Mons Maiorum: Roman Aristocracy and the Palatine Hill's Appropriated Memory

Charles T. Rainville III, Providence College


Mons Maiorum argues against the all-to-common line of thinking among some scholars of ancient Rome: that house exchange of “ancient families surviving in genetic and property continuity [is] not characteristic of Rome.” This belief relies fundamentally on evidence from Roman authors after the proscriptions of the first century BC, when long-established aristocratic families had been removed from the landscape of the Palatine, and Roman memory. It is thus short sighted not to consider the depth of myths, physical monuments, and Roman customs as evidence for a close association of generations of Romans living in family property with a special connection to the Palatine Hill. This paper seeks to delve into exactly those many and overlapping threads to more fully understand how the aristocracy of the ancient Roman Republic was deeply connected to the Palatine Hill. These elites and the people who viewed them influenced the Hill’s memory and in turn generations were influenced by its heritage, forming a collective identity understood by all Romans of the first century BC.