The gens Cominia was a plebeian family at ancient Rome, known from the earliest days of the Republic. The first member of the family known to history was Postumus Cominius Auruncus, consul in 501 B.C., and from this it is generally inferred that the gens was originally patrician; but all of the later Cominii known to history were plebeians.
The surname Auruncus, borne by the consul of 501 B.C., suggests that the Cominii might have been of Auruncan origin, although if this were so, the family had reached the highest level of Roman society by the beginning of the Republic. However, there could be other explanations for this cognomen. This early consulship implies that the family was once numbered amongst the patricians, although in the later Republic all of the Cominii seem to have been plebeians. It may be that the family passed over to the plebeians during the fourth or fifth centuries B.C., or that the patrician branch of the gens became extinct. Alternatively it has been suggested that the earliest consuls included members of a number of plebeian families, and that plebeians were not formally excluded from the office until the passage of the Twelve Tables in 450-449 B.C. Valerius Maximus further suggests that the name of Auruncus is uncertain, and that he might instead have belonged to the gens Postumia, although most sources continue to regard Postumus as his praenomen.
Praenomina used by the gens
The Cominii used the praenomina Postumus, Lucius, Sextus, Publius, Gaius, and Quintus. Of these it has been suggested that Postumus is a mistake for the nomen Postumius, but Postumus was an ancient praenomen, and was probably used by the early generations of this family.
Branches and cognomina of the gens
The first of the family known to history bore the surname Auruncus, suggesting some connection with the Aurunci, a people who lived to the southeast of Latium. Whether the cognomen should be interpreted as meaning that the family migrated from there to Rome under the kings, or whether the consul of 501 B.C. acquired it as a personal surname is unknown. A member of the family during the time of Augustus bore the surname Pedarius. A variety of personal surnames appears under the Empire.
Members of the gens
- Postumus Cominius Auruncus, consul in 501 B.C.
- Cominius, a tribune of the plebs, accused one of the military tribunes of attempting to seduce his cornicularius.
- Lucius Cominius, a military tribune in the army of the dictator Lucius Papirius Cursor, in 325 B.C.
- Cominius, commander of a troop of cavalry in the army of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus in Hispania, in 178 B.C.
- Sextus Cominius, an eques maltreated by Verres.
- Publius Cominius, a native of Spoletium, was a notable orator and friend of Cicero. He and his brother accused Gaius Cornelius, tribune of 67 B.C., who was successfully defended by Cicero.
- Lucius or Gaius Cominius, brother of Publius, in whose accusation of Gaius Cornelius he joined.
- Quintus Cominius, one of Caesar's officers, was captured together with Lucius Ticida by Vergilius, one of Pompeius' commanders, near Thapsus while they were crossing over to Africa in 47 B.C.
- Lucius Cominius Pedarius, appointed by Augustus to assist Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus in his superintendence of the aqueducts.
- Gaius Cominius, an eques, wrote a libellous poem about the emperor Tiberius, but was pardoned by the emperor at the entreaty of his brother, a senator, in A.D. 24.
- Gaius Cominius Aufillenus Minicianus.
- Cominius Boëthus Agricola Aurelius Aper.
- Publius Cominius P. f. Clemens.
- Lucius Cominius L. f. Maximus.
- Titus Cominius T. f. Proculus.
- Cominius Secundus.
- Cominius Suber.
- Lucius Cominius Vipsanius Salutaris.
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- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
- Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX.
- Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX, vi. 1. § 11.
- Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, viii. 30.
- Appianus, Hispanica, 43.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, In Verrem, iv. 10.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 36.
- Quintus Asconius Pedianus, in Cic. Mil.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Brutus, 78.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 36.
- Gaius Julius Caesar (attributed), De Bello Africo, 44, 46.
- Sextus Julius Frontinus, De Aquaeductu, 99.
- Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, iv. 31.
- Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.