Roman Kings on Ancient Coins

Before the Roman Empire there was the Roman Republic. And before that, Rome was an unremarkable city ruled by kings.

The city of Rome was supposedly founded on April 21, 753 BC by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus. This page lists ancient coins which reference the founders of Rome and the subsequent kings who ruled until the founding of the Roman Republic in 509 BC. It uses the coins to present a brief history of the foundation of Rome and the Roman kings.

I plan to add examples of these coins to my ancient coin collection and use the images of my coins to illustrate this page. I welcome any contributions of images and/or additional information which I can use here - particularly images of these coins since it will likely be a long time (if ever) before I assemble a collection including all of them.

Rome's Founders: Aeneas, Rhea Silvia, Romulus and Remus

Caesar Caesar
AR Denarius
47-46 BC
North Africa
Julius Caesar
Crawford 458/1, RCTV 1402

Obv: Diademed head of Venus Genetrix r.

Rev: Aeneas moving l., holding Palladium and carrying his father Anchises. CAESAR

Aeneas was a Trojan hero, the son of the goddess Venus. He fled the fallen city of Troy with his father Anchises, his son Ascanius Julius, and others. He settled in the city of Alba Longa in Italy, where his descendent Rhea Silvia became the mother of Romulus and Remus the founders of Rome. Julius Caesar's family the Julians claimed descent from Aeneas.
Mars and Rhea Silvia Mars and Rhea Silvia
AE As
140-144 AD
Rome
Antoninus Pius
RIC III 694c, RCTV 4315

Obv: laureate draped bust right. ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P

Rev: Mars, holding spear & shield, descending right thru the air to Rhea Silvia, who reclines left, asleep on the ground, her head propped by hand. TR POT COS III S-C

Rhea Silvia was the daughter of Numitor who was removed from power as king of the city of Alba Longa by his brother Amulius. Amulius forced Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin to ensure Numitor's line would bear no heir to the throne. She became pregnant and claimed that the father was the god Mars. After giving birth to twins - Romulus and Remus - the children were thrown into the Tiber River.
Image
AR Denarius
137 BC
Rome
Sex. Pompeius
Crawford 235/1a, RCTV 112

Obv: Helmeted head of Roma r., X below chin, jug behind.

Rev: She-wolf suckling the twins Romulus and Remus, fig-tree in the background with three birds, the shepherd Faustulus stanging behind, FOSTLVS on l., SEX POM on r., ROMA in ex.

Romulus and Remus did not drown in the Tiber. Instead they washed ashore and were found by a she-wolf who protected them until they were found and rescued by the shepherd Faustulus. Years later, Romulus and Remus were discovered and were instrumental in the death of Amulius and the re-instatement of Numitor to the throne. After this episode, the twins decided to establish their own city. They argued over which hill to build upon. Remus was killed during this fight, and the city of Rome was built on Romulus' choice: the Palatine hill.

1. Romulus and Tatius the Sabine king

Tatius Tatius
AR Denarius
89 BC
Rome
L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus
Crawford 344/1a-b, RCTV 249

Obv: Bare head of Sabine King Titus Tatius r., bearded, TA or palm-branch in front, SABIN behind.

Rev: Two Roman soldiers running, each carrying a Sabine woman. L TITVRI in ex.

After establishing Rome, there was a lack of women in the city. Romulus asked the nearby Sabines to provide some. This request was refused. So Romulus invited the Sabines to a feast during which the Romans seized many of the unmarried women and carried them into their homes. This event is called the "rape of the Sabine women". The neighbors negotiated a peace and Titus Tatius the Sabine king ruled jointly with Romulus.
Image
AR Denarius
89 BC
Rome
L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus
Crawford 344/1c, RCTV 250

Obv: Bare head of Sabine King Titus Tatius r., bearded, A PV and palm-branch in front, SABIN behind.

Rev: Two Roman soldiers running, each carrying a Sabine woman. L TITVRI in ex.


Titus Tatius RCTV 251 obv Titus Tatius RCTV 251 obv
Image contributed by Matthew Richter
AR Denarius
89 BC
Rome
L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus
Crawford 344/2a-b, RCTV 251

Obv: Bare head of Sabine King Titus Tatius r., bearded, TA or palm-branch in front, SABIN behind.

Rev: Tarpeia facing, buried in shields, two soldiers about to cast their shields on her. star in crescent moon above. L TITVRI in ex.

