Marcia (gens)

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Gaius Marcius Coriolanus reproached by his mother, Veturia, and wife, Volumnia, before the walls of Rome.

The gens Marcia, occasionally written Martia, was one of the oldest and noblest houses at ancient Rome. They claimed descent from the second and fourth Roman Kings, and the first of the Marcii appearing in the history of the Republic would seem to have been patrician; but all of the families of the Marcii known in the later Republic were plebeian. The first to obtain the consulship was Gaius Marcius Rutilus in 357 BC, only a few years after the passage of the lex Licinia Sextia opened this office to the plebeians.[1]


The Marcii are supposed to have been Sabines, descended from a certain Marcus Marcius of Cures, a kinsman of Numa Pompilius, and his son, Numa Marcius, a childhood friend of Pompilius, who accompanied him to Rome and served as his chief advisor. His son, the younger Numa Marcius, was urban prefect under Tullus Hostilius, and his grandson was Ancus Marcius, the fourth King of Rome.[1]

Although the Roman monarchy was not strictly hereditary, tradition holds that the sons of Ancus Marcius hoped to succeed their father, but were prevented from doing so when his chief advisor, the Etruscan Lucius Tarquinius, took advantage of their absence at the time of the king's death to solicit support for his own claim, and was elected king.[2]

After biding their time for many years, the sons of Marcius gained their revenge by engineering the assassination of Tarquin, but they were again prevented from claiming the throne by a ruse of Tanaquil, the Roman queen, who installed her stepson, Servius Tullius, as regent, until he had sufficient support to rule on his own. The later Marcii claimed descent from Ancus Marcius, but nothing further is recorded of his sons or the generations between them and the Marcii of the early Republic.[1][3]

The nomen Marcius is a patronymic surname, based on the common praenomen Marcus. There is no reason to doubt that both names are in turn derived from the god Mars, although the precise linguistic process by which this occurred is complex and uncertain.[4]


Denarius of L. Marcius Philippus, minted in 56 BC. The obverse is a portrait of Ancus Marcius, the legendary 4th king of Rome and founder of the gens. The reverse depicts the Aqua Marcia, built by Q. Marcius Rex in 144 BC, who also had his statue on the aqueduc.[5]

The Marcii were relatively conservative with respect to praenomina, with only three names accounting for nearly all of the Marcii of the Republic. Most branches of the family used Lucius, but preferred either Gaius or Quintus, seldom if ever using both in the same branch. There were isolated instances of Publius, Marcus, and perhaps one instance of Gnaeus, although this case is doubtful. All were very common names throughout Roman history; but there was also at least one Septimus, a praenomen that was quite rare at Rome.

The ancient praenomina Numa and Ancus evidently passed out of use some time before the establishment of the Republic. Both are likely Sabine or Oscan names, as were all of the persons known to have borne them. No attempt seems to have been made to revive either of them at Rome, either as praenomen or cognomen. Numa seems to be related to Numitor, the name of one of the ancient Kings of Alba Longa, and the grandfather of Romulus, and may share a common root with the praenomen Numerius, which remained in use at Rome for many centuries; Chase suggests a meaning related to "arranger" or "orderer", which would suit both Numa Pompilius and his kinsman, Numa Marcius. For Ancus, otherwise known only from the legendary founder of the Publician gens, he suggests the meaning of "servant", perhaps in the religious sense.[6]

Branches and cognomina

The only surname associated with the patrician Marcii was Coriolanus, which does not seem to have represented a distinct family of the Marcian gens. During the time of the Republic, the plebeian Marcii bore the cognomina Censorinus, Crispus, Figulus, Libo, Philippus, Ralla, Rex, Rufus, Rutilus, Septimus, Sermo, and Tremulus. Those of Censorinus, Libo, and Philippus are found on coins.[1]

Coriolanus, the earliest cognomen of the Marcii, and the only one generally believed to have belonged to any of the patrician Marcii, was the personal surname of Gaius Marcius, a young soldier whose brilliant charge through the gates of Corioli resulted in the capture of that town from the Volscians. We are told that he had two young sons, from whom one might imagine that the later Marcii were descended; but all of the later Marcii known to history were plebeians. If any of them were descendants of Coriolanus, then they must have stepped down or been removed from the patrician order. The surname Coriolanus does not appear to have been passed down to later generations of the Marcii.[7][8]

The earliest family of the plebeian Marcii bore the surname of Rutilus, meaning "reddish", probably signifying that the first of this family had red hair.[9] It through this family that the Marcii emerge from obscurity, only a few years after the passage of the lex Licinia Sextia opened the consulship to the plebeians. The son of Gaius Marcius Rutilus, the first plebeian censor, was himself censor twice, and took the name Censorinus, which was thereafter passed down in this family for several centuries.[10]

After this family, the next cognomen of the Marcii was Philippus, a Greek name, which first appears as the surname of Quintus Marcius, the consul of 281 BC; but this may anticipate the adoption of the name by his descendant, for a certain Lucius Marcius of this family is said to have had some connection with Philip V of Macedon; his son, Quintus Marcius Philippus, was consul in 186 BC, and it may therefore have been Lucius who was the first to obtain the cognomen. The initial cognomen of the family may have been Tremulus, since the filiations given in the Fasti link Quintus Marcius Tremulus, consul in 306, and his probable son Quintus Marcius Philippus, consul in 281. Philippus means "lover of horses", and the name had for centuries been associated with the Macedonian kings; Philip II was the father of Alexander the Great. So wide was the fame of this dynasty, that it is not entirely impossible that the name had reached Rome at an earlier date. The Philippi were proud of this association since Lucius Marcius Philippus, the consul of 91, even put the portrait of Philip V of Macedon on the denarii he minted.[11][12][13]

Ralla seems to be the next surname of the Marcii, first appearing toward the close of the third century BC. It may mean "scraper", and Chase suggests a common origin with the radula, or "scraper", a standard carpentry tool. This family is only found in history for a brief period.[8][14]

The next surname of the Marcii was Rex, meaning "king", an unmistakable allusion to the family's traditional descent from Numa Pompilius and Ancus Marcius.[15]


This list includes abbreviated praenomina. For an explanation of this practice, see filiation.

Early Marcii

Denarius of Lucius Marcius Philippus, circa 113 BC. The obverse depicts Philip V of Macedon. The reverse displays a triumphator, either Quintus Marcius Tremulus, who triumphed in 306 BC, or Quintus Marcius Philippus, who triumphed in 281.[13]
  • Marcus Marcius, a kinsman of Numa Pompilius, who together with Numa's father, Pompo, persuaded him to accept the Roman Kingdom.[16]
  • Numa Marcius M. f., the son of Marcus, was an intimate friend of Numa Pompilius, and accompanied him to Rome, where he was enrolled in the Senate, and created the first Pontifex Maximus. According to Plutarch, when the king died after a reign of forty-three years, Numa Marcius contended with Tullus Hostilius for the throne, but being defeated he starved himself to death.[17][18]
  • Numa Marcius Numae f. M. n., the son of Numa Marcius, served as praefectus urbi under Tullus Hostilius. He married Pompilia, daughter of Numa Pompilius, and was the father of Ancus Marcius.[17][19][20]
  • Ancus Marcius Numae f. Numae n., the fourth King of Rome, according to tradition restored many religious ceremonies that Tullus Hostilius had neglected, but also ably defended the city in times of war. To him are credited many improvements in and around the city of Rome, including the fortification of the Janiculum, the building of a bridge over the Tiber, and the settling of captured Latins on the Aventine Hill.[i][17][22][23][24][25]
  • Gaius Marcius Coriolanus,[ii] a legendary Roman soldier who led the charge that captured the Volscian town of Corioli. He subsequently became a fierce opponent of the plebeians, urging that they surrender the hard-won office of Tribune of the Plebs before grain could be purchased for them during a famine. Rather than face trial for his effrontery, he fled into exile among the Volsci, then led a Volscian force against Rome, withdrawing only at the pleas of his mother and sister. He was the subject of one of Shakespeare's history plays.[26][27][28][29][30]
  • Manius Marcius, plebeian aedile circa 440 BC, offered corn to the people for one as per modius, a very low price. The date of this magistrate is uncertain and still debated.[31][32]
  • Gnaeus (or Gaius) Marcius, tribune of the plebs in 389 BC, prosecuted Quintus Fabius Ambustus, one of three brothers who were sent as ambassadors to the Gauls at Clusium, but who instead of negotiating joined the citizens of Clusium in attacking the Gauls, precipitating the Gallic sack of Rome in 390.[33]

Marcii Rutili et Censorini

Denarius of Gaius Marcius Censorinus minted in 88 BC, depicting Numa Pompilius and Ancus Marcius, with a desultor on the reverse.[34]

Marcii Tremuli et Philippi

Denarius of Quintus Marcius Philippus, 129 BC. The obverse depicts a head of Roma; on the is a horseman, behind whom is a Macedonian royal helmet.
  • Quintus Marcius, grandfather of Quintus Marcius Tremulus, the consul of 306 BC.
  • Quintus Marcius Q. f., father of the consul of 306 BC.
  • Quintus Marcius Q. f. Q. n. Tremulus, consul in 306 BC, defeated the Hernici and Anagnini, and celebrated a triumph. He was likely the father of Quintus Marcius Philippus, since their filiation match and they were the first two Marcii to use the cognomen Quintus.[70][71][72]
  • Quintus Marcius Q. f. Q. n. Philippus, consul in 281 BC, triumphed over the Etruscans. In 263 he was nominated magister equitum by the dictator Gnaeus Fulvius Maximus Centumalus.[73]
  • Lucius Marcius Q. f. Philippus, father of the consul of 186 BC, was connected in some manner with Philip V of Macedon, although the circumstances are not known. He may have been the first member of this family to bear the surname Philippus, rather than the consul of 281.[74][75][72]
  • Quintus Marcius L. f. Q. n. Philippus, praetor in 188 BC, received the province of Sicily. He was consul in 186 BC, during which Rome was embroiled in a panic over the discovery of the Bacchanalia. He and his colleague were sent against the Ligurians, but Marcius was badly defeated. Consul for the second time in 169, he had the conduct of the war in Macedonia. He was censor in 164.[76][77][78][79]
  • Quintus Marcius Q. f. L. n. Philippus, son of the consul in 186 and 169 BC, served under his father in Macedonia.[80]
  • Quintus Marcius Philippus, according to Cicero, was condemned, and went into exile at Nuceria, where he became a citizen. He might possibly be the same as the son of the consul of 186 and 169 BC.[81]
  • Quintus Marcius Q. f. Q. n. Philippus, triumvir monetalis in 129 BC. His coins feature a helmet with goat's horns, usually worn by Macedonian kings, an allusion to his cognomen.[82]
  • Lucius Marcius Q. f. Q. n. Philippus, a powerful orator of the late Republic. As tribune of the plebs in 104 BC, his attempt to bring about agrarian reform as was blocked. He was consul in 91, and found himself in violent opposition to Marcus Livius Drusus, who had him arrested; but so strongly did public opinion sway that Philippus subsequently had all of Drusus' laws nullified. He maintained neutrality during the civil war between Marius and Sulla, and was censor in 86; after Sulla's death he became a supporter of Gnaeus Pompeius.[83][84][85][86][87][88][89][90][91]
  • Lucius Marcius L. f. Q. n. Philippus, consul in 56 BC, maintained neutrality during the Civil War, remaining on good terms with both Caesar and Cicero. He married Atia, and became the step-father of Gaius Octavius, afterward the emperor Augustus, whom he tried to dissuade from becoming Caesar's heir, and was sent by the Senate to negotiate with Antonius. At Augustus' request, he helped construct a number of public buildings. His daughter was the second wife of Cato the Younger.[92][93][94][95][96][97]
  • Quintus Marcius Philippus, proconsul of Asia in 54 BC.[98]
  • Lucius Marcius L. f. L. n. Philippus, the step-brother of Augustus, was tribune of the plebs in 49 BC, praetor in 44, and consul in 38.[99][100]
  • Marcia L. f. L. n., wife of Cato the Younger, by whom she had several children; she lived for several years with the orator Quintus Hortensius, but returned to Cato after the latter's death. When Cato fled Rome on the outset of the Civil War, in BC 49, he left his family and property in her care.[101][102][103]
  • Marcia, the wife of Paullus Fabius Maximus, consul in 11 BC, who is said to have spoken to his wife of the secret visit of Augustus to his grandson, Agrippa, in AD 13. According to Tacitus, Marcia disclosed this fact to the empress Livia, leading in some fashion to the death of Fabius shortly thereafter.[104][105]

