Caelia (gens)

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Denarius issued by Gaius Caelius Caldus in 104 BC. The obverse depicts a head of Roma, the reverse Victoria driving a biga.[1]

The gens Caelia, also written Coelia was a plebeian family at Rome. The nomen is usually written Caelius in manuscripts, while Coelius or Coilius is regularly found on coins. The name is frequently confused with the more common Caecilius. Although the Caelii asserted their great antiquity, the first of this gens who obtained the consulship was Gaius Caelius Caldus in 94 BC.[2]


The Caelii claimed descent from the Etruscan hero, Caelius Vibenna, whose adventures were legendary in Etruria, but largely forgotten at Rome; the emperor Claudius, who was deeply interested in Etruscan culture, described the adventures of Caelius, his brother, Aulus Vibenna, and their companion, Macstarna, whom Claudius maintained was the same person as Servius Tullius, the sixth King of Rome. The famous François Tomb discovered at Vulci includes a fresco depicting one such episode, in which, aided by a companion, the three heroes and their friends escape from captivity, and slay an enemy named Gnaeus Tarquinius of Rome. Subsequently Vibenna and his followers settled at Rome, on the Querquetulan, or oak-covered hill, which in later times was generally known as the Caelian Hill, one of the famed seven hills of Rome.[3][4][5]


The Caelii used the praenomina Marcus, Lucius, Gaius, Publius, and Quintus, all of which were amongst the most common names at Rome.

Branches and cognomina[edit]

There only cognomina of this gens under the Republic were Caldus and Rufus, but most of the Caelii bore no surname. Caldus is derived from the Latin calidus, which may be translated "hot, eager, rash," or "hasty". Rufus, "red", was typically given to a person with red hair.[2][6][7][8]


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

Early Caelii[edit]

Caelii Caldi[edit]

  • Gaius Caelius C. f., a senator in 129 BC, probably the father of Gaius Coelius Caldus, the consul of 94 BC.[19]
  • Gaius Caelius C. f. C. n. Caldus, consul in 94 BC, a novus homo and minor orator, subsequently a supporter of Marius.
  • Lucius Caelius C. f. C. n. Caldus, the son of Gaius Caelius Caldus, consul in 94 BC.
  • Gaius Caelius L. f. C. n. Caldus, quaestor under Cicero in Cilicia in 50 BC; when Cicero departed the province, he left the administration in the hands of Caldus.[20]
  • Caelius Caldus, taken prisoner by the Germans following the defeat of Publius Quinctilius Varus in AD 9, killed himself rather than be subjected to the torture he anticipated.[21]

Later Caelii[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 324.
  2. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 532 ("Caelia or Coelia Gens").
  3. ^ Varro, De Lingua Latina, v. 46.
  4. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 532 ("Caeles or Caelius Vibenna").
  5. ^ Oxford Classical Dictionary.
  6. ^ Cicero, De Inventione, ii. 9.
  7. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 561 ("Caldus").
  8. ^ Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary, s. v. v. calidus, rufus.
  9. ^ Aulus Gellius, i. 15.
  10. ^ Livy, xliii. 21.
  11. ^ Valerius Maximus, iv. 7. § 5.
  12. ^ Cicero, In Verrem, i. 50.
  13. ^ Cicero, In Verrem, iv. 47, Pro Flacco, 4.
  14. ^ ILLRP, 402.
  15. ^ Broughton, vol. II, pp. 210, 228, 273, 288.
  16. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, viii. 8.
  17. ^ Cicero, Philippicae, xiii. 2, 12.
  18. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, xii. 5, 6, vii. 3, xiii. 3.
  19. ^ Sherk, "Senatus Consultum De Agro Pergameno", p. 367.
  20. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, ii. 15, 19, Epistulae ad Atticum, vi. 2, 4-6, vii. 1.
  21. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 20.
  22. ^ Tacitus, Annales, iii. 37.
  23. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xii. 44
  24. ^ Cassius Dio, lxi. 6.
  25. ^ Tacitus, Historiae, i. 60.


 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.