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Lars Tolumnius (d. 428 BC) was the most famous king of the wealthy Etruscanmarker city-state of Veiimarker, roughly ten miles northwest of Rome, best remembered for initiating the conflict with the fledgling Roman Republic that ended with Veii's destruction.

Conflict Over Fidenae

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 Fidenaemarker 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 (Cloelius Tullus, 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

The Roman Senate, outraged by Tolumnius's actions, declared war on Veii in 437 BC and sent an army under Dictator Aemilius Mamercus 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.

See also


  • Titus Livius Ab Urbe Condita Libre IV Caput 18-22

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