The gens Julia or Iulia was one of the most ancient patrician families at Ancient Rome. Members of the gens attained the highest dignities of the state in the earliest times of the Republic. The first of the family to obtain the consulship was Gaius Julius Iulus in 489 BC. The gens is perhaps best known, however, for Gaius Julius Caesar, the dictator, and grand uncle of the emperor Augustus, through whom the name was passed to the so-called Julio-Claudian dynasty of the 1st century AD. The nomen Julius became very common in imperial times, as the descendants of persons enrolled as citizens under the early emperors began to make their mark in history.
The Julii were without doubt of Alban origin, and it is mentioned as one of the leading Alban houses, which Tullus Hostilius removed to Rome upon the destruction of Alba Longa. The Julii also existed at an early period at Bovillae, as we learn from a very ancient inscription on an altar in the theatre of that town, which speaks of their offering sacrifices according to the lege Albana, or Alban rites; and their connection with Bovillae is also implied by the sacrarium, or chapel, which the emperor Tiberius dedicated to the gens Julia in the town, and in which he placed the statue of Augustus. It is not impossible that some of the Julii may have settled at Bovillae after the fall of Alba Longa.
As it became the fashion in the later times of the Republic to claim a divine origin for the most distinguished of the Roman gentes, it was contended that Iulus, the mythical ancestor of the race, was the same as Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, and founder of Alba Longa. Aeneas was, in turn, the son of Venus and Anchises. In order to prove the identity of Ascanius and Iulus, recourse was had to etymology, some specimens of which the reader curious in such matters will find in Servius. Other traditions held that Iulus was the son of Aeneas by his Trojan wife, Creusa, while Ascanius was the son of Aeneas and Lavinia, daughter of Latinus.
The dictator Caesar frequently alluded to the divine origin of his race, as, for instance, in the funeral oration which he pronounced when quaestor over his aunt Julia, and in giving Venus Genetrix as the word to his soldiers at the battles of Pharsalus and Munda; and subsequent writers and poets were ready enough to fall in with a belief which flattered the pride and exalted the origin of the imperial family.
Though it would seem that the Julii first came to Rome in the reign of Tullus Hostilius, the name occurs in Roman legend as early as the time of Romulus. It was Proculus Julius who was said to have informed the sorrowing Roman people, after the strange departure of Romulus from the world, that their king had descended from heaven and appeared to him, bidding him tell the people to honor him in future as a god, under the name of Quirinus. Some modern critics have inferred from this, that a few of the Julii might have settled in Rome in the reign of the first king; but considering the entirely fabulous nature of the tale, and the circumstance that the celebrity of the Julia gens in later times would easily lead to its connection with the earliest times of Roman story, no historical argument can be drawn from the mere name occurring in this legend.
In the later Empire, the distinction between praenomen, nomen, and cognomen was gradually lost, and Julius was treated much like a personal name, which it ultimately became. The Latin form is common in many languages, but other familiar forms exist, including Giulio (Italian), Julio (Spanish), Jules (French), Júlio (Portuguese), Iuliu (Romanian) and Юлий (Russian).
The Julii of the Republic used the praenomina Lucius, Gaius, Sextus, and Vopiscus, of which the last was rare. The earliest of the Julii appearing in legend bore the praenomen Proculus, and it is not impossible that this name was used by some of the early Julii, although no later examples are known. In the later Republic and imperial times, Vopiscus and Proculus were sometimes used as personal cognomina.
The gens was always said to have descended from and been named after a mythical personage named Iulus or Iullus, even before he was asserted to be the son of Aeneas; and it is entirely possible that Iulus was an ancient praenomen, which had fallen out of use by the early Republic, and was preserved as a cognomen by the eldest branch of the Julii. The name was later revived as a praenomen by Marcus Antonius, the triumvir, who had a son and grandson named Iulus. Classical Latin did not distinguish between the letters "I" and "J", which were both written with "I", and for this reason the name is sometimes written Julus, just as Julius is also written Iulius.
