Flavia (gens)

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The gens Flavia was a plebeian family at Rome. Its members are first mentioned during the last three centuries of the Republic. The first of the Flavii to achieve prominence was Marcus Flavius, Tribune of the plebs in 327 and 323 BC; however, no Flavius attained the consulship until Gaius Flavius Fimbria in 104 BC. The gens became illustrious during the first century AD, when the family of the Flavii Sabini claimed the imperial dignity.

Under the Empire, the number of persons bearing this nomen becomes very large, perhaps due to the great number of freedmen under the Flavian dynasty of emperors. It was a common practice for freedmen to assume the nomina of their patrons, and so countless persons who obtained the Roman franchise under the Flavian emperors adopted the name Flavius, which was then handed down to their descendants.[1]

During the later period of the Empire, the name Flavius frequently descended from one emperor to another, beginning with Constantius, the father of Constantine the Great. The name became so ubiquitous that it was sometimes treated as a praenomen, to the extent of being regularly abbreviated Fl., and it is even described as a praenomen in some sources, although it was never truly used as a personal name.

The vast majority of persons named Flavius during the later Empire could not have been descended from the Flavia gens; and indeed, the distinction between nomina and cognomina was all but lost, so that in many cases one cannot even determine with certainty whether it is a nomen or a cognomen. However, because it is impossible to determine which of these persons used Flavius as a gentile name, they have been listed below.[1]


The Flavii seem to have been of Sabine origin, and may have been connected with the Flavii who lived at Reate during the first century AD, and to whom the emperor Vespasian belonged. But the name Flavius also occurs in other countries of Italy, as Etruria and Lucania. The name is derived from flavus, meaning "golden" or "golden-brown," and probably referred to the blond hair possessed by an early member of the family. Flavus was also a surname found in a number of gentes.[1][2][3]

In modern use, Flavius is a personal name, and widely used in romance languages, including Italian and Spanish Flavio (fem. Flavia), French Flavien (fem. Flavie), Portuguese Flávio (fem. Flávia), and Romanian Flavius or Flaviu (fem. Flavia).

Praenomina used[edit]

The early Flavii used the praenomina Marcus, Quintus, Gaius, and Lucius. Of these, Gaius is the only one known from the family of the Fimbriae. The name Gnaeus occurs once, but as the son of a freedman of the family, and thus does not seem to be representative of the gens. The Flavii Sabini appear to have restricted themselves to the praenomen Titus alone, and distinguished their sons by the use of different surnames, usually by giving the younger sons surnames derived from their maternal ancestors.[1]

Branches and cognomina[edit]

The cognomens that occur in the Flavia gens during the Republic are Fimbria, Gallus, Lucanus, and Pusio.[1] The only distinct branch of the Flavii during the Republic was that of the Fimbriae.

Under the empire, the family of the Flavii Sabini rose to prominence. Descended from Titus Flavius Petro, a soldier from Reate who fought under Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, within two generations they had attained such respectability that two of his grandsons held the consulship in consecutive years, AD 51 and 52; the younger of these marched to Rome at the head of an army in the year of the four emperors, AD 69, and claimed the imperial dignity as the emperor Vespasian. However, within less than thirty years, the family was largely destroyed through the workings of Vespasian's son, the emperor Domitian.

The Flavii Titiani may be descended from the Flavii Sabini through the consul Titus Flavius Clemens, a nephew of Vespasian; the first of this branch, Titus Flavius Titianus, who was governor of Egypt from AD 126 to 133, may have been his son.


