Category Archives: Original

My Fiction for The Regal Period of Rome-

Rome in its Regal period was ruled by Seven Kings.

Rome’s Seven Kings

Each of these kings reigned for many years, while other events were happening in Italy and nearby regions. Romulus founded Rome in 753 BC. The seventh and last king, Tarquinius Superbus, was deposed in 509 BC.

Timeline of Regal Rome

Rome was built on Seven Hills, inland on the Tiber River.

The Land of Regal Rome

Regal Period Italy was home to a variety of different peoples.

Peoples in Regal Period Italy

Some of the various tribes that interacted with Rome as allies or enemies.

History, and Some Women, in the Reigns of Romulus and of Tarquinius Superbus

A brief overview of women in the first and last monarchies of ancient Rome.

Women in the Reigns of the Seven Kings

A brief reign-by-reign look at some of the women who played roles during these seven reigns.

Two of my Works-in-progress are set during the Regal Period of early ancient Rome.

Romulus, Wolf who Founded Rome tells the story of Romulus, who wanted to serve the gods, but insted must become a warrior-king.  When his attempts at diplomacy fail and he must take steps to secure the growth of his new city, he goes to war. By the favors of the gods, he ensures Rome becomes wealthy and renowned in Latium. But he is faced with a heartbreaking choice, when he learns his noble subjects plan to kill him.

For Rome’s Honor is set during the reign of the seventh and last king of early Rome. Marcella’s father is executed as a traitor when he speaks out against the king’s tyranny. When the long affair of her married friend Lucretia, with Tarquin’s son Sextus, ends in death and revolution, Marcella and her friend Valeria are among hostages taken by the invading Etruscan king Porsenna. Marcella faces a choice that may win back her family honor but at a price she may not be able to pay.

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The Peoples of Romulus’ Italy

In the age of Romulus and the Founding of Rome, in the mid-8th century BC, the Italian peninsula was inhabited by different peoples. The Celtic Gauls enter Rome’s history centuries after Romulus, so will not be discussed here. Etruscan cities sat to the north and east of Rome; the Latin peoples, which included, but were not exclusive to, the Sabines, had many cities surrounding the hills where Rome began.

The Greeks: Greek cities lay in Italy south of Naples throughout the toe and heel. Greeks from Achaea and from Euboea sent colonists to southern Italy (and Sicily just across the Messina Strait.) Euboean Chalcidians settled on the island of Pithecusa (modern Ischia) c. 750 BC. Some then moved to the mainland by 725 BC and settled Kyme/Cumae, just north of the modern Bay of Naples. Tarquinius Superbus, who ruled Rome from 535-509 BC, acquired some of the books of the Sibyl of Cumae. Cumae would later fight against the Etruscans in 524 BC.

Rhegion, settled by Greek Chalcidians at Italy’s toe, was established on the site of an earlier Oscan-Italic settlement. Sybaris was founded in the eighth century on the instep of Italy’s boot, and a century later it sent out its own colonists to found Posidonia further up Italy’s west coast at the modern Bay of Salerno. Achaean Greeks founded Croton in the late 8th century on the east coast of Italy just inside the Gulf of Taranto. Taras, later known as Tarentum, was founded c. 709 on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Taranto by Sparta. Tarentum would eventually draw Rome into war with Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus in the later 3rd century BC.

Ancient Roman sources leave no record that Romulus and his Rome had any contact with these Greeks in southern Italy. However, the sources and archaeological evidence indicate that Greeks traded with the Etruscans and lived within their cities. But according to the ancient sources, the fifth king of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus who reigned about a century after Romulus, was born in the Etruscan city of Tarquinii to a Corinthian Greek who had emigrated there and brought with him many skilled artisans. A Greek sanctuary to the goddess Hera was uncovered in the port of that city.

