Ancus Marcius

Ancus Marcius was the legendary fourth king of Rome,[1][2][3] who traditionally reigned 24 years.[4] Upon the death of the previous king, Tullus Hostilius, the Roman Senate appointed an interrex, who in turn called a session of the assembly of the people who elected the new king.[5] Ancus is said to have ruled by waging war as Romulus did, while also promoting peace and religion as Numa Pompilius did.[6]

Ancus Marcius
Ancus Marcius depicted on a 57 BC denarius
King of Rome
Reignc. 640–616 BC
PredecessorTullus Hostilius
SuccessorLucius Tarquinius Priscus
FatherNuma Marcius

Ancus Marcius was believed by many Romans to have been the namesake of the Marcii, a plebeian family.[7][8][9]

O: diademed head of Ancus Marcius, lituus behind


R: equestrian statue on 5 arches of aqueduct (Aqua Marcia)


Silver denarius struck by Lucius Marcius Philippus in Rome 56 BC.


Ancus was the son of Marcius (whose father, also named Marcius, had been a close friend of Numa Pompilius, who may be identified with Numa Marcius,[10] and Pompilia, daughter of Numa Pompilius.[5] Ancus Marcius was thus the grandson of Numa and therefore a Sabine.[11][12][13] According to Festus, Marcius had the surname of Ancus from his crooked arm (ancus signifying "bent" in Latin).

First acts as KingEdit

According to Livy, Ancus's first act as king was to order the Pontifex Maximus to copy the text concerning the performance of public ceremonies of religion from the commentaries of Numa Pompilius to be displayed to the public on wooden tablets, so that the rites of religion should no longer be neglected or improperly performed.[5][14] When Tullus was king, he repealed the Numa-created religious edicts that had been in place before.[15]


Fictional 16th-century depiction in the Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum

Ancus waged war successfully against the Latins, and a number of them were settled on the Aventine Hill.[16] According to Livy the war was commenced by the Latins who anticipated Ancus would follow the pious pursuit of peace adopted by his grandfather, Numa Pompilius. The Latins initially made an incursion on Roman lands. When a Roman embassy sought restitution for the damage, the Latins gave a contemptuous reply. Ancus accordingly declared war on the Latins. The declaration is notable since, according to Livy, it was the first time that the Romans had declared war by means of the rites of the fetials.[5]

A coin depicting Ancus Marcius and Numa Pompilius side-by-side
Ostia on a map of Rome (highlighted in bright red)

Ancus Marcius marched from Rome with a newly levied army and took the Latin town of Politorium (situated near the town of Lanuvium) by storm. Its residents were removed to settle on the Aventine Hill in Rome as new citizens, following the Roman traditions from wars with the Sabines and Albans. When the other Latins subsequently occupied the empty town of Politorium, Ancus took the town again and demolished it.[16] The Latin villages of Tellenae and Ficana were also sacked and demolished.

The war then focused on the Latin town of Medullia. The town had a strong garrison and was well fortified. Several engagements took place outside the town and the Romans were eventually victorious. Ancus returned to Rome with a large amount of loot. More Latins were brought to Rome as citizens and were settled at the foot of the Aventine near the Palatine Hill, by the temple of Murcia. Ancus Marcius incorporated the Janiculum into the city, fortifying it with a wall and connecting it with the city by a wooden bridge across the Tiber,[17] the Pons Sublicius. To protect the bridge from enemy attacks, Ancus had the end that was facing the Janiculum fortified.[18] Ancus also took over Fidenea to expand Rome's influence across the Tiber.[19] On the land side of the city he constructed the Fossa Quiritium, a ditch fortification. He also built Rome's first prison, the Mamertine prison.[16]

He then extended the Roman territory, founding the port of Ostia,[20] establishing salt-works around the port,[17][21] and taking the Silva Maesia, an area of coastal forest north of the Tiber, from the Veientes. He expanded the temple of Jupiter Feretrius to reflect these territorial successes.[16] According to a reconstruction of the Fasti Triumphales, Ancus Marcius celebrated at least one triumph, over the Sabines and Veientes.

