THE STERN FATHER
ALTHOUGH the Romans in anger had vowed that they would never
have any more kings, they would willingly have let
Brutus rule them. He was too good a citizen, however, to
accept this post; so he told them that it would be
wiser to give the authority to two men, called
Consuls, whom they could elect every year.
This plan pleased the Romans greatly, and the
government was called a Republic, because it was in
the hands of the people themselves. The first election
took place almost immediately, and Brutus and
Collatinus were the first two consuls.
The new rulers of Rome were very busy. Besides
governing the people, they were obliged to raise an
army to fight Tarquin, who was trying to get his throne
 The first move of the exiled king was to send
messengers to Rome, under the pretext of claiming his
property. But the real object of these messengers was
to bribe some of the people to help Tarquin recover his
Some of the Romans were so wicked that they preferred
the rule of a bad king to that of an honest man like
Brutus. Such men accepted the bribes, and began to plan
how to get Tarquin back into the city. They came
together very often to discuss different plans, and
among these traitors were two sons of Brutus.
One day they and their companions were making a plot to
place the city again in Tarquin's hands. In their
excitement, they began to talk aloud, paying no
attention to a slave near the open door, who was busy
Although this slave seemed to be intent upon his work,
he listened to what they said, and learned all their
plans. When the conspirators were gone, the slave went
to the consuls, told them all he had heard, and gave
them the names of the men who were thus plotting the
downfall of the republic.
When Brutus heard that his two sons were traitors, he
was almost broken-hearted. But he was so stern and just
that he made up his mind to treat them exactly as if
they were strangers; so he at once sent his guards to
arrest them, as well as the other conspirators.
The young men were then brought before the consuls,
tried, found guilty, and sentenced to the punishment of
traitors—death. Throughout the whole trial, Brutus
sat in his consul's chair; and, when it was ended, he
sternly bade his sons speak and defend themselves if
they were innocent.
 As the young men could not deny
their guilt, they began to beg for mercy; but Brutus
turned aside, and sternly bade the lictors do their
duty. We are told that he himself witnessed the
execution of his sons, and preferred to see them die,
rather than to have them live as traitors.
The people now hated the Tarquins more than before, and
made a law that their whole race should be banished
forever. Collatinus, you know, was a most bitter enemy
of the exiled king's family; but, as he was himself
related to them, he had to give up his office and leave
Rome. The people then chose another noble Roman, named
Valerius, to be consul in his stead.
When Tarquin heard that the Romans had found out what
he wanted to do, and that he could expect no help from
his former subjects, he persuaded the people of
Veii to join him, and began a war against Rome.
Tarquin's army was met by Brutus at the head of the
Romans. Before the battle could begin, one of Tarquin's
sons saw Brutus, and rushed forward to kill him. Such
was the hatred these two men bore each other that they
fought with the utmost fury, and fell at the same time
never to rise again.
Although these two generals had been killed so soon,
the fight was very fierce. The forces were so well
matched that, when evening came on, the battle was not
decided, and neither side would call itself beaten.
The body of Brutus was carried back to Rome, and placed
in the Forum, where all the people crowded around it in
tears. Such was the respect which the Romans felt for
this great citizen that the women wore mourning for
for a whole year, and his statue was placed in the
Capitol, among those of the Roman kings.
The Roman children were often brought there to see it,
and all learned to love and respect the stern-faced man
with the drawn sword; for he had freed Rome from the
tyranny of the kings, and had arranged for the
government of the republic he had founded.