Pontia gens

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The gens Pontia was a plebeian family at Rome. Few members of this gens rose to prominence in the time of the Republic, but the Pontii flourished under the Empire, eventually attaining the consulship.[1]


The Pontii were of Samnite origin, and are first mentioned in connection with the Samnite Wars, after which some of them removed to Rome. Their nomen, Pontius, is a patronymic surname derived from the Oscan praenomen Pontus or Pomptus, cognate with the Latin praenomen Quintus. Thus, Pontius is the Samnite equivalent of the Roman gentes Quinctia and Quinctilia.[2]

Branches and cognomina[edit]

The only surname borne by the Pontii of the Republic is Aquila, an eagle. Various cognomina are found in imperial times.[1]


This list includes abbreviated praenomina. For an explanation of this practice, see filiation.
  • Pontius Cominius, a young soldier who volunteered to convey a message from the army to the senate, following the Battle of the Allia, when the Capitol was besieged by the Gauls. Floating down the river on some driftwood until he reached the Capitol, he asked that Marcus Furius Camillus, who was then in exile, be nominated dictator.[3][4][5]
  • Herennius Pontius, an aged resident of Caudium at the time of the Roman surrender in 321 BC, who advised the victorious Samnites either to release the Romans unharmed, or put them to the sword, concluding that imposing terms of peace on a conquered army would only lead the Romans to return seeking revenge.[6]
  • Gaius Pontius Herenni f., the Samnite general at the Battle of the Caudine Forks, ignored his father's advice, and imposed terms of peace on the defeated army, which the senate subsequently rejected. He led the Samnite army again in 292 BC, defeating a Roman army under Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges, but was later captured and beheaded.[7][8][9][10]
  • Pontius, a friend of Scipio Aemilianus.[11][12]
  • Pontius Telesinus, a Samnite general during the Social War, and subsequently a commander of the Populares during the second war with Sulla. He attempted to raise Sulla's siege of Praeneste, but was defeated and killed at the Battle of the Colline Gate.[13][14]
  • Pontius Telesinus, younger brother of the Samnite general, alongside whom he fought at Praeneste. He escaped into the city, and attempted to arrange the escape of the younger Marius, but finding their passage guarded, they fell by their own hands.[15][16]
  • Titus Pontius, a centurion mentioned by Cicero on account of his great strength. He may be the same person as the Pontius mentioned by Lucilius.[17]
  • Pontius Titinianus, a son of Quintus Titinius, who was adopted by one of the Pontii. Cicero asserts that he joined Caesar out of fear on the outbreak of the Civil War, which if correct would distinguish him from the soldier later captured by Scipio.[18]
  • Pontius, a soldier serving under Caesar, was captured by Quintus Metellus Scipio during the Civil War, and urged to go over to the side of Pompeius; but he stated that he would prefer death to betraying Caesar.[19]
  • Lucius Pontius Aquila, tribune of the plebs circa 45 BC, joined in the conspiracy against Caesar, and was one of his assassins. He became a legate of Decimus Junius Brutus in Cisalpine Gaul, and drove Titus Munatius Plancus out of Pollentia, but was slain in battle against the forces of Aulus Hirtius.[20][21][22][23]
  • Pontius, a companion of Marcus Antonius, whom Cicero excoriated in his Philippics.[24]
  • Pontius, punished with castration by Publius Cerennius, after the latter discovered him in the act of adultery with his wife.[25]
  • Pontius Aufidianus, learned that his daughter's tutor had allowed a certain Fannius Saturninus to deflower her, he put both the slave and his daughter to death.[26]
  • Pontius Lupus, a man of equestrian rank, who lost his eyesight, but continued as an advocate in the law courts.[27]
  • Pontius Pilatus, prefect of Judaea from AD 26 to 36, during the reign of Tiberius. The letters and reports attributed to him, concerning the death of Christ, are probably later forgeries.[28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35]
  • Pontius Fregellanus, a senator, deprived of his rank for aiding in the adulteries of Albucilla, in AD 36.[36]
  • Gaius Petronius Pontius Nigrinus, consul in AD 37, the year in which Tiberius died.[37][38][39]
  • Pontia Postumia, murdered by Octavius Sagitta, tribune of the plebs in AD 58, having broken off their engagement. Sagitta was banished to an island.[40]
  • Pontia, the wife of Publius (or Gaius?) Petronius, who was put to death as one of the conspirators against Nero. Pontia poisoned her children, and opened her veins.[41][42]
  • Pontius Laelianus, mentioned in the testamentum Dasumii, perhaps the father of Marcus Pontius Laelianus, the consul of AD 145.[43]
  • Marcus Pontius Laelianus Larcius Sabinus, consul suffectus for the months of July and August, AD 145.[44]
  • Marcus Pontius (M. f.) Sabinus, consul in AD 153.[45][43]
  • Marcus Pontius M. f. Laelianus, consul in AD 163.[46]
  • Marcus Pontius (M. f. M. n.) Varanus Sabinus, perhaps the son of Marcus Pontius Sabinus, consul in AD 153.[43]
  • Pontius Proculus Pontianus, consul in AD 238.[47]
  • Pontius, a deacon of the early Church at Carthage, was the friend and companion of Cyprian. He authored a work on the life and martyrdom of Cyprian, which was much praised by Jerome, but it is not clear whether the Vita et Passione Sancti Cypriani that has survived is the original text.[48]
  • Mericius Pontius Anicius Paulinus, bishop of Nola from AD 409 until his death in 431. He authored a number of letters and some poems that are still extant, some lost religious tracts, and apparently the Passio Sancti Genesii, or "Passion of Saint Genesius".[49]
  • Pontius, Bishop of Barbastro at the beginning of the twelfth century.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 495 ("Pontia Gens").
  2. ^ Chase, pp. 127–129.
  3. ^ Livy, v. 46.
  4. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Camillus", 25.
  5. ^ Zonaras, vii. 23.
  6. ^ Livy, ix. 3.
  7. ^ Livy, ix. 1. ff, Epitome xi.
  8. ^ Appian, Bellum Samniticum, iv. ff.
  9. ^ Cicero, De Senectute, 12, De Officiis, ii. 21.
  10. ^ Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. iii, p. 215 ff, 397 ff.
  11. ^ Cicero, De Fato (see Fragmenta, p. 235, ed. Orelli).
  12. ^ Macrobius, Saturnalia, ii. 12.
  13. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, i. 90–93.
  14. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 27.
  15. ^ Livy, Epitome, 88.
  16. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 27.
  17. ^ Cicero, De Senectute, 10, De Finibus, i. 3.
  18. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, ix. 19. § 2.
  19. ^ Valerius Maximus, iii. 8. § 7.
  20. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Caesar", 78.
  21. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, ii. 113.
  22. ^ Cassius Dio, xlvi. 38, 40.
  23. ^ Cicero, Philippicae, xi. 6, xiii. 12, Epistulae ad Familiares, v. 2–4, vii. 2, 3, x. 33.
  24. ^ Cicero, Philippicae, xiii. 2. § 3.
  25. ^ Valerius Maximus, vi. 1. § 13.
  26. ^ Valerius Maximus, vi. 1. § 3.
  27. ^ Valerius Maximus, viii. 7. § 5.
  28. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xv. 44.
  29. ^ Matthew, xxvii.
  30. ^ Mark, xv.
  31. ^ Luke, iii. 1, xxlii.
  32. ^ John, xviii, xix.
  33. ^ Josephus, Antiquitates Judaïcae, xviii. 3. § 1. ff, xviii. 4. § 1. ff, Bellum Judaïcum, ii. 9. § 2.
  34. ^ Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, ii. 7.
  35. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, pp. 496, 497 ("Pontius Pilatus").
  36. ^ Tacitus, Annales, vi. 48.
  37. ^ Cassius Dio, lviii. 27.
  38. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Tiberius", 73.
  39. ^ Tacitus, Annales, vi. 45.
  40. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xiii. 44, Historiae, iv. 44.
  41. ^ Juvenal, Satirae, vi. 638 ff.
  42. ^ Martial, Epigrammata, ii. 34, iv. 42. 5.
  43. ^ a b c Salomies, Adoptive and Polyonymous Nomenclature, p. 142.
  44. ^ Eck, "Die Fasti consulares der Regungszeit des Antoninus Pius", p. 74.
  45. ^ Eck, "Die Fasti consulares der Regungszeit des Antoninus Pius".
  46. ^ Alföldy, Konsulat und Senatorenstand, p. 316.
  47. ^ Samuel, Greek and Roman Chronology, pp. 272 ff.
  48. ^ Dictionary Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 496 ("Pontius").
  49. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, pp. 144, 145 ("Paulinus, Latin fathers, No. 2").