Norbana gens

The gens Norbana was a plebeian family at ancient Rome. Members of this gens are first mentioned toward the beginning of the first century BC, and from then to the end of the second century AD they filled a number of magistracies and other important posts, first in the late Republic, and subsequently under the emperors.[2]

Denarius of Gaius Norbanus, 83 BC. The obverse depicts Venus, while the reverse features a prow-stem, fasces, caduceus, and an ear of wheat, an allusion to his father raising the siege of Rhegium during the Social War.[1]


Because the great majority of Roman gentilicia end in -ius, many writers have supposed Norbanus to have been a cognomen, perhaps belonging to a branch of the Junia gens. In fact, it is itself a nomen gentilicium, belonging to a class of nomina derived from place-names, and ending in -anus.[2][3][4] Such names were common in families of Umbrian origin, although less characteristic of Latin gentes.[5] In the case of the Norbani, the name is likely derived from the town of Norba, in Latium, but, since none of the known members of the gens show any association with the town, it was perhaps an earlier, unknown ancestor who came from there, suggesting the family is of greater antiquity than the available records suggest.[6][7] For the first Norbani appearing in the late Republic, Ronald Syme suggested an Etruscan origin.[8]

Branches and cognominaEdit

The primary surname of the Norbani is Flaccus, a common surname that translates as "flabby" or "flap-eared".[5][9] Other surnames include Balbus, a common name referring to one who stammers; this is also written as Bulbus, perhaps with an intentional change of meaning, since bulbus refers to an onion.[10][11]


Aureus of Gaius Norbanus and Lucius Cestius, 43 BC. On the obverse is a bust of the Cumaean Sibyl, while on the reverse Cybele drives a biga pulled by lions, perhaps alluding to Octavian's anticipated victory over Brutus and Cassius.
This list includes abbreviated praenomina. For an explanation of this practice, see filiation.


  1. ^ Crawford and T. P. Wiseman assumed he was the same as the consul of 38 BC, but Richard Evans showed he would have been too old by this date.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Diodorus Siculus, xxxvii. 2. § 11.
  2. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 1209 ("Norbanus").
  3. ^ Chase, p. 113, 118.
  4. ^ Schulze, Zur Geschichte lateinischer Eigennamen, pp. 531, 532.
  5. ^ a b Chase, p. 118.
  6. ^ Schulze, Zur Geschichte lateinischer Eigennamen, pp. 531–532.
  7. ^ Taylor, Voting Districts, p. 180.
  8. ^ Syme, The Roman Revolution, p. 200 (note 3).
  9. ^ The New College Latin & English Dictionary, s. v. Flaccus.
  10. ^ Chase, p. 110.
  11. ^ The New College Latin & English Dictionary, s. v. Bulbus.
  12. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, i. 82, 84, 86, 91.
  13. ^ Livy, Epitome, 85.
  14. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 25.
  15. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Sulla", 27.
  16. ^ Orosius, v. 20.
  17. ^ Florus, ii. 21. § 18.
  18. ^ Broughton, vol. II, pp. 41, 45 (note 3), 62, 70.
  19. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 372.
  20. ^ Evans, "Norbani Flacci", pp. 123, 124.
  21. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, iv. 87, 103 ff'., 106 ff.
  22. ^ Cassius Dio, xxxviii. 43, xlvii. 35, xlix. 23, liii. 28.
  23. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Brutus", 38.
  24. ^ Broughton, vol. II, pp. 338, 339, 366, 390.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g PIR, vol. II, p. 415.
  26. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, pp. 500, 501.
  27. ^ Tacitus, Annales, i. 54.
  28. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Vitellius", 3.
  29. ^ a b PIR, vol. II, p. 416.
  30. ^ Martial, vii. 74.
  31. ^ Franklin, "Pantomimists at Pompeii".
  32. ^ Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, iii. 9.
  33. ^ Cassius Dio, lxvii. 11, lxviii. 9, 30.
  34. ^ Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, x. 66.
  35. ^ Martial, ix. 85.
  36. ^ Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus, 11. § 10.
  37. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 986 ("Lucius Appius Maximus").
  38. ^ PIR, vol. I, p. 117.
  39. ^ Cassius Dio, lxvii. 15.
  40. ^ a b Aelius Lampridius, "The Life of Commodus", 4.


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  • Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales.
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  • Aelius Lampridius, Aelius Spartianus, Flavius Vopiscus, Julius Capitolinus, Trebellius Pollio, and Vulcatius Gallicanus, Historia Augusta (Augustan History).
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  • Paulus Orosius, Historiarum Adversum Paganos (History Against the Pagans).
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