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Ancus Marcius

(c. 677 - 617 BCE)

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)


Ancus Marcius

Ancus Marcius was traditionally the fourth king of Rome.

His father and grandfather were also named Marcius; grandfather was a close friend of king Numa Pompilius. The father, in turn, is identified by researchers with Numa Marcius – the first pontifex maximus priest. The mother of Ancus Marcius was Pompilia – the daughter of Numa Pompilius.

According to the late Roman historian Festus, the middle name Ancus came from his crooked shoulder.


When in 642 BCE The ruler Tullus Hostilius died, the Roman Senate established the office of interrex during the vacancy on the throne. Then the people’s assembly chose a new king, Ancus Marcius.

As reported by Titus Livius, the king’s first order was for pontifex maximus to make a copy of the text containing Numa Pompilius’s comments on the performance of rituals and ceremonies feast days, and then codification of all Roman rites. The text of the code was to be made public, and the rituals were to be performed according to established rules.

The king also waged wars against the old Latin people (prisci latini). These people expected the new ruler to be, like Numa Pompilius, peaceful and rather submissive. Consequently, the Latins decided to invade Roman lands. The Romans declared war on them and, as Livius says, they did it for the first time formally, thanks to the college of fetiales, which Marcius established.

King Ankus Marcius himself stood at the head of the Roman army. The newly formed army captured the Latin city of Politorium (near Lanuvium). The inhabitants of this town were forced to settle in the conquered Aventine Hill in Rome and received Roman citizenship. After the Roman army left the city, the Politorium was again occupied by the Latins. On this information, Ankus Marcius again conquered the city and the nearby villages of Tellenae and Ficana, which he then completely destroyed.

The image of Ancus Marcius immortalized on the coin.
Author: Johny SYSEL | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Another battle took place for the city of Medullia, which had strong fortifications and a large garrison. Ultimately, however, and this city fell prey to the Romans. Ancus Marcius ended the war with a victory. He returned to Rome in glory and with great spoils. With them, the defeated Latinos, who received citizenship, came to the city and settled at the Aventine Hill, next to the Murcia temple.

The king, outside the Latin lands, included the Janiculum hill in the city of Rome, which he fortified and connected with the rest of the city with a wooden bridge – Pons Sublicius – thrown across the Tiber. He did this mainly for fear of the Etruscans. During his reign, defense ditches were also created – Fossa Quiritium and the first prison at the Capitol, the so-called Mamertine prison1. He also built the first Roman aqueduct Aqua Marcia

The victorious wars of Ancus Marcius allowed the expansion of Roman territory to the west, to the sea and erect Ostia – the Roman port; and to conquer the lands north of the Tiber – Silva Maesia – from the Veins. To highlight his successes, the king had the temple of Jupiter extended. It is believed that Ancus Marcius made at least one triumph – for defeating the Sabine tribe and the Veins.


King Ancus Marcius, according to Roman legends, was to die a natural death, respected by his subjects. Roman historians gave us Ancusa Martius as one of the best rulers of the city of Rome.

As with almost all the kings of Rome (except for Tarquinius the Proud), the historicity of Ancus is questionable due to the lack of certain evidence of its existence. He was succeeded by Tarquinius the Elder, who would later be murdered by the sons of Ancus Marcius.

  1. It is here that Vercingetorix will die after the triumph of Julius Caesar.
  • Krawczuk Aleksander, Kronika starożytnego Rzymu, Warszawa 1994
  • Krawczuk Aleksander (red.), Wielka Historia Świata, tom 3
  • Titus Livy, Ab urbe condita

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