Marcii Rallae

  • Marcus Marcius Ralla, praetor urbanus in 204 BC, when he set a date for the trial of Quintus Pleminius, legate pro praetore during the previous year, who was accused of perduellio for robbing the temple of Persephone at Locri, and for torturing and killing two military tribunes.[iii] In 202, Marcius was one of three legates of Scipio Africanus who escorted the Carthaginian ambassadors to Rome to establish terms for peace at the end of the Second Punic War.[107][108]
  • Quintus Marcius Ralla, tribune of the plebs in 196 BC, joined with his colleague, Gaius Atinius Labeo, in vetoing an attempt by the consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus to prevent the conclusion of peace with Philip V of Macedon. He was then appointed duumvir in 194 and 192 BC, in the former year to dedicate the temple of Fortuna Primigeneia on the Quirinal Hill, and in the latter to dedicate two temples that had been vowed by Lucius Furius Purpureo.[109][110]

Marcii Reges

  • Publius Marcius Rex, one of three senatorial envoys sent to restrain the consul Gaius Cassius Longinus in 171 BC. Frustrated with his lack of a command in the Third Macedonian War, Cassius ignored the envoys and marched his army through Illyria to Macedon.[111][112]
  • Quintus Marcius Rex, father of Quintus, the praetor of 144 BC, and probable brother of Publius Marcius Rex, the envoy of 171.
  • Quintus Marcius Q. f. Rex, praetor urbanus in 144 BC, he was appointed by the Senate to repair the Appian, Old Aniensian, and Tepulan aqueducts, and to construct a new one, which became known as the Aqua Marcia. He was granted about 180 million sestertii for the task, and his imperium was extended the following year so that he could finish the task.[113][114][19][115]
  • Quintus Marcius Q. f. Q. n. Rex, consul in 118 BC, triumphed over the Stoeni, a Ligurian people. The colony of Narbo Martius, established during his consulship, may have been named for him. Marcius' only son died during his consulship, but he stoically performed his duties, even meeting the Senate on the day of his son's burial.[116][117][118][119][120][121][122]
  • Marcia Q. f. Q. n., sister of the consul of 118 BC, married Gaius Julius Caesar, grandfather of the dictator.[123]
  • Quintus Marcius Q. f. (Q. n.) Rex, consul in 68 BC,[iv] and afterward proconsul in Cilicia, for which he requested but was not granted a triumph. In 63, the Senate dispatched him to keep watch over Gaius Mallius, one of Catiline's condederates at Faesulae. He had married a sister of Publius Clodius Pulcher, who expected to receive an inheritance from his brother-in-law, but was disappointed when Marcius died without leaving him anything.[124][125][126]

