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Lars Porsena

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Lars Porsena (sometimes spelled Lars Porsenna) was an Etruscan king known for his war against the city of Rome. He ruled over the city of Clusium sometimes referred to as Clevsin. There are no established dates for his rule, but Roman sources often place it at around 500 BC.

While the modern day Tuscan city of Chiusi has traditionally been considered the ancient site of Clusium, recent discoveries suggest that the location of the ancient city is closer to Florence. The archeological site of Gonfienti may turn out to be a part of ancient Clusium, believed to be the largest city in Italy before Rome.

Lars Porsena came into conflict with Rome after the revolution which overthrew Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last King of Rome. The deposed monarch, whose family was of Etruscan origin, appealed to Lars Porsena for assistance in suppressing the new Roman Republic, and Lars Porsena agreed to help.

At this point, however, there is divergence in the histories. According to most mainstream Roman accounts, including those of Livy, Lars Porsena arrived at Rome, but was sufficiently impressed by Roman bravery (see Mucius, Horatius) in defending the city that he chose to make peace. Other accounts, however, suggest that Lars Porsena actually succeeded in capturing the city, and that the Etruscans were only driven out some time afterwards. None of the accounts suggest that Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was returned to the throne, however, perhaps indicating that if Lars Porsena did indeed capture Rome, he did so with the intent of controlling it himself, not restoring the former dynasty.

According to most accounts, Lars Porsena was buried in an elaborate tomb in (or under) the city he ruled. The tomb is described as having a 15 m high rectangular base with sides 90 m long. It was adorned by pyramids and massive bells.

Lars Porsena's tomb, together with the rest of the city of Clusium, was razed to the ground in 89 BC by the Roman general Cornelius Sulla.


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