The gens Pomponia was a plebeian family at Rome. Its members appear throughout the history of the Roman Republic, and into imperial times. The first of the gens to achieve prominence was Marcus Pomponius, tribune of the plebs in 449 BC; the first who obtained the consulship was Manius Pomponius Matho in 233 BC.
In the latter part of the Republic, it was common for various gentes to claim descent from the founding figures of Rome; the companions of Aeneas, Romulus, or those who came to Rome in the time of the kings. The Pomponii claimed to be descended from Pompo, one of the sons of Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome, whose image appears on some of their coins. Several other gentes also claimed Numa as their ancestor.[i]
Pompo, asserted as the name of the ancestor of the Pompilii, does indeed appear to have been an ancient praenomen of Sabine origin. It was the Oscan equivalent of Quintus, a very common name. Numa's father is said to have been named Pompo Pompilius, and it is evident that the nomen Pompilius was itself a patronymic surname derived from Pompo. Pomponius appears to be derived from an adjectival form of that name, and the equivalent of the Latin nomen Quinctilius. Thus, it is reasonably certain that some ancestor of the Pomponii was indeed named Pompo, although the claim that he was the son of Numa may well be a later addition.
An alternative explanation suggested during the early nineteenth century, was that the name might be derived from an Etruscan root, Pumpu or Pumpili. In her History of Etruria, Mrs. Hamilton Gray supposed Pumpu to have been the name of Numa's mother, adopted as a surname according to a tradition common to the Etruscan and Sabine cultures.
The Pomponii used a wide variety of praenomina. The principal names were Marcus, Lucius, and Titus. A few of the Pomponii bore the praenomina Quintus, Publius, and Sextus. The illustrious family of the Pomponii Mathones favored Manius, and there are individual instances of Gaius and Gnaeus.
Branches and cognomina
In the earliest times, the Pomponii were not distinguished by any surname, and the only family that rose to importance in the time of the Republic bore the surname Matho. On coins we also find the cognomina Molo, Musa, and Rufus, but none of these occur in ancient writers. The other surnames found during the Republic, such as Atticus, were personal cognomina. Numerous surnames appear in imperial times.
- Marcus Pomponius, tribune of the plebs in 449 BC.
- Marcus Pomponius, tribunus plebis in 362 BC, brought an accusation against Lucius Manlius Capitolinus, the dictator of the preceding year, but withdrew it after being threatened by the dictator's son, Titus Manlius Torquatus.
- Lucius Pomponius Rufus, grandfather of the consular tribune of 399 BC.
- Lucius Pomponius L. f. Rufus, father of the consular tribune.
- Marcus Pomponius L. f. L. n. Rufus, consular tribune in 399 BC.
- Quintus Pomponius (L. f. L. n. Rufus), tribune of the plebs in 395 BC, opposed a measure to establish a colony at Veii, for which reason he was accused and fined two years later.
- Manius Pomponius Matho, grandfather of the consul of 233 BC.
- Manius Pomponius M'. n. Matho, father of the consul of 233 BC.
- Manius Pomponius M'. f. M'. n. Matho, consul in 233 BC.
- Marcus Pomponius M'. f. M'. n. Matho, consul in 231 BC.
- Marcus Pomponius (M. f. M'. n.) Matho, praetor in 204 BC.
Other Pomponii of the Republic
- Pomponia, the wife of Publius Cornelius Scipio, and mother of Scipio Africanus.
- Sextus Pomponius, legate of the consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus in 218 BC, the first year of the Second Punic War.
- Titus Pomponius Veientanus, a publicanus, who as commander of some of the allied troops in southern Italy in 213 BC, attacked the Carthaginian general Hanno; he was defeated and taken prisoner.
- Marcus Pomponius, praetor in 161 BC, obtained a decree of the senate, forbidding philosophers and rhetoricians from living at Rome.
- Marcus Pomponius, an intimate friend of Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, who sacrificed himself to afford Gracchus to escape his pursuers on the day of his death, in 121 BC.
- Lucius Pomponius Bononiensis, a playwright of the early first century BC.
- Marcus Pomponius, aedile in 82 BC, exhibited scenic games, in which the dancer Galeria Copiola appeared, at the age of 13 or 14.
- Gnaeus Pomponius, an orator of some repute, who perished during the civil war between Marius and Sulla.
- Marcus Pomponius, the name erroneously assigned by Plutarch to Marcus Pompeius, commander of the cavalry under Lucullus during the Third Mithridatic War.
- Marcus Pomponius, legate of Gnaeus Pompeius during the war against the pirates in 67 BC; he was assigned to keep watch over the Ligurian Sea and the sinus Gallicus.
- Titus Pomponius, father of Atticus, a man of learning, who, being possessed of considerable property, gave his son a liberal education.
- Titus Pomponius T. f. Atticus, an eques, moneylender, and friend of Cicero.
- Pomponia T. f., married Quintus Tullius Cicero.
- Pomponia T. f. T. n., married Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, and became the mother of Vipsania Agrippina, the first wife of Tiberius.
- Marcus Pomponius Dionysius, a freedman of Titus Pomponius Atticus.
- Quintus Pomponius Musa, triumvir monetalis circa 66 BC.
- Publius Pomponius, a companion of Publius Clodius Pulcher at the time of his death, in 52 BC.
- Marcus Pomponius, commanded Caesar's fleet at Messana; the greater part of the fleet was burnt by Gaius Cassius Longinus during the Civil War, in 48 BC.
- Pomponius, proscribed by the triumvirs in 43 BC, he escaped Rome disguised as a Praetor, accompanied by slaves playing the part of lictors.
Pomponii of imperial times
- Publius Pomponius Graecinus, consul suffectus in AD 16, a friend of the poet Ovidius; he was the brother of Lucius Pomponius Flaccus.
- Pomponia Graecina, married Aulus Plautius, the first governor of Britannia.
- Lucius Pomponius Flaccus, consul in AD 17, a friend of Tiberius, and brother of Publius Pomponius Graecinus.
- Marcus Pomponius Marcellus, a celebrated grammarian and advocate during the reign of Tiberius.
- Pomponius Labeo, governor of Moesia during the reign of Tiberius, he was denounced by the emperor for maladministration, and put an end to his life in AD 34.
- Publius Pomponius Secundus, a celebrated tragedian, consul suffectus in AD 44, later triumphed over the Chatti.
- Quintus Pomponius Secundus, brother of the playwright, consul suffectus in AD 41, joined the revolt of Camillus Scribonianus the following year.
- Pomponius Mela, a geographer, who probably lived during the reign of Claudius.
- Pomponius Silvanus, proconsul of Africa during the reign of Nero, he was accused by the provincials in AD 58, but acquitted because he was an old man possessing great wealth and no children.
- Pomponia Decharis, possibly a freedwoman who was buried in the tomb of Eumachia in Pompeii. She was the adoptive mother of Alleius Nigidius Maius, who became one of the towns most admired patrons.
- Quintus Pomponius Rufus, consul suffectus in AD 95.
- Sextus Pomponius, a jurist active during the time of Hadrian.
- Pomponius Porphyrion, an important commentator on the poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus.
- Pomponia Rufina, a Vestal Virgin put to death by Caracalla.
- Pomponius Bassus, governor of Moesia in the time of Caracalla.
- Pomponius Bassus, consul in AD 211, put to death by Elagabalus, so that the emperor could marry his widow, Annia Faustina.
- Pomponius Bassus, consul in AD 259 and 271, serving with the emperor Aurelian in the latter year.
- Pomponius Januarius, consul in AD 288.
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 493 ("Pomponia Gens").
- Livy, i. 20.
- Plutarch, "The Life of Numa", 21.
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, pp. 30, 168, 582 ("Aemilia Gens", "Ancus Marcius", "Calpurnia Gens"), vol. II, p. 940 ("Marcia Gens"), vol. III, pp. 366, 367, 493 ("Pinaria Gens", "Pomponia Gens").
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