The Etruscans: The Etruscans were referred to in ancient sources as the Tyrrhenoi. Etruscan cities lay throughout Italy as early as the 9th and 8th centuries BC. Some were settled on the plateaus of southern Etruria and Latium. Some lay on isolated hills which overlooked the sea, or rivers, in central and northern Italy. Just as archaeology and ancient sources indicate that Greeks and Etruscans had contact, so did the Etruscans have contact with the indigenous and the Carthaginian cultures by way of Sardinia. Rich in mineral deposits like tin, iron, copper and silver, Sardinia was settled by Phoenicians and Carthaginians as early as the 9th and 8th centuries. Rome fought Carthage in three wars-the first in the first quarter of the 3rd century BC, but it signed its first treaty with Carthage in 509 BC, in the last year of Rome’s monarchy. Populonia and Vetulonia on the western coast of Italy lay closest to Sardinia, making trade contact simple. Sardinian pottery models of canoes and boats have been found in rich burial sites of southern coastal and central inland Etruria. Small Sardinian-style pottery jugs have been found in great numbers at Vetulonia, and also from Volterra in the north to Caere in the south. From the mid-9th century, small Sardinian bronzes have been found around Populonia and Vetulonia, from Tarquinia and Vulci (a particularly rich find). These bronzes were votives like pendants, and models of baskets, boats, and daggers. Etruscan bronze objects like fibulae, razors and axes have been found at indigenous Sardinian nuragic sites.

Ancient sources made reference to an Etruscan league of twelve cities. Whether or not such a league existed as such is unclear. This is a list of some Etruscan cities, which appear in the sources of Rome under the kings:

Pupluna/Populonia and Vetluna/Vetulonia, in northern Etruria opposite Corsica, and in good sailing range of Sardinia.

Rosella/Rusellae, which helped the Latins against the fifth Roman king Tarquinius Priscus.
Velch/Vulci, notable because according to Emperor Claudius account of an Etruscan history, Aulus and Caelius Vibenna, and an Etruscan who may have become sixth Roman king Servius Tullius, may have been from Vulci.

Tarchna/Tarquinia lay about 55 miles northwest from Rome, and may have been the oldest Etruscan city. Legend said that the arts of divination for which Etruscans became famous may have begun there.

Cerveteri/Caisra (Etr)/Caere (Lat): Caere lay south of Tarquinii, about 28 miles northwest from Rome. The Etruscans from Caere allied with the Carthaginians in 535 against the Phocaean Greeks.

Veii, which appears in the accounts of Romulus and his wars. Veii lay to the east of Caere, tweve miles northwest of Rome on the right bank of the Tiber River. She claimed control of the Tiber as a waterway and of the salt-works at the Tiber’s mouth. Pliny wrote that an Etruscan sculptor modeled the statue of Capitoline Jupiter for the new temple built by Rome’s last king in the later 6th century. Since sources report that Etruscans worked on the temple itself, perhaps Veii also provided all the artisans. Rome would war with Veii on and off, from Romulus’ reign through the fourth century BC. Veii also claimed possession of nearby Fidenae on the Tiber’s left bank, which provoked a war with Romulus which he won. Fidenae controlled access to the Cremera River valley, which led to Veii. Capua and Tusculum also appear in the ancient sources.

Chiusi/Clevsin/Clusium, from whence came Lars Porsenna, who besieged Rome in 505 BC, perhaps attempting to return the last king of Rome to his throne.

The Latins: Rome itself was a Latin city by birth. Romulus was born in Alba Longa, a Latin town colonized, according to the sources, from Lavinium by descendants of the Trojans who with Aeneas had merged with the Latins there. Strabo’s Geography and Livy’s History discuss these people. Here are some which appear during period of Regal Rome.

The Volsci went to war with Rome for the first time under her last king Tarquinius Superbus, and continued war with Rome over the next two centuries.

The Aequi are said to have provided the Romans with the rites of declaring war. Tarquinus Superbus made peace with them but they later fought again with Rome.

