Gens Licinia

The gens Licinia was a celebrated plebeian family at Rome, which appears from the earliest days of the Republic until imperial times, and which eventually obtained the imperial dignity. The first of the gens to obtain the consulship was Gaius Licinius Calvus Stolo, who, as tribune of the plebs from 376 to 367 BC, prevented the election of any of the annual magistrates, until the patricians acquiesced to the passage of the lex Licinia Sextia, or Licinian Rogations. This law, named for Licinius and his colleague, Lucius Sextius, opened the consulship for the first time to the plebeians. Licinius himself was subsequently elected consul in 364 and 361 BC, and from this time, the Licinii became one of the most illustrious gentes in the Republic.[2][3]

Origin of the gens

The nomen Licinius is derived from the cognomen Licinus, found in a number of Roman gentes. Licinus may have been an ancient praenomen, but few examples of its use as such are known. The name appears to be derived from the Etruscan Lecne, which frequently occurs on Etruscan sepulchral monuments. The Licinii were probably of Etruscan origin, and may have come to Rome during the time of the later kings, two of whom, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus and his son or grandson, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, were themselves Etruscan.

Etruscan players were brought in to take part in the theatrical performances (ludi scaenici) first established in the consulship of Gaius Licinius Calvus. This could, however, be coincidental, as the historian Livy explains that the games were instituted in order to palliate the anger of the gods.[3][4][5]

Praenomina used by the gens

The chief praenomina used by the Licinii were Publius, Gaius, Lucius, and Marcus, all of which were very common throughout Roman history. The family occasionally used Sextus, and there is at least one instance of Gnaeus during the 1st century BC Aulus was used by the Licinii Nervae.[3] Women used the name Licinia.

Branches and cognomina of the gens

The family-names of the Licinii are Calvus (with the agnomina Esquilinus and Stolo), Crassus (with the agnomen Dives), Geta, Lucullus, Macer, Murena, Nerva, Sacerdos, and Varus. The other cognomina of the gens are personal surnames, rather than family-names; these include Archias, Caecina, Damasippus, Imbrex, Lartius, Lenticula, Nepos, Proculus, Regulus, Rufinus, Squillus, and Tegula. The only cognomina which occur on coins are Crassus, Macer, Murena, Nerva, and Stolo. A few Licinii are known without a surname; most of these in later times were freedmen.[3]

The surname Calvus was originally given to a person who was bald, and it was the cognomen of the earliest family of the Licinii to distinguish itself under the Republic. The first of this family bore the agnomen Esquilinus, probably because he lived on the Esquiline Hill. Stolo, a surname given to the most famous of the family, may be derived from the stola, a long outer garment or cloak. Although the family of the Licinii Calvi afterward vanished into obscurity, the surname Calvus was later borne by the celebrated orator and poet Gaius Licinius Macer, who lived in the first century BC.[3][6]

Another family of the Licinii bore the cognomen Varus, which means "crooked, bent," or "knock-kneed." The Licinii Vari were already distinguished, when their surname was replaced by that of Crassus. This was a common surname, which could mean "dull, thick," or "solid," and may have been adopted because of the contrast between this meaning and that of Varus.[3][6]

The surname Dives, meaning "rich" or "wealthy," was borne by some of the Licinii Crassi. It may have been retroactively ascribed to a number of earlier members of the family; it was most famous as the surname of Marcus Licinius Crassus, the triumvir, but it is not even certain that it was used by members of his immediate family before him.[3][6][7]

Lucullus, the cognomen of a branch of the Licinii, which first occurs in history towards the end of the Second Punic War, is probably derived from the praenomen Lucius, of which it appears to be a diminutive. The surname does not appear on any coins of the gens.[3]

A family of the Licinii bore the surname Murena (sometimes, but erroneously, written Muraena), referring to the sea-fish known as the murry or lamprey, a prized delicacy since ancient times. This family came from the city of Lanuvium, to the southeast of Rome, and was said to have acquired its name because one of its members had a great liking for lampreys, and built tanks for them.[3][6][8][9][10]

Members of the gens

This list includes abbreviated praenomina. For an explanation of this practice, see filiation.

