Servilia (gens)

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The gens Servilia was a patrician family at Rome. The gens was celebrated during the early ages of the Republic, and the names of few gentes appear more frequently at this period in the consular Fasti. It continued to produce men of influence in the state down to the latest times of the Republic, and even in the imperial period. The first member of the gens who obtained the consulship was Publius Servilius Priscus Structus in 495 BC, and the last of the name who appears in the consular Fasti is Quintus Servilius Silanus, in AD 189, thus occupying a prominent position in the Roman state for nearly seven hundred years.

Like other Roman gentes, the Servilii of course had their own sacra; and they are said to have worshipped a triens, or copper coin, which is reported to have increased or diminished in size at various times, thus indicating the increase or diminution of the honors of the gens. Although the Servilii were originally patricians, in the later Republic there were also plebeian Servilii.[1][2][3]


According to tradition, the Servilia gens was one of the Alban houses removed to Rome by Tullus Hostilius, and enrolled by him among the patricians. It was, consequently, one of the gentes minores. The nomen Servilius is a patronymic surname, derived from the praenomen Servius (meaning "one who keeps safe" or "preserves"), which must have been borne by the ancestor of the gens.[4][5]


The different branches of the Servilii each used slightly different sets of praenomina. The oldest stirpes used the praenomina Publius, Quintus, Spurius, and Gaius. The Servilii Caepiones used primarily Gnaeus and Quintus. The Servilii Gemini employed Gnaeus, Quintus, Publius, Gaius, and Marcus. The ancestors of the gens must have used the praenomen Servius, but the family no longer used it in historical times.

Branches and cognomina[edit]

The Servilii were divided into numerous families; of these the names in the Republican period are Ahala, Axilla, Caepio, Casca, Geminus, Glaucia, Globulus, Priscus (with the agnomen Fidenas), Rullus, Structus, Tucca, and Vatia (with the agnomen Isauricus). The Structi, Prisci, Ahalae, and Caepiones were patricians; the Gemini originally patrician, and later plebeian; the Vatiae and Cascae plebeians. Other cognomina appear under the Empire. The only surnames found on coins are those of Ahala, Caepio, Casca, and Rullus.[1][6]

The cognomen Structus almost always occurs in connection with those of Priscus or Ahala. The only Structus who is mentioned with this cognomen alone is Spurius Servilius Structus, who was consular tribune in 368 BC. The fact that Structus appears in two of the oldest stirpes of the Servilii, neither of which clearly predates the other, could indicate that persons bearing this surname were ancestral to both great houses.[7]

The Prisci were an ancient family of the Servilia gens, and filled the highest offices of the state during the early years of the Republic. They also bore the agnomen of Structus, which is always appended to their name in the Fasti, till it was supplanted by that of Fidenas, which was first obtained by Quintus Servilius Priscus Structus, who took Fidenae in his dictatorship, in 435 BC, and which was also borne by his descendants.[8]

Ahala, of which Axilla is merely another form, is a diminutive of ala, a wing. A popular legend related that the name was first given to Gaius Servilius Structus, magister equitum in 439 BC, because he hid the knife with which he slew Spurius Maelius in his armpit (also ala). However, this does not appear to be the case, since the name had been in use by the family for at least a generation before that event.[9]

The surnames Caepio and Geminus appear almost simultaneously in the middle of the third century BC, with the consuls of 253 and 252. Each was the grandson of a Gnaeus Servilius, suggesting that the two cognomina belonged to two branches of the same family. Caepio, an onion, belongs to a large class of surnames derived from ordinary objects, while Geminus originally denoted a twin, and was typically given to the younger of two brothers. In a discussion concerning appearances, Cicero mentions a certain Quintus Servilius Geminus, who was frequently mistaken for his brother, Publius, the consul of 252 BC. The Servilii Vatiae seem to be descended from the Gemini.[10][11][12]


Servilii Prisci[edit]

Servilii Ahalae[edit]

  • Gaius Servilius Structus Ahala, consul in 478 BC, died in his year of office.[2][19]
  • Gaius Servilius Structus Ahala, magister equitum in 439 BC, slew Spurius Maelius.
  • Quintus Servilius C. f. Structus Ahala, father of the consul of 427 BC.
  • Gaius Servilius Q. f. C. n. Structus Ahala, consul in 427 BC.[20]
  • Gaius Servilius Q. f. C. n. (Structus) Ahala (or Axilla), consular tribune in 419 and 418 BC, and magister equitum in 418.[2][21]
  • Publius Servilius Q. n. Structus Ahala, father of Gaius Servilius Structus Ahala, the magister equitum of 408 BC.
  • Gaius Servilius P. f. Q. n. Structus Ahala, consular tribune in 408, 407, and 402 BC, and magister equitum in 408.
  • Gaius Servilius Ahala, magister equitum in 389 and 385 BC.
  • Quintus Servilius Q. f. Ahala, father of Quintus Servilius Ahala, the consul of 365 BC.
  • Quintus Servilius Q. f. Q. n. Ahala, consul in 365 and 362 BC, and dictator in 360.
  • Quintus Servilius Q. f. Q. n. Ahala, magister equitum in 351 and consul in 342 BC.[22]

Servilii Structi[edit]

  • Gaius Servilius Structus, grandfather of the consular tribune.
  • Gaius Servilius C. f. Structus, father of the consular tribune.
  • Spurius Servilius C. f. C. n. Structus, consular tribune in 368 BC.[2][23][24]

Servilii Caepiones[edit]

Servilii Gemini[edit]

Servilii Cascae[edit]

Servilii Vatiae[edit]

Servilii Rulli[edit]


Descent of the Servilii of the late Republic[edit]

This family tree depicts the Servilii Caepiones, Gemini, and Vatiae, from the third century BC to their known descendants in imperial times, extending down to the family of the emperor Galba. The chart is based on one by Friedrich Münzer.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 793 ("Servilia Gens").
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Fasti Capitolini, AE 1900, 83; 1904, 114; AE 1927, 101; 1940, 59, 60.
  3. ^ Gaius Plinius Secundus, Historia Naturalis, xxxiv. 13. s. 38.
  4. ^ Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, i. 30.
  5. ^ George Davis Chase, "The Origin of Roman Praenomina", in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, vol. VIII (1897).
  6. ^ Joseph Hilarius Eckhel, Doctrina Numorum Veterum, v. p. 308 ff.
  7. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 928 ("Structus").
  8. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 528 ("Servilius Priscus").
  9. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, pp. 83 ("Ahala"), 448 ("Axilla").
  10. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, pp. 533–535 ("Caepio"), vol. II, p. 239 ("Geminus"), vol. III, pp. 1232, 1233 ("Vatia").
  11. ^ Chase, pp. 111–113.
  12. ^ Cicero, Academica Priora, ii. 84.
  13. ^ Dionysius, vi. 40.
  14. ^ Livy, iii. 6, 7.
  15. ^ Dionysius, ix. 67, 68.
  16. ^ Orosius, ii. 12.
  17. ^ Livy, vi. 22, 31, 36.
  18. ^ Livy, vi. 31.
  19. ^ Livy, ii. 49.
  20. ^ Livy, iv. 30.
  21. ^ Livy, iv. 45, 46.
  22. ^ Livy, vii. 22, 38.
  23. ^ Livy, vi. 38.
  24. ^ Diodorus Siculus, xv. 78.
  25. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, xii. 5, De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, ii. 16, In Verrem, i. 55.
  26. ^ Frontinus, De Aquaeductu, 8.
  27. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 10.
  28. ^ Cicero, Pro Fonteio 14.
  29. ^ Livy, Epitome, 72.
  30. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, ii. 14.
  31. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Caesar", 21.
  32. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Caesar", 14, "The Life of Pompeius", 47.
  33. ^ Valerius Maximus, i. 8. § 11.
  34. ^ Livy, xxv. 3.
  35. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 329.
  36. ^ Cassius Dio, xlviii. 28.
  37. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, v. 58.
  38. ^ Cicero, In Verrem, ii. 8.
  39. ^ Cicero, In Verrem, iii. 71.
  40. ^ Cicero, In Verrem, v. 54.
  41. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, viii. 8 § 3, Epistulae ad Atticum, vi. 3 § 10.
  42. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, xii. 7, Philippicae, iv. 6.
  43. ^ Aelius Lampridius, "The Life of Commodus", 11.
  44. ^ Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, "Servilius", p. 1778.


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.