This list includes abbreviated praenomina. For an explanation of this practice, see filiation.
  • Marcus Flavius, tribune of the people in BC 327 and 323.[4][5]
  • Gnaeus Flavius, the son of a freedman, he was secretary to Appius Claudius Caecus, and served as aedile in 304 BC.
  • Flavius, or Flavius Lucanus, a Lucanian, who went over to Mago during the Second Punic War, and delivered the proconsul Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, in return for the promise that the Lucanians should be free and retain their own constitution.[6][7][8]
  • Quintus Flavius, an augur who, according to Valerius Maximus, was accused by the aedile Gaius Valerius (perhaps the same who was curule aedile in BC 199). When fourteen tribes had already voted against Flavius, who again asserted his innocence, Valerius declared that he did not care whether the man was guilty or innocent, provided he secured his punishment; and the people, indignant at such conduct, acquitted Flavius.[9][10]
  • Quintus Flavius, of Tarquinii, murdered the slave Panurgus, who belonged to Gaius Fannius Chaereas, and who was to be trained as an actor by Quintus Roscius, the celebrated comedian.[11]
  • Lucius Flavius, an eques, who gave evidence against Verres in BC 70. He probably lived in Sicily, and was engaged in mercantile pursuits. He appears to be the same Lucius Flavius who is mentioned as procurator (that is, the agent or steward) of Gaius Matrinius in Sicily.[12]
  • Gaius Flavius, brother of Lucius, and likewise an eques, whom Cicero recommended in BC 46 to Manius Acilius, praetor of Sicily, as an intimate friend of Cicero's late son-in-law, Gaius Calpurnius Piso.[13]
  • Gaius Flavius Pusio, is mentioned by Cicero as one of the equites who opposed the tribune Marcus Drusus.[14]
  • Lucius Flavius, praetor in BC 59, and a supporter of Pompeius. He was also a friend of both Cicero and Caesar, and may have been the same Flavius whom Caesar entrusted with one legion and the province of Sicily in BC 49.[15][16][17]
  • Gaius Flavius, an eques of Asta, a Roman colony in Spain. He and other equites, who had belonged to the party of Pompeius, went over to Caesar in BC 45. It is uncertain whether he is the same Gaius Flavius who is mentioned among the enemies of Octavian, and who was put to death in BC 40, after the taking of Perusia.[18][19]
  • Gaius Flavius, a friend of Marcus Junius Brutus, whom he accompanied to Philippi in the capacity of praefectus fabrum. Flavius fell in the Battle of Philippi, and Brutus lamented over his death.[20][21][22][23]
  • Flavius Gallus, tribune of the soldiers under Marcus Antonius in his unfortunate campaign against the Parthians in BC 36. During Antonius' retreat, Gallus made an inconsiderate attack upon the enemy, for which he paid with his life.[24]

Flavii Fimbriae[edit]

  • Gaius Flavius Fimbria, father of the consul of 104 BC.
  • Gaius Flavius C. f. Fimbria, consul in 104 BC; acquitted of extortion, despite significant evidence. With other consulars, took up arms against the revolt of Saturninus in 100. A clever jurist and powerful orator, his reputation had faded by Cicero's time, when his speeches were scarcely to be found.
  • Gaius Flavius C. f. C. n. Fimbria, one of the most violent partisans of Marius during the civil war against Sulla. Sent into Asia as legate to the consul Lucius Valerius Flaccus, he initiated a mutiny and murdered Flaccus in 85, assuming command of the army against Sulla. With much savagery, he subdued most of Asia, but when his men refused to fight Sulla directly in 84, he took his own life.
  • Flavius C. f. C. n. Fimbria, brother of the Marian partisan, was legate of Gaius Norbanus in the war against Sulla, BC 82. He and other officers of the party of Carbo were invited to a banquet by Publius Tullius Albinovanus, and then treacherously murdered.[25]

Flavii Sabini[edit]