After the rape of the Sabines, Tatius led an attack on Rome. The Vestal Virgin Tarpeia opened the gates after requesting and being promised that which the Sabines wore on their arms - their golden bracelets. Disgusted by the betrayal, the Sabines instead literally "gave" her what they carried on their arms; they crushed her to death with their shields.
Image
AR Denarius
89 BC
Rome
L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus
Crawford 344/2c, RCTV 252

Obv: Bare head of Sabine King Titus Tatius r., bearded, A PV and palm-branch in front, SABIN behind.

Rev: Tarpeia facing, buried in shields, two soldiers about to cast their shields on her. star in crescent moon above. L TITVRI in ex.


Caesar Caesar
AR Denarius
89 BC
Rome
L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus
Crawford 344/3, RCTV 253

Obv: Bare head of Sabine King Titus Tatius r., bearded. SABIN behind.

Rev: Victory in biga r., holding wreath (rarely whip). L TITVRI (VR rarely in monogram) below. control mark (rarely omitted) in ex.


Image
AR Denarius
56 BC
Rome
C. Memmius C.f.
Crawford 427/2, RCTV 388

Obv: Laur. head of Quirinus (Romulus as a god) r. QVIRINVS behind. C MEMMI C F in front.

Rev: Ceres seated r., holding corn-ears and torch, snake at feet. MEMMIUVS AED CERIALIA PREIMVS FECIT

When Romulus mysteriously disappeared after being last seen among a group of senators, a Roman named Julius Proculus explained the situation. His claim was that Romulus had appeared to him and had become the god Quirinus. So Rome would have to find a new king.

2. Numa Pompilius

Image
AR Denarius
49-48 BC
Greece
Pompey the Great
Crawford 446/1, RCTV 1373

Obv: Numa Pompilius wearing diadem inscribed NVMA. CN PISO PRO Q behind.

Rev: prow of galley. MAGN PRO COS

Numa Pompilius the son-in-law of the Sabine King Tatius became Rome's second king. He was noted for establishing Rome's religious traditions and adding the months January and February to the calendar.
Image
AR Denarius
97 BC
Rome
L. Pomponius Molo
Crawford 334/1, RCTV 214

Obv: laureate head of Apollo r. L POMPON MOLO

Rev: Numa Pompilius, holding lituus standing left of altar. On right victimarius leads goat. NUMA POMPIL in ex.


3. Tullus Hostilius

4. Ancus Marcius

Coin showing Roman King Ancus Marcius.  Crawford 425/1 56 BC Coin showing Roman King Ancus Marcius.  Crawford 425/1 56 BC
AR Denarius
56 BC
Rome
L. Marcius Philippus
Crawford 425/1, RCTV 382

Obv: diademed head of Ancus Marcius r., lituus behind. ANCVS below

Rev: Aqua Marcia aqueduct with equestrian statue on top. AQVA MAR within the aqueduct's arches. PHILIPPVS on l.

Ancus Marcius defended Rome from its Latin neighbors, improved the city by settling the Aventine hill and fortifying the Janiculum, and was known as the first king to construct an aqueduct to supply the city with water. The Aqua Marcia aqueduct, constructed in 144 BC, was therefore named in recognition of this king. Marcius also supposedly founded the nearby port of Ostia.
Image
AR Denarius
88 BC
Rome
C. Marcius Censorinus
Crawford 346/1, RCTV 256

Obv: Conjoined diad. heads of Numa Pompilius (bearded) and Ancus Marcius (beardless). sometimes with control mark.

Rev: Desultor galloping right aside second horse. usually control mark below. C CENSO in ex.

Ancus Marcius was grandson of the 2nd king of Rome Numa Pompilius who is also depicted on this coin.

5. Tarquin the Elder (Lucius Tarquinius Priscus)

6. Servius Tullius

7. Tarquin the Proud (Lucius Tarquinius Superbus)

Lucius Junius Brutus: from kingdom to republic

Image
AR Denarius
54 BC
Rome
Q. Servilius Caepio Brutus
Crawford 433/1, RCTV 397

Obv: Head of Libertas r., LIBERTAS behind.

Rev: L. Junius Brutus walking left between two lictors following an accensus, BRVTVS in ex.

L Junius Brutus led the revolt against Tarquin the last Roman king following the rape of Lucretia by Tarquin's son Sextus. Brutus became one of the two first consuls of the Roman Republic in 509 BC. The other consul was Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus who was Lucretia's husband. This coin was issued by M. Junius Brutus, one of Julius Caesar's assassins who was also known as Q. Servilius Caepio Brutus
Image
AR Denarius
54 BC
Rome
Q. Servilius Caepio Brutus
Crawford 433/2, RCTV 398

Obv: bearded head of L. Junius Brutus r. BRVTVS behind.

Rev: bearded head of C Servilius Ahala r. AHALA behind.

Ahala was master of horse in 439 BC

References


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