Valeria (gens)

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The Gens Valeria was a patrician family at Rome, which later included a number of plebeian branches. The Valeria gens was one of the most ancient and most celebrated at Rome; and no other Roman gens was distinguished for so long a period, although a few others, such as the Cornelia gens, produced a greater number of illustrious men. Publius Valerius, afterwards surnamed Poplicola or Publicola, played a distinguished part in the story of the expulsion of the Kings, and was elected consul in the first year of the Republic, BC 509. From this time forward, down to the latest period of the Empire, for nearly a thousand years, the name Valerius occurs more or less frequently in the Fasti, and it was borne by the emperors Maximinus, Maximianus, Maxentius, Diocletian, Constantius, Constantine the Great, and others.[1]

The Valeria gens enjoyed extraordinary honours and privileges at Rome. Their house at the bottom of the Velia was the only one in Rome of which the doors were allowed to open back into the street.[2][3] In the Circus Maximus a conspicuous place was set apart for them, where a small throne was erected, an honour of which there was no other example among the Romans.[4] They were also allowed to bury their dead within the walls, a privilege which was also granted to some other gentes; and when they had exchanged the older custom of interment for that of burning the corpse, although they did not light the funeral pile on their burying-ground, the bier was set down there, as a symbolical way of preserving their right.[1][5][6]

Niebuhr, who mentions these distinctions, conjectures that among the gradual changes of the constitution from a monarchy to an aristocracy, the Valeria gens for a time possessed the right that one of its members should exercise the kingly power for the Tities, to which tribe the Valerii must have belonged, as their Sabine origin indicates;[7] but on this point, as on many others in early Roman history, it is impossible to come to any certainty. The Valerii in early times were always foremost in advocating the rights of the plebeians, and the laws which they proposed at various times were the great charters of the liberties of the second order.[1][8]


The Valerii are universally admitted to have been of Sabine origin, and their ancestor, Volesus or Volusus, is said to have settled at Rome with Titus Tatius. Publius Valerius Poplicola and his brothers, Marcus Valerius Volusus and Manius Valerius Maximus, were descendants of this Volesus.[1][9][10] The nomen Valerius is a patronymic surname derived from the praenomen Volesus, itself derived from valere, to be strong.[11][12]


The earliest of the Valerii known to history bore the praenomen Volesus. Other praenomina favoured by the early Valerii included Publius, Marcus, Manius, and Lucius.[1]

Branches and cognomina[edit]

The Valeria gens was divided into various families under the Republic, the names of which are Corvus or Corvinus, Falto, Flaccus, Laevinus, Maximus, Messalla, Potitus, Poplicola or Publicola, Tappo, Triarius, and Volusus. Besides these, we meet with other cognomens of the Valerii under the Republic, which are mostly the names of freedmen or clients of the Valeria gens. On the coins of the Valerii, we find the cognomens Acisculus, Catullus, Flaccus, and Barbatus. Other surnames were borne by the Valerii in the imperial period.[1]

The Valerii Poplicolae were descended from Publius Valerius, the consul of 509 BC. His brothers, Marcus and Manius, bore their father's praenomen, in the form Volusus, as a surname. Manius bore the additional cognomen Maximus, which was passed down to his descendants.[1]

Poplicola signified "one who courts the people," from populus and colo, thus "a friend of the people." The form Poplicola was the most ancient. Poplicola generally occurs in inscriptions, but we also find Poplicula.[13] Publicola was the more modern form, and seems to have been the one usually employed by the Romans in later times. We find it in the best manuscripts of Livy, and in the palimpsest manuscript of Cicero's De Republica.[1]

The Valerii Potiti appear to be descended from Lucius Valerius, a son of Marcus Valerius Volusus, and nephew of Poplicola. This family, like many of the other ancient Roman families, disappears about the time of the Samnite Wars; but the name was revived at a later period by the Valeria gens as a praenomen; a Potitus Valerius Messalla was consul suffectus in BC 29. The practice of using extinct family names as praenomina was common in other gentes; in the Cornelia gens, the Lentuli adopted the extinct cognomen of Cossus as a praenomen.[1]

Corvus or Corvinus was a surname borne by a family of the Valerii Maximi. The first of this family earned the cognomen during the war against the Gauls in BC 349, when he defeated a giant Gaul in single combat, with the help of a raven. Marcus Valerius Corvus was regarded as one of the great heroes of the Republic, and was twice dictator, six times consul, and had filled the curule chair twenty-one times, living to the age of one hundred. He seems to have used the form Corvus, although some writers call him Corvinus; his descendants invariably adopted the form Corvinus, which is merely a longer form of Corvus.[1]

The surname Messalla was originally assumed by Manius Valerius Maximus Corvinus after his relief of Messana in Sicily from blockade by the Carthaginians in the second year of the First Punic War, BC 263. Members of this family appear for the first time on the consular Fasti in BC 263, and for the last in AD 506; and, during this period of nearly eight centuries, they held twenty-two consulships and three censorships. The cognomen Messalla, frequently written Messala, was originally an agnomen, meaning "of Messana." It appears with the agnomens Barbatus, Niger, and Rufus.

The cognomen Lactuca, borne by one of the Valerii Maximi, means "Lettuce," a favourite esculant of the early Romans. It belongs to the same class of surnames as Cicer (Cicero) and Stolo in the Licinian family.[14][15][16][17] Lactucinus, borne by some of his descendants, is merely a longer form of the same name.

The name of Valerius Laevinus first appears in the Fasti for BC 280, and the family was still extant in the age of Augustus, and that of Domitian or Nerva. A Laevina is mentioned by Martial.[18][19]


  • Volesus or Volusus, the eponymous ancestor of the gens, is said to have come to Rome with Titus Tatius during the time of Romulus, the first King of Rome.
  • Volesus Valerius, a descendant of the first Volesus, was the father of Publius Valerius Poplicola, Marcus Valerius Volusus, and Manius Valerius Volusus Maximus.

Valerii Poplicolae[edit]

  • Publius Valerius Vol. f. Poplicola, consul in 509 BC, the first year of the Republic; he triumphed over the forces of the king. Consul again in 508, 507, and 504, when he triumphed over the Sabines.
  • Publius Valerius P. f. Vol. n. Poplicola, said by Dionysius to have perished along with his brother, Marcus, after recovering the body of their uncle, Marcus Valerius Volusus, during the Battle of Lake Regillus, in 498 BC. However, the Publius Valerius Poplicola who was consul in 475 and 460 BC is thought to be the same man.[20]
  • Marcus Valerius P. f. Vol. n. Poplicola, said to have perished with his brother, Publius, at the Battle of Lake Regillus.[20]
  • Publius Valerius P. f. Vol. n. Poplicola, consul in 475 and 460 BC, and interrex in 462; he triumphed over the Veientines and Sabines during his first consulship, but in his second, he was killed in recovering the capitol from Appius Herdonius. He is said to be the son of the consul of 509, but according to another tradition, that son fell in battle at Lake Regillus; perhaps the consul of 475 was his grandson.[21][22]
  • Lucius Valerius Poplicola, grandfather of the consular tribune of 394 BC.
  • Lucius Valerius L. f. Poplicola, father of the consular tribune of 394 BC.
  • Lucius Valerius L. f. L. n. Poplicola, consular tribune in 394, 389, 387, 383, and 380 BC.[23]
  • Publius Valerius L. f. Poplicola, father of the consul of 352 BC.
  • Marcus Valerius L. f. Poplicola, magister equitum in 358 BC, and consul in 355 and 353.[24]
  • Publius Valerius P. f. L. n. Poplicola, consul in 352 BC; as praetor in 350 he commanded the reserves during the war against the Gauls. In 344 he was appointed dictator for the purpose of celebrating games in consequence of the appearance of prodigies.[25]
  • Publius Valerius Poplicola, magister equitum in 332 BC.[26]

Valerii Potiti[edit]