The many Julii of imperial times, who were not descended from the gens Julia, did not limit themselves to the praenomina of that family. The imperial family set the example by freely mingling the praenomina of the Julii with those of the gens Claudia, using titles and cognomina as praenomina, and regularly changing their praenomina to reflect the political winds of the empire.
Branches and cognomina
The family-names of the Julii in the time of the Republic are Caesar, Iulus, Mento, and Libo, of which the first three are undoubtedly patrician; but the only families which were particularly celebrated were those of Iulus and Caesar, the former at the beginning and the latter in the last century of the Republic. On coins the only names which we find are Caesar and Bursio, the latter of which does not occur in ancient writers.
It is uncertain which member of the Julia gens first obtained the surname of Caesar, but the first who occurs in history is Sextus Julius Caesar, praetor in BC 208. The origin of the name is equally uncertain. Spartianus, in his life of Aelius Verus, mentions four different opinions respecting its origin:
- That the word signified an elephant in the language of the Moors, and was given as a surname to one of the Julii because he had killed an elephant.
- That it was given to one of the Julii because he had been cut (caesus) out of his mother's womb after her death; or
- Because he had been born with a great quantity of hair (caesaries) on his head; or
- Because he had azure-colored (caesii) eyes of an almost supernatural kind.
Of these opinions the third, which is also given by Festus, seems to come nearest the truth. Caesar and caesaries are both probably connected with the Sanskrit kêsa, "hair", and it is quite in accordance with the Roman custom for a surname to be given to an individual from some peculiarity in his personal appearance. The second opinion, which seems to have been the most popular one with the ancient writers, arose without doubt from a false etymology.
With respect to the first, which was the one adopted, says Spartianus, by the most learned men, it is impossible to disprove it absolutely, as we know next to nothing of the ancient Moorish language; but it has no inherent probability in it; and the statement of Servius is undoubtedly false, that the grandfather of the dictator obtained the surname on account of killing an elephant with his own hand in Africa, as there were several of the Julii with this name before his time. An inquiry into the etymology of this name is of some interest, as no other name has ever obtained such celebrity — as Spartianus states, "clarum et duraturum cum aeternitate mundi nomen."
The Julii Caesares became physically extinct in the male line, either with Caesar's death on the Ides of March or, if Caesarion was truly his son, with the latter's death. Legally however the name passed on to a member of the Gens Octavia through Augustus, the adopted son and heir of the dictator, and then to a member of the Gens Claudia through Augustus' adopted son, Tiberius. It continued to be used by Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, as members either by adoption or by female-line descent from Caesar; but though the family became extinct with Nero, succeeding emperors still retained it as part of their titles, and it was the practice to prefix it to their own name, as for instance, Imperator Caesar Domitianus Augustus. When Hadrian adopted Aelius Verus, he allowed the latter to take the title of Caesar; and from this time, though the title of Augustus continued to be confined to the reigning prince, that of Caesar was also granted to the second person in the state and the heir presumptive to the throne.
In imperial times we find an immense number of persons named Julius; but it must not be supposed that they were connected by descent in any way with the Julia gens; for, in consequence of the imperial family belonging to this gens, it became the name of their numerous freedmen, and it may have been assumed by many other persons out of vanity and ostentation.
- Lucius Julius Iulus, father of the consul of 489 BC
- Gaius Julius L. f. Iulus, consul in 489 BC.
- Gaius Julius C. f. L. n. Iulus, consul in 482 BC, and one of the decemvirs in 451.
- Vopiscus Julius C. f. L. n. Iulus, consul in 473 BC.
- Spurius Julius Vop. f. Iulus 
- Gaius Julius S. f. Vop. n. Iulus 
- Lucius Julius S. f. Vop. n. Iulus, tribunus militum.
- Gaius Julius C. f. C. n. Iulus, consul in 447 and 435 BC.
- Lucius Julius Vop. f. C. n. Iulus, tribunus militum consulari potestate in 438, and consul in 430 BC.
- Sextus Julius Iulus, tribunus militum consulari potestate in 424 BC.
- Gaius Julius L. f. Vop. n. Iulus, tribunus militum consulari potestate in 408 and 405 BC.
- Lucius Julius Iulus, tribunus militum consulari potestate in 403 BC, continued the siege against Veii.
- Lucius Julius L. f. Vop. n. Iulus, tribunus militum consulari potestate in 401 and 397 BC.
- Lucius Julius Iulus, tribunus militum consulari potestate in 388 and 379 BC.
- Gaius Julius Iulus, nominated dictator in 352 BC, ostensibly to carry on war against the Etruscans, but in fact to carry the election of two patricians in the consular comitia, in violation of the lex Licinia Sextia.
- Lucius Julius Libo, grandfather of the consul of 267 BC.
- Lucius Julius L. f. Libo, father of the consul of 267 BC.
- Lucius Julius L. f. L. n. Libo, consul in 267 BC, triumphed over the Sallentini.
In the Roman Republic, most, if not all, of the men named Caesar came from the Julii Caesares. Though, Claudius Caesar occurred in the name of two emperors, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus and his adopted son and grandnephew Nero Claudius Caesar Germanicus. Claudius adopted the name "Caesar" as his cognomen, and Nero inherited this name from being adopted by his great-uncle.
- Sextus Julius Caesar, praetor in 208 BC, obtained the province of Sicilia.
- Lucius Julius Caesar, grandfather of the consul of 157 BC, and perhaps father of the praetor of 183 and the military tribune of 181.
- Lucius Julius (L. f.) Caesar, praetor in 183 BC, had the province of Gallia Cisalpina.
- Sextus Julius (L. f.) Caesar, tribunus militum in 181 BC.
- Lucius Julius (L. f. L. n.) Caesar, praetor in 166 BC.
- Sextus Julius Sex. f. L. n. Caesar, consul in 157 BC.
- Sextus Julius (Sex. f. Sex. n.) Caesar, praetor urbanus in 123 BC.
- Lucius Julius Sex. f. Sex. n. Caesar, father of the consul of 90 BC, married Popillia, widow of Quintus Lutatius Catulus, and mother of Quintus Lutatius Catulus, consul in 102 BC.
- Lucius Julius L. f. Sex. n. Caesar, consul in 90 BC, during the Social War, and censor in 89.
- Julia L. f. L. n., wife of Marcus Antonius Creticus, and mother of Marcus Antonius, the triumvir.
- Gaius Julius L. f. Sex. n. Caesar Strabo Vopiscus, a notable orator and poet, proscribed and put to death by Marius and Cinna in 87 BC.
- Lucius Julius L. f. L. n. Caesar, consul in 64 BC.
- Julia L. f. L. n., married Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura, one of Catiline's conspirators.
- Lucius Julius L. f. L. n. Caesar, a partisan of Pompeius during the Civil War.
- Gaius Julius (Sex. f. L. n.) Caesar, grandfather of the dictator, married Marcia.
- Gaius Julius C. f. (Sex. n.) Caesar, praetor, and father of the dictator, married Aurelia.
- Julia C. f. (Sex. n.), aunt of the dictator, married Gaius Marius.
- Sextus Julius C. f. (Sex. n.) Caesar, consul in 91 BC, uncle of the dictator.
- Gaius Julius C. f. C. n. Caesar, consul in 59, 48, 46, 45, and 44 BC, dictator in 49, and from 47 to 44 BC.
- Julia C. f. C. n., sister of the dictator, and wife of Lucius Pinarius and Quintus Pedius.
- Julia C. f. C. n., sister of the dictator, and wife of Marcus Atius Balbus.
- Julia C. f. C. n., daughter of the dictator, and wife of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus.
- Caesarion, the son of the dictator by Cleopatra, executed by order of Augustus in 30 BC.
- Sextus Julius Sex. f. C. n. Caesar, Flamen Quirinalis in 57 BC.
- Sextus Julius Sex. f. Sex. n. Caesar, appointed governor of Syria in 47 BC, killed in a revolt of the soldiers.
- Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, adopted son of the dictator, afterwards the emperor Augustus.
The Julio-Claudian dynasty
- Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, emperor from 27 BC to AD 14.