The Hernici alternately fought against Rome and as allies of Rome.

The Sabines are probably the most famous of the Latin peoples. While young women from several Latin cities and peoples were abducted for marriage by Romulus and his Romans, it is recorded that most of these women came from the Sabine people. After a few battles and victories, the Sabines warred on Rome. The war was interrupted, and brought to an end, by the intervention of the women, now all honored wives and mothers of Rome. Romulus and the Sabine leader then became joint rulers of Rome for some years.

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The Rome of Romulus

The story of Romulus is history and myth, myth and legend. Romulus and other people named in his story may, or may not, have existed. The events written about in his story may, or may not, have happened.

Two elements of the story of Romulus are important.

The Geography of Italy and Geography of Rome matter. The Tiber and its tributary the Anio served as transport and barriers. The seven hills provided protection and danger. The plains became assembly areas and centers of commerce. Some of the surrounding cities were allies; some became enemies, and some of those then became the first Roman colonies. Some of these cities still exist in some form today or are at least known through archaeological work.

Politics of Romulus is also a clear element in this story. The founding and beginning of Rome involved more than just an abduction and some wars. Romulus had to learn, and display, the politics of attempted alliances, seeking justice for grievances, tolerating a ruling partner, setting forth laws, waging war or organizing peace.

Geography and Politics should be familiar. They are two elements of our 21st-century world that bind us close to the Land of Romulus. Future posts will share some research and some ideas on these subjects as they relate to the Founding of Rome.

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The Politics of Romulus.

Politics of Romulus’ time began with his grandfather and great-uncle.

Amulius deposed his brother Numitor, and became king of Alba. After Numitor’s daughter bore Romulus and Remus, Amulius attempted to have them killed. He failed. When the brothers grew up, they discovered who they were, and with Numitor’s help, led a coup in which Amulius was killed and Numitor restored to his throne.

Romulus and Remus decided not to remain in Alba as princely heirs, but instead to form their own city. Numitor gave his approval. The brothers had always associated not only with shepherds and farmers but with drifters and those less welcome in the towns, so perhaps Numitor was ensuring that none of this unsettling group would be near his own city. In any case, the brothers intended that their city become a sanctuary-a refuge for anyone who wanted a fresh start.

Once Rome was established, Romulus realized there were not enough women to maintain the population. He sent out emissaries in good will to the neighboring cities, to arrange marriages for his men. He was turned down. The histories are unclear how many attempts he made, or for how long. But it was recorded that he did try. When his diplomacy failed, he resorted to trickery.

The success of the abduction led eventually to war. Romulus first defeated the nearby Latin towns of Caenina, Antemnae. Livy reported that he then pardoned the parents of the women of those towns, and allowed them to migrate to Rome-good political move. Romulus then defeated Crustumium and invited parents and relatives to again move to Rome. At some point in all of this, Romulus organized the Roman people and provided a list of laws for his new city. Apparently he had consulted with wise leaders of the area, he claimed.

Romulus went to war with the Sabines from Cures, who had finally marched on Rome because of the abduction of their women. Betrayal of the Romans allowed the Sabine force to capture the Capitoline. As the Romans and Sabines met on the battlefield, the women who had been captured, now wives and mothers in Rome, come to the field, interrupt the bloodshed and beg that there be peace. Romulus and the Sabine king Tatius, make peace. Regardless of what had occurred between these two peoples, the two leaders become co-rulers of Rome.

Years later, after an apparently harmonious rule between Romulus and Tatius, the latter is killed. His murder was provoked by the ill-treatment some of his relatives gave to envoys from another city-a violation of the accepted custom, or law, regarding ambassadors. The entire situation demanded a level of diplomacy, and practical decision-making by Romulus.

Eventually he again went to war this time with Fidenae and then Veii. He was again successful. He released, without ransom, all the prisoners taken from Veii, and allowed any who so wished, to become citizens of Rome-a kind and wise move, one might say.