  • Marcus Valerius Vol. f. Volusus, consul in 505 BC; he fell at the Battle of Lake Regillus, in 498.
  • Lucius Valerius M. f. Vol. n. Potitus, consul in 483 and 470 BC.
  • Volesus Valerius Potitus, grandfather of the consul of 410 BC.
  • Publius Valerius Potitus, grandfather of the consul of 393 BC.
  • Lucius Valerius L. f. M. n. Potitus, sometimes called Lucius Valerius Poplicola Potitus, opposed the decemvirs, and was elected consul for the year 449 BC. He defeated the Aequi and the Volsci, and when the senate refused him a triumph, the soldiers conferred that honour on him.
  • Lucius Valerius Vol. f. Potitus, father of the consul of 410 BC.
  • Lucius Valerius P. f. Potitus, father of the consul of 393 BC.
  • Gaius Valerius L. f. Vol. n. Potitus Volusus, consular tribune in 415, 407, and 404 BC, and consul in 410; as consul he opposed the agrarian law of Marcus Maenius, and recovered the Arx Carventana from the Volsci, in consequence of which he was granted an ovation.[27]
  • Lucius Valerius L. f. P. n. Potitus, consular tribune in 414, 406, 403, 401, and 398 BC, and consul in 393 and 392; triumphed over the Aequi. Interrex for the purpose of holding the comitia in 392, and magister equitum under the dictator Marcus Furius Camillus in 390, the year in which Rome was taken by the Gauls.[28][29]
  • Publius Valerius L. f. L. n. Potitus Poplicola, consular tribune in 386, 384, 380, 377, 370, and 367 BC.[30]
  • Gaius Valerius (C. f. L. n.) Potitus, consular tribune in 370 BC.[31]
  • Gaius Valerius L. f. L. n. Potitus Flaccus, consul in 331 BC. He is probably the progenitor of the Valerii Flacci.[32]
  • Lucius Valerius (L. f. L. n.) Potitus, magister equitum in 331 BC.[32]

Valerii Maximi[edit]

  • Manius Valerius Vol. f. Volusus Maximus, dictator in 494 BC, he promised to alleviate the conditions of the debtors if the people would serve in the war against the Sabines and the Aequi. After triumphing over the enemy, Valerius was prevented from fulfilling his promise, and resigned the dictatorship, but was honoured by the people.[33][34][35]
  • Marcus Valerius M'. f. Vol. n. Lactuca Maximus, consul in 456 BC; opposed the plan of Icilius, tribune of the plebs, to assign the Aventine Hill to the commons.[36][37]
  • Marcus Valerius M. f. Lactucinus Maximus, father of the consular tribune of 398 BC.
  • Marcus Valerius M. f. M. n. Lactucinus Maximus, consular tribune in 398 and 395 BC.[38]
  • Marcus Valerius M. f. M. n. Maximus Corvus Calenus, consul in BC 348, 346, 343, 335, 300, and 299, dictator in 342 and 301, and interrex in 332 and 320; triumphed over the Volsci in 346, the Samnites in 343, Cales in 335, and the Etruscans in 301. He was elected consul at twenty-three, and lived to the age of one hundred, filling the curule chair twenty-one times.
  • Marcus Valerius M. f. Maximus, father of the consul of 312 BC.
  • Marcus Valerius M. f. M. n. Maximus, consul in 312 BC, triumphed over the Samnites. He was censor in 307, and extended or improved the roads through the demesne lands.[39]
  • Marcus Valerius M. f. M. n. Maximus Corvinus, consul in 289 BC.[40]
  • Marcus Valerius Maximus Potitus, consul in 286 BC. He was occupied by the agitation attending the Hortensian laws.[41]
  • Marcus or Publius Valerius Maximus, an important scholar and compiler of historical anecdotes, who probably lived during the first century AD.
  • Marcus Valerius Maximus, consul in AD 253 and 256.

Valerii Messallae[edit]

Valerii Laevini[edit]

Valerii Flacci[edit]

Valerii Faltones[edit]

Valerii Triarii[edit]

  • Lucius Valerius Triarius, propraetor in Sardinia in 77 BC; subsequently served as legate of Lucullus in the war against Mithridates. In 68 and 67, he put Mithridates on the defensive, but overextended himself, and was attacked at a disadvantage. His forces were defeated with great slaughter, and Triarius was only saved by the arrival of Lucullus.[73][74][75][76][77][78]
  • Publius Valerius L. f. Triarius, in 54 BC accused Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, first of repetundae (extortion) and then of ambitus (bribery). Cicero defended Scaurus on both occasions.[79][80]
  • Gaius Valerius (L. f.) Triarius, a friend of Cicero, and a supporter of Pompeius during the Civil War. He was present at Pharsalus in 48 BC, and advised Pompeius to allow his troops to stand and receive the charge of Caesar's soldiers. He perished in the course of the war, probably in Africa, and in 45 Cicero mentions that he had been left the guardian of Triarius' children.[81][82]

Valerii Asiatici[edit]


  • Valerius of Ostia, was architect of the covered theatre erected at Rome for the games of Libo (probably the Lucius Scribonius Libo who, as curule aedile in 193 BC, celebrated the Megalesia as ludi scenici).[83]
  • Lucius Valerius Tappo, praetor in 192 BC, obtained Sicily as his province. In 190 he was one of the triumvirs for settling new colonists at Placentia and Cremona.[84]
  • Gaius Valerius Tappo, tribune of the plebs in 188 BC, proposed that the franchise be extended to the Formiani, Fundani, and Arpinates.[85]
  • Marcus Valerius M. f. Artema, an architect, mentioned in an extant inscription.[86][87]
  • Decimus Valerius L. f., a vascularius, or maker of bronze vases, at Tusculum, of which place he was a native or citizen.[87][88]
  • Gaius Valerius Anemestione C. Ius, an anaglyptarius, or metalworker, so described in a Cordovan inscription.[87][89]
  • Valerius Aedituus, a Roman poet, cited as the author of two epigrams in the Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius, who probably lived about 100 BC.[90][91]
  • Quintus Valerius Soranus, an orator, scholar, and poet, much admired by Cicero; he had been tribune of the plebs, but the year is uncertain. He was put to death in 82 BC, ostensibly for revealing the sacred name of Rome, but more probably because he was proscribed by Sulla as a partisan of Marius.
  • Valerius Antias, the annalist, lived during the first century BC.
  • Quintus Valerius Orca, praetor in 57 BC, served under Caesar during the Civil War.
  • Gaius Valerius Catullus, the poet, flourished during the middle of the first century BC.
  • Publius Valerius Cato, a scholar and poet who lived during the first century BC.
  • Lucius Valerius Licinianus, an advocate, who flourished during the first century AD.
  • Valerius Probus, a grammarian of the first century AD.
  • Gaius Calpetanus Rantius Quirinalis Valerius Festus, consul suffectus in AD 71.
  • Marcus Valerius Martialis, otherwise known as "Martial", a poet who flourished under the reigns of Domitian, Nerva, and Trajan, and was famous for his epigrams.
  • Volsus Valerius Valus Sulla Valerianus, praetor in AD 132.
  • Marcus Valerius Bradua Mauricus, consul in AD 191.
  • Publius Valerius Comazon, consul in AD 220.
  • Lucius Valerius Maximus, consul in AD 233.
  • Valerius Maximus, consul in AD 253.
  • Lucius Valerius Maximus, consul in AD 256.

Late imperial Rome[edit]

Other uses of the name Valerius[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  2. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romaike Archaiologia v. 39.
  3. ^ Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, Publicola 20.
  4. ^ Livy, Ab Urbe Condita ii. 31.
  5. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Legibus ii. 23.
  6. ^ Plutarch, Publicola 23.
  7. ^ Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. i. p. 538.
  8. ^ Dictionary of Antiquities, s. v. Leges Valeriae.
  9. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus, ii. 46.
  10. ^ Plutarch, Numa 5, Publicola 1.
  11. ^ George Davis Chase, "The Origin of Roman Praenomina", in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, 8 (1897).
  12. ^ D.P. Simpson, Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary (1963).
  13. ^ Johann Caspar von Orelli, Inscriptionum Latinarum Selectarum Collectio n. 547.
  14. ^ Marcus Valerius Martialis, Epigrams x. 14.
  15. ^ Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis xviii. 3.
  16. ^ Plutarch, Cicero 1.
  17. ^ Marcus Terentius Varro, Rerum Rusticarum libri III i. 2.
  18. ^ Horace, Satirae 1, 6, 12, Schol. Vet.
  19. ^ Martial, Epigrams i. 62, vi. 9.
  20. ^ a b Dionysius of Halicarnassus, vi. 12.
  21. ^ Livy, ii. 52, 53, iii. 15-19.
  22. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus, ix. 28, x. 14-17.
  23. ^ Livy, v. 26, vi. 1, 5, 21, 27.
  24. ^ Livy, vii. 12, 17-19.
  25. ^ Livy, vii. 21, 23, 28.
  26. ^ Livy, viii. 17.
  27. ^ Livy, iv. 49, 57, 61.
  28. ^ Livy, iv. 49, 58, v. 1, 10, 14, 31, 48.
  29. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus, i. 74.
  30. ^ Livy, vi. 6, 18, 27, 32, 36, 42.
  31. ^ Livy, vi. 36.
  32. ^ a b Livy, viii. 18.
  33. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus, vi. 39-45.
  34. ^ Livy, ii. 30, 31.
  35. ^ Cicero, Brutus 14.
  36. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus, x. 31-33.
  37. ^ Livy, iii. 31.
  38. ^ Livy, v. 14, 24.
  39. ^ Livy, ix. 29, 40, 41, 43.
  40. ^ a b c Fasti Capitolini.
  41. ^ Pliny the Elder, xvi. 10.
  42. ^ Joannes Zonaras, Epitome Historiarum viii. 19.
  43. ^ Paulus Orosius, Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII iv. 13.
  44. ^ Livy, xxvii. 5, xxxiv 54, 55, xxxviii. 35, 42, xli. 22, xlii. 28.
  45. ^ Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae ii. 24, xv. 11.
  46. ^ Suetonius, De Claris Rhetoribus i.
  47. ^ Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX ii. 9. § 9.
  48. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile i. 40.
  49. ^ Tacitus, Annales iii. 68.
  50. ^ Lucius Annaeus Seneca, De Ira ii. 5.
  51. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History lxxvii. 5.
  52. ^ Livy, xxxi. 50, xli. 8.
  53. ^ Livy, ix. 7.
  54. ^ Polybius, The Histories i. 20.
  55. ^ Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae iv. 3.
  56. ^ Livy, xxi. 6, xxiii. 16, 34, 38, xxvi. 8 Epitome 20.
  57. ^ Cicero, Philippicae v. 10.
  58. ^ Livy, xxvii. 8, xxxi. 50, xxxii. 7.
  59. ^ Livy, xxxvii. 46.
  60. ^ Julius Obsequens, Liber de Prodigiis 77.
  61. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares iii. 4, 11.
  62. ^ Cicero, Pro Flacco 36; De Oratore 38.
  63. ^ Gaius Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Civili iii. 53.
  64. ^ Cicero, De Divinatione i. 46.
  65. ^ Varro, De Lingua Latina libri XXV vi. 21.
  66. ^ Eckhel, Doctrina Numorum Veterum vol. v. p. 333.
  67. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares ix. 21.
  68. ^ Livy, Epitome xix.
  69. ^ Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac dictorum memorabilium i. 1. § 2, ii. 8. § 2.
  70. ^ Zonaras, Epitome Historiarum viii. 18.
  71. ^ Orosius, Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII iv. 12.
  72. ^ Livy, xxix. 11, xxx. 40, 41.
  73. ^ Appian, Bella Mithridatica 88, 89, 112, 120.
  74. ^ Plutarch, Pompeius 35.
  75. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History xxxv. 10-12.
  76. ^ Cicero, De Leg. Man. 9.
  77. ^ Livy, Epitome 98.
  78. ^ Pliny the Elder, vi. 3.
  79. ^ Asconius Pedianus, in Scauro p. 19.
  80. ^ Cicero, Pro Scauro 1, 2; Epistulae ad Atticum iv. 16. § 8, iv. 17. § 2; Epistulae ad Quintum Fratrem iii. 2. § 3.
  81. ^ Julius Caesar, de Bello Civili iii. 5, 92.
  82. ^ Cicero, Brutus 76; Epistulae ad Atticum xii. 28, § 3.
  83. ^ Pliny the Elder, xxxvi. 15. s. 24.
  84. ^ Livy, xxxv. 10, 20, xxxvii. 46.
  85. ^ Livy, xxxviii. 36.
  86. ^ Karl Julius Sillig, Catalogus Artificium (1827), Append. s.v. Artema.
  87. ^ a b c Desiré-Raoul Rochette, Lettre à M. Schorn, p. 422, 2nd ed.
  88. ^ Ludovico Antonio Muratori, Novus Thesaurus Veterum Inscriptionum, Milan (1739-42), vol. i. p. xii. 12, p. xiv. 6.
  89. ^ Muratori, Novus Thesaurus Veterum Inscriptionum, vol. ii. p. cmlxxxi. 9.
  90. ^ Gellius, Noctes Atticae xix. 9.
  91. ^ Latin Anthology, iii. 242, 243, ed. Burmann, or Nos. 27, 28, ed. Meyer.

 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.