On the completion of the census (B.C. 566) Servius ordered the members of all the Centuries to assemble on the Campus Martius, which was enclosed in a bend of the Tiber outside of the walls that he built. They came in full armor, according to rank, and the sight must have been very grand and impressive. Three days were occupied in the celebration. Three times were the pig, the sheep, and the bull carried around the great multitude, and then, amid the flaunting of banners, the burning of incense, and the sounding of trumpets, the libation was poured forth, and the inoffensive beasts were sacrificed for the purification of the people. Once every five years the inhabitants were thus counted, and once in five years were they also purified, and in this way it came to pass that that period was known as a lustrum .

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, says the proverb, and it was true in the case of Servius, for he could never forget that the people had not voted in his favor. For this reason he divided among them the lands that he had taken from the enemies he had defeated, and then, supposing that he had obtained their good-will, he called upon them to vote whether they chose and ordered that he should be king. When the votes came to be counted, Servius found that he had been chosen with a unanimity that had not been manifested before in the selection of a sovereign. Whatever confidence he may have derived from this vote, his place was not secure, and his fatal enemy proved to be in his own household.

It happened that of the two husbands of the daughters of Servius, one was ambitious and unprincipled, and the other quiet and peaceable. The same was true of their wives, only the unprincipled wife found herself mated with the well-behaving husband. Now the wicked wife agreed with the wicked husband that they should murder their partners and then marry together, thus making a pair, both members of which should be ambitious and without principle. This was accomplished, and then the wicked wife, whose name was Tullia, told her husband, whose name was Lucius Tarquinius, that what she wanted was not a husband whom she might live with in quiet like a slave, but one who would remember of whose blood he was, who would consider that he was the rightful king; and that if he would not do it he had better go back to Tarquinii or Corinth and sink into his original race, thus shaming his father and Tanaquil, who had bestowed thrones upon her husband and her son-in-law. The taunts and instigations of Tullia led Lucius to solicit the younger patricians to support him in making an effort for the throne. When he thought he had obtained a sufficient number of confederates, he one day rushed into the forum at an appointed time, accompanied by a body of armed men, and, in the midst of a commotion that ensued, took his seat upon the throne and ordered the senate to attend "King Tarquinius." That august body convened very soon, some having been prepared beforehand for the summons, and then Tarquinius began a tirade against Servius, whom he stigmatized as "a slave and the son of a slave," who had favored the most degraded classes, and had, by instituting the census, made the fortunes of the better classes unnecessarily conspicuous, so as to excite the envy and base passions of the meaner citizens.

Servius came to the senate-house in the midst of the harangue, and called to Lucius to know by what audacity he had taken the royal seat, and summoned the senate during the life of the sovereign. Lucius replied in an insulting manner, and, taking advantage of the king's age, seized him by the middle, carried him out, and threw him down the steps to the bottom! Almost lifeless, Servius was slain by emissaries of Lucius as he was making his way to his home on the Esquiline Hill (B.C. 534). The royal retinue, in their fright, left the body where it fell, and there it was when Tullia, returning from having congratulated her husband, reached the place. Her driver, terrified at the sight, stopped, and would have avoided the king's corpse, though the narrowness of the street made it difficult; but the insane daughter ordered him to drive on, and stained and sprinkled herself with her father's blood, which seemed to cry out for vengeance upon such a cruel act! The vengeance came speedily, as we shall see.