The more general name in Hebrew for a crown is 'atarah, meaning a “circlet.” This is used of crowns and head ornaments of divers kinds, including royal crowns. Such was the crown taken from the king of Ammon by David (2 Samuel 12:30). The crown worn by the Assyrian kings was a high mitre, sometimes adorned with flowers. There are sculptures also representing the crowns worn by the early Egyptian and Persian kings. Sometimes a diadem surrounded the royal head-dress of two or three fillets. This probably signified that the wearer had dominion over two or three countries. In Rev. 12:3; 13:1, we read of “many crowns,” a token of extended dominion.
The ancient Persian crown (Esther 1:11; 2:17; 6:8) was called kether; i.e., “a chaplet,” a high cap or tiara. Crowns were worn sometimes to represent honor and power (Ezek. 23:42). They were worn at marriages (Song of Songs 3:11; Isaiah 61:10, “ornaments;” Revised King James Version, “a garland”), and at feasts and public festivals.
The crown was among the Romans and Greeks a symbol of victory and reward. The crown or wreath worn by the victors in the Olympic games was made of leaves of the wild olive; in the Pythian games, of laurel; in the Nemean games, of parsley; and in the Isthmian games, of the pine. The Romans bestowed the “civic crown” on him who saved the life of a citizen. It was made of the leaves of the oak.
Crown of Life—In opposition to all these fading crowns the apostles speak of the incorruptible crown, the crown of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10) “that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:4, Greek: amarantinos; compare 1:4). Probably the word amaranth was applied to flowers we call “everlasting,” the “immortal amaranth.”