Pompilia (gens)

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The gens Pompilia was a plebeian family at Rome during the time of the Republic. The only member of the gens to achieve any prominence in the state was Sextus Pompilius, who was tribune of the plebs in 420 BC; however, persons by this name are occasionally found throughout the history of the Republic.[1]

Origin of the gens[edit]

The most famous bearer of the nomen Pompilius is Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome. He was a Sabine living at Cures at the death of Romulus, and according to tradition was chosen to succeed him on account of his wisdom. This tradition may also have been influenced by the early composition of the Roman populace, which according to legend consisted of both Latins and Sabines. The Sabine king Titus Tatius had previously been associated with Romulus in the kingship of Rome, although he died some years before Romulus.[2]

The Pompilii of the Republic were plebeians, and if they claimed descent from Numa Pompilius, their claim has not survived. Five other gentes, however, did assert such descent; the Aemilii, Pomponii, Calpurnii, and Pinarii claimed to be descended from sons of Numa, while the Marcii were traditionally descended from his daughter.[3][4][5][6]

The nomen Pompilius is itself a patronymic surname based on the Sabine praenomen Pompo. This name was the Oscan equivalent of the Latin praenomen Quintus, meaning "fifth". The Latin equivalent of Pompilius was Quinctilius, and in fact there was an important family of this name at Rome. The father of Numa Pompilius bore the praenomen Pompo, which itself indicates the origin of the nomen. According to the Pomponii, Numa also had a son named Pompo, who became the ancestor of their gens. As Pomponius is derived from the same name using another typical Latin formation, it is really a by-form of Pompilius. The two nomina are sometimes confounded with one another, and with Pompeius.[7][8]

Branches and cognomina of the gens[edit]

The Pompilii of the Republic do not appear to have been divided into families. One of the later Pompilii, who may have been a freedman, and who was certainly not descended from the gens, bore the Greek surname Andronicus.

Members of the gens[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  2. ^ Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, i. 10-14, 17-21.
  3. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  4. ^ Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, i. 20.
  5. ^ Plutarchus, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, "Numa", 21.
  6. ^ Herbert A. Grueber, Catalogue of Roman Coins in the British Museum (Republic) (1910). ii. p. 311, no. 733; p. 361, no. 62.
  7. ^ Michael Grant, Roman Myths (1971), 123, 139.
  8. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  9. ^ Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, iv. 44.
  10. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Petitione Consulatus, 3.
  11. ^ Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Illustribus Grammaticis, 8.

 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.