The gens Junia was one of the most celebrated families in Rome. The gens may originally have been patrician. The family was already prominent in the last days of the Roman monarchy. Lucius Junius Brutus was the nephew of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last King of Rome, and on the expulsion of Tarquin in 509 BC, he became one of the first consuls of the Roman Republic.
Origin of the gens
Scholars have long been divided on the question of whether the Junii were originally patrician. The family was prominent throughout the whole of Roman history, and all of the members who are known, from the early times of the Republic and on into the Empire, were plebeians. However, it seems inconceivable that Lucius Junius Brutus, the nephew of Tarquin the Proud, was a plebeian. So jealous of their prerogatives were the patricians of the early Republic, that in 450 BC, the second year of the Decemvirate, a law forbidding the intermarriage of patricians and plebeians was made a part of the Twelve Tables, the fundamental principles of early Roman law. It was not until the passage of the lex Licinia Sextia in 367 BC that plebeians were permitted to stand for the consulship.
Still, it has been suggested that the divisions between the orders were not firmly established during the first decades of the Republic, and that as many as a third of the consuls elected before 450 may in fact have been plebeians. Even if this were not the case, the consuls chosen at the very birth of the Roman Republic may have been exceptions. On balance, it seems more likely that the Junii were at first numbered amongst the patricians, and that they afterward passed over to the plebeians; but this question may remain unsettled.
At the end of the Republic, the Junii Silani appear to have been patricians, and one of them even held the office of Flamen Martialis; but this may be due to the adoption of one of the patrician gens Manlia by one of the Silani. If so, then at least some, if not all, of the later Junii Silani were actually descended from the Manlii, and not the Junii. This hypothesis is supported by the surname Torquatus, the name of a great family of the Manlia gens, which was borne by several of the Silani.
Praenomina used by the gens
The praenomina favored by the early Junii were Marcus, Lucius, and Decimus. Except for the Bruti Bubulci, who favored the praenomen Gaius and may have been a cadet branch of the family, the Junii Bruti relied exclusively on these three names. Many of the other families of the Junii also used these names, although some added Gaius and others Quintus. The Junii Silani also used the praenomen Appius. The Junii were by far the most prominent family to make regular use of Decimus.
The names Titus and Tiberius were carefully avoided by the Junii throughout most of their history. According to tradition, these were the names of the sons of Lucius Junius Brutus, the first consul, who joined in a conspiracy by their uncles, the Vitellii, to restore the Tarquins to power. They were condemned and executed by order of their own father, and this disgrace led to the abandonment of their names by future generations. The only noteworthy exception appears to be the orator Titus Junius, who lived in the final century of the Republic.
Branches and cognomina of the gens
The family names and surnames of the Junii which occur in the time of the Republic are, Brutus, Bubulcus, Gracchanus, Paciaecus, Pennus, Pera, Pullus, and Silanus. Norbanus is sometimes considered a surname of the Junia gens, but in fact it seems to have been a gentile name. A few Junii are mentioned without any cognomen. Many Junii appear under the Empire with other surnames, but most of them cannot be regarded as part of the gens; these included many descendants of freedmen, and of citizens enrolled during the magistracies of the various Junii.
Brutus was the name of a plebeian family of the Junia gens, which claimed descent from Lucius Junius Brutus. This possibility was denied by some ancient authorities, on the grounds that the first consul was a patrician, and because his two sons preceded him in death. However, one tradition states that there was a third son, from whom the later Bruti were descended. It is not impossible that there were younger sons, or that the elder sons had children of their own. Brutus is also known to have had a brother, who was put to death by his uncle the king, and there may have been other relatives. In any case, it is not entirely certain whether Brutus was a patrician. If he was, his descendants may still have gone over to the plebeians.
The name of Brutus is said to have been given to Lucius because he feigned idiocy after the execution of his brother, in hope of avoiding the same fate. However, his father is also referred to as Brutus by the ancient authorities, and while this may have come about merely for convenience, it is possible that the surname had already been borne by the family for some time. According to Festus, the older meaning of the adjective brutus was "serious" or "grave", in which case the surname is much the same as Severus. A less probable explanation suggests a common origin with the name with that of the Bruttii, a people of southern Italy who broke away from the Samnites in the 4th century BC, and whose name is said to have meant, "runaway slaves".
The surname Bubulcus refers to one who plows with oxen. The only persons known to have borne this cognomen also bore that of Brutus, and therefore may have belonged to that family, rather than a distinct stirps of the Junia gens. If so, the Bubulci were the only members of the family to use the praenomen Gaius. They appear in history during the Second Samnite War, at the same time as the other Junii Bruti emerge from two centuries of obscurity, with the agnomen Scaeva. This suggests that the family may have split into two distinct branches about this time.
Silanus appears to be a lengthened form of Silus, "snub-nosed", which occurs as a cognomen in the Sergia and Terentia gentes, and is not connected with the Greek name Silanus. In manuscripts the variants Syllanus and Sillanus are found. The Junii Silani first appear in history during the Second Punic War, and for the next four hundred years they occupied the highest offices of the state. They seem to have been patricians, unlike the other Junii, but an early member of the family was adopted into the gens from the patrician Manlii, from whom some of the Silani received the additional surname Torquatus. Additionally, the emperor Augustus raised Marcus Junius Silanus to the Patriciate in 30 BC. Many of this family were related to, or even descended from, Augustus and the emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
Members of the gens
- Marcus Junius Brutus, father of the consul of 509 BC, married Tarquinia, sister of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus.
- Marcus Junius M. f. Brutus, put to death by his uncle, the king.
- Lucius Junius M. f. Brutus, one of the first consuls, in 509 BC.
- Titus Junius L. f. M. n. Brutus, son of the consul of 509 BC, executed for treason.
- Tiberius Junius L. f. M. n. Brutus, son of the consul of 509 BC, executed for treason.
- Lucius Junius Brutus, according to Dionysius, one of the first tribunes of the people in 493 BC, a plebeian who assumed the surname Brutus in honor of the first consul.
- Decimus Junius Brutus Scaeva, consul in 325 BC.
- Decimus Junius D. f. Brutus Scaeva, consul in 292 BC.
- Decimus Junius D. f. D. n. Brutus, with his brother, Marcus, exhibited the first gladiatorial combat at Rome in 264 BC.
- Marcus Junius D. f. D. n. Brutus, with his brother, Decimus, exhibited the first gladiatorial combat at Rome in 264 BC.
- Lucius Junius Brutus, grandfather of the consul of 178 BC.
- Marcus Junius (L. f.) Brutus, praetor in 191 BC.
- Publius Junius (L. f.) Brutus, praetor in 190 BC.
- Decimus Junius Brutus, one of the triumvirs for founding a colony in the territory of Sipontum, in 194 BC.
- Marcus Junius M. f. L. n. Brutus, consul in 178 BC.
- Marcus Junius M. f. M. n. Brutus, an eminent jurist of the 2nd century BC.
- Marcus Junius M. f. M. n. Brutus, a jurist, described unfavorably by Cicero.
- Decimus Junius M. f. M. n. Brutus Callaicus, consul in 138 BC.
- Decimus Junius D. f. M. n. Brutus, consul in 77 BC.
- Marcus Junius Brutus, praetor in 88 BC.
- Lucius Junius Brutus Damasippus, a partisan of Marius.
- Marcus Junius Brutus, tribunus plebis in 83 BC.
- Marcus Junius M. f. Brutus, the tyrannicide, praetor urbanus in 44 BC.
- Decimus Junius D. f. D. n. Brutus, one of the conspirators against Caesar in 44 BC.
- Gaius Junius C. f. C. n. Bubulcus Brutus, consul in 317, 313, and 311 BC, censor in 309, and dictator in 302.
- Gaius Junius C. f. C. n. Brutus Bubulcus, consul in 291 and 277 BC, triumphed over the Lucani and Bruttii.
- Decimus Junius D. f. D. n. Pera, consul in 266 BC, and censor in 253, triumphed over the Sassinates, and a second time over the Sallentini and Messapii.
- Marcus Junius D. f. D. n. Pera, consul in 230 and censor in 225 BC, nominated dictator in 216 BC, after the Battle of Cannae.
- Marcus Junius M. f. Pennus, praetor urbanus in 201 BC.
- Marcus Junius M. f. M. n. Pennus, consul in 167 BC.
- Marcus Junius M. f. M. n. Pennus, tribunus plebis in 126 BC.
- Marcus Junius Silanus, praetor in 210 BC, during the Second Punic War.
- Decimus Junius Silanus, commissioned by the senate circa 146 BC to translate the agricultural writings of Mago into Latin.