Death and successorEdit

Ancus Marcius is reported to have died of natural causes after a rule of 24 years.[4] He had two sons, one of which would likely take the throne. A member of Ancus' court, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, ensured that Ancus' sons would be out of Rome so he could put together an election where he would gain the support of the Roman people.[22]

Ancus Marcius was succeeded by his friend Lucius Tarquinius Priscus,[23][24] who was ultimately assassinated by the sons of Ancus Marcius.[25] Later, during the Republic and the Empire, the prominent gens Marcia claimed descent from Ancus Marcius.


  1. ^ Kleijn, G. de; Benoist, Stéphane (2013-10-17). Integration in Rome and in the Roman World: Proceedings of the Tenth Workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire (Lille, June 23-25, 2011). BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-25667-5.
  2. ^ Dyer, Thomas Henry (1868). The History of the Kings of Rome: With a Prefatory Dissertation on Its Sources and Evidence. Bell and Daldy. ISBN 978-0-8046-1199-2.
  3. ^ Duncan, Mike (2016-12-04). The History of Rome: The Republic (Volume 1). Lulu Press, Inc. ISBN 978-1-365-33131-2.
  4. ^ a b Livy, ab urbe condita libri, I
  5. ^ a b c d Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, 1:32
  6. ^ Penella, Robert J. (1990). "Vires/Robur/Opes and Ferocia in Livy's Account of Romulus and Tullus Hostilius". The Classical Quarterly. 40 (1): 207–213. doi:10.1017/S0009838800026902. JSTOR 639321. S2CID 170735500.
  7. ^ Niebuhr, The History of Rome, Volume 1, p. 301
  8. ^ Evans, Jane DeRose (1992). The Art of Persuasion: Political Propaganda from Aeneas to Brutus. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-10282-2.
  9. ^ Smith, William (1890). Abaeus-Dysponteus. J. Murray.
  10. ^ E. Peruzzi Le origini di Roma I. La famiglia Firenze 1970 p. 142 ff.
  11. ^ Bollacasa, Dario (2009). There Was a Time When Rome Was Ruled by Kings. AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-4490-3674-4.
  12. ^ Livy (2018-11-02). THE HISTORY OF ROME (Complete Edition in 4 Volumes). e-artnow. ISBN 978-80-272-4456-0.
  13. ^ Livy (2005-05-26). The Early History of Rome. Penguin UK. ISBN 978-0-14-196307-5.
  14. ^ Ihne, Wilhelm (1871). The History of Rome. Longmans, Green, and Company.
  15. ^ Otis, Lise (2001). The Numan tradition and its uses in the literature Rome's 'Golden Age' (Thesis). ProQuest 304770134.
  16. ^ a b c d Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, 1:33
  17. ^ a b   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ancus Marcius". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 953.
  18. ^ Ogilvie, R.M. (1965). A Commentary On Livy: Books 1-5. Oxford: Clarendon; Toronto: Oxford University Press. p. 137.
  19. ^ Griffith, Alison B. (2009). "The Pons Sublicius in Context: Revisiting Rome's First Public Work". Phoenix. 63 (3/4): 296–321. doi:10.1353/phx.2009.0025. JSTOR 25747981. S2CID 163484984. ProQuest 747236391.
  20. ^ Beard, Mary (2015-11-09). SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-1-63149-125-2.
  21. ^ Bedoyere, Guy de la (2011-02-18). The Romans For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-99788-7.
  22. ^ Penella, Robert J. (December 2004). "The Ambitio of Livy's Tarquinius Priscus". The Classical Quarterly. 54 (2): 630–635. doi:10.1093/clquaj/bmh068. ProQuest 1035754534.
  23. ^ Bedoyere, Guy de la (2011-02-18). The Romans For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-99788-7.
  24. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1847). A History of Rome: From the Earliest Times to the Death of Commodus, A.D. 192. Allen, Morrill and Wardwell.
  25. ^ Livy, Ab Urbe Condita
Legendary titles
Preceded by King of Rome
642–617 BC
Succeeded by