The last king, Tarquin the Proud, did
not treat people fairly. The people hated him. There are a lot of
variations on the story of how the Romans chased the last king of Rome
out of town. They all agree, though, that one legend is named Horatius
at the Bridge.
is important about this story is that it helped to build the
reputation of Rome's army by showing that a Roman soldier will stand
alone to defend Rome against an army. And, this legend helped to build
Rome's reputation as a protected city, watched over by the gods.
the story goes ...
Once upon a time, a
long time ago, the ancient Romans said, “Enough. We’ve had it with
you, King Tarquin the Proud, the Mean, the Nasty and the Unfair. Go
away. Leave our city forever.” They threw him out.
Tarquin the Proud
didn’t like that much. He went to the
Etruscans and said, “I need your help. Rome threw
me out. They must pay.” The Etruscans said, “Sure, we’ll
give you some help. We’ll give you an army.”
Back Tarquin came.
Rome was taken by
surprise. The people who lived in the surrounding countryside fled
towards Rome as fast as they could. They poured across the narrow
wooden bridge over the Tiber that connected Rome with its farm
fields on the other side, seeking refuge in the walled city of
Rome. The Etruscan army was on their heels.
Inside the city,
the Romans were in such a panic, they forgot to destroy the
bridge, or perhaps it never occurred to them to do so. Led by
Tarquin the Proud, who knew his way around Rome pretty well, the
Etruscan army headed for narrowest piece of the Tiber, where of
course the Romans had built their bridge. Imagine their delight
when they discovered that the Romans had left the bridge for them
to cross. They would not have to swim the Tiber to reach Rome.
It was disaster.
If the Etruscans crossed the bridge, they would take Rome.