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Latin kings of Alba Longa

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Title: Latin kings of Alba Longa  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Amulius, Romulus Silvius, Silvius (mythology), Tiberinus Silvius, Ascanius
Collection: Former Monarchies, Latin Kings of Alba Longa, Roman Mythology
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Latin kings of Alba Longa

King of Alba Longa
Ferdinand Bol's 17th-century mythological painting shows Aeneas, in armor, awarding laurels to the winner of a race; he rules jointly on the same dais with Latinus.
First monarch Ascanius
Last monarch Gaius Cluilius
Formation ca. 1151 BC
Abolition mid-seventh century BC
Residence Alba Longa

The Latin kings of Alba Longa (Latin: rex Albanus, lit. King of Alba), also referred to as the Latin kings of Rome, or Alban kings of Rome, are a series of legendary kings of Latium ruling mainly from Alba Longa. In the mythic tradition of the founding of Rome, they fill the 400-year gap between the settlement of Aeneas in Italy and the establishing of the city walls of Rome by Romulus and Remus.[1] It was this line of descent to which the Julii claimed kinship.[2] After the defeat and destruction of Alba Longa and the incorporation of Latium into the Roman state, the Alban kingship is succeeded by the series of kings usually called "Etruscan," though only a few members of this line were brought in from neighboring Etruria to reign.


  • Background 1
  • History 2
    • King of the Aborigines 2.1
    • House Silvia 2.2
  • List of Latin kings 3
  • Later influence 4
    • The Julii 4.1
    • Roman mythology 4.2
    • Medieval Europe 4.3
  • Historicity 5
    • Archaeology 5.1
  • In literature 6
  • Family tree 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


In Roman mythology, the Latin kingdom of Alba Longa was an ancient monarchy located in the present-day region of Latium in Italy.[3] It was founded by king Ascanius as a colony to reduce crowding in Lavinium and later chosen to be the capital of his Latin kingdom.[4] It incorporated the former capitals, Lavinium and Laurentum, with Lavinium as the second capital, and Laurentum the original.[5] Archaeology has confirmed that Rome was founded as a colony of people from Alba Longa,[6] although Rome was a kingdom in its own right.

According to legend, after the fall of Troy, the Trojan Prince Aeneas led a band of refugees in search of a new home, eventually arriving in Italy near Lanuvium. The traditional date of the war was established by Eratosthenes as 1184 BC,[7] leaving a gap of some four centuries until the traditional founding of Rome in 753 BC. The genealogy of the Alban kings justified the close ties between Rome and its Latin communities, and enhanced the status of Latin families who could claim descent from a legendary ancestor. Such was the eagerness to claim a Trojan pedigree in the Late Republic that 15 different lists of the Alban kings from Aeneas to Romulus survive.[8]

Statue of Ascanius from Emerita Augusta.

Ascanius, also known as Iulus, was the legendary founder of Alba Longa. His successor was Silvius, his half-brother and the son of Aeneas and Lavinia, and the grandson of Latinus. They never ruled from Alba Longa but resided in Lavinium. Although the exact location of Alba Longa remains difficult to prove, there is archaeological evidence of Iron Age settlements in the area traditionally identified as the site.[9]


King of the Aborigines

Latinus was the fourth king of the Aborigines at the time Aeneas and his Trojans landed on the shore of Latium.[10] The third king of the Aborigines was Latinus' maternal grandfather, Faunus. The second king was Jupiter and the first is supposed to have been Saturnus,[10][11] whose reign was a sort of golden age for the Aborigines. Other sources[12] include any of Janus, Evander, Faunus, or Picus as kings of the Aborigines.[note 1]

After Aeneas arrived, he married Latinus' daughter, Lavinia, and joined Latinus in war against the Rutulians.[13] Later in the war, Latinus dies, making Aeneas sole ruler of both the Trojans and the Aborigines. The two groups would assume the common name of Latini, or Latins.[14] Aeneas soon dies in battle leaving his son, Ascanius, as king of the Latins. Ascanius founds the city of Alba Longa becoming the first Latin king of Alba Longa.

House Silvia

The Silvian dynasty begins with Ascanius, but it's his younger half-brother Silvius, who succeeds him and whose name is lent to the royal bloodline (Silvius comes from Latin, Silva, meaning woods).[15] The descendants of Silvius held sovereignty in Alba Longa at least until the death of Numitor, grandfather of the mythological twins, Romulus and Remus. Ancient sources[16] say that after the death of Numitor, Romulus refused to succeed him as king of Alba Longa, and instead handed sovereignty to the people of Alba Longa who would elect an annual magistrate to rule Alba Longa.[17] While this is doubtful, Romulus, as a member of the royal family, would have had the power to appoint magistrates in Alba Longa.[17] Those magistrates must have shared a role similar to that of a Roman dictator or praetor.

List of Latin kings

The following uses information from Livy[18] and Dionysius of Halicarnassus,[19] who is the source for the length of each reign.

Name Reign began Reign ended Rule
Latinus 1215 BC 1180 BC King of the "Aborigines", who gave his name to the new state of the Latins to be ruled from Laurentum by Aeneas and his own daughter Lavinia, given in marriage to Aeneas. Reigned for 36 years.
Aeneas 1180 BC 1177 BC A noble Trojan leading a force fleeing from the collapse of Troy. Listed as the first Latin king by both Livy and Dionysius. He founded Lavinium in 1181 BC,[note 2] where he would rule the Latins until his death.
Ascanius (in Dionysius) or Iulus 1177 BC 1139 BC The son of Aeneas and his Trojan wife Creusa, also known as Iulus, from which the gens Iulia was said to derive.[20] Founder of Alba Longa (1151 BC, 30 years after the founding of Lavinium). Reigned for 38 years.
Silvius 1139 BC 1110 BC A son of Aeneas and Lavinia, younger half-brother of Ascanius. Reigned for 29 years.
Aeneas Silvius 1110 BC 1079 BC A son of Silvius. Reigned for 31 years.
Latinus Silvius 1079 BC 1028 BC Possibly a son of Aeneas Silvius. Reigned for 51 years.
Alba Silvius 1028 BC 989 BC Possibly a son of Latinus Silvius. Reigned for 39 years.
Atys (in Livy) or Capetus (in Dionysius) 989 BC 963 BC Possibly a son of Alba. Reigned for 26 years.
Capys 963 BC 935 BC Possibly a son of Capetus. Reigned for 28 years.
Capetus Silvius or Calpetus 935 BC 922 BC Possibly a son of Capys. Reigned for 13 years.
Tiberinus Silvius 922 BC 914 BC Possibly a son of Capetus II. Reigned for 8 years. Reportedly slain in battle near the Albula river and his body was carried away by it. The river was renamed Tiber.
Agrippa 914 BC 873 BC Possibly a son of Tiberinus. Reigned for 41 years.
Romulus Silvius (in Livy) or Alladius (in Dionysius) 873 BC 854 BC Possibly a son of Agrippa. Reigned for 19 years. Reportedly a tyrant and contemptuous of the Gods. He frightened the people by throwing thunderbolts at them, until he himself was murdered by one and his house was submerged in the Alban Lake.
Aventinus 854 BC 817 BC Possibly a son of Alladius. Reigned for 37 years. The Aventine Hill was reportedly named after him.
Procas or Proca 817 BC 794 BC Possibly a son of Aventinus. Reigned for 23 years.
Amulius 794 BC 752 BC A younger son of Procas who reportedly usurped the throne. Reigned for 42 years. Slain by his grand-nephews Romulus and Remus.
Numitor 752 BC ? BC The older brother of Amulius. Reportedly succeeded him a year before the foundation of Rome.
Gaius Cluilius ? BC ? BC Last king of Alba Longa who dies of natural causes while in camp during the siege of Rome under the kingship of Tullus Hostilius. Cluilius may have held the title of praetor at the time of the war with Rome.[21]
Mettius Fufetius ? BC ? BC Elected dictator of Alba Longa by Cluilius' forces following his death. Mettius agreed to become vassal to the Romans for fear of the Fidenates and Veienates. Was executed by Tullus hostilius for committing perfidy. (mid seventh century BC)

Later influence

In the Iliad, the god Poseidon prophesied that the descendants of Aeneas (the Aeneadae), would survive the Trojan War and rule their people forever,[22] but also that the rule of the Aeneadae would never happen in Troy.[23] Virgil provided the imperial legacy of the Aeneadae by making Iulus the divine ancestor of Augustus in the Aeneid. From this divine connection the line of Aeneas stretched through Romulus, Augustus, and the Julio-Claudian emperors down to Nero.[24]

The Julii

Forum of Augustus plan. The northwest hemicycle is at Statue d'Énée centered on Aeneas with the kings of Alba Longa to its south and members of the gens Julia to the north.