- Julia Augusta, empress of Augustus, and mother of the emperor Tiberius.
- Julia C. f. C. n., daughter of Augustus by his second wife, Scribonia, married first Marcus Claudius Marcellus, second Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, and lastly, the emperor Tiberius.
- Gaius Julius Caesar, the eldest son of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia, adopted by Augustus.
- Lucius Julius Caesar, the second son of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia, adopted by Augustus.
- Marcus Julius Caesar Agrippa Postumus, the third son of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia, adopted by Augustus.
- Tiberius Julius Caesar, emperor from AD 14 to 37.
- Drusus Julius Caesar, son of the emperor Tiberius.
- Tiberius Julius Caesar Nero Gemellus, son of Drusus.
- Germanicus Julius Caesar, nephew of Tiberius.
- Gaius Julius Caesar, son of Germanicus, died in early childhood.
- Nero Julius Caesar Germanicus, son of Germanicus.
- Drusus Julius Caesar, son of Germanicus.
- Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, son of Germanicus, better known as Caligula, emperor from AD 37 to 41.
- Julia Agrippina, daughter of Germanicus, and mother of the emperor Nero.
- Julia Drusilla, daughter of Germanicus, married first Lucius Cassius Longinus, and second Marcus Aemilius Lepidus.
- Julia Livilla, daughter of Germanicus, married Marcus Vinicius, consul in AD 30.
- Julia Drusilla, daughter of Caligula.
- Proculus Julius, a legendary figure who announced the apotheosis of Romulus to the Roman people, circa 716 BC.
- Lucius Julius Bursio, triumvir monetalis in 85 BC.
- Julius Polyaenus, a contemporary of Caesar, and the author of four epigrams in the Anthologia Graeca.
- Lucius Julius Calidus, a poet in the final years of the Republic, proscribed by Volumnius, the partisan of Marcus Antonius, but saved through the intercession of Atticus.
- Gaius Julius Hyginus, a freedman of Augustus, appointed head of the Palatine library, and the author of numerous books about history, mythology, and science.
- Julius Modestus, a freedman of Gaius Julius Hyginus, who became a distinguished grammarian, and the author of Quaestiones Confusae.
- Julius Marathas, a freedman of Augustus, who wrote a life of his master.
- Marcus Julius Cottius, king of several Alpine tribes of the Ligures, submitted to Augustus and granted the title of praefectus.
- Julius Florus, a poet and the author or editor of satires, perhaps the same Julius Florus called by Quintilian one of the foremost orators of Gaul. A Julius Florus, perhaps also the same man, led an insurrection of the Treviri during the reign of Tiberius.
- Julius Sacrovir, a leader of the Aedui, who together with Julius Florus revolted in AD 21.
- Julius Secundus Florus, an orator and friend of Quintilian, and nephew of the Gallic orator.
- Julius Montanus, a poet and friend of Tiberius, cited by both the elder and younger Seneca.
- Sextus Julius Postumus, used by Sejanus in one of his schemes, AD 23.
- Julius Africanus, of the Gallic state of the Santoni, condemned by Tiberius in AD 32.
- Julius Celsus, a tribune of the city cohort, condemned to death under Tiberius, who broke his own neck in prison, in order to avoid a public execution.
- Julius Canus, a Stoic philosopher, condemned to death by the emperor Caligula, who promised to appear to his friends after his death, and fulfilled his promise by appearing to one of them in a vision.
- Julius Graecinus, a writer on botany and the father of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, put to death by Caligula.
- Gaius Julius Callistus, a freedman of the Caligula, influential during his reign and that of Claudius.
- Gaius Julius Sex. f. Postumus, praefect of Egypt in the reign of Claudius.
- Marcus Julius M. f. Cottius, son of Marcus Julius Cottius, praefect of the Ligures, upon whom the title of king was conferred by the emperor Claudius.
- Julius Pelignus, Procurator of Cappadocia in the reign of Claudius, AD 52.
- Julius Bassus, said by the elder Plinius to have written a medical work in Greek.
- Gaius Julius Aquila, an eques, sent to protect Cotys, King of the Bosporus, in AD 50.