Early Licinii

  • Gaius Licinius, one of the first tribuni plebis elected, in 493 BC. He and his colleague, Lucius Albinius Paterculus, are said to have elected three others, although according to Dionysius, all five were elected by the people.[11][12]
  • Publius Licinius, one of the first tribuni plebis in 493 BC. According to Dionysius he was elected by the people, although according to Livius he was one of three chosen by his colleagues.[11][12]
  • Spurius Licinius, according to Livius tribunus plebis in 481 BC, although Dionysius gives his nomen as Icilius. Dionysius may be correct, as the praenomen Spurius was not used by any other members of the gens Licinia.[13][14]

Licinii Calvi

  • Publius Licinius P. f. P. n. Calvus Esquilinus, tribunus militum consulari potestate in 400 BC; according to Livius, one of the first plebeians elected to this office, although some of the consular tribunes in 444 and 422 may also have been plebeians.[15][16][17]
  • Publius Licinius P. f. P. n. Calvus Esquilinus, tribunus militum consulari potestate in 396 BC, substituted for his father, who had been elected for the second time, but declined the office on account of his advanced age.[18][19][20][21]
  • Gaius Licinius P. f. P. n. Calvus, the first plebeian appointed magister equitum in 368 BC; he had previously served as consular tribune, but the year is uncertain.[3][21][22][23][24][25]
  • Gaius Licinius C. f. P. n. Calvus, surnamed Stolo, one of the two tribuni plebis who brought forward the lex Licinia Sextia, and whom accordingly was elected consul in 364 and 361 BC.

Licinii Vari

  • Publius Licinius Varus, grandfather of the consul of 236 BC.
  • Publius Licinius P. f. Varus, father of the consul of 236 BC.
  • Gaius Licinius P. f. P. n. Varus, consul in 236 BC, carried on the war against the Corsicans and the transalpine Gauls.[26][27]
  • Publius Licinius (C. f. P. n.) Varus, praetor urbanus in 208 BC; he was instructed to refit thirty old ships and find crews for twenty others, in order to protect the coast near Rome.[28]
  • Gaius Licinius P. f. (C. n.) Varus, father of Publius and Gaius Licinius Crassus, consuls in 171 and 168 BC.

Licinii Crassi

Licinii Luculli

  • Lucius Licinius Lucullus, curule aedile in 202 BC, he and his colleague distinguished themselves by the magnificence with which they exhibited the Ludi Romani, but were suspected of having allowed their subordinates to defraud the public treasury.[53]
  • Gaius Licinius Lucullus, tribunus plebis in 196 BC, he proposed the establishment of the tresviri epulones, and was one of the first three persons appointed to the new office.[54]
  • Marcus Licinius Lucullus, praetor peregrinus in 186 BC, he and his colleagues were compelled to suspend all judicial proceedings for thirty days, in consequence of the alarm caused by the discovery of the cult of Bacchus at Rome.[55]
  • Lucius Licinius (L. f.) Lucullus, consul in 151 BC, he was assigned to Hispania, where he instigated a war against the Vaccaei, and as proconsul the following year, carried on war against the Lusitani with acts of great perfidy and cruelty.
  • Publius Licinius Lucullus, tribunus plebis in 110 BC, attempted, together with his colleague, Lucius Annius, to procure their joint re-election, but this was opposed by the other tribunes, and the election of all of the annual magistrates was postponed.[56]
  • Lucius Licinius L. f. (L. n.) Lucullus, praetor in 104 BC, appointed by the senate to the command in Sicily during the Second Servile War; victorious in the field, he was unable to capture the stronghold of the slaves, and surrendered his command, but not before destroying his camp and supplies out of spite.
  • Lucius Licinius L. f. L. n. Lucullus, consul in 74 BC, the conqueror of Mithridates, over whom he triumphed in 63. He was famous for his wealth and his luxurious lifestyle, gardens, and villa.
  • Marcus Licinius L. f. L. n. Lucullus, he was adopted into the gens Terentia as Marcus Terentius M. f. Varro Lucullus, consul in 73 BC, and triumphed in 71.
  • Lucius Licinius Lucullus, praetor in 67 BC, a man famous for his moderation and mildness of disposition; Dionysius records a colorful anecdote about his restraint in the face of insult.[57]
  • Gnaeus Licinius Lucullus, a friend of Cicero, who attended the funeral of Lucullus' mother.[58]
  • Lucius Licinius L. f. L. n. Lucullus, son of the consul of 74 BC, he was raised by his uncle, Cato, and Cicero. He espoused the cause of Brutus and Cassius, and was killed in the retreat from the Battle of Philippi, in 42 BC.[59][60][61]

