Calpurnia (gens)

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The gens Calpurnia was a plebeian family at Rome, which appears in history during the 3rd century BC. The first of the gens to obtain the consulship was Gaius Calpurnius Piso in 180 BC, but from this time their consulships were very frequent, and the family of the Pisones became one of the most illustrious in the Roman state. Two important pieces of Republican legislation, the lex Calpurnia of 149 BC and lex Acilia Calpurnia of 67 BC were passed by members of the gens.[1]

Origin of the gens[edit]

The Calpurnii claimed descent from Calpus, the son of Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome, and accordingly we find the head of Numa on some of the coins of this gens.[2][3][4][5]

Praenomina used by the gens[edit]

The principle praenomina of the Calpurnii were Lucius, Gaius, Marcus, and Gnaeus.[1]

Branches and cognomina of the gens[edit]

The family-names of the Calpurnii under the Republic are Bestia, Bibulus, Flamma, and Piso.

Piso was the name of the greatest family of the Calpurnia gens. Like many other cognomina, this name is connected with agriculture, and comes from the verb pisere or pinsere, which refers to the pounding or grinding of corn. The family first rose from obscurity during the Second Punic War, and from that time it became one of the most distinguished in the Roman state. It preserved its celebrity under the empire, and during the 1st century AD was second to the imperial family alone. Many of the Pisones bore this cognomen alone, but others bore the agnomina Caesoninus and Frugi.[1]

Of the other surnames of the Republican Calpurnii, Bestia refers to a "beast", "an animal without reason". Bibulus translates as "fond of drinking", or "thirsty", while Flamma refers to a flame.[1][6]

Members of the gens[edit]

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

Early Calpurnii[edit]

Calpurnii Pisones[edit]

Calpurnii Bestiae[edit]

Calpurnii Bibuli[edit]


  • Calpurnius, standard-bearer of the first legion in Germania at the accession of Tiberius in AD 14, he prevented the soldiers of Germanicus from murdering Munatius Plancus, the envoy of the senate.[24]
  • Calpurnius Salvianus, accused Sextus Marius in AD 25, but was rebuked by Tiberius and banished by the senate.[25]
  • Calpurnia, a favorite concubine of the emperor Claudius, despatched by Narcissus to inform the emperor of the marriage of Messalina and Gaius Silius.[26]
  • Calpurnia, a woman of high rank, exiled due to the jealousy of Agrippina, the wife of Claudius, but recalled by Nero in AD 60, after Agrippina's murder.[27]
  • Calpurnius Fabatus, an eques accused of various crimes during the reign of Nero; he was grandfather of Calpurnia, the third wife of the younger Plinius.[28]
  • Calpurnia, the third wife of the younger Plinius.[29]
  • Calpurnius Asprenas, appointed governor of Galatia and Pamphylia by the emperor Galba, induced the partisans of the false Nero to put him to death.[30]
  • Calpurnius Crassus, exiled to Tarentum for conspiring against the emperor Nerva; subsequently put to death for forming a second conspiracy against Trajan.[31][32]
  • Calpurnius Flaccus, a rhetorician in the time of Hadrian.[33][34]
  • Titus Calpurnius Siculus, a poet, who probably flourished in the latter half of the 3rd century.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  2. ^ Plutarchus, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, "Numa", 21.
  3. ^ Quintus Horatius Flaccus, Ars Poetica, 292.
  4. ^ Sextus Pompeius Festus, epitome of Marcus Verrius Flaccus De Verborum Significatu, s. v. Calpurni.
  5. ^ Joseph Hilarius Eckhel, Doctrina Numorum Veterum, v. p. 160.
  6. ^ D.P. Simpson, Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary (1963).
  7. ^ Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xxxii. 19.
  8. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, In Pisonem, 36, 23, 26, 27.
  9. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, In Verrem, i. 46.
  10. ^ Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX, i. 3. § 2.
  11. ^ Appianus, Hispanica, 83.
  12. ^ Paulus Orosius, Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII, v. 6.
  13. ^ Julius Obsequens, Liber de Prodigiis, 85.
  14. ^ Florus, Epitome de T. Livio Bellorum Omnium Annorum DCC libri duo, iii. 19.
  15. ^ Florus, Epitome de T. Livio Bellorum Omnium Annorum DCC libri duo, iii. 4. § 6, iv. 12. § 17.
  16. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, Philippicae, iii. 10.
  17. ^ Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, index lib. lv.
  18. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, iv. 45.
  19. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Historiae, iv. 11.
  20. ^ Aelius Lampridius, Commodus, 12.
  21. ^ Marcus Velleius Paterculus, Compendium of Roman History, ii. 26.
  22. ^ Gaius Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Civili, iii. 110.
  23. ^ Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX, iv. 1. § 15.
  24. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, i. 39.
  25. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, iv. 36.
  26. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, xi. 30.
  27. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, xii. 22, xiv. 72.
  28. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, xvi. 8.
  29. ^ Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, Epistulae, viii. 10.
  30. ^ Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Historiae, ii. 9.
  31. ^ Sextus Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus (attributed), 12.
  32. ^ Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, lxviii. 3, 16.
  33. ^ Declamations of Calpurnius Flaccus, Pierre Pithou (Petrus Pithoeus), Paris, 1580.
  34. ^ Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, Epistulae, v. 2.

 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. 

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