Marcii Figuli

Marcii Libones

Marcii Bareae


  • Gaius Marcius, tribune of the plebs in 311 BC, he and his colleague, Lucius Atilius, succeeded in passing a law requiring the military tribunes to be elected by the people. He is probably the same Gaius Marcius who was elected one of the first plebeian augurs in BC 300.[146]
  • Marcia, the wife of Marcus Atilius Regulus, consul during the First Punic War.[147]
  • Quintus and Marcus Marcius, two military tribunes serving with the second legion, who were slain in battle against the Boii in 193 BC.[148]
  • Marcus Marcius M'. f., triumvir monetalis in 134 BC. His coins refer to Manius Marcius, the plebeian aedile of 440 BC.[149]
  • Quintus Marcius, triumvir monetalis in 118-117 BC.[150]
  • Marcia, one of three Vestals condemned for violating their vows of celibacy in 113 BC.[151][152][153][154][155][156][157]
  • Marcius Rufus, quaestor of Curio for the province of Africa.[158]
  • Quintus Marcius Crispus, a military tribune who served under Caesar during the Civil War. In 43 BC, he was proconsul in Bithynia, and brought three legions to the aid of Lucius Staius Murcus, the governor of Syria. They afterward submitted to Gaius Cassius Longinus.[159][160][161][162]
  • (Cremutia) Marcia A. f., the daughter of Aulus Cremutius Cordus, preserved her father's works after he had been denounced before Tiberius, and taken his own life.
  • Marcius Marcellus, an orator mentioned by Seneca the Elder.[163]
  • Marcius L. f. Macer, led a force of gladiators in support of Otho against Vitellius in AD 69. As one of Otho's chief supporters, he was to be made consul suffectus later in the year; but when Vitellius came to power, Macer was removed from the list of consuls designate, so that the emperor could honour his own supporters with consulships.[164][165]
  • Quintus Marcius Turbo, a distinguished general under the emperors Trajan and Hadrian.[166][167][168]
  • Publius Marcius Verus, consul suffectus in AD 166, and consul ordinarius in 179 with the emperor Commodus.[169]
  • Marcia Aurelia Ceionia Demetrias, the mistress of Quadratus, who was implicated in a plot to assassinate Commodus, and put to death. Marcia then became the emperor's mistress, and participated in a second, successful conspiracy.[170]
  • Marcius Agrippa, a man of humble origin, was appointed governor of Pannonia by the emperor Macrinus in AD 217. He later served as governor of Dacia, and is probably the same Marcius Agrippa who, as admiral of the fleet, had witnessed the death of Macrinus' predecessor, Caracalla.[171][172]


  1. ^ Niebuhr proposes that the descendants of these captives formed the origin of the plebeians.[21]
  2. ^ Gnaeus in some manuscripts; this was not a regular name of the Marcia gens, but there are one or two other examples.
  3. ^ This identification per Münzer, referring to a fragment of Valerius Antias mentioned by Aulus Gellius, in which a tribune of the plebs named Licinius asks a praetor named Marcus Marcius to set a date for a trial of perduellio. Münzer notes that Ralla is the only Marcus Marcius known to have been praetor, and that Pleminius would have likely have been the defendant. Other authorities, however, have suggested that the trial referred to occurred at a much later date, around BC 73.[106]
  4. ^ His colleague, Lucius Caecilius Metellus, died at the beginning of his year of office, and was not replaced, for which reason Marcius is described as "sole consul" in the fasti.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 940 ("Marcia Gens").
  2. ^ Livy, i. 35.
  3. ^ Livy, i. 41.
  4. ^ Chase, pp. 131, 158, 159.
  5. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, pp. 448, 449.
  6. ^ Chase, p. 144.
  7. ^ Livy, ii. 40.
  8. ^ a b Chase, p. 113.
  9. ^ Chase, p. 110.
  10. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 682 ("Gaius Marcius Rutilus").
  11. ^ Chase, p. 114.
  12. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 285 ("Marcius Philippus", nos. 1–3).
  13. ^ a b Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, pp. 307, 308.
  14. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 640 ("Ralla").
  15. ^ Chase, p. 112.
  16. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Numa", 5–7.
  17. ^ a b c Plutarch, "The Life of Numa", 21.
  18. ^ Livy, i. 20.
  19. ^ a b c Plutarch, "The Life of Coriolanus", 1.
  20. ^ Tacitus, Annales, vi. 11.
  21. ^ Niebuhr, vol. i, p. 352 ff.
  22. ^ Livy, i. 32, 33.
  23. ^ Dionysius, iii. 36–45.
  24. ^ Cicero, De Republica ii. 18.
  25. ^ Arnold, vol. i, p. 19.
  26. ^ Livy, ii. 34–40.
  27. ^ Dionysius, vii. 20–viii. 59.
  28. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Coriolanus".
  29. ^ Niebuhr, vol. ii, pp. 94–107, 234–260.
  30. ^ Shakespeare, [1]The Tragedy of Coriolanus.
  31. ^ Pliny, xviii. 18.
  32. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 56.
  33. ^ Livy, vi. 1.
  34. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, pp. 357-361.
  35. ^ Livy, vii. 16, 17, 21, 22, 28, 38, 39.
  36. ^ Niebuhr, vol. iii, p. 556.
  37. ^ Kamm, p. 13.
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  39. ^ Diodorus Siculus, xx. 27.
  40. ^ Eutropius, ii. 18.
  41. ^ Valerius Maximus, iv. 1. § 3.
  42. ^ Appian, Punica, 75–90, 97–99.
  43. ^ Livy, Epitome 49.
  44. ^ Florus, ii. 15.
  45. ^ Eutropius, iv. 10.
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  50. ^ Valerius Maximus, vi. 9. § 10.
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  53. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, i. 71, 88, 90, 92, 93.
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  56. ^ McGushin, vol. I, p. 101.
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  61. ^ Cassius Dio, xlviii. 34.
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  70. ^ Livy, ix. 43.
  71. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 165.
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  73. ^ Fasti capitolini
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  101. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, ii. 99.
  102. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Cato the Younger", 25, 39, 52.
  103. ^ Lucan, Pharsalia, ii. 329 ff.
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  111. ^ Livy, xliii. 1.
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  113. ^ Frontinus, De Aquaeductu, 12.
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  116. ^ Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, ii. 31.
  117. ^ Aulus Gellius, xiii. 19.
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  119. ^ Orosius, v. 14.
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  121. ^ Valerius Maximus, v. 10. § 3.
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  128. ^ Valerius Maximus, i. 1. § 3.
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  130. ^ Julius Obsequens, 74.
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  136. ^ Asconius Pedianus, In Pisonem, p. 7 (ed. Orelli).
  137. ^ Cicero, Philippicae, ii. 11, Epistulae ad Atticum, xii. 21, De Legibus, ii. 25.
  138. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 255.
  139. ^ Marcus Terentius Varro, De Re Rustica, I, 2, 7.
  140. ^ Broughton, vol. II, p. 156.
  141. ^ a b PIR, vol. II, p. 366.
  142. ^ CIL VI, 244.
  143. ^ Tacitus, Annales xii. 53, xiv. 21, 23, 30–33, Historiae, iv. 10, 40.
  144. ^ Cassius Dio, lxii. 26.
  145. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Titus", 4.
  146. ^ Livy, ix. 30, x. 9.
  147. ^ Silius Italicus, vi. 403, 576.
  148. ^ Livy, xxxv. 5.
  149. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 277.
  150. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, pp. 299, 300.
  151. ^ Cassius Dio, Fragment 92.
  152. ^ Orosius, v. 15.
  153. ^ Plutarch, Moralia (Quaestiones Romanae), p. 284 b.
  154. ^ Asconius Pedianus, in Ciceronis Pro Milone, 12, p. 46 (ed. Orelli).
  155. ^ Cicero, De Natura Deorum, iii. 30, Brutus 43.
  156. ^ Julius Obsequens, 97.
  157. ^ Livy, Epitome 63.
  158. ^ Caesar, de bello civili, 2.23,2.24,2.43
  159. ^ Hirtius, De Bello Africo, 77.
  160. ^ Cicero, In Pisonem, 23, Philippicae, xi. 12, Epistulae ad Familiares, xii. 11, 12, Brutus ii. 5.
  161. ^ Cassius Dio, xlvii. 27.
  162. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, iii. 77, iv. 58 ff.
  163. ^ Seneca, Controversiae, 28, 29.
  164. ^ Tacitus, Historiae, ii. 23, 35, 36, 71.
  165. ^ PIR, vol. II, p. 350.
  166. ^ Eusebius of Caesaria, Historia Ecclesiastica, iv. 2.
  167. ^ Spartianus, "The Life of Hadrian", 4–9, 15.
  168. ^ Cassius Dio, lxix. 18.
  169. ^ PIR, vol. II, pp. 350, 351.
  170. ^ Cassius Dio, lxxii. 4, lxiii. 16.
  171. ^ Cassius Dio, lxxviii. 13.
  172. ^ Spartianus, "The Life of Caracalla", 6.


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