Gaius Asinius Gallus Saloninus

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Gaius Asinius Gallus Saloninus (before 38 BC - AD 33) was the son of Gaius Asinius Pollio, consul in 40 BC, and Quinctia. He is best known as the second husband of Vipsania, eldest daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and first wife of Tiberius[1], who ultimately imprisoned him.

Biography[edit]

In 11 BC he married Vipsania Agrippina, daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and his first wife Caecilia Attica, and the former wife of Tiberius. Their union proved fruitful and produced at least six children. Gallus also claimed true paternity of Drusus Julius Caesar, earning him Tiberius' animosity.[2] If Gallus' claim was true, he might also have been the father of the child Vipsania was expecting on her divorce.

He is mentioned among the speakers at the senate meeting discussing Augustus' funeral in 14; on the subject of last honours he proposed that the funeral train should pass under a triumphal gateway.[3] When the senate met to discuss the transfer of power, Gallus made a joke at Tiberius' expense; when Tiberius remarked he would undertake charge of whichever department was assigned to him, Gallus responded by asking him to choose whichever he wishes. This embarrassed Tiberius publicly, and although Gallus attempted to quell the emperor's anger, he was unsuccessful.[4][5]

In 30, he was arrested on Tiberius' order. At Tiberius' instigation, the Senate declared Gallus a public enemy, and he was held in conditions of solitary confinement:[6] "He had no companion or servant with him, spoke to no one, and saw no one, except when he was compelled to take food. And the food was of such quality and amount as neither to afford him any satisfaction or strength nor yet to allow him to die."

He died in prison of starvation in the year 33 (others mistakenly say 30).[7] When Agrippina died in October of that same year, Tiberius accused her of "having had Asinius Gallus as a paramour and being driven by his death to loathe existence".[8] His name was erased from public monuments (a practice known as damnatio memoriae), though they were restored after Tiberius' death.

Marriage and children[edit]

Asinius Gallus' marriage to Vispania (11 BC) produced the following known children:

  • Gaius Asinius Pollio
    • He was consul in 23; exiled as an accuser of a conspiracy and later was put to death on orders from Empress Valeria Messalina.
  • Marcus Asinius Agrippa
    • He was consul in 25 and died in 26
  • Gnaeus Asinius Saloninus, or simply Asinius Saloninus.
    • Tacitus describes him as an ‘eminent’ person. Saloninus was intended to marry one of the granddaughters of Emperor Tiberius.[9] He died in 22.
  • Servius Asinius Celer.
    • He was consul suffectus in 38. From Emperor Caligula he purchased a fish at an enormous price. He is mentioned in Seneca's satire The Pumpkinification of Claudius, where he is listed among the many people killed by that emperor. His death probably occurred sometime before mid-47. Asinius Celer seems to have had a daughter by the name of Asinia Agrippina, though her existence is obscure.
  • Lucius Asinius Gallus (sometimes wrongly called Gallo).
  • Gnaeus Asinius.
    • His existence is recorded by the townsfolk of Puteoli, whose patron he was.[11] He may have been identical with Asinius Saloninus or the foregoing Asinius Gallus. Since the Asinius Gallus seems to have been the Lucius Asinius Gallus who became a Consul in 60, by exclusion of parts the Gnaeus Asinius must be the Asinius Saloninus.

In fiction[edit]

In the BBC television series I, Claudius, Gallus is portrayed by Charles Kay.

In Lloyd C Douglas's novel The Robe, Gallus is furnished with a fictional daughter Diana, the love interest of the story.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tacitus, Annales 1.2
  2. ^ Cassius Dio, LVII, 2.7
  3. ^ Tacitus, Annals, 1.8.1.
  4. ^ Tacitus, Annals, Book I, 12.1.
  5. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, Book LVII, 2.6-7.
  6. ^ Cassius Dio 58.3
  7. ^ Tacitus, Annales 6.23
  8. ^ Annales 6.25
  9. ^ Tacitus, Annals 3.75
  10. ^ 60.27.5
  11. ^ CIL X, 1682

Sources[edit]

  • Syme, Ronald and Barbara M. Levick. "Asinius Gallus, Gaius." In Hornblower, Simon and Antony Spawforth, eds. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2003. 191-192.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Nero Claudius Drusus,
and Titus Quinctius Crispinus Sulpicianus
Consul of the Roman Empire
8 BC
with Gaius Marcius Censorinus
Succeeded by
Tiberius Claudius Nero II,
and Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso