Servilius Nonianus

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Marcus Servilius Nonianus (died in AD 59) was a Roman senator, best known for being a historian.


Information about his life is scarce. His father was Marcus Servilius, consul in AD 3. Servilius Nonianus himself was consul in AD 35.[1] Tacitus describes Servilius Nonianus as a man of great eloquence and good-nature.[2]

According to the historian Pliny the Elder, Servilius Nonianus was terribly worried about losing his sight. To prevent this from happening he wore a lucky charm around his neck consisting of the two Greek letters alpha and rho. Pliny reports that the charm worked. [3]

He married one Considia, who gave him a daughter Servilia Considia; she married the senator Quintus Marcius Barea Soranus.

Historical work[edit]

Servilius Nonianus wrote a book on the history of Rome, but this work has not been preserved: even its title is unknown. According to Tacitus and Quintilian, this work at their time was considered a very important Rome history reference book, especially for those historians who belonged to the Senatorial Party.

Quintilian writes also that Servilius Nonianus used to publicly read his own work (recitationes).[4] In scholars' opinion, the history book by Servilius Nonianus was one of the history sources used by Tacitus for the narration of the first Imperial period, which he mixed with information from other authors, such as the historian Aufidius Bassus.[5] The exact period covered by the historical narration by Servilius Nonianus is unknown. It is very probable that Nonianus treated also the reign of the emperor Tiberius.[6]

Pliny the Younger records the anecdote that, during one of the public recitationes of Nonianus, the emperor Claudius (who was strolling nearby) was so attracted by the applause that he asked who was reading, and then joined the audience.[7]


  • Olivier Devillers: Tacite et les sources des Annales. Leuven 2003.
  • Michael M. Sage: "Tacitus’ Historical Works: A Survey and Appraisal," Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt. Vol. II.33.2. Berlin-New York 1990, pp. 851–1030.
  • Ronald Syme, Tacitus. 2 volumes. Oxford 1958.
  • Ronald Syme, "The Historian Servilius Nonianus," Hermes, 92 (1964), pp. 408ff.


  1. ^ Tacitus, Annales, 6,31.
  2. ^ Tacitus, Annales, 14,19.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Institutio oratoria 10,1,102.
  5. ^ Devillers, Tacite, pp. 15ff.; Syme, Tacitus, Vol. 1, pp. 274ff.
  6. ^ See Sage, Historical Works, p. 1006.
  7. ^ Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, I,13,3.
Political offices
Preceded by
Paullus Fabius Persicus
Lucius Vitellius
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Gaius Cestius Gallus
Succeeded by
Sextus Papinius Allenius
Quintus Plautius