Junia gens

  (Redirected from Lucius Junius Silanus)

The gens Junia was one of the most celebrated families of ancient Rome. The gens may originally have been patrician, and was already prominent in the last days of the Roman monarchy. Lucius Junius Brutus was the nephew of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last King of Rome, and on the expulsion of Tarquin in 509 BC, he became one of the first consuls of the Roman Republic.[1]

Bust in the Capitoline Museums, traditionally identified as Lucius Junius Brutus

Over the next several centuries, the Junii produced a number of very eminent men, such as Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus, three times consul and twice dictator during the period of the Samnite Wars, as well as Marcus and Decimus Junius Brutus, among the leaders of the conspiracy against Caesar. Although the Junii Bruti disappeared at the end of the Republic, another family, the Junii Silani, remained prominent under the early Empire.


Junius, the nomen of the gens, may be etymologically connected with the goddess Juno, after whom the month of Junius was also named.

Scholars have long been divided on the question of whether the Junii were originally patrician. The family was prominent throughout the whole of Roman history, and all of the members who are known, from the early times of the Republic and on into the Empire, were plebeians. However, it seems inconceivable that Lucius Junius Brutus, the nephew of Tarquin the Proud, was a plebeian. So jealous of their prerogatives were the patricians of the early Republic, that in 450 BC, the second year of the Decemvirate, a law forbidding the intermarriage of patricians and plebeians was made a part of the Twelve Tables, the fundamental principles of early Roman law. It was not until the passage of the lex Licinia Sextia in 367 BC that plebeians were permitted to stand for the consulship.[1][2]

Still, it has been suggested that the divisions between the orders were not firmly established during the first decades of the Republic, and that as many as a third of the consuls elected before 450 may in fact have been plebeians. Even if this were not the case, the consuls chosen at the very birth of the Roman Republic may have been exceptions. On balance, it seems more likely that the Junii were at first numbered amongst the patricians, and that they afterward passed over to the plebeians; but this question may remain unsettled.[1][3]

At the end of the Republic, the Junii Silani were raised to patrician status by Augustus, and one of them even held the office of Flamen Martialis; but this family was descended from one of the Silani who had been adopted from the patrician gens Manlia. Several of them bore the surname Torquatus, the name of a great family of the Manlia gens.[4]


The praenomina favored by the early Junii were Marcus, Lucius, and Decimus. Except for the Bruti Bubulci, who favored the praenomen Gaius and may have been a cadet branch of the family, the Junii Bruti relied exclusively on these three names. Many of the other families of the Junii also used these names, although some added Gaius and others Quintus. The Junii Silani also used the praenomen Appius. The Junii were by far the most prominent family to make regular use of Decimus.

The names Titus and Tiberius were carefully avoided by the Junii throughout most of their history. According to tradition, these were the names of the sons of Lucius Junius Brutus, the first consul, who joined in a conspiracy by their uncles, the Vitellii, to restore the Tarquins to power. They were condemned and executed by order of their own father, and this disgrace led to the abandonment of their names by future generations. The only noteworthy exception appears to be the orator Titus Junius, who lived in the final century of the Republic.[5]

Branches and cognominaEdit

Denarius of Decimus Junius Silanus, 91 BC. The obverse depicts a mask of Silenus within a torque, alluding to both the surname Silanus and their descent from the Manlii Torquati, and a plough, perhaps alluding to the dictator Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus. On the reverse Victoria drives a biga over a carnyx.

The family names and surnames of the Junii which occur in the time of the Republic are, Brutus, Bubulcus, Gracchanus, Paciaecus, Pennus, Pera, Pullus, and Silanus. Norbanus was formerly supposed to be a surname of the Junia gens, but in fact it seems to have been a gentile name. A few Junii are mentioned without any cognomen. Many Junii appear under the Empire with other surnames, but most of them cannot be regarded as part of the gens; these included many descendants of freedmen, and of citizens enrolled during the magistracies of the various Junii.[1]

Brutus was the name of a plebeian family of the Junia gens, which claimed descent from Lucius Junius Brutus. This possibility was denied by some ancient authorities, on the grounds that the first consul was a patrician, and because his two sons preceded him in death. However, one tradition states that there was a third son, from whom the later Bruti were descended. It is not impossible that there were younger sons, or that the elder sons had children of their own. Brutus is also known to have had a brother, who was put to death by his uncle the king, and there may have been other relatives. Moreover, Niebuhr raised the possibility that Brutus himself was a plebeian. But even if he had been a patrician, as the weight of tradition holds, his descendants may still have gone over to the plebeians.[3][6][7][8]

The name of Brutus is said to have been given to Lucius because he feigned idiocy after the execution of his brother, in hope of avoiding the same fate. However, his father is also referred to as Brutus by the ancient authorities, and while this may have come about merely for narrative convenience, it is possible that the surname had already been borne by the family for some time. According to Festus, the older meaning of the adjective brutus was "serious" or "grave", in which case the surname is much the same as Severus. A less probable explanation suggests a common origin with the name with that of the Bruttii, a people of southern Italy who broke away from the Samnites in the fourth century BC, and whose name is said to have meant, "runaway slaves".[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

The surname Bubulcus refers to one who plows with oxen. The only persons known to have borne this cognomen also bore that of Brutus, and therefore may have belonged to that family, rather than a distinct stirps of the Junia gens. If so, the Bubulci were the only members of the family to use the praenomen Gaius. They appear in history during the Second Samnite War, at the same time as the other Junii Bruti emerge from two centuries of obscurity, with the agnomen Scaeva. This suggests that the family may have split into two distinct branches about this time.[17][18][19]

The origin of the cognomen Pera, which appears in the middle of the third century BC, is not known, but the filiations of the two Perae suggest that they may have been descended from the Junii Bruti. Pennus, also a surname of the Quinctia gens, is probably derived from a Latin adjective meaning "sharp". This family flourished for about a century from the time of the Second Punic War.[20] The surname Gracchanus was assumed by one of the Junii in the latter part of the second century BC, on account of his friendship with Gaius Gracchus.[21] Paciaecus or Paciacus, the cognomen of another member of the gens, does not appear to be of Roman origin, although it may be that Paccianus or Pacianus is the correct form.[22][23][24]

Silanus appears to be a lengthened form of Silus, "snub-nosed", which occurs as a cognomen in the Sergia and Terentia gentes, and is not connected with the Greek Silenus, who was nonetheless depicted on their coins.[i] In manuscripts the variants Syllanus and Sillanus are found. The Junii Silani first appear in history during the Second Punic War, and for the next four hundred years they occupied the highest offices of the state. From the middle of the second century BC, at least some of the Silani were descended from the patrician Manlii, from whom they inherited the additional surname Torquatus. In 30 BC, Augustus raised Marcus Junius Silanus to the patriciate. Many of this family were related to, or even descended from, Augustus and the emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.[4][25]


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

Junii BrutiEdit

Denarius of Marcus Junius Brutus, 54 BC, depicting Lucius Junius Brutus on the obverse, and Gaius Servilius Ahala on the reverse. The tyrannicide Brutus claimed both as ancestors.[26]

Junii BubulciEdit

Junii PeraeEdit

Junii PenniEdit

Junii SilaniEdit

Denarius of Marcus Junius Silanus, 145 BC. The obverse depicts Roma in front of a donkey's head, alluding to Silenus. The Dioscuri appear on the reverse.[75]
Denarius of Decimus Junius Silanus, 91 BC. The obverse depicts the head of Salus within a torque, alluding to the temple of Salus built by Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus in 307 BC. On the reverse, Victoria drives a biga.

Junii BlaesiEdit

Junii RusticiEdit


Denarius of Marcus Junius Brutus, depicted on the obverse. The reverse depicts a pileus between two daggers, with the legend "EID MAR" (Ides of March), commemorating the assassination of Caesar.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ One coin of the Silani also seems to allude to Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus, perhaps indicating descent from the Bubulci, although it was not unusual for moneyers to depict the past achievements of one's gentiles without there being a close relationship.
  2. ^ Crawford assumes that he was the younger brother of Decimus, the translator of Mago, but Eilers disagrees, concluding that Decimus was probably much older than the moneyer, nor could Marcus have been the son of Decimus, who was probably childless, hence his adoption of one of the Manlii Torquati. Both Crawford and Eilers suggest that Marcus was the author of the lex Junia de repetundis passed between 149 and 123, although according to Broughton it was passed by the Marcus Junius Silanus who was consul in 109.
  3. ^ Crawford was unsure about this moneyer, saying that he could have also been the Consul of 109 BC, but Eilers demonstrates that Crawford's initial suggestion was correct, and that they were two different persons.
  4. ^ Broughton confuses the beginning of his career, as quaestor and proquaestor in Asia, with that of Marcus Junius Silanus, praetor circa 102.
  5. ^ It is uncertain whether he is the son of the Marcus Junius Silanus who was consul in 109 BC, or the one who was praetor about 102.



