Calpurnia gens

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The gens Calpurnia was a plebeian family at ancient Rome, which first appears in history during the third century BC. The first of the gens to obtain the consulship was Gaius Calpurnius Piso in 180 BC, but from this time their consulships were very frequent, and the family of the Pisones became one of the most illustrious in the Roman state. Two important pieces of Republican legislation, the lex Calpurnia of 149 BC and lex Acilia Calpurnia of 67 BC were passed by members of the gens.[1]


The Calpurnii claimed descent from Calpus, the son of Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome, and accordingly the head of Numa is found on some of the coins of this gens.[2][3][4][5]


The principal praenomina of the Calpurnii were Lucius, Gaius, Marcus, and Gnaeus. Publius was not a regular name of the Calpurnia gens during the Republic, but was used by the Calpurnii Lanarii.[6]

Branches and cognominaEdit

The family-names of the Calpurnii under the Republic were Bestia, Bibulus, Flamma, Lanarius, and Piso.

Piso was the name of the greatest family of the Calpurnia gens. Like many other cognomina, this name is connected with agriculture, and comes from the verb pisere or pinsere, which refers to the pounding or grinding of corn. The family first rose from obscurity during the Second Punic War, and from that time it became one of the most distinguished in the Roman state. It preserved its celebrity under the empire, and during the first century was second to the imperial family alone. Many of the Pisones bore this cognomen alone, but others bore the agnomina Caesoninus and Frugi.[1]

Of the other surnames of the Republican Calpurnii, Bestia refers to a "beast", "an animal without reason". Bibulus translates as "fond of drinking", or "thirsty", while Flamma refers to a flame.[7]


Denarius of Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, 2nd Century BC. The obverse features a head of Roma, while the reverse depicts the Dioscuri.
This list includes abbreviated praenomina. For an explanation of this practice, see filiation.

Early CalpurniiEdit

Calpurnii PisonesEdit

Calpurnii LanariiEdit

  • Publius Calpurnius, triumvir monetalis in 133 BC, was perhaps the father of Lanarius, since the name Publius appears in no other branch of the gens.[32]
  • Calpurnius (P. f.) Lanarius, an officer during the war against Sertorius in 81 BC, he defeated and killed Sertorius' legate, Lucius Julius Salinator, in the Pyrenees. Under whom he served is unclear; he may have initially been a partisan of Sertorius, making his battle against Salinator an act of betrayal.[33][34]
  • Publius Calpurnius (P. f.) Lanarius, the purchaser of a house from a certain Claudius Centumalus. He might be the same man who fought against Sertorius.[35]

Calpurnii BestiaeEdit

  • Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, consul in 111 BC, prosecuted the Jugurthine War, at first with much vigor, but through the payment of a substantial sum of money he was induced to conclude a peace. He was exiled under the Varian law in 90 BC.[36]
  • Calpurnia L. f., the wife of Publius Antistius, and mother-in-law of Pompey. Upon her husband's murder, she stabbed herself in the chest.[37]
  • Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, a supporter of Catilina, became tribune of the plebs in 62 BC, following the failure of the conspiracy.[38]
  • Lucius Calpurnius Bestia,[ii] a candidate for the praetorship in 57 BC, was successfully defended by Cicero on a charge of electoral bribery. He later went into exile, but regained his status and became a follower of Marc Antony.[39]
  • Lucius Sempronius Atratinus, consul in 34 BC, was the natural son of a Calpurnius Bestia.[40]

Calpurnii BibuliEdit


Altar of Fortuna, dedicated by Gnaeus Calpurnius Verus, prefect of a cohort of soldiers stationed at Castellum apud Confluentes, modern Koblenz.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Piso himself seems to be a historical figure, but most of what is known of him comes from the Historia Augusta, the account of which is considerably embellished. The source attributes to Piso the surname Frugi and claims he was descended from the Calpurnii of the Republic, but this is probably an invention of the author; if indeed the name Frugi was bestowed on him, it might be because that name had previously been associated with the Calpurnii Pisones, rather than because he was one of them. It is unlikely that Piso ever proclaimed himself emperor.
  2. ^ He is probably not identical to the tribune in 62 BC as Cicero does not mention his Catilinarian connections when attacking him.
  3. ^ Generally assumed to be a daughter by Bibulus first wife, but Zmeskal believes that this woman is the daughter of Porcia, as two children of Porcia are known to have existed, but it is not certain who the second one was.[46]
  4. ^ His praenomen may have been Marcus instead of Gaius, but most historians such as Syme[45] and Strachan[41] lean toward Gaius.


