Ancus Marcius

[ang-kuhs mahr-shee-uhs, -shuhs]
Ancus Marcius (r. 640 BC – 616 BC), fourth of the Kings of Rome, and possibly legendary. Like Numa, his reputed maternal grandfather (he was the son of Marcius II and wife Pompilia), he was a friend of peace and religion, but was obliged to make war to defend his territories. He conquered the Latins, and a number of them he settled on the Aventine Hill formed the origin of the Plebeians. He fortified the Janiculum, threw a wooden bridge across the Tiber, the Pons Sublicius, founded the port of Ostia, established salt-works and built a prison which was founded in 625 B.C. and was used to hold people until they decided what to do with them. Before this time, a popular punishment was to exile people.

Ancus Marcius is in many ways merely a duplicate of Numa, as is shown by his second name, Numa Marcius - the confidant and pontifex of Numa, being none other than Numa Pompilius himself, represented as a priest. The identification with Ancus is shown by the legend which makes the latter a bridge-builder (pontifex), the constructor of the first wooden bridge over the Tiber. It is in the exercise of his priestly functions that the resemblance is most clearly shown. Like Numa, Ancus died a natural death. He was succeeded, not by his sons, but by Lucius Tarquinius Priscus.


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