Licinii Nervae

  • Gaius Licinius Nerva, praetor in 167 BC, assigned the province of Hispania Ulterior.[62][63]
  • Gaius Licinius C. f. Nerva, perhaps son of the praetor of 167; one of the legates who reported the conquest of Illyricum in 168; the following year he was one of the commissioners to return the Thracian hostages.[64][65]
  • Aulus Licinius Nerva, praetor in 166 BC; he was assigned to Hispania.[66]
  • Aulus Licinius (A. f.) Nerva, praetor, probably in 143 BC; the following year he was governor of Macedonia, and his quaestor, Lucius Tremellius Scrofa, defeated the army of a pretender.[67][68]
  • Publius Licinius Nerva, propraetor in Sicily in 104 BC, his dealings with the Publicani and their slaves led to the commencement of the Second Servile War. Nerva was succeeded by his relative, Lucius Licinius Lucullus.[69]
  • Gaius Licinius Nerva, described by Cicero as a bad but eloquent man, in contrast with Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, tribunus plebis in 62 BC and one of Catiline's conspirators.[70]
  • Licinius Nerva, quaestor of Decimus Junius Brutus in the war before Mutina.[71]
  • Aulus Licinius Nerva Silianus, consul in AD 7, was the son of Publius Silius, consul in 20 BC, but was adopted into the family of the Licinii Nervae.[72][73]

Licinii Murenae

  • Publius Licinius, praetor in an uncertain year.
  • Publius Licinius P. f. Murena, the first of the family to bear the cognomen Murena. He was a contemporary of the orator Lucius Licinius Crassus, who was consul in 95 BC. Like his father, he attained the rank of praetor.[3]
  • Publius Licinius P. f. P. n. Murena, described by Cicero as a man of moderate talent, and some literary knowledge, who devoted much attention to the study of antiquity. He died in the civil war between Sulla and the younger Marius, about 82 BC.[74]
  • Lucius Licinius P. f. P. n. Murena, one of Sulla's lieutenants in Greece, he later fought against Mithridates without authorization, and was recalled by Sulla in 81 BC. He had probably been praetor before 86.
  • Lucius Licinius L. f. P. n. Murena, elected consul in 62 BC; before entering office he was accused of bribery, and defended by Quintus Hortensius, Cicero, and Marcus Licinius Crassus. During his consulship he worked to preserve the peace in the aftermath of Catiline's conspiracy.
  • Gaius Licinius L. f. P. n. Murena, legate of his brother, the consul of 62, in Gallia Cisalpina; he captured some of Catiline's allies.[75]
  • Licinius (L. f. L. n.) Murena, probably the son of the consul of 62, he was adopted by Aulus Terentius Varro, and assumed the name Aulus Terentius Varro Murena. He was consul suffectus in 23 BC, but the following year conspired with Fannius Caepio and was put to death.[76][77]
  • Lucius Licinius Varro Murena, brother by adoption of the preceding, and conspirator against Augustus[78]


  • Publius Licinius Tegula, the author of a religious poem, sung by the Roman virgins in 200 BC.[79]
  • Gaius Licinius Sacerdos, an eques, who appeared before the younger Scipio Africanus, during his censorship in 142 BC. Scipio accused him of perjury, but as no witnesses came forward, Licinius was dismissed.[80][81]
  • Licinius, an educated slave belonging to Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, who, according to a well-known story, used to stand behind his master with a musical instrument, in order to moderate Gracchus' tone when he was speaking. He afterward became a client of Quintus Lutatius Catulus.[82][83][84]
  • Gaius Licinius Geta, consul in 116 BC, was expelled from the senate with thirty-one others by the censors of 115; he was subsequently restored to his rank, and himself held the office of censor in 108.[85][86]
  • Sextus Licinius, a senator, whom Gaius Marius ordered to be hurled from the Tarpeian Rock, on the day that he entered upon his seventh consulship, the first of January, 86 BC.[87][88][89]
  • Gaius Licinius C. n. Sacerdos, praetor in 75 BC; in the following year he had the government of Sicily, in which he was succeeded by Verres. Cicero contrasts his upright administration with the corruption of his successor.[90][91]
  • Gaius Licinius Macer, praetor in 68 BC, he was impeached for extortion by Cicero in 66, he took his own life to avoid the disgrace of a public condemnation. He was probably the annalist Licinius Macer, frequently mentioned by Livius and other historians.
  • Gaius Licinius C. f. Macer Calvus, a renowned orator and poet, favorably compared with Cicero and Catullus.
  • Aulus Licinius Archias, a Greek poet, defended by Cicero on a charge of illegally assuming Roman citizenship in 61 BC.
  • Lucius Licinius Squillus, one of the conspirators against Quintus Cassius Longinus in Hispania, in 48 BC.
  • Licinius Damasippus, a senator, and partisan of Pompeius, who perished during the Civil War, in 47 BC.[92][93]
  • Licinius Damasippus, a contemporary of Cicero, who wrote of his intention to purchase a garden from him in 45 BC. He was a dealer in statuary, and went bankrupt, but was prevented from doing away with himself by the Stoic Stertinius.[94][95]
  • Licinius Lenticula, a companion of Marcus Antonius, who restored him to his former status, after Lenticula had been condemned for gambling.[96][97]
  • Licinius Regulus, a senator who lost his seat when the senate was re-organized by Augustus.[98]
  • Publius Licinius Stolo, triumvir monetalis during the reign of Augustus.
  • Gaius Licinius Imbrex, a Latin comic poet, quoted by Aulus Gellius and Sextus Pompeius Festus.[99][100]
  • Licinius Lartius, praetor in Hispania, and later governor of one of the imperial provinces. He was a contemporary of the elder Plinius.[101][102][103]
  • Licinius Caecina, a senator attached to the party of Otho in AD 69; he may be the same as the Licinius Caecina of praetorian rank mentioned by the elder Plinius.[104][105]
  • Licinius Proculus, a friend of Otho, who raised him to the rank of praefectus praetorio. His bad advice and lack of military experience hastened Otho's downfall. He was pardoned by Vitellius.[106]
  • Licinius Nepos, described by the younger Plinius as an upright but severe man; he was praetor, although the year is uncertain.[107]
  • Lucius Licinius Sura, consul suffectus ex kal. Jul. in AD 98, and consul in 102 and 107.
  • Licinius Rufinus, a jurist in the time of Alexander Severus; he compiled twelve books of Regulae.[108][109]
  • Publius Licinius Valerianus, emperor from AD 253 to 260.
  • Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus, emperor from AD 253 to 268.
  • Publius Flavius Galerius Valerius Licinianus Licinius, emperor from AD 307 to 324.
  • Flavius Valerius Licinianus Licinius, son of the emperor Licinius, he was put to death in AD 323, when he was about eight years old.

See also


External links

  • Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, v. 2, page 831
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