakers laterreworked as the tale of the Tarquinian dynasty. I don't have a good reference for this right now. – Felix Goldberg Oct 16 '14 at 21:26
  • 4
    @TylerDurden This makes absolutely no sense. I'm sure you don't know the difference between the Roman Kingdom, and the Roman Empire. That's two different things at hand. – Chantola Oct 18 '14 at 14:17
11

One theory is that the early kingdom period was actually a period of Etruscan domination which the Roman mythmakers (whose work is reflected in Livy) later reworked as the tale of the Tarquinian dynasty.

An interesting discussion of this can be found in the book The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars by Tim Cornell. Chapter 6 is titled The Myth of 'Etruscan Rome'. Another source is here.

  • 2
    Your two references actually say the opposite of what what you are claiming. – fdb Oct 17 '14 at 18:43
  • 1
    @fdb All I am claiming is that there is such a theory. I gave the references to show I did not make it up, but rather that it is well-known in the scholarly literature. – Felix Goldberg Oct 17 '14 at 18:52
9

There is some reason to believe that the Lapis Niger includes a contemporary reference to the king, and it dates from the period associated with the monarchy. It could be argued that the use of 'rex' here is purely religious - just like in Greece the word continued to be used for religious purposes long after the political institution was left behind. However the unanimity of all the ancient sources on the existence of a monarchy at Roma counts for something, as does the longstanding (and very well documented) hostility towards monarchy as an institution in later Roman sources.

It's also worth mentioning that Polybius cites a treaty between Carthage and Rome which he claims dates from the first generation of the Republic; and he claims it was preserved in metal tablets in the offices of the aediles. This isn't totally impossible, the Pyrgi tablets are from almost the same exact date and are still legible.

  • 2
    That is correct. The word RECEI (regei) occurs in line 5. Unfortunately the context is broken off so we do not really know what the inscription means. It is however certainly written in Old Latin and not in Etruscan. – fdb Oct 18 '14 at 7:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.