- Julius Densus, an eques during the reign of Nero, accused of being too favorably disposed towards Britannicus in AD 56.
- Julius Diocles of Carystus, author of four epigrams in the Anthologia Graeca.
- Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus, procurator of Britannia from AD 61 to 65.
- Julia Pacata, wife of Classicanus.
- Julius Indus, a cavalry commander of the Treviri, and father-in-law of Classicanus.
- Julius Africanus, a celebrated orator in the reign of Nero.
- Julius Rufus, consul in AD 67, his death is related by the elder Plinius.
- Gaius Julius Vindex, one of the chief supporters of Galba, led the rebellion against Nero.
- Julius Fronto, a supporter of Otho, put in chains by the soldiers because his brother, Julius Gratus, was a supporter of Vitellius.
- Julius Gratus, praefectus of the camp in the army of Aulus Caecina Alienus, the general of Vitellius, put in chains by the soldiers because his brother, Julius Fronto, was a supporter of Otho.
- Julius Carus, one of the murderers of Titus Vinius when the emperor Galba was put to death in AD 69.
- Gaius Julius Civilis, leader of the Batavian Rebellion in AD 69.
- Julius Classicus, of the Treviri, with Civilis, one of the leaders of the Batavian Rebellion.
- Julius Paulus, the brother of Civilis, put to death on a false charge of treason by Gaius Fonteius Capito, the governor of Germania Inferior.
- Julius Briganticus, a nephew of Civilis, who fought under Cerealis in Germania, and fell in battle in AD 71.
- Julius Sabinus, of the Lingones, joined in the revolt of the Batavi.
- Julius Tutor, of the Treviri, joined in the rebellion of Classicus.
- Julius Calenus, of the Aedui, a partisan of Vitellius, sent to Gaul as proof of the emperor's defeat at Cremona in AD 69.
- Julius Burdo, commander of the Roman fleet in Germania, in AD 70. Previously suspected by the soldiers of having a hand in the death of Gaius Fonteius Capito, he was protected by the emperor Vitellius.
- Julius Priscus, appointed Praetorian Prefect by Vitellius in AD 69, he failed to hold the passes of the Apennines, and returned to Rome in disgrace.
- Julius Placidus, tribune of a cohort in the army of Vespasian, who dragged Vitellius from his hiding place.
- Sextus Julius Gabinianus, a celebrated rhetorician who taught in Gaul during the time of Vespasian, and was spoken of by Suetonius in de Claris Rhetoribus.
- Julia Procilla, the mother of Agricola.
- Gnaeus Julius Agricola, consul in AD 77, the conqueror of Britannia.
- Julius Cerealis, a poet, and a friend and contemporary of the younger Plinius and Martialis.
- Julius Rufus, a writer of satires, contemporary with Martial.
- Sextus Julius Frontinus, twice consul in the late 1st century, and author of De Aquaeductu.
- Julius Naso, a friend of both the younger Plinius and Tacitus, who were interested in his success as a candidate for public office.
- Julius Calvaster, a military tribune who took part in the rebellion of Lucius Antonius Saturninus, but was pardoned by Domitian.
- Julius Ferox, consul suffectus Ex. Kal. Nov. in AD 100, and curator alvei et riparum Tiberis et cloacarum, sometimes confused with the jurist Urseius Ferox.
- Gaius Julius Servilius Ursus Servianus, the brother-in-law of Hadrian, and consul in AD 107, 111, and 136.
- Gaius Julius Africanus, grandson of the orator, consul suffectus in AD 108.
- Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappus, a prince of Commagene, consul suffectus in AD 109.
- Julius Severianus, a rhetorician in the time of Hadrian, and the author of Syntomata, or Praecepta Artis Rhetoricae.
- Sextus Julius Severus, governor of Britannia and Bithynia under Hadrian, sent to Judaea to suppress the Bar Kokhba revolt.
- Julius Aquila, a jurist, probably of the late 2nd century.
- Lucius Julius Aquila, author of de Etrusca disciplina.