- Decimus Junius Silanus Manlianus, praetor in 141 BC, obtained Macedonia as his province.
- Marcus Junius D. f. D. n. Silanus, consul in 109 BC, defeated by the Cimbri.
- Junia, the wife of Gaius Claudius Marcellus, and mother of Gaius Claudius Marcellus, consul in 50 BC.
- Decimus Junius M. f. D. n. Silanus, consul in 62 BC, and stepfather of Marcus Junius Brutus, the tyrannicide.
- Marcus Junius D. f. M. n. Silanus, consul in 25 BC.
- Junia D. f. M. n., married Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, the triumvir.
- Junia D. f. M. n. Tertia, married Gaius Cassius Longinus, the tyrannicide.
- Gaius Junius C. f. Silanus, consul in 19 BC.
- Marcus Junius M. f. D. n. Silanus, son of the consul of 25 BC and father of the consul of AD 19.
- Gaius Junius M. f. (D. n.) Silanus, father of the consuls of AD 10 and 15.
- Gaius Junius C. f. M. n. Silanus, consul in AD 10, and Flamen Martialis.
- Marcus Junius C. f. M. n. Silanus, consul suffectus in AD 15.
- Decimus Junius C. f. M. n. Silanus, exiled in AD 8 for his affair with Julia, the granddaughter of Augustus.
- Junia C. f. M. n. Torquata, a Vestal Virgin, interceded on behalf of her brother, Gaius Junius Silanus, the consul of AD 10, after he was condemned for treason in AD. 22.
- Marcus Junius M. f. M. n. Silanus, consul in AD 19.
- Junia M. f. M. n. Claudilla, wife of the emperor Caligula.
- Junia Silana, the wife of Gaius Silius.
- Appius Junius Silanus, consul in AD 28, put to death by the emperor Claudius.
- Marcus Junius M. f. M. n. Silanus, consul in AD 46, and later poisoned by Agrippina.
- Lucius Junius M. f. M. n. Silanus, praetor in AD 48.
- Decimus Junius M. f. M. n. Silanus, surnamed Torquatus, consul in AD 53.
- Junia M. f. M. n. Calvina, married Lucius Vitellius.
- Junia M. f. M. n. Lepida, married Gaius Cassius Longinus, consul suffectus in AD 30.
- Lucius Junius M. f. M. n. Torquatus Silanus, put to death by the emperor Nero in AD 65.
- Gaius Junius Silanus, consul suffectus in AD 92.
- Junius Silanus, consul in AD 189.
- Junius Silanus, consul suffectus in AD 237.
- Quintus Junius Blaesus, consul suffectus in AD 28, triumphed over Tacfarinas.
- Junius Q. f. Blaesus, served under his father during the war against Tacfarinas.
- Junius Blaesus, governor of Gallia Lugdunensis in AD 69, a supporter of the emperor Vitellius, who had Blaesus poisoned.
- Junius Rusticus, appointed to draw up the acta of the senate in AD 29, during the reign of Tiberius.
- Lucius Junius Arulenus Rusticus, praetor in AD 69, a pupil of Publius Clodius Thrasea Paetus, put to death by Domitian.
- Quintus Junius (L. f.) Rusticus, consul in AD 119 with the emperor Hadrian.
- Quintus Junius (Q. f. L. n.) Rusticus, consul suffectus in AD 133, and consul in AD 162.
- Quintus Junius, tribunus plebis in 439 BC, endeavored to excite the people against the murderers of Spurius Maelius.
- Lucius Junius C. f. C. n. Pullus, consul in 249 BC during the First Punic War.
- Decimus Junius, stationed with a force at the mouth of the Volturnus by the consul Appius Claudius Pulcher, in 212 BC, during the Second Punic War.
- Marcus Junius Gracchanus, a noteworthy legal historian, and scholar of the Roman constitution and magistracies.
- Titus Junius L. f., a skilled orator in the time of Sulla, obtained the condemnation of Publius Sextius, praetor designatus, for bribery at the elections.
- Marcus Junius, the previous defender of Publius Quinctius, whose defense was subsequently assumed by Cicero.
- Gaius Junius, one of the judges in the case against Oppianicus, accused of corruption and compelled to retire from public life.
- Gaius Junius C. f., son of the Judge in the case against Oppianicus.
- Marcus Junius, a praetor, before whom Cicero defended Decimus Matrinius.
- Junius Saturninus, a historian during the time of Augustus, quoted by Suetonius.
- Junius Otho, a rhetorician, and praetor in AD 22.
- Junius Otho, tribunus plebis in AD 37, banished by Tiberius for interceding in the question of the reward that was to be given to the accuser of Acutia, the wife of Publius Vitellius.
- Lucius Junius Moderatus, surnamed Columella, an important historical writer, author of De Re Rustica.
- Lucius Junius Gallio, a rhetorician and friend of the elder Lucius Annaeus Seneca, whose son he adopted.
- Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus, son of the elder Seneca, adopted by the rhetorician Lucius Junius Gallio.
- Junius Cilo, procurator of Bithynia et Pontus during the reign of Claudius, brought Mithridates of Bosporus to Rome.
- Junius Maximus, a contemporary of the poet Statius, from whom we learn that he made an epitome of the histories of Sallust and Livy.
- Titus Junius Montanus, consul Ex Kal. Mai. in AD 81.
- Junius Mauricus, a senator, and friend of the younger Pliny the Younger.
- Decimus Junius Juvenalis, a poet of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries.
- Kanus Junius Niger, consular legate in Germania Superior, AD 116; he may have been consul the previous year.
- Kanus Junius (Kani f.) Niger, consul in AD 138.
- Junius Mauricianus, a jurist in the time of Antoninus Pius.
- Aulus Junius Rufinus, consul in AD 153.
- Marcus Junius Rufinus Sabinianus, consul in AD 155.
- Gaius Junius Faustinus Postumianus, governor of Britannia Superior during the first half of the 3rd century.
- Gaius Junius Donatus, consul in AD 260.
- Marcus Junius Maximus, consul in AD 282.
- Junius Quartus Palladius, consul in AD 416.
- Junius Philargyrius, an early commentator on Publius Vergilius Maro.
Junii in fiction
- "Servilia of the Junii", a character in the historical drama Rome, loosely based on Servilia, the mother of Marcus Junius Brutus.
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
- Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, vi. 42.
- Barthold Georg Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. i. p. 522 ff.
- Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, ii. 4, 5.
- Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romaike Archaiologia, v. 18.
- Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, xliv. 12.
- Plutarchus, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, Brutus, 1.
- Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, i. 56.
- Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romaike Archaiologia, iv. 67.
- Nonius Marcellus, De Compendiosa Doctrina, p. 77.
- Sextus Pompeius Festus, epitome of Marcus Verrius Flaccus De Verborum Significatu, s. v. Brutum.
- Strabo, Geographica, vi. p. 225.
- Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, xvi. 15.
- Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, x. 3.
- Barthold Georg Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. i. pp. 63, 98, 515.
- D.P. Simpson, Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary (1963).
- Gaius Plinius Secundus, Historia Naturalis, xviii. 37.
- Isidorus Hispalensis, Origines, xix. 19.
- Gaius Plinius Secundus, Historia Naturalis, xxxiii. 2.
- Wilhelm Drumann, Geschichte Roms, vol. iv. p. 52.
- Johann Caspar von Orelli, Inscriptionum Latinarum Selectarum Collectio.
- Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2nd Ed. (1970).
- Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita Epitome, 16.
- Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX, ii. 4. § 7.
- Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xxxiv. 35.
- Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xxix. 11, xxx. 40, xxxi. 4.
- Gaius Plinius Secundus, Historia Naturalis, xviii. 3. s. 5.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, xv. 7, 8.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, vi. 1, xiv. 8, Philippicae, xiii. 4.
- Marcus Velleius Paterculus, Compendium of Roman History, ii. 88.
- Appianus, Bellum Civile, iv. 50.
- Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Caesar, 50.
- Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius, Saturnalia, ii. 2.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, xiv. 20, xv. 11.
- Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, iii. 76.
- Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, liv. 18.
- Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, iii. 70.
- Fasti Capitolini.
- Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, v. 4.
- Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, iv. 16.
- Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xxv. 22.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Brutus, 48.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Quinctio, 1.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 1, 20, 27, 29, 33.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 49.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 45.
- Gaius Plinius Secundus, Historia Naturalis, xxxv. 10.
- Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Augustus, 27.
- Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, vi. 47.
- Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, xii. 21.
- Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, lx. 33.
- Publius Papinius Statius, Silvae, iv. 7, ult.
- Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, i. 5, § 10, iii. 11, § 3, iv. 22.
- Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Historiae, iv. 40, Agricola, 45.
- Sextus Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus (attributed), 12.
- 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.