Aquillia gens

The gens Aquillia or Aquilia was a plebeian family of great antiquity at ancient Rome. Two of the Aquillii are mentioned among the Roman nobles who conspired to bring back the Tarquins, and a member of the house, Gaius Aquillius Tuscus, was consul in 487 BC.[1][2]

Denarius of Manius Aquillius, 65 BC. On the obverse is Virtus. The reverse depicts the consul Manius Aquillius raising an allegory of Sicily, an allusion to his victory in the Second Servile War.


The nomen Aquilius or Aquillius is probably derived from aquila, an eagle. On coins and inscriptions the name is almost always written Aquillius, but in manuscripts generally with a single l. The oldest branch of the family bore the cognomen Tuscus, suggesting that the gens may have been of Etruscan origin, although the nomen of the gens is indisputably Latin, and the name Tuscus could have been acquired in other ways.[3] This cognomen is nonetheless dubious as only found in late sources; Robert Broughton mentions that it could have also been Sabinus.[4]

From the imagery of their coins, it seems that the Aquillii had a special devotion for Sol, a rare occurrence under the Republic.


The oldest families of the Aquillii bore the praenomina Gaius, Lucius, and Marcus, which were the three most common names at all periods of Roman history. However, one family, which rose to considerable prominence in the final century of the Republic, preferred the less-common praenomen Manius.[5]

Branches and cognominaEdit

Denarius of Augustus and Lucius Aquillius Florus, 19 BC. Augustus is portrayed on the obverse. The flower on the reverse alludes to Florus' name.

The cognomina of the Aquillii under the Republic are Corvus, Crassus, Florus, Gallus, and Tuscus.[6]

Tuscus, the oldest surname of the gens, means "Etruscan", and this branch of the family is thought by some writers to have been patrician, since they were among the Roman nobility at the beginning of the Republic, and according to tradition, the consulship was closed to the plebeians until the lex Licinia Sextia of 367 BC. However, modern scholarship suggests that the nobility of the Roman monarchy was not exclusively patrician, and that a number of early consuls belonged to families that were later regarded as plebeian. Still, as most patrician gentes also had plebeian branches, the possibility that some of the early Aquilii were patricians cannot be discounted.[7]

Corvus refers to a raven. This surname is more famous from the gens Valeria. The Aquillii Flori first appear during the First Punic War, although they must have existed since the fourth century BC, and flourished at least until the time of Augustus. Their name simply means "flower". Gallus may refer to a cock, or to a Gaul, even though the Galli were from Lanuvium.[8] Crassus, a surname common in many gentes, may be translated as "thick," "dull," "simple," or "crude."[9] The last cognomen to appear was Felix, meaning "lucky".

In the last century of the Republic, two Aquillii who reached the consulship are not recorded with a cognomen, but they belonged to the Flori, since this cognomen is found on coins and inscriptions of their descendants.


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

Early AquilliiEdit

Aquillii FloriEdit

Denarius of Augustus and Lucius Aquillius Florus, 19 BC. Sol is portrayed on the obverse. The reverse shows a quadriga carrying a modius, a reference to corn distributions made by Augustus.

Aquillii GalliEdit


Denarius of Manius Aquillius, 109-108 BC. On the obverse is the head of Sol, while the reverse depicts Luna driving a biga with stars around.
Medallion naming Gaius Aquillus Proculus, a centurion of the Legio VIII Augusta. Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita ii. 4.
  2. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  3. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  4. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 20 (note 1).
  5. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  6. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  7. ^ Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome, pp. 252–256.
  8. ^ Wiseman, New Men, p. 185.
  9. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  10. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 19, 20 (note 1).
  11. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 98, 99.
  12. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 206, 207.
  13. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 498, 504, 506, 507, 509.
  14. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 559, 564, 570, 571, 577; vol. II, pp. 2-4 (note 10), 34, 35, 43.
  15. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 314.
  16. ^ Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 27. Corrupted as "Marcus" in the manuscript.
  17. ^ Broughton, vol. II, p. 488.
  18. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 412.
  19. ^ Hersh & Walker, "The Mesagne Hoard", Table 2.
  20. ^ a b Cassius Dio, li. 2 § 4.
  21. ^ IGRP 1659.
  22. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 475.
  23. ^ Eckhel, vol. v, pp. 142, 143, vol. vi., pp. 94-99.
  24. ^ Roman Imperial Coinage, vol. I, p. 63.
  25. ^ CIL III, 551.
  26. ^ AE 1919, 1.
  27. ^ Livy, xli. 18, 19.
  28. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 400.
  29. ^ Broughton, vol. II, p. 152.
  30. ^ Broughton, vol. II, p. 216.
  31. ^ Taylor, Voting Districts, pp. 192, 193.
  32. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 186 (note 1).
  33. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 273.
  34. ^ Sablayrolles, Libertinus miles, pp. 11, 12 (note 15).
  35. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 281.
  36. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, xiv. 13, 17.
  37. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, iii. 93, 94, iv. 39.
  38. ^ Broughton, vol. II, p. 338.
  39. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Augustus", 11.
  40. ^ CIL VI, 2122.
  41. ^ Cassius Dio, lix. 9.
  42. ^ Frontinus, De Aquaeductu]] 13.
  43. ^ Fasti Ostienses, CIL XIV, 244.
  44. ^ Spartianus, "The Life of Didius Julianus", 5 § 8; "The Life of Septimius Severus", 5 § 9.
  45. ^ Oliver, "M. Aquilius Felix", pp. 311-319.
  46. ^ Sablayrolles, Libertinus miles, p. 78 (note 39), p. 130 (note 227).
  47. ^ Jerome, De Viris Illustribus, c. 3.

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Missing or empty |title= (help)


  1. ^ Initially, Crawford dated this moneyer from 71 BC, and supposed that he was the same as the senator mentioned in 74. However, Walker and Hersh placed him later, in 65. Thus, the moneyer was most likely the son of the senator, as moneyers were typically young men in their 20s, whereas the senator would have been at least 39 by this time. He was possibly the same as the supporter of Antony.


External linksEdit

  Media related to Gens Aquilia at Wikimedia Commons