The Many Coronas of Ancient Roman Society

Corona Triumphalis

The famous laurel wreath (Corona Triumphalis) made — believe it or not — out of laurel leaves, was only to be worn by a general during his Triumph.

Corona Obsidionalis/Gramineae

A military triumph may have been the most prized reward in the Roman world. But, winning the Grass Crown or “Corona Obsidionalis” was the most highly respected. Because in order to win a grass crown, you had to be — in short — a hero.

The Grass Crown

Corona Civica

One small step below the grass crown was the “oak crown.” This was awarded to a soldier who saved the life of one of his comrades in battle. Because this award required the testimony of the soldier whose life had been saved, it was a tough prize to win. Apparently, Roman soldiers were not quick to admit that they needed help.

Caligula wearing the civic (oak) crown.

Corona Navalis

The first of several branch-specific military crowns was the “naval crown.” As the name clearly indicates, this crown was awarded to men who displayed acts of bravery in naval battles.

Corona Muralis

On land, as at sea, a soldier could win himself an honorary crown by being the first over the wall of a besieged city.

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.

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.

Corona Oleagina

Corona Sacerdotalis

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



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