  1. ^ a b c d Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 658 ("Junia Gens").
  2. ^ Livy, vi. 42.
  3. ^ a b Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. I, p. 522 ff.
  4. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, pp. 819–821 ("Junius Silanus").
  5. ^ Livy, ii. 4, 5.
  6. ^ Dionysius, v. 18.
  7. ^ Cassius Dio, xliv. 12.
  8. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Brutus", 1.
  9. ^ Livy, i. 56.
  10. ^ Dionysius, iv. 67.
  11. ^ Nonius Marcellus, p. 77.
  12. ^ Festus, s. v. Brutum.
  13. ^ Strabo, vi. p. 225.
  14. ^ Diodorus Siculus, xvi. 15.
  15. ^ Gellius, x. 3.
  16. ^ Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. i. pp. 63, 98, 515.
  17. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, pp. 508 (Decimus Junius Brutus Scaeva, Nos. 5, 6), 515 ("Bubulcus").
  18. ^ Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary, s. v. Scaeva.
  19. ^ Pliny the Elder, xviii. 37.
  20. ^ Isidore, Origines, xix. 19.
  21. ^ Pliny the Elder, xxxiii. 2.
  22. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 80 (Lucius Junius Paciacus).
  23. ^ Drumann, Geschichte Roms, vol. IV, p. 52.
  24. ^ Orelli, Inscriptionum Latinarum.
  25. ^ Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary, s. v. Silanus.
  26. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, pp. 455–456.
  27. ^ a b Dionysius, iv. 68.
  28. ^ a b Livy, i. 56.
  29. ^ a b c d Broughton, vol. I, pp. 1, 2.
  30. ^ Dionysius, iv. 67–85, v. 1–18.
  31. ^ Livy, i. 56–60, ii. 1–7.
  32. ^ Macrobius, ii. 16.
  33. ^ Cassius Dio, xlii. 45.
  34. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Brutus", 1.
  35. ^ a b Livy, ii. 4, 5.
  36. ^ a b Dionysius, v. 6–8.
  37. ^ Dionysius, vi. 70 ff, 87–89, vii. 14, 26.
  38. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 15, 16 (note 1).
  39. ^ Dionysius, vii. 26, 27, 35.
  40. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 17.
  41. ^ Livy, viii. 12, 29.
  42. ^ Diodorus Siculus, xviii. 2.
  43. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 138, 147.
  44. ^ Livy, x. 43, 47.
  45. ^ Zonaras, viii. 1.
  46. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 181, 182 (note 1).
  47. ^ Livy Epitome, 16.
  48. ^ a b Valerius Maximus, ii. 4. § 7.
  49. ^ Livy, xxxiv. 1, xxxv. 24, xxxvi. 2, 36, xxxvii. 55.
  50. ^ a b Valerius Maximus, ix. 1. § 3.
  51. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 340, 353, 363.
  52. ^ Livy, xxxiv. 1, xxxv. 41, xxxvi. 45, xxxvii. 2, 50, 57.
  53. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 340, 356, 362, 366.
  54. ^ Livy, xxxiv. 35.
  55. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 345.
  56. ^ Livy, xl. 59, xli. 9, 14, 15, xlii. 45, xliii. 16.
  57. ^ Obsequens, 62.
  58. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 195, 399,
  59. ^ Cicero, De Oratore, ii. 32, 55.
  60. ^ Digesta, 1. tit. 2. s. 39.
  61. ^ Cicero, De Officiis, ii. 14, Pro Fonteio, 13
  62. ^ Valerius Maximus, iii. 7. § 3, viii. 14. § 2.
  63. ^ Livy, Epitome, 55, 56, 59.
  64. ^ Cicero, De Legibus, iii. 9, Pro Balbo, 17, Pr Archia Poeta, 11, Brutus, 28, De Amicitia, 2, Epistulae ad Atticum, xii. 22.
  65. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, xv. 7, 8.
  66. ^ Livy, Periochae, 89.1
  67. ^ CIL I, 709
  68. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 511 ("Brutus").
  69. ^ Verboven, "Damasippus", pp. 196, 197..
  70. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 155, 158, 159, 160 (note 1), 161, 163, 165, 169.
  71. ^ Livy, xxix. 11, xxx. 40, xxxi. 4.
  72. ^ Lucilius, 1017.
