The Etruscans

"Some races wax and others wane, and in a short space the tribes of the living are changed, and like runners hand on the torch of life" - Lucretius

While Rome was at her beginning stages, and their kings were establishing the direction that the cities were going in, their were very powerful neighbors living in the north country at Etruria, and they were known as the Etruscans. They were a very wealthy and educated culture and had been expanding their territory from Etruria all through the western Mediterranean, building city-states and eventually they expanded down toward Rome. (see Ancient Italy Map)

Around 575 BC. the Etruscans inhabited Rome and their kings (an aristocratic family known as the Tarquins) ruled Rome for the next 66 years. Rome had really benefited from their influence because they were so advanced. They taught the Romans their alphabet and how to build their houses with tile roofs. They also taught them many other building techniques, including the famous "arch" which had, later on, been attributed to Rome for its invention. The streets were laid out over the once mosquito infested swamps, and at the center of the city was the great square called the Forum, which became the seat of Roman government and law. The Tarquins also built temples and taught the Romans their many religious rituals.

Rome had finally began to emerge as a highly civilized culture, and what was once a bunch of small villages with huts and straw roofs, now had become a great city with large walls and paved streets. In fact, Rome had gained fame very quickly for her tremendous building feats that far surpassed that of her teachers, the Etruscans and they became one of the wealthiest cities in Italy.

They built the Circus Maximus (an arena for games that held seats for thousands of spectators), the Temple of Jupiter (to honor their greatest god), and the Cloaca Maxima (a sewage system that is still being used today).

Rome was prospering and advancing very fast until her 7th and last Roman king, Tarquin the Proud, had come to power. He was a very cruel dictator, and he despised the Senate as well as the voice of the people. In 509 BC. the people rebelled and overthrew him and cast him out. The people unanimously agreed "we will never again be ruled by a king."