Historical Authenticity of Roman Kings

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,947
Australia
They can call themselves "kings". You can call them "kings". But that doesn't change the fact that they were just bandit chieftains.
 
Jul 2019
699
New Jersey
They can call themselves "kings". You can call them "kings". But that doesn't change the fact that they were just bandit chieftains.
There is also no denying that by the time the sixth century BC rolled around (beginning of the Republic) the Romans were a significant local power. That Porcenna came all the way from Clusium to capture Rome indicates Rome's status.
 
Apr 2018
303
Italy
More legendary than real. Romulus never existed, his life and the foundation or rome, the she wols, his birth and the twin Remus it's a mytheme present also in other mythologies. Also Numa Pompilius is legendary, after the founder succeds a king that establish laws and rites is something recurrent in other mythologies. Perhaps the only ones realistic were Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Priscus because of references of them in etruscan tombs.
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,798
United States
Do we have any information on what Rome's social structure might have been before the Etruscan kings? Maybe more of an oligarchy of local clan chiefs?
 
Jul 2019
699
New Jersey
Do we have any information on what Rome's social structure might have been before the Etruscan kings? Maybe more of an oligarchy?
I believe the consensus (to the extent that a consensus can exist re archaic Rome) is that Rome was simply a Latin tribal village before they adopted urbanization and an Etruscan form of government (kings, etc).

@Condottiero The Etruscan grave (francois tomb) doesn't clearly identify either. The Tarquin showed there had the praenomen Cnaius (Gaius?), and while Claudius' identification of Vibenna with Tullius is possible, it is by no means definite.
 
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Jul 2019
699
New Jersey
Nah. Hostilius was the 3rd King, and I feel like he at least existed. Aside from his unique and odd name, it's just too implausible that the Senators all unanimously agreed to a retrospective cover up whereby they started calling the Senate building after a guy that had never existed to that point. It's too far in conspiracy theory realms; you'd never be able to get all the factions to go along with such a thing and keep it secret from everyone.
You have centuries for the legend to develop. Legends aren't suddenly invented; multiple generations build on and embellish the kernel story, and then three centuries down the line someone adds that Hostilius built that old building over there.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,975
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
'Regnum Romanum' sounds fine for 'Roman Kingdom'. One problem with the tradition is the suggestion that 244 years saw only seven kings. I suspect that no kingdom from which authentic records survive can show a similar sequence with an average reign of over 34 years. (I'm open to correction on this.)
Suppose that the throne passed from father to son for 7 generations. In that case the average reign length could be up to 34 years if the average father was up to 34 years older than his son for all 7 generations. And there are families where the average generation is 34 years or longer for 7 generations or longer.

The kings of Rome were not all fathers and sons. Supposed that each time a king died a relatively young man, related to the old king or not, was elected king aged about 30 years old. If each of those young kings lived into their sixties the average reign length would be 30 odd years.

The alleged length of the alleged 7 reigns of Roman kings is highly unusual and suspicious. But it is certainly possible.

My mother's family owned a small business for five generations and about 208 years from about 1770 to 1978, for an average of 41.6 years per generation. However, there were 9 owners in all, for an average of 23.111 years per owner, counting a man who owned the business twice as two owners and counting a man who was a co owner with his brother as another owner.

There were 7 kings of England from 1216 to 1422, 206 years with an average of 29.428 years.

The Qing Dynasty of China lasted 268 years form 1644 to 1912 or 276 years from 1636 to 1912 , & had 11 monarchs for an average of 24.36 or 25.09 years.

the seven Qing Dynasty reigns from the Kangxi emperor in 1661 t The Tongzhi Emperor in 1875 lasted for 214 years for an average of 30.57 years.

7 Princes of Lichtenstein reigned from 1772 to 1989, a total of 217 years and an average of 31 years.

There were 7 kings of France in 239 years from 1031 to 1272, an average of 34.14 years.

So I am very suspicious of the claim that only seven kings ruled from for as long as 244 years with an average reign of about 34.85 years. I think that probably there were more kings, or the kingdom lasted a shorter time, or both. But I don't see any reason to claim that would be impossible. And if there weren't other dubious features about the story of the Roman Kings, it would be very easy to imagine that it was almost totally accurate and that someone simply got a few dates wrong.
 
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Moros

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
3,097
'Regnum Romanum' sounds fine for 'Roman Kingdom'. One problem with the tradition is the suggestion that 244 years saw only seven kings. I suspect that no kingdom from which authentic records survive can show a similar sequence with an average reign of over 34 years. (I'm open to correction on this.)
The 7 Kings of England from Henry II to Edward III cover the years 1154 to 1377, a period of 223 years, and that included two brothers. Average = c.32 years each. Plus Henry II's grandfather, Henry I, had reigned 35 years before the usurpation of Stephen, who Henry II succeeded.

The 7 Kings of France from Henry I to Louis IX cover the years 1031 to 1270. a period of 239 years. Average = c.34 years each. Plus Henry I's father, Robert II, reigned for 35 years before Henry succeeded.

I think the years attributed to the 7 Kings of Rome might be exaggerated, but they are possible. Especially as the succession was not by primogeniture (as the 2 examples above were), but through election. It would be possible therefore for each new king to be some decades younger than the previous.
 
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Jul 2019
699
New Jersey
So I am very suspicious of the claim that only seven kings ruled from for as long as 244 years with an average reign of about 34.85 years. I think that probably there were more kings, or the kingdom lasted a shorter time, or both. But I don't see any reason to claim that would be impossible. And if there weren't other dubious features about the story of the Roman Kings, it would be very easy to imagine that it was almost totally accurate and that someone simply got a few dates wrong.
I think we can rule out the possibility that the kingdom ended earlier than traditional Roman historiography suggests, as the date of 509 BC dovetails nicely with the unrest between the Etruscans and Latium, a development which is likely connected in some way with the establishment of the Republic. What's more, the almost entirely extant consular list goes back to 509, and we have little real reason to deny its authenticity. The other possibility is that Rome was founded later than c. 750 BC. While that is certainly possible, it seems unlikely as well, as archaeology suggests that the area was beginning to coalesce into a city at about that time. The most plausible explanation seems to be that there were more than seven kings, something which seems highly likely given that the first four kings seem to be more archetype than person.
 
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Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,640
Australia
You have centuries for the legend to develop. Legends aren't suddenly invented; multiple generations build on and embellish the kernel story, and then three centuries down the line someone adds that Hostilius built that old building over there.
The Senate were the educated class in Rome, and the Curia Hostilia was their meeting place from the time it was built basically. They weren't morons. How does such a subterfuge happen? With an urban legend about a ghost or something you can see how it could start, but how do the Senators all agree to name the Senate building after a guy who didn't exist? It just doesn't seem plausible. The guy must have been real and had a hand in building it, I don't see what other explanation is possible. There are also a few other events attributed to him that smack of being real, including the trial of Horatius. Caesar would later invoke the same trial process when having a show trial for Rabirus. It seems strange that he could invoke a trial process used by King Hostilius if he never lived. Where were the records of Horatius trial coming from? Of course I can imagine how this could happen, I could imagine how a lot of the urban legends happened. What I find totally implausible is the Senate all decided to name their building after a fictional King who they would have known didn't exist, because the reason it is named after him is that he built it for them to use. They didn't just come across the building and buy it from a merchant who told many spicy tales about it; it was continually in use from it's construction, in the middle of the freaking forum, and was named for the guy who built it from the point of construction.