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Chapter 5


Where what remains Of Alba, still her ancient rights retains, Still worships Vesta, though an humbler way, Nor lets the hallow'd Trojan fire decay.--Juvenal.


1. After an interregnum, as in the former case, Ancus Mar'tius, the grandson of Numa, was elected king by the people, and their choice was afterwards confirmed by the senate. As this monarch was a lineal descendant from Numa, so he seemed to make him the great object of his imitation. He instituted the sacred ceremonies, which were to precede a declaration of war;[1] but he took every occasion to advise his subjects to return to the arts of agriculture, and to lay aside the less useful stratagems of war.

2. These institutions and precepts were considered by the neighbouring powers rather as marks of cowardice than of wisdom. The Latins therefore began to make incursions upon his territories, but their success was equal to their justice. An'cus conquered the Latins, destroyed their cities, removed their inhabitants to Rome, and increased his dominions by the addition of part of theirs. He quelled also an insurrection of the _Ve'ii_, the _Fiden'ates_, and the _Vol'sci_; and over the Sab'ines he obtained a second triumph.

3. But his victories over the enemy were by no means comparable to his works at home, in raising temples, fortifying the city, making a prison for malefactors, and building a sea-port at the mouth of the Ti'ber, called Os'tia, by which he secured to his subjects the trade of that river, and that of the salt-pits adjacent. Thus having enriched his subjects, and beautified the city, he died, after a reign of twenty-four years.


Questions for Examination.

1. Who was elected by the people after the interregnum, and what measures did he pursue?

2. In what light did his enemies consider his institutions? With what success did they oppose him?

3. What were the other acts of Ancus? How many years did he reign?



[1] First an ambassador was sent to demand satisfaction for the alleged injury; if this were not granted within thirty-three days, heralds were appointed to proclaim the war in the name of the gods and people of Rome. At the conclusion of their speech, they threw their javelins into the enemy's confines, and departed.

Oliver Goldsmith