It was popular in the late Roman republic for the more distinguished families to claim divine origin, and it was believed that Iulus (Ascanius) was the mythical ancestor of the gens Julia.[20][25] A notable member of the family, Julius Caesar, is said to have gone to Mount Alba to preside over the Feriae Latinae,[26](Latin rites originally celebrated by the kings of Alba Longa). In doing so he confused the Roman people who hailed him as king upon his return to Rome,[27] a title he rejected. While it is doubtful that the gens Julia are descent from Julus, it is believed that they are of Alban origin.[28][29]

In the Forum of Augustus, statues of the kings of Alba Longa and members of the Julian family were placed with Aeneas[30] in the northwest hemicycle. In that hemicycle were the statues of Aeneas, the kings of Alba Longa, and M. Claudius Marcellus, C. Julius Caesar Strabo, and Julius Caesar (the adoptive father of Augustus) among others.[31] The northeast hemicycle had summi viri placed with Romulus. Augustus' funerary procession reflects the same kind of propaganda as his "Hall of Heroes" and included many of the same statues, with one headed by Aeneas and the other by Romulus. In propagating his apotheosis, Augustus chose to include his adoptive father Julius Caesar who had recently achieved divinity himself, whereas Aeneas and Romulus are included for their divinity was well established.[32]

Roman mythology

Kings of Alba Longa would have claimed to be descendents of Jupiter as Virgil demonstrates in the Aeneid. He represents the Alban kings as being crowned with a civic oak-leaf crown.[33] The Roman kings then adopted the crown, becoming personifications of Jupiter on earth.[34] Latinus was thought to have become Jupiter Latiaris[35] after "vanishing" during a battle with Mezentius, (king of Caere). So too, Aeneas disappeared from a battle with Mezentius or with Turnus, and became Jupiter Indiges.[36] Romulus (not unlike his Alban predecessors) became Quirinus, the "Oak-god",[35] when he was called up to heaven.

Medieval Europe

Geoffrey of Monmouth, a Benedictine monk living in the 12th century AD, wrote a fabricated history of the kings of Britain (Historia regum Britanniae). In this history Britain is said to receive its name from Brutus, the first of its kings. According to him, Brutus was the son of Silvius and the grandson of Aeneas. While on a hunting trip with his father he accidentally shoots him and so flees Italy. First, Brutus goes to Greece and gathers Trojan companions who join him on his journey to Britain, where he takes the island from a race of giants.[37]


The ancient historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus is believed to have invented the Alban chronology to fill the gap of centuries between the fall of Troy and the founding of Rome. This could have been achieved by him taking the Roman history as it was, comparing it with the Greek, and inserting Greek Olympiads or Athenian archons.[38] This method would have made the Greek histories seem contemporary with the people and events in the Roman history of his time.

The names of the kings are often based on places around Rome, such as Tiberinus, Aventinus, Alba, and Capetus. Others are rationalizations of mythical figures, or pure inventions to provide notable ancestors for status-seeking families.[8] In the Aeneid, Virgil invents characters into living beings not unlike the heroes of Homer. The events described toward the end of the Aeneid were a nationalistic interpretation of perceived historical events in Roman history.[39] However, despite being a later invention, the Silvian house or gens Silvia, likely did exist.[40]


The Etruscans in southern Etruria were interested in the myth of Aeneas and Anchises during the last two decades of the 6th-century BC.[41] They celebrated Aeneas as their founder-hero, who takes the place of the Greek Odysseus, due to the increased perception of the Greeks as enemies rather than partners in trade.[42] The Latins would later be invaded and ruled by southern Etruscan cities and they adopt Aeneas as a direct result of the invasion.[42] Of the vases uncovered from the region, the earliest black-figured vase dates to 520 BC, and the latest red-figure vase dates as 450 BC.[43] The majority of the black-figure vases are dated to the late 6th-century BC. This indicates that the Roman myth of Aeneas emerged during the late archaic period.[43]

In literature

Family tree

See also


  1. ^ Virgil in book VII of the Aeneid and Eusebius in Chronicle list the kings as: Saturn (Cronus in Chronicle), Picus, Faunus, and Latinus in that order. Virgil makes Evander king of the Arcadians and an ally of Aeneas in his war against the Rutulians. Macrobius in Saturnalia I, Janus shares a kingdom with Camese in Latium called Camesene.
  2. ^ Barthold Niebuhr History of Rome, Volume 1 1871 p.196 "the three years which he promises to Aeneas, refer, not to the interval between his landing and his death, but to the little Troy on the Latian shore, until the two nations unite and built Lavinium; though the former period was also reckoned at the same number of years."


