III. HOW CORINTH GAVE ROME A NEW DYNASTY.
The city of Corinth, in Greece, was one of the most wealthy and enterprising on the Mediterranean in its day, and at about the time that Rome is said to have been founded, it entered upon a new period of commercial activity and foreign colonization. So many Greeks went to live on the islands around Italy, and on the shores of Italy itself, indeed, that that region was known as Magna Græcia, or Great Greece, just as in our day we speak of Great Britain, when we wish to include not England only, but also the whole circle of lands under British rule. At this time of commercial activity there came into power in Corinth a family noted for its wealth and force no less than for the luxury in which it lived, and the oppression, too, with which it ruled the people. One of the daughters of the sovereign married out of the family, because she was so ill-favored that no one in her circle was willing to have her as wife.
In due time the princess became the mother of a boy, of whom the oracle at Delphi prophesied that he should be a formidable opponent of the ruling dynasty. Whenever the oracle made such a prophecy about a child, it was customary for the ruler to try to make away with it, and that the ruler of Corinth did in this case. All efforts were unsuccessful, however, because his homely mother hid him in a chest when the spies came to the house. Now the Greek word for chest is kupsele, and therefore this boy was called Cypselus. He grew up to be a fine young man, and entered political life as champion of the people - the demos, as the Greeks would say, and was therefore a democratic politician. [Footnote: A politician is a person versed in the science of government, from the Greek words polis, a city, polites, a citizen. Though a very honorable title, it has been debased in familiar usage until it has come to mean in turn a partisan, a dabbler in public affairs, and even an artful trickster.]
He opposed the aristocratic rulers, and at last succeeded in overturning their government and getting into the position of supreme ruler himself. He ruled thirty years in peace, and was so much loved by the Corinthians that he went about among them in safety without any body-guard.
When Cypselus came into power the citizens of Corinth who belonged to the aristocratic family were obliged to go elsewhere, somewhat as those princes called émigrès (emigrants) left France during the Revolution, in 1789. One of them, whose name was Demaratus, a wealthy and intelligent merchant, concluded to go westward, to Magna Græcia, into the part of the world from which his ships had brought him his revenues. Accordingly, accompanied by his family, a great retinue, and some artists and sculptors, he sailed away for Italy and settled at the Etruscan town of Tarquinii. He did not go more than five or six hundred miles from home, but his enterprise was as marked as that of our fathers was considered when, in the last generation, they removed from New York to Chicago, though the distance was not nearly so great. No wonder Demaratus thought that it would be a comfort to have with him some of the artists and sculptors whose genius had made his Corinthian home beautiful.
As he had come to Tarquinii to spend all his days, Demaratus married a lady of the place, and she became the mother of a son, Lucomo. When this young man grew up, he found that, though a native of the city, he was looked upon as a foreigner on his father's account, and that, though he belonged to a family of the highest rank and wealth through his mother's connections, he was excluded from political power and influence. He had inherited the love of authority that had possessed his father's ancestors, and as his father had migrated from home to gain peace, he felt no reluctance in leaving Tarquinii in the hope of gaining the power he thought his wealth and pedigree entitled him to. There was no more attractive field for his ambition than Rome presented, and Lucomo probably knew that that city had been from its very foundation an asylum for strangers. Thither, therefore, he decided to take himself.
We can imagine the removal, as the long procession of chariots and footmen slowly passed over the fifty miles that separated Tarquinii from Rome. Just above Civita Vecchia you may see on your modern map of Italy a town called Corneto, and a mile from that, perhaps, another named Turchina, which is all that remains of the old town in which Lucomo lived. Even now relics of the Tarquinians are found there, and there are many in the museums of Europe that illustrate the ancient civilization of the Etruscans, which was greater at this time than that of the Romans. On his journey Lucomo was himself seated in a chariot with his wife Tanaquil, whom he seems to have honored very highly, and the long train of followers stretched behind them. It represented all that great wealth directed by considerable cultivation could purchase, and must have formed an imposing sight. Rome was approached from the south side of the Tiber, by the way of the Janiculum Hill and over the wooden bridge.