History

The Kings of Alba Longa

The Kings of Alba Longa
Authored By Viktor Susnyak

In a story very well known from Virgil and others, one can recognize Alba Longa as both - the first serious enemy of Rome as well as the hometown of Rome’s founders. The legends say that when Aeneas arrived from Troy after the destruction of that city, he founded Lavinium on the Italian soil. Just a couple of years later, his son founded Alba Longa near Lake Albano and centuries later Romulus and Remus came from that city and founded Rome.

Today, classicists know a lot about the development of Rome’s founding legend. While the original Latin influence spoke mainly about Romulus or Romos as the city’s founder, the Greeks preferred the Trojan hero Aeneas (occasionally even Odysseus or his offspring). As time went by, the two stories merged into one narrative with Romulus being a descendant of Aeneas. However, the original simple solution based on having Romulus as the city founder and the son or grandson of Aeneas soon stopped working. After Eratosthenes made chronology popular, it was soon apparent that there is a huge gap between the end of Trojan war in 12th century BCE and the founding of Rome in 8th century BCE – too huge to keep the father-son theory believable. This gap had to be filled.

The list of early Alban kings did exactly that – it filled the gap. It would be however a huge underestimation of the historians of that era to say, that it accomplished only this primary purpose. They seized the opportunity and made much more of it – invented kings with names and life stories that explained some of the geographical names (e.g. the name of Tiber) or even provided fabricated ancient heritage for some of the most ambitious families of the Roman Republic. 

While the general idea stays the same, there are several versions of the list of the Alban kings. Let’s explore the most famous ones – those found in the works of Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Livy.

 


  
  

  In Dionysius
  

  In Livy
  

  In Ovid
  

1.
  

  Ascanius
  

  Ascanius
  

  Ascanius
  

2.
  

  Silvius
  

  Silvius
  

  Silvius
  

3.
  

  Aeaneas
  

  Aeneas Silvius
  

  Latinus
  

4.
  

  Latinus
  

  Latinus Silvius
  

  Alba
  

5.
  

  Alba
  

  Alba
  

  Epytus
  

6.

  Capetus
  

  Atys
  

  Capys
  

7.

  Capys
  

  Capys
  

  Capetus
  

8.

  Calpetus
  

  Capetus
  

  Tiberinus
  

9.

  Tiberinus
  

  Tiberinus
  

  Remulus
  

10.

  Agrippa
  

  Agrippa
  

  Acrota
  

11.

  Allodius
  

  Romulus Silvius
  

  Aventinus
  

12.

  Aventinus
  

  Aventinus
  

  Proca
  

13.

  Proca
  

  Proca
  

  Amulius
  

14.

  Amulius
  

  Amulius
  

  Numitor
  

15.

  Numitor
  

  Numitor
  

  
  

 

Moreover, one can find a list of the Alban kings even in Virgil’s Aeneid (Book VI). It is, however, shorter than the ones previously mentioned. The author does not provide a full list, just mentions a couple of Alban kings among the descendants of Aeneas (when the titular hero visits the underworld and his father shows him the Roman heroes of the future). Here Silvius, son of Aeneas and Lavinia, established the dynasty. Apart from him, Virgil mentions Procas, Capys, Numitor, and Silvius Aeneas.

 


  King
  

  In Dionysius
  

  In Livy
  

  In Ovid
  

  In Virgil
  
Ascanius son of Aeneas and Creusa, born in Troy 
  
first king of Alba Longa

possibly two sons of Aeneas with this name; one son of Creusa and second son of Lavinia,  Livy is not sure which of them ruled Alba Longa

first, Lavinia acted as regent until Ascanius
became of age

son of Aeneas, born in Troy =Iulus
son of Aeneas and Creusa, born in
Troy 
  
founder of Alba Longa
Silvius

son of Aeneas and Lavinia
  
born in the woods
  
became king by a vote of the people

   
ruled 29 years

son of Ascanius
  
born in the woods
successor of Ascanius  son of Aeneas and Lavinia,
  
born in the woods
Iulus

son of Ascanius
  
lost the vote to Silvius, so he
never became king (although held some kind of “sacred authority)

ancestor of the Julii

=Ascanius (son of Aeneas and Creusa)
  
ancestor of the Julii
not mentioned =Ascanius
Aeneas (Aeneas Silvius) son of Silvius
  
ruled 31 years
son of Silvius
  
  
not mentioned
  
great fighter
  
Latinus (Latinus Silvius) ruled 51 years
  
son of Aeneas Silvius
  
  
son of Silvius
  
not mentioned
  
Alba ruled 38 years
  
son of Latinus Silvius
  
  
successor of Latinus
  
“famous”
not mentioned
  
Epytus not mentioned  not mentioned successor of Alba
  
not mentioned
Capetus  ruled 26 years  son of Capys successor of Capys 
  
not mentioned
Atys not mentioned son of Alba not mentioned not mentioned 
Capys ruled 28 years son of Atys successor of Epytus mentioned by name 
Calpetus ruled 13 years not mentioned not mentioned not mentioned
Tiberinus

killed in a battle near a river,

his body was carried away by the river that became known as Tiber
  
ruled 8 years

son of Capetus
  
drowned while crossing the river
that became known as Tiber
successor of Capetus
  
drowned in a river that became known as Tiber
not mentioned
  
Agrippa
  
ruled 41 years son of Tiberinus not mentioned not mentioned
Allodius

punished by gods for his impiety;

killed in a flood of the Alban lake

ruled 19 years

not mentioned  not mentioned not mentioned
Romulus Silvius / Remulus not mentioned called Romulus Silvius
  
son of Agrippa
  
killed by lightning
called Remulus
  
son of Tiberinus killed by lightning for his impiety (he attempted to portry the lightning)
not mentioned
Acrota  not mentioned not mentioned son of Tiberinus
  
“fierce”
  
more “moderate” ruler
not mentioned
Aventinus one of the seven Roman hills was named after him
  
ruled 37 years
son of Romulus Silvius
  
buried on a hill later called Aventine

son of Acrota

buried on a hill later called Aventine

not mentioned
  
Virgil explaines the name of the
hill in conncetion to a different Aventinus, a son of Hercules
Proca / Procas   called „Proca“
  
ruled 23 years
called „Proca“
  
successor (likely a son) of Aventinus

called „Proca“
  
successor (likely a son) of Aventinus

the nymph Pomona lived in his reign

“called Procas”
  
mentioned by name as a glorious ruler
Amulius

deposed his elder brother Numitor to seize the kingship
  
overthrown and killed by Romulus and Remus
  

ruled 42 years

son of Proca
  
deposed his elder brother Numitor to seize the kingship
  
overthrown and killed by Romulus and Remus
“unjust” not mentioned
Numitor restored by Romulus and Remus son of Proca
  
restored by Romulus and Remus
with the help of his grandson Romulus, he recaptured the kingdom mentioned among the Alban kings  

 

 

Sources:

Dionysius of Halicarnassus: The Roman Antiquities

Virgil: Aeneid

Ovid: Metamorphoses

Livy: Ab Urbe Condita Libri



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