  73. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 109. De Officiis, iii. 11.
  74. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 508, 509 (note 3), 513.
  75. ^ a b Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 259.
  76. ^ Livy, xxv. 2, 3, 20.
  77. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 251, 268, 274, 280, 287, 292, 299, 300.
  78. ^ Livy, xxxiii. 36.
  79. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 338, 339 (note 8).
  80. ^ Pliny the Elder, xviii. 3. s. 5.
  81. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 468.
  82. ^ Eilers, "Silanus and Murena", pp. 178, 179.
  83. ^ Florus, Epitome, 54.
  84. ^ Valerius Maximus, v. 8. § 3.
  85. ^ De Finibus, i, 24. Decius in the manuscript.
  86. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 477.
  87. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, pp. 300–301.
  88. ^ Eilers, "Silanus and Murena", pp. 178, 179.
  89. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 513, 535, 537 (note 2), 538, 545, 549.
  90. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, pp. 336–339.
  91. ^ Broughton, vol. II, pp. 60, 64, 88, 94.
  92. ^ Claude Eilers, "Silanus and Murena", pp. 176–179.
  93. ^ Broughton, vol. II, pp. 114, 127, 130 (note 3), 143, 186.
  94. ^ Caesar, De Bello Gallico, vi. 1.
  95. ^ Broughton, vol. II, p. 231.
  96. ^ Broughton, vol. II, pp. 353, 412, 413, 416, 426.
  97. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 538.
  98. ^ Cassius Dio, liv. 6. Silvanus in the manuscript.
  99. ^ CIL, 9.332.
  100. ^ Broughton, vol. II, p. 425.
  101. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, vi. 1, xiv. 8, Philippicae, xiii. 4.
  102. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 88.
  103. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, iv. 50.
  104. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Caesar", 50.
  105. ^ Macrobius, ii. 2.
  106. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, xiv. 20, xv. 11.
  107. ^ Tacitus, Annales, iii. 76.
  108. ^ Cassius Dio, liv. 18.
  109. ^ Tacitus, Annales, iii. 70.
  110. ^ Ginsburg, "Nero's Consular Policy".
  111. ^ CIL VI, 1980, CIL XIV, 460, AE 2002, 1568.
  112. ^ Julius Capitolinus, "The Lives of the Two Maximini", 16.
  113. ^ Syme, The Augustan Aristocracy, p. 486.
  114. ^ Syme, The Augustan Aristocracy, pp. 163, 304.
  115. ^ Tacitus, Histories, ii. 38.
  116. ^ Tacitus, Annales, v. 4.
  117. ^ Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, i. 5, § 10, iii. 11, § 3, iv. 22.
  118. ^ Tacitus, Historiae, iv. 40, Agricola, 45.
  119. ^ Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus, 12.
  120. ^ Juvenal, xv. 27.
  121. ^ Livy, iv. 16.
  122. ^ Livy, xxv. 22.
  123. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, pp. 252, 253.
  124. ^ Boris Rankov, "M. Iunius Congus the Gracchan", pp. 89–94.
  125. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 48.
  126. ^ Cicero Pro Quinctio, 1.
  127. ^ Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 1, 20, 27, 29, 33.
  128. ^ Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 49.
  129. ^ Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 45.
  130. ^ Pliny the Elder, xxxv. 10.
  131. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Augustus", 27.
  132. ^ Tacitus, Annales, vi. 47.
  133. ^ Tacitus, Annales, xii. 21.
  134. ^ Cassius Dio, lx. 33.
  135. ^ Statius, Silvae, iv. 7, ult.
  136. ^ a b c d e f Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
  137. ^ AE 2002, 1762.
  138. ^ a b Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft.
  139. ^ CIL XVI, 83.


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