  • Titus Flavius Petro, grandfather of the emperor Vespasian, was a native of the municipium of Reate, and served as a centurion in the army of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus at the Battle of Pharsalus, BC 48.[26]
  • Titus Flavius T. f. Sabinus, father of Vespasian, was one of the farmers of the tax of the quadragesima in Asia, which he collected with so much fairnes that many cities erected statues to his honour with the inscription, καλως τελωνησαντι. He afterwards carried on business as a money-lender among the Helvetii, and died in their country.[26]
  • Titus Flavius T. f. T. n. Sabinus, the elder brother of Vespasian, was consul suffectus in AD 52, and praefectus urbi for most of Nero's reign. The emperor Vitellius offered to surrender the empire into his hands until the arrival of Vespasian, but the soldiers of each refused this arrangement, and Sabinus was murdered by Vitellius' troops, despite the emperor's attempts to save him.
  • Titus Flavius T. f. T. n. Sabinus Vespasianus, afterwards the emperor Vespasian, was consul suffectus in AD 51, and proconsul in Africa and Judaea under Nero. He became emperor in AD 69, on the death of Vitellius, and reigned until his death in 79.
  • Flavia Domitilla, otherwise known as Domitilla the Elder, the wife of Vespasian.
  • Titus Flavius (T. f. T. n.) Sabinus, consul suffectus in AD 69, was probably a nephew of the emperor Vespasian. He was one of the generals appointed by the emperor Otho to oppose the forces of Vitellius, but after Otho's death, he submitted to the conqueror, and caused his troops in the north of Italy to submit to the generals of Vitellius.[27]
  • Titus Flavius T. f. T. n. Sabinus, son of the consul of 52, and nephew of Vespasian, he was consul with his cousin, the emperor Domitian, in AD 82, but afterwards slain by the emperor on the pretext that the herald proclaiming his consulship had called him Imperator instead of consul.[28][29][30]
  • Titus Flavius T. f. T. n. Clemens, son of the consul of 52, and nephew of Vespasian, he was consul with his cousin, the emperor Domitian, in AD 95. Although the emperor had intended Clemens' sons to succeed him in the empire, and renamed them Vespasian and Domitian, he had his cousin put to death during his consulship, according to Cassius Dio on a charge of atheism, implying that he had become a Christian.[31][32]
  • Titus Flavius T. f. T. n. Sabinus Vespasianus, better known as Titus, emperor from AD 79 to 81.
  • Titus Flavius T. f. T. n. Domitianus, better known as Domitian, emperor from AD 81 to 96.
  • Flavia Domitilla, otherwise known as Domitilla the Younger, the daughter of Vespasian.
  • Julia Flavia, daughter of the emperor Titus; she married her cousin, Titus Flavius Sabinus, consul in AD 82. He was murdered by Julia's uncle, the emperor Domitian, who then took his niece for a mistress.
  • Flavia Domitilla, daughter of Domitilla the Younger, and granddaughter of Vespasian; she married her cousin, Titus Flavius Clemens, consul in AD 95. He was murdered by Domitilla's uncle, the emperor Domitian, and Domitilla was exiled.

Flavii Titiani[edit]

The Dynasty of Constantine[edit]