But being a successful general and a king loved by the common people was not apparently enough to keep Romulus on his throne. Politics often involves some group being unhappy in its perception of how much power it is allowed. So it was in Rome. Apparently the patrician class perceived that Romulus was ignoring them. One example cited as proof was the claim that Romulus had not consulted the senate, made up of patricians, before releasing the prisoners from Veii. Whether or not that was true was apparently irrelevant. The patricians were displeased. Rumors spread through Rome that certain people were plotting against Romulus’ life.

Livy, Plutarch, and Dionysius Halikarnassus, write about what they say finally happened to Romulus. Novelists may or may not agree.

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Just One Timeline of Ancient Rome

I dedicate this timeline and the accompanying historical notes with respect and affection to the following:

* To both my mothers Eleanor and Speranza, to my brothers in Sardinia and their families, to my marvelous adorable husband David, to my sons and their ladies, and to all my ancestors in Italy, Sardinia, and wherever else they may be.

*To all my colleagues and friends in the Historical Fiction writing community, with particular pride in all who write stories set in ancient Rome, but with great gratitude to all of you for your inspiration, dedication and determination to keep alive history and the people who live it.

Timeline 1. of ancient Rome and its World:

c. 814 Carthage is founded by Phoenician settlers

c. 800 The Etruscan culture emerges in Italy.

c. 800-500 The Greeks colonize the western Mediterranean.

c. 776 The Earliest recorded Olympic Games occur in Greece.

c. 771 Romulus is born

c. 753 Rome is traditionally founded. Numa Pompilius, Rome’s second king, is born.

c. 750 Homer composes the Iliad and Odyssey. Corinthian Greeks establish Syracuse in Sicily.

c. 715 Numa becomes king.

c. 700-600 Greek colonies such as Croton, Sybaris, and Rhegium, are established in southern Italy.

c. 680-627 Assyrian empire at its greatest, pressure from its invasions force migrations of artisans into other regions.

c. 672 Tullus Hostilius becomes king of Rome.

c. 655 Demaratus of Corinth flees to Etruscan Tarquinia and becomes father of Rome’s fifth king Tarquinius Priscus

c. 640 Ancus Marcius becomes king of Rome.

c. 616 T Priscus becomes king of Rome.

c. 578 Servius Tullius becomes king of Rome

c. 550-500 Carthage imposes its dominance over much of Sardinia and western Sicily

c. 546 Greek Phocaean refugees settle at Alalia in Corsica

c. 540-535 Battle of the Sardinian Sea where allied Carthaginian and Etruscan fleets are defeated by the Phocaeans, but the Greeks abandon Corsica

c. 534 T Superbus becomes last king of Rome

c. 524 Greek Cumae defeats an invading Etruscan army

c. 510 Dorieus of Sparta killed in western Sicily and Croton destroys Sybaris in southern Italy.

c. 510-500 Hasdrubal is killed in Sardinia.

c. 509 First treaty between Rome and Carthage, Rome expels Superbus and creates a republic.

c. 508-496 Etruscan king Porsena makes war on Rome, Superbus seeks help from Greek Cumae, Latin League is defeated by Rome at Lake Regillus and Superbus dies in exile in Cumae.

Rome’s monarchy ends after more than 250 years (so the traditional kinglist has it).

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Last One Out – original flash fiction

Last One Out, Turn off the Lights by Marie A Parsons

The launches were slowing down now, as she knew they would. Exciting as the prospect of colonizing a new world was, surely leaving Earth was bittersweet. The human race had done it, contrary to myth, superstition, esoteric texts, odd certainties, and ancient sages. It had taken more than a millennium to achieve. But after several “armageddons” and “ends-of-world” that never happened, and after the ‘Net had strengthened and deepened human connection, human beings realized their next great stride was out to the stars. Collectively, with one voice, humanity decided it was time to head out into the stars. All those earth-like planets to start anew…

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