Caelia gens

  (Redirected from Gaius Caelius Rufus)

The gens Caelia was a plebeian family at ancient Rome. The nomen Caelius is frequently confounded with Coelius and Caecilius, with some individuals referred to as Caelius in manuscripts, while appearing as Coelius or Coilius on coins. Although the Caelii asserted their great antiquity, none of them attained any of the higher offices of the Roman state until the praetorship of Publius Caelius in 74 BC, and the first of this gens who obtained the consulship was Gaius Caelius Rufus in AD 17. The emperor Balbinus was a descendant of the Caelii.[1]


The Caelii claimed descent from the Etruscan hero, Caelius Vibenna, whose adventures were legendary in Etruria, but largely forgotten at Rome; the emperor Claudius, who was deeply interested in Etruscan culture, described the adventures of Caelius, his brother, Aulus Vibenna, and their companion, Macstarna, whom Claudius maintained was the same person as Servius Tullius, the sixth King of Rome. The famous François Tomb discovered at Vulci includes a fresco depicting one such episode, in which, aided by a companion, the three heroes and their friends escape from captivity, and slay an enemy named Gnaeus Tarquinius of Rome. Subsequently Vibenna and his followers settled at Rome, on the Querquetulan, or oak-covered hill, which in later times was generally known as the Caelian Hill, one of the famed seven hills of Rome.[2][3][4]


The main praenomina of the Caelii during the Republic were Marcus, Publius, Gaius, and Quintus, all amongst the most common names throughout Roman history. In imperial times, some of the Caelii used Gnaeus, also a common praenomen, and Decimus, which was somewhat more distinctive.

Branches and cognominaEdit

The only cognomen of this gens under the Republic was Rufus, originally typically given to a person with red hair.[5][1][6] A variety of surnames are found in imperial times, including Cursor, a runner, Pollio, originally a polisher of armor, and Sabinus, designating someone of Sabine descent or habits.[7]


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

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 532 ("Caelia or Coelia Gens").
  2. ^ Varro, De Lingua Latina, v. 46.
  3. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 532 ("Caeles or Caelius Vibenna").
  4. ^ Oxford Classical Dictionary.
  5. ^ Chase, p. 110.
  6. ^ Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary, s. v. rufus.
  7. ^ Chase, pp. 111, 114.
  8. ^ Aulus Gellius, i. 15.
  9. ^ Broughton, vol. II, p. 25.
  10. ^ Valerius Maximus, iv. 7. § 5.
  11. ^ Cicero, In Verrem, i. 50.
  12. ^ Cicero, In Verrem, iv. 47, Pro Flacco, 4.
  13. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, viii. 8.
  14. ^ Cicero, Philippicae, xiii. 2, 12.
  15. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, xii. 5, 6, vii. 3, xiii. 3.
  16. ^ Tacitus, Annales, iii. 37.
  17. ^ Tacitus, Annales, ii. 41.
  18. ^ Cassius Dio, lvii. 17.
  19. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xii. 44
  20. ^ Cassius Dio, lxi. 6.
  21. ^ CIL VI, 1704, CIL VI, 1705
  22. ^ PLRE, vol. I, p. 806.
  23. ^ CIL X, 3732
  24. ^ RE, vol. III (2), col. 1908 (Censorinus 5).
  25. ^ a b PLRE, vol. I, p. 196.
  26. ^ CIL VIII, 2216
  27. ^ RE, vol. III (2), col. 1908 (Censorinus 6).