Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (also called Tarquin the Great or Tarquin II for short) was the last of the seven legendary kings of Rome, son of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, and son-in-law of Servius Tullius. He immediately succeeded the latter without any election and proceeded at once to repeal the recent reforms in the constitution, seeking to establish a pure despotism in their place. Wars were waged with the Latins and Etruscans, but the lower classes were deprived of their arms, and employed in erecting monuments of regal magnificence, while the sovereign recruited his armies from his own retainers and from the forces of foreign allies.
Tarquin was approached by the Cumaean Sibyl who offered him nine books of prophecy, at an exorbitant price. Tarquin refused abruptly, and the Sibyl proceeded to burn three of the nine. She then offered him the remaining books, but at the same price. Tarquin hesitated, but refused again. The Sibyl then burned three more books, but she offered Tarquin the three remaining Sibylline oracles at the original price. Tarquin accepted. The books were consulted at many portentous moments in Roman history.
The levelling of the Tarpeian Rock that overlooked the Forum, removing its ancient Sabine shrines and completion of the fortress temple to Jupiter nearby on the Capitoline Hill confirmed Tarquin's authority over the city, and a fortunate marriage of his son to the daughter of Octavus Manilius of Tusculum secured him owerful assistance in the field. His reign was characterised by bloodshed and violence; the outrage of his son Sextus Tarquinius upon Lucretia precipitated a revolt, which led to the expulsion of the entire family, after Tarquin had reigned twenty-five years. Even though the powerful Etruscan lord Lars Porsena of Clusium (modern Chiusi) backed Tarquin's return, all efforts to force his way back to the throne were in vain, and he died a lonely and childless old man at Cumae in Etruria.