  1. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 582 ("Calpurnia Gens").
  2. ^ Plutarch "The Life of Numa", 21.
  3. ^ Horace, Ars Poetica, 292.
  4. ^ Festus, s. v. Calpurni.
  5. ^ Eckhel, v. p. 160.
  6. ^ Syme, "Missing Senators", p. 59.
  7. ^ Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary, s. v. Bestia, Bibulus, Flamma.
  8. ^ RE, vol. 3.1, column 1376 (Calpurnius 61).
  9. ^ RE, vol. 3.1, column 1376 (Calpurnius 62).
  10. ^ Valerius Maximus, i. 3. § 2.
  11. ^ Appian, Hispanica, 83.
  12. ^ Orosius, v. 6.
  13. ^ Obsequens, 85.
  14. ^ RE, vol. 3.1, column 1386 (Calpurnius 86).
  15. ^ Florus, iii. 19.
  16. ^ Florus, iii. 4. § 6, iv. 12. § 17.
  17. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 576, 578 (note 5).
  18. ^ Cicero, In Pisonem, 36, 23, 26, 27.
  19. ^ Broughton, vol. 3, p. 48
  20. ^ RE, vol. III (1), col. 1395 ("Calpurnius, no. 97").
  21. ^ Cicero, In Verrem, i. 46.
  22. ^ RE, vol. III (1), coll. 1379–1380 ("Calpurnius, no. 69").
  23. ^ Cassius Dio, index lib. lv.
  24. ^ Tacitus, Annales, iv. 45.
  25. ^ Tacitus, Historiae, iv. 11.
  26. ^ Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus (attributed), 12.
  27. ^ Cassius Dio, lxviii. 3, 16.
  28. ^ Grainger, Nerva and the Roman Succession Crisis of AD 96-99, pp. 69 ff.
  29. ^ Fausto Zevi "I consoli del 97 d. Cr. in due framenti gia' editi dei Fasti Ostienses", Listy filologické / Folia philologica, 96 (1973), pp. 125–137
  30. ^ Aelius Lampridius, "The Life of Commodus", 12.
  31. ^ Trebellius Pollio, "The Thirty Tyrants".
  32. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 278.
  33. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Sertorius", 7.
  34. ^ Konrad, Plutarch's Sertorius, pp. 100–101.
  35. ^ Cicero, De Officiis, ii. 16.
  36. ^ PW, vol. III (1), cols. 1366, 1367 ("Calpurnius, No. 23")
  37. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 26.
  38. ^ RE, vol. 3.1, col. 1367 (Calpurnius 24).
  39. ^ Broughton, "Candidates Defeated", pp. 35–36
  40. ^ RE, supplement III, col. 230 ("Calpurnius, no. 25").
  41. ^ a b Calpurnius. Strachan stemma.
  42. ^ RE, vol. III (1), cols. 1368–1370 ('Calpurnius 28').
  43. ^ a b Caesar, De Bello Civili, iii. 110.
  44. ^ a b Valerius Maximus, iv. 1. § 15.
  45. ^ a b c d e f g h Syme, Ronald (1987). "M. Bibulus and Four Sons". Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. Department of the Classics, Harvard University. 91: 185–198 – via JSTOR.
  46. ^ Zmeskal, Klaus (2009). Adfinitas: Die Verwandtschaften der senatorischen Führungsschicht der römischen Republik von 218-31 v.Chr (in German). Vol. 1. Czech Republic: Verlag Karl Stutz. p. 58. ISBN 9783888493041.
  47. ^ Holland, Rubicon, p. 339.
  48. ^ Tarrant, R. J. (1987). Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. Vol. 91. Harvard University Press. p. 198. ISBN 9780674379398.
  49. ^ RE, vol. III (1), col. 1367 ('Calpurnius 26').
  50. ^ Livy, xxxii. 19.
  51. ^ Konrad, Plutarch's Sertorius, p. 100.
  52. ^ Tacitus, Annales, i. 39.
  53. ^ Syme, "Piso Frugi and Crassus Frugi", p. 19.
  54. ^ Tacitus, Annales, iv. 36.
  55. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xi. 30.
  56. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xii. 22, xiv. 72.
  57. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xvi. 8.
  58. ^ Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, viii. 10.
  59. ^ Tacitus, Historiae, ii. 9.
  60. ^ Fasti Ostienses, CIL XIV, 244.
  61. ^ CIL XVI, 40.
  62. ^ Gallivan, "The Fasti for A. D. 70-96", pp. 192, 218.
  63. ^ Pithou, Declamations of Calpurnius Flaccus.
  64. ^ Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, v. 2.
  65. ^ a b Eck, "L. Marcius Celer M. Calpurnius Longus".
  66. ^ a b Camodeca, "Una nuova coppia di consoli del 148".
  67. ^ AE 1980, 760.
  68. ^ Southern, Roman Britain, pp. 27, 28.
  69. ^ Birley, Marcus Aurelius, p. 145.
  70. ^ "Gaius C(---) Calpurnius Rufinus | Real Academia de la Historia". Retrieved 2021-11-12.