Crowns in Ancient Rome

What Were Military Crowns like in Ancient Rome?

In ancient Rome there were different and varied ways of rewarding or distinguishing soldiers who stood out in battle for their bravery, bravery, courage…
The most valuable were the military crowns and among these the most important was the crown obsidionalis, grass or grass, so called because it was made with grass and cereals and was given to the general who liberated a besieged or surrounded army. It was manufactured and awarded by the army itself to the general who had saved it. It was also granted to those who were able to lift the siege of a city.


Crowns in Ancient Rome
Crowns in Ancient Rome

Very few were awarded this crown, for example Publius Publius Cornelius – Scipio Aemilianus (185-129 BC), winner of the 3rd Punic War and destroyer of Carthage (Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia).

One such recipient was Quintus Fabius Maximus, who was awarded the Grass Crown for his leadership during the Second Punic War. Fabius Maximus successfully employed a strategy of attrition against Hannibal’s forces, which saved Rome during a critical period of the war.

Crowns in Ancient Rome
Crowns in Ancient Rome

What was the Civic Crown?

The civic crown, made of holm oak or oak leaves, was awarded to anyone who saved the life of a Roman citizen in combat, whether he was a private soldier or general. He could always behave and was given certain privileges such as having a seat next to the senators.

One of the most famous recipients of the Corona Civica, or Civic Crown, was Marcus Licinius Crassus, a Roman general and politician who was awarded the crown during the First Servile War.

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Crassus earned the honor for saving the life of a fellow soldier in battle, a deed that symbolized his bravery and commitment to his comrades.

Crassus later became one of the wealthiest men in Rome, and his military and political influence played a significant role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

Another prominent figure in Roman history, Julius Caesar, was a recipient of the Corona Civica. Caesar was awarded the crown for saving the life of a fellow citizen during a siege.


What was the Muralis Crown like?

The corona muralis (mural) or fortified crown and the vallaris were made of gold and in the shape of a fortification, they were given by the general to the one whose courage had led him to be the first to scale an enemy wall or palisade. The muralis was normally awarded to generals or high-ranking officers..


Classic or Rostrata Crown

Also called navalis, reserved for admirals and captains who had achieved an important victory at sea. It was made of precious metal and decorated with a representation of the prow of a ship or several sterns and sails. Agrippa himself received it for his victory in 36 BC, against Sextus Pompey.

Other Roman Decorations or Distinctions

The soldiers were given the torcs, a type of rigid collars that have their origin in the Celtic torcs. In principle it is believed that its origin was the spoils of war.
Armilla or armillae (kind of bracelet) made of precious metals, which the general gave to his men as a trophy.


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There were also the phalerae, a series of metal discs mounted on a leather harness that were issued to non-commissioned officers.
(Stele of the centurion Marcus Caelio of the 18th legion carrying the phalerae, two torcs at the ends of his cape and a pair of armillae on his wrists).

Corona Castrensis

When there were no cities to pillage, the “camp crown” was awarded to the soldier who was first to force an entrance into the enemy camp. Winning the camp crown was like a very high-stakes version of winning Capture the Flag. Again, this was a great way to both reward bravery and incentivize efficiency in battle.

Crowns in Ancient Rome
Crowns in Ancient Rome

Corona Ovalis

This next corona is another one that no mere soldier could hope to win. The “myrtle crown” was awarded to commanders who won a battle against pirates, barbarians, slaves, or other uncivilized peoples in a battle that was not a part of some official war.

The myrtle was the plant most sacred to the goddess Venus who was strongly associated with both Julius Caesar and the mythical foundation of Rome.

Corona Oleagina or Triunphalis

The olive wreath was awarded to all of the soldiers who had fought in the army of a general who had been awarded a Triumph. In other words, the men who had made the triumph possible. While their boss got the big parade, they got these olive crowns as a sort of recognition trophy for their service.



The Triumphal Crown Julius Caesar

This triumphal crown or laurel did mean triumph or victory. It was a distinction that was only awarded to the highest officials in Rome who achieved a significant achievement, especially generals and emperors.

At first, the wreath consisted of a fence of laurel branches. However, later it was made of pure gold to symbolize the importance of the feat achieved.


The Triumphal Crown Julius Caesar
The Triumphal Crown Julius Caesar

The origins of the use of this crown are not very clear. It probably comes from the ancient Greek Olympic Games, where an olive wreath was awarded to the winners of the various events.

It is said that Julius Caesar and other great Roman figures imitated the olive crown, however, they opted for the laurel, known as laurea, that is, the laureates were awarded. Although the crown will always be a symbol of triumph, Julius Caesar used it for much more curious and vain reasons. Nice way to hide baldness.


Corona Convivialis

My personal favorite crown, this “party crown” was worn by Romans at parties. These crowns were tight-fitting headbands or “fillets” made out of wool, roses, ivy, and other materials thought to combat the effects of intoxication. Romans were not allowed to wear these crowns in public but commonly wore them in private banquets.

Corona Nuptialis

The wedding or bridal wreath was made out of verbena gathered by the bride herself (using store-bought flowers was bad luck) and worn underneath her veil. The groom also wore a less flashy chaplet wreath.

Crowns in Ancient Rome
Crowns in Ancient Rome

Corona Natalitia

At the house of a family who had just given birth to a child, a wreath of ivy or parsley was hung above the door both in celebration and for good luck.


Corona Radiata

The divine crown, worn only by gods and emperors. For the gods, this crown was a sign that they had deified a mortal hero. For emperors, it was appropriated as a symbol of their divinity. As you can see from the picture, it was a simple circular crown adorned with spikey, radiating lances of gold shooting up towards the heavens.

Crowns in Ancient Rome
Crowns in Ancient Rome


Whenever I come across some token of the emperor’s divinity, I’m reminded of the ever down-to-earth emperor Vespasian (founder of the Flavian dynasty) and his famous last words, “Dear me, I think I’m becoming a god.”

This radiant imperial crown was often associated with the cult of Sol Invictus, or “unconquered sun” a god with syncretic ties to both Jesus and Mithras.


What was the Corona Nuptialis?

The wedding or bridal wreath was made out of verbena gathered by the bride herself (using store-bought flowers was bad luck) and worn underneath her veil. The groom also wore a less flashy chaplet wreath. Crown Nuptialis

Corona Nuptialis
Corona Nuptialis