Sempronia gens

The gens Sempronia was one of the most ancient and noble houses of ancient Rome. Although the oldest branch of this gens was patrician, with Aulus Sempronius Atratinus obtaining the consulship in 497 BC, the thirteenth year of the Republic, but from the time of the Samnite Wars onward, most if not all of the Sempronii appearing in history were plebeians. Although the Sempronii were illustrious under the Republic, few of them attained any importance or notice in imperial times.[1]


The praenomina favored by the patrician Sempronii were Aulus, Lucius, and Gaius. The plebeian families of the gens used primarily Gaius, Publius, Tiberius, and Marcus. The Tuditani used Marcus, Gaius, and Publius, while their contemporaries, the Gracchi, used Tiberius, Gaius, and Publius. Some families, including the Rutili and Muscae, used Titus instead of Tiberius.

Branches and cognominaEdit

Of the many branches of the Sempronia gens, the only family which was certainly patrician bore the cognomen Atratinus, a surname originally describing someone clad in black or mourning attire. Several of this family attained the highest offices of the Roman state under the early Republic, but the name does not occur again until 34 BC. Given the fashion for reviving old surnames in the late Republic, it seems improbable that this represented the direct line of the Sempronii Atratini, returning to prominence after more than three centuries in eclipse.[2][3]

Most or all of the other stirpes of the Sempronii were plebeian. Their surnames included Asellio, Blaesus, Densus, Gracchus, Longus, Musca, Pitio, Rufus, Rutilus, Sophus, and Tuditanus. Along with Atratinus, Gracchus and Pitio are found on coins.[1]

Sophus, referring to someone regarded as "wise", belonged to a small, plebeian family that flourished from the time of the Samnite Wars down to the middle of the third century BC. Blaesus, originally indicating someone known for stammering, was the surname of a plebeian family that attained prominence during the Punic Wars. Tuditanus, which the philologist Lucius Ateius Praetextatus supposed to have been bestowed upon one of the Sempronii with a head like a tudes, or mallet, belonged to a family that flourished during the latter half of the third century BC.[4][5]

Longus was a common surname, which usually referred to a person who was quite tall, although it could also mean "tedious". This family was prominent for a few decades, beginning around the start of the Second Punic War. Rutilus, or "reddish", usually referred to the color of someone's hair, and it marks a family that first appears in the early second century BC. A diminutive of Rufus, red, it may have belonged to the same family that later bore that surname. The cognomen Musca refers to a fly, a nickname might allude to someone's height, in contrast to Longus, or could refer to a person's persistence.[6]

The Sempronii Gracchi were the most distinguished family of the gens. They belonged to the plebeian nobility, obtaining their first consulship during the First Punic War, and remaining prominent for over a century. Their surname, Gracchus, indicated a jackdaw. The Sempronii Gracchi included several accomplished statesmen and generals, but they are perhaps better remembered for the brothers Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, who were martyred in the cause of agrarian reform. A few members of this family are mentioned under the early Empire, but they were of little consequence.[7]


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

Sempronii AtratiniEdit

Sempronii SophiEdit

Sempronii BlaesiEdit

Sempronii TuditaniEdit

Sempronii GracchiEdit

Sempronii LongiEdit

Sempronii RutiliEdit

  • Gaius Sempronius Rutilus, tribune of the plebs in 189 BC, together with his colleague, Publius Sempronius Gracchus, prosecuted Manius Acilius Glabrio, the consul of 191.[33]
  • Titus Sempronius Rutilus, the stepfather of Publius Aebutius, whom he disliked. His wife, Duronia, was indirectly responsible for the discovery of the Bacchanalia at Rome in 186 BC.[41]
  • Marcus Sempronius Rutilus, one of Caesar's legates in Gaul.[42]
  • Marcus (Sempronius) Rutilus, proconsul in Asia Minor in an uncertain date. Possibly identical with Caesar's legate.[40]

Sempronii MuscaeEdit

  • Titus Sempronius Musca, one of five commissioners appointed to settle the disputes between the Pisani and the Lunenses, in 168 BC.[43]
  • Aulus Sempronius Musca, mentioned along with his brother, Marcus, by Cicero in De Oratore.[44]
  • Marcus Sempronius Musca, mentioned along with his brother, Aulus, by Cicero in De Oratore.[44]
  • Sempronius Musca, scourged Gaius Gellius to death after detecting him in the act of adultery with his wife.[45]

Sempronii AsellionesEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ See Livy, xxii. 50 for his actions, and xxii. 60 for the praise heaped on him by leading Roman senators, notably Titus Manlius Torquatus.
  2. ^ Mentioned only by Diodorus, who calls him Lucius Asullius. This was traditionally emended to (Sempronius) Asellio, and Badian considered Lucius to be an older brother of Aulus Sempronius Asellio, praetor in 89.[50][51] One recent reassessment of the evidence argues in favor of Asullius rather than Sempronius being his nomen.[52]


  1. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 777 ("Sempronia Gens").
  2. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 407 ("Atratinus").
  3. ^ Cassell's Latin and English Dictionary, s.v. atratinus.
  4. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 1181 ("Tuditanus").
  5. ^ Festus, p. 352, ed. Müller.
  6. ^ Cassell's Latin and English Dictionary, s.v.v. longus, musca, rufus, rutilus.
  7. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, pp. 287–298 ("Gracchus").
  8. ^ Livy, iv. 7.
  9. ^ Dionysius, xi. 61.
  10. ^ Diodorus, xii. 32.
  11. ^ Dionysius, xi. 62, 63.
  12. ^ Livy, iv. 7, 8.
  13. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, ix. 21.
  14. ^ Livy, iv. 35, 44, 47.
  15. ^ Diodorus, xii. 81, xiii. 9.
  16. ^ Livy, vi. 28.
  17. ^ Livy, xxii. 31.
  18. ^ Livy, xxvi. 2, xxvii. 5.
  19. ^ Livy, xxxvi. 39, 40.
  20. ^ Fasti Capitolini, AE 1927, 101; 1940, 59, 60.
  21. ^ Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, xvii. 21.
  22. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 18, Tusculanae Quaestiones, i. 1, Cato Maