Lars Tolumnius

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Etruscan musician, Tomb of the Triclinium, Tarquinia
Etruscan walled town (Bagnoregio)

Lars Tolumnius (died 437 BC or 428 BC) was the most famous king of the wealthy Etruscan city-state of Veii, roughly ten miles northwest of Rome, best remembered for initiating the conflict with the fledgling Roman Republic that ended with Veii's destruction. His name in Etruscan was Larth Tulumnes, the Tulumnes family being a leading family in Veii and known from votive offering inscriptions.

Conflict over Fidenae[edit]

Very little is known of Lars Tolumnius outside of his involvement in Roman legend: he enters history when, in the late 5th century BCE, the Roman colony of Fidenae revolted against the Republic. The Fidenese leaders of the revolution offered Tolumnius control over their city, which the king gladly accepted, and when Rome sent the four emissaries (Tullus Cloelius, Gaius Fulcinius, Spurius Antius, and Lucius Roscius) to Veii to demand the hegemony of Fidenae back, Tolumnius had them executed. The legendary explanation for this grievous breach of peace is that at the moment his aides inquired if they should execute the Roman ambassadors, Tolumnius, playing at dice and having just rolled fortuitously, exclaimed, "Excellent!", thus inadvertently ordering the execution of the diplomats and unknowingly sealing his own fate.

War with Rome and death[edit]

The Roman Senate, outraged by Tolumnius's actions, declared war on Veii in 437 BCE and sent an army under Dictator Mamercus Aemilius Mamercinus to besiege the city. Tolumnius himself died early in the conflict, slain in single combat with the tribunus militum Aulus Cornelius Cossus while defending the city that his unwitting action had doomed to a fiery end.


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