The Mons Cispius, or Cispian Hill, is one of several summits of the Esquiline Hill in Rome. The grammarian Festus says that it was named for a Cispius Laevus of Anagnia, of the Publilia voting tribe (tribus). This Cispius may be legendary.
Marcus Cispius was a tribune of the plebs in 57 BC, and was among those tribunes who actively supported Cicero in his efforts to overturn the legislation that brought about his exile. Earlier, however, Cicero had brought a civil suit in which he spoke against Cispius, his brother, and their father. Sometime after Cispius's tribunate, most likely in early 56, he was defended by Cicero on a charge of electoral corruption (ambitus) and convicted. Cicero calls him "a man of character and principle." The two men maintained their friendship in the 50s; in 55, Cicero wrote a letter of recommendation to the proconsul of Africa, Q. Valerius Orca, on behalf of men associated with Cispius. Cispius may have been a praetor sometime after 54.
L. Cispius (Laevus)
Lucius Cispius, probably with the cognomen Laevus, was a commander of the fleet (praefectus classis) in 46 BC, serving under Julius Caesar. He took part in the blockade of Thapsus. Cispius was not of senatorial rank, and has been tentatively linked to a pottery manufacturing family in Arretium. It is possible that he was the son of Marcus Cispius (above), though this filiation would place them on opposite sides in the civil war. In 43, a Cispius Laevus was a legate of Munatius Plancus, carrying dispatches to Rome for him; this man was most likely Caesar's naval commander.
Unless otherwise noted, dates, offices and citations of ancient sources are from T.R.S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (American Philological Association, 1951, 1986), vol. 1; vol. 2 (1952); vol. 3 (1986); abbreviated MRR.
- Ronald Syme, "Senators, Tribes and Towns," Historia 13 (1964), pp. 107, 115.
- Cicero, Post Reditum in Senatu 21; Pro Sestio 76.
- Michael C. Alexander, Trials in the Late Roman Republic, 149 BC to 50 BC (University of Toronto Press, 1990), pp. 127, 136; W. Jeffrey Tatum, The Patrician Tribune (University of North Caroline Press, 1999), pp. 178 and 318, note 203.
- Vir optimus et constantissimus (Pro Sestio 76), as translated by Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1939), p. 81.
- Ad familiares 13.6.2.
- John Nicholson, "The Delivery and Confidentiality of Cicero's Letters," Classical Journal 90 (1994), pp. 47–48.
- CIL 4, 1278.
- General sources on Marcus Cispius: Cicero, Pro Sestio 76, Pro Plancio 77–75; Bobbio Scholiast 165 Stangl; MRR2 pp. 202, 544.
- T.P. Wiseman, New Men in the Roman Senate (Oxford University Press, 1971), no. 120, p. 224, as cited by Elizabeth Rawson, "Caesar, Etruria and the Disciplina Etrusca," Journal of Roman Studies 68 (1978), p. 151.
- Cicero, Ad familiares 10.18.1–2 and 21.3; MRR2 pp. 351, 544, and MRR3 p. 53; Ronald Syme, review of Broughton, Classical Philology 50 (1955), p. 135, and "Senators, Tribes and Towns," p. 115.