Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus

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Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus (died 39) was a Roman general and politician. He was involved in a plot against the emperor Caligula and was executed after its discovery.


Gaetulicus was consul ordinarius in AD 26. He later became Legate of Germania Superior, possibly in succession to his brother. He served there between AD 29-39 while his father-in-law governed Germania Inferior. He was well liked by his troops but his easy-going ways led to a relaxation of discipline, which left the province of Gaul open to invasions by Germanic tribes.

Gaetulicus was an ally of the notorious prefect of the praetorian guard, Sejanus, and his daughter was betrothed to Sejanus’ son. He survived Sejanus’ fall in 31 by reputedly writing to the emperor Tiberius with subtle threats regarding his potential for power being in control of the largest legions.[1]

Gaetulicus sought to curry favour with Tiberius’ successor Caligula, writing flattering comments about that emperor’s birth, perhaps in the hope of securing a command in the projected invasion of Britain. All the same he became involved in a murky conspiracy against Caligula in 39, possible in league with Lepidus, the husband of Caligula’s late sister Drusilla and a close friend of the emperor. Caligula got wind of the plot and had Gaetulicus executed, probably in early October of that year.

Gaetulicus' writing is used as a source for Suetonius' Lives of Twelve Caesars and Tacitus' Annals. He is mentioned by name in Suetonius' Life of Caligula (Gaius) 8.

Gaetulicus was a poet of some note. He wrote erotic verses that inspired Martial, who cited him as a precedent for the free use of language.


  1. ^ Tacitus. Annales. VI.30.