  1. ^ C. F. L'Homond Selections from Viri Romae p.1
  2. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities I.70.4
  3. ^ Donna Rosenberg. World Mythology. NTC Pub. Group, 1994. Pp. 111.
  4. ^ Livy, Valerie M Warrior (ed). The History of Rome, Books 1-5. Indianapolis, Indiana, USA: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2006. Pp. 8.
  5. ^ Ed. William Smith Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) accessed April 29 2015
  6. ^ Jane F. Gardner. Roman myths. British Museum Press, 1993. Pp. 31.
  7. ^ Eratosthenes Chronographiai fragment
  8. ^ a b Gary D. Farney, Ethnic Identity and Aristocratic Competition in Republican Rome (Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 55–56.
  9. ^ Mommsen Book I Chapter iii
  10. ^ a b M. Junianus Justinus Historiarum Philippicarum liber XLIII, 1 translated by Rev. John Selby Watson 1853
  11. ^ Origo Gentis Romanae Canisius College Translated Texts 2004
  12. ^ Sir George Cornewall Lewis An inquiry into the credibility of the early Roman history Vol. I chapter IX
  13. ^ William Smith A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology
  14. ^ Barthold Niebuhr The History of Rome, Volume 1 1871 p. 78
  15. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquties 1.70
  16. ^ Livy Ab urbe condita 1.23.4, Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities V.74.4, Plutarch Life of Romulus 27.1
  17. ^ a b Thomas Henry Dyer The History of the Kings of Rome 1868 p.185-186
  18. ^ Titus Livius. "Book I". History of Rome. 
  19. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus. "I.66 ff". Roman Antiquities. 
  20. ^ a b Fitzgerald (translator) Aeneid 1983 6.1058-1067
  21. ^ (Edited by Hermann Peter)Historicorvm romanorvm fragmenta Fest. s. u. oratores p.182 M. Cato - in orignum 1. I: Propter id bellum coepit. Cloelius praetor Albanus oratores misit Romam cum... Translated: M. Cato - in Origines 1. I: Before the war began, praetor Cluilius of Alba, exchanged diplomats with Rome...
  22. ^ Iliad XX 306-308
  23. ^ Gregory Nagy Homer the Preclassic p.198
  24. ^ Marie Tammer The Last Descendant of Aeneas: The Habsburgs and the Mythic Image of the Emperor p.68-69
  25. ^ Sir William Smith (Editor) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology vol. II 1882 p. 642
  26. ^ Bruce Lincoln Authority: Construction and Corrosion p.41
  27. ^ Suetonius Life of Julius Caesar 79.2
  28. ^ Barthold Georg Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. 1, note 1240, vol. 2, note 421
  29. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus 3.29 and Publius Cornelius Tacitus Annales 11.24
  30. ^ Ovid Fasti V.563
  31. ^ Evans, Jane DeRose The Art of Persuasion: Political Propaganda from Aeneas to Brutus p.112
  32. ^ Evans, Jane DeRose The Art of Persuasion: Political Propaganda from Aeneas to Brutus p.113
  33. ^ Virgil Aeneid VI. 772
  34. ^ James George Frazer The Golden Bough chapter XIII
  35. ^ a b Arthur Bernard Cook The European Sky-God III. The Italians
  36. ^ Livy I. 2, 6 and Pliny Natural History 3. 56,
  37. ^ Charles Selby Events to be Remembered in the History of Britain p.1-2
  38. ^ Thomas Henry Dyer The History of the Kings of Rome p. 75-76
  39. ^ Barthold Niebuhr The History of Rome, Volume 1 1871 p.193-194
  40. ^ William Smith Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography 1854
  41. ^ Bomer F. (1951) Rom und Troia. Baden-Baden: Kunst und Wissenschaft.
  42. ^ a b Alfoldi, A. (1971). Early Rome and the Latins. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  43. ^ a b Schauenburg K. (1960). 'Aeneas und Rom, Gymnasium 67:176-91
  44. ^ Virgil Aeneid VIII
  45. ^ Paradiso, Canto VI, lines 28-54
  46. ^ Hartmann Schedel The Nuremberg Chronicle Folio XLIX recto 1493
  47. ^ Geoffrey of Monmouth History of the Kings of Britain
  48. ^ Charles Selby Events to be Remembered in the History of Britain p.1-2
  49. ^ David Coward, A History of French Literature (Blackwell, 2002), p.13. ISBN 1-4051-1736-2

External links

  • Dionysius of Halicarnassus; Ernest Cary (Translator); William Thayer (Editor) (1937-1950, 2007). Roman Antiquities. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Chicago: Harvard University, University of Chicago. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  • Livius, Titus; D. Spillan (Translator) (1853, 2006). The History of Rome, Books 1 to 8. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  • Origo Gentis Romanae; Kyle Haniszewski, Lindsay Karas, Kevin Koch, Emily Parobek, Colin Pratt, Brian Serwicki (Translators); Thomas M. Banchich (Supervisor). The Origin of the Roman Race Canisius College Translated Texts, Number 3 Canisius College, Buffalo, New York 2004.
  • Cambridge. ISBN 302514485W.
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