- Julius Vestinus, a sophist, who made an abridgement of the lexicon of Pamphilus.
- Julius Pollux, a Greek sophist and grammarian, and a teacher of grammar and rhetoric at Athens during the reign of Commodus.
- Julius Titianus, a scholar and writer of the late 2nd century, and the father of the rhetorician Titianus.
- Julius Titianus, a rhetorician, and tutor of the younger Maximinus.
- Julius Solon, purchased the rank of senator under Commodus, but put to death by Septimius Severus, at the commencement of his reign.
- Julius Crispus, a distinguished tribune of the Praetorian Guard, capriciously put to death by Septimius Severus during the Parthian War in AD 199.
- Julius Rufus, a nobilis, slain by the emperor Severus.
- Julius Frontinus, a Latin rhetorician, who gave instruction in his art to Severus Alexander.
- Julius Granianus, a rhetorician at the time of Severus Alexander, who was instructed by him in rhetoric.
- Julius Paulus, a distinguished jurist and prolific writer on the law, during the early 3rd century.
- Julius Martialis, joined the conspiracy against the emperor Caracalla, whom he killed with his own hand, before being slain by the emperor's Scythian guards.
- Sextus Julius Africanus, a chronographer and Christian writer of the early 3rd century.
- Gaius Julius Solinus, a grammarian and geographer, probably of the early 3rd century.
- Julia Aquilia Severa, a vestal virgin, taken as a wife by the emperor Elagabalus.
- Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus, surnamed Thrax, emperor from AD 235 to 238.
- Marcus Julius Philippus, emperor from AD 244 to 249.
- Marcus Julius M. f. Philippus, emperor with his father from AD 247 to 249.
- Gaius Julius Saturninus, a name assigned to the younger Marcus Julius Philippus by Aurelius Victor.
- Quintus Julius Gallienus, a son of the emperor Gallienus, who probably predeceased his father.
- Julius Aterianus, wrote a history of Victorinus, and perhaps others of the Thirty Tyrants.
- Julius Capitolinus, the supposed author of nine biographies in the Historia Augusta.
- Flavius Julius Crispus, son of the emperor Constantine I, a distinguished soldier, put to death at the instigation of his stepmother in AD 326.
- Julius Firmicus Maternus, a 4th-century astrologer and writer on the subject of profane religions.
- Julius I, Pope from AD 337 to 352.
- Julius Obsequens, perhaps of the 4th century, an author of a tract known as De Prodigiis, or Prodigiorum Libellus, describing various prodigies and phenomena found in the works of earlier writers.
- Gaius Julius Victor, a rhetorician of the 4th century.
- Julius Valerius, a historian, probably of the 4th century.
- Julius Ausonius, an eminent physician, and praefectus of Illyricum under the emperor Valentinian I.
- (Julius) Ausonius, also called Decimus Magnus Ausonius, son of the physician, a celebrated poet.
- Julia Dryadia, daughter of the physician Julius Ausonius.
- Julius Rufinianus, a Latin rhetorician of uncertain date, and the author of a treatise called De Figuris Sententiarum et Elocutionis.
- Flavius Julius Valens, emperor from AD 364 to 378.
- Julius Paris, author of an epitome of Valerius Maximus, written perhaps in the 4th or 5th century.
- Flavius Julius Valerius Majorianus, emperor from AD 457 to 461.
- Julius Nepos, emperor in AD 474 and 475.
- Julius Exsuperantius, a late Roman historian, probably of the 5th or 6th century; his tract, De Marii, Lepidi, ac Sertorii bellis civilibus may have been abridged from the histories of Sallustius.
- Claudius Julius or Joläus, a Greek historian of unknown date, wrote works on Phoenicia and the Peloponnesus.
- Julius Celsus, a scholar at Constantinople in the 7th century, who made a recension of the text of Caesar's commentaries.
- 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.
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
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- Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss / Slaby : CIL 06, 40956
- Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss / Slaby : AE 1900, 00083
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- Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Dialogus de Oratoribus, 26.
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- Suda, s. v. Ουηστινος.
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- Aelius Lampridius, Alexander Severus, 3.
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