  • Constantius Chlorus, afterwards Marcus Flavius Valerius Constantius, emperor with Galerius from AD 305 to 306, and the father of Constantine the Great.
  • Flavia Julia Helena, the first wife of Constantius Chlorus, and mother of the emperor Constantine.
  • Flavia Maximiana Theodora, probably the daughter of Afranius Hannibalianus, and stepdaughter of Maximian; she was the second wife of Constantius Chlorus.
  • Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus, otherwise known as Constantine the Great, emperor with Galerius and Licinius from AD 306 to 337.
  • Julius Constantius, eldest son of Constantius Chlorus and Theodora, and brother of Constantine. He was named consul in AD 335, but put to death following the emperor's death in 337. His sons, Constantius Gallus and Julian, were spared, and would eventually be named heirs by their cousin, Constantius II, who had married their sister.
  • Flavius Dalmatius, son of Constantius Chlorus and Theodora, and brother of Constantine; he held the censorship in AD 333, but was slain following the death of Constantine.
  • Flavius Hannibalianus, son of Constantius Chlorus and Theodora, was granted the title Nobilissimus, but perished in the massacre of the Flavian dynasty following the death of his brother, Constantine.
  • Flavia Julia Constantia, daughter of Constantius Chlorus and Theodora, and sister of Constantine, was given by him in marriage to his colleague, the emperor Licinius.
  • Anastasia, daughter of Constantius Chlorus and Theodora, and sister of Constantine. She was to marry the senator Bassianus, but he was put to death in AD 316, for plotting against the emperor.
  • Eutropia, daughter of Constantius Chlorus and Theodora, and sister of Constantine. She married Virius Nepotianus, and was the mother of Nepotianus, with whom she was put to death following a failed revolt against Magnentius in AD 350.
  • Fausta Flavia Maxima, daughter of Maximian, and second wife of Constantine; she was put to death in AD 326, shortly after the execution of her stepson, Crispus. The reasons are unclear, but rumors circulated of an affair between the empress and her stepson, or of a false allegation against Crispus by his stepmother, leading to his death.
  • Flavius Julius Crispus, son of Constantine, served his father in the war against Licinius, but was put to death in unclear circumstances in AD 326.
  • Constantina, the elder daughter of Constantine and Fausta, she was given in marriage first to her cousin Hannibalianus, and following his death in the dynastic purge of AD 337, to her cousin Constantius Gallus. She died in 354.
  • Helena, the younger daughter of Constantine and Fausta, she was given in marriage to her cousin, Julian, the future emperor. The couple was childless, and Helena suffered several miscarriages, which rumor blamed on the machinations of the empress Eusebia.
  • Flavius Claudius Constantinus, son of Constantine, and emperor with his brothers Constantius and Constans from AD 337 to 340.
  • Flavius Julius Constantius, son of Constantine, and emperor with his brothers Constantinus and Constans from AD 337 to 361.
  • Flavius Julius Constans, son of Constantine, and emperor with his brothers Constantinus and Constantius from AD 337 to 350.
  • Flavius Claudius Constantius Gallus, son of Julius Constantius, and grandson of the emperor Constantius Chlorus. Named Caesar by his cousin, Constantius II, following the death of Constans in AD 350. Gallus held the consulship from 352 to 354, but was suspected of attempting to claim the imperial dignity for himself, and put to death.
  • Flavius Claudius Julianus, son of Julius Constantius, and the last remaining heir of Constantius II following the downfall of Gallus; emperor from AD 360 to 366.
  • Flavius Dalmatius, son of Dalmatius the censor, and nephew of Constantine; he was proclaimed Caesar in 335, but slain by his soldiers following Constantine's death in 337.
  • Flavius Claudius Hannibalianus, son of Dalmatius the censor, and nephew of Constantine, who probably intended to place him at the head of a campaign against the Sassanid Empire, but this plan ended with the emperor's death in AD 337, and Hannibalianus was slain in the turmoil that followed.
  • Flavius Popillius Nepotianus, son of Eutropia, and nephew of Constantine, in AD 350 he revolted against Magnentius, but his small force, composed of ordinary citizens and gladiators, was quickly defeated by Magnentius' magister officiorum, Marcellinus. Nepotianus and his mother were put to death.
  • Flavia Maxima Constantia, daughter of Constantius II, and wife of the emperor Gratian.
  • Anastasia, daughter of Hannibalianus and Constantina.


  • Flavius Scaevinus, a senator of dissolute life, took part in the conspiracy of Piso against Nero. It was through Milichus, the freedman of Scaevinus, that the conspiracy was discovered by Nero. Milichus was liberally rewarded by the emperor, and Scaevinus put to death.[33]
  • Lucius Flavius Silva Nonius Bassus, consul in AD 81. He had been governor of Judaea from 73 to 81, and led the Roman forces at the siege of Masada, which fell in 74.
  • Titus Flavius Josephus, a historian of Jewish origin, who was captured by the future emperor Vespasian after the siege of Iotapata. He was spared execution, and eventually found favour with Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian, adopting the name Titus Flavius in honour of his patrons.
  • Titus Flavius Hyrcanus, the third son of Josephus.
  • Titus Flavius Justus, the fourth son of Josephus.
  • Titus Flavius Simonides Agrippa, the fifth son of Josephus.
  • Lucius Flavius Arrianus, called by the Athenians the young Xenophon, a historian of the second century. He was Greek, but received the Roman franchise and the right to hold high office from the emperor Hadrian in AD 124, whence he adopted the name Lucius Flavius. He held the consulship in AD 146.
  • Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria, one of the early Church fathers, lived from the middle of the second century to the second decade of the third century. He may have been born at Athens. His relationship to the other Flavii, or to Titus Flavius Clemens, the consul of AD 95, who may have been a convert to Christianity, is unknown; Clement's parents are thought to have been well-to-do pagans. Given the large number of persons who adopted the nomen Flavius during this period, his name could be coincidental.[34]
  • Flavius Caper, a Roman grammarian of uncertain date; he may have lived in the second century.
  • Flavius Scribonianus, a Roman noble of consular and senatorial rank who was a steward in charge of running the Olympic Games. His name was inscribed on a discus found at Olympia, dated from the third century.
  • Flavia, otherwise known as Saint Flavia, venerated along with Placidus and several others, and said to have been martyred under the emperor Diocletian, or in other accounts by pirates.
  • Flavius Eusebius, consul in AD 337. He was the father of Eusebius and Hypatius who served as consuls in AD 359, and probably also the empress Eusebia, wife of Constantius II.
  • Flavius Eusebius, consul in AD 359, together with his brother, Hypatius. Falsely accused of treason in 371, he was soon recalled.
  • Flavius Hypatius, consul in AD 359, together with his brother, Eusebius. He was praetorian prefect of Italy and Illyricum from 382 to 383.
  • Flavia Aurelia Eusebia, wife of the emperor Constantius II.
  • Flavius Martinus, a vicarius, or deputy administrator, of Britannia during the middle fourth century.
  • Flavius Stilicho, a Roman general under the emperors Theodosius and Honorius; he dealt several crushing defeats to Alaric, king of the Visigoths. Edward Gibbon called him "the last of the Roman generals."
  • Flavius Gaudentius, a Roman general of Scythian origin, who served under the emperor Honorius; he was the father of Aëtius.
  • Flavius Aëtius, a Roman general under the emperor Valentinian III, who helped maintain imperial authority in Italy, Spain, Britain, and Gaul. He defeated Chlodion, king of the Franks, and with the help of Theodoric, king of the Visigoths, defeated Attila the Hun at the Catalaunian Plains in AD 451. He was consul in 432, 437, and 446, but in 454 the suspicious emperor slew him with his own hand.
  • Flavius Belisarius, a Byzantine general under the emperor Justinian; he reconquered much of the western empire, and was consul sine collega in AD 535.

Later emperors[edit]

Flavian legions[edit]

Some Roman legions were called Flavia, since they had been levied by Flavian emperors:


Flavianus was an originally adjectival form of the name Flavius.

Flavii in fiction[edit]

See also[edit]

List of Roman gentes


  1. ^ a b c d e Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  2. ^ D.P. Simpson, Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary (1963).
  3. ^ George Davis Chase, "The Origin of Roman Praenomina", in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, vol. VIII (1897).
  4. ^ Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita viii. 22, 27.
  5. ^ Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX ix. 10. § 1.
  6. ^ Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita xxv. 16.
  7. ^ Appianus, Bellum Hannibalicum 35.
  8. ^ Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX v. 1. Ext. § 6.
  9. ^ Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX viii. 1. § 7.
  10. ^ Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita xxxi. 50, xxxii. 50.
  11. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Quinto Roscio Comoedo 11.
  12. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, In Verrem i. 5, v. 7, 59.
  13. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares xiii. 31.
  14. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Cluentio 56.
  15. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum i. 18, 19, ii. 1, x. 1; Epistulae ad Quintum Fratrem i. 2.
  16. ^ Quintus Asconius Pedianus, in Cic. Milon. p. 47, ed. Orelli.
  17. ^ Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History xxxvii. 50, xxxviii. 50.
  18. ^ Gaius Julius Caesar (attributed), De Bello Hispaniensis 26.
  19. ^ Appianus, Bellum Civile v. 49.
  20. ^ Cornelius Nepos, The Life of Atticus 8.
  21. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum xii. 17.
  22. ^ Pseudo-Brutus, ad Cic. i. 6, 17.
  23. ^ Plutarchus, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, Brutus 51.
  24. ^ Plutarchus, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, Antonius 42, 43.
  25. ^ Appianus, Bellum Civile i. 91.
  26. ^ a b Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Vespasianus 1.
  27. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Historiae i. 77, ii. 36, 51.
  28. ^ Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History lxv. 17.
  29. ^ Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana vii. 3.
  30. ^ Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Domitianus 10.
  31. ^ Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Domitianus 15.
  32. ^ Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History lxvii. 14.
  33. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales xv. 49, 54, 55, 70.
  34. ^ Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Johann Jakob Herzog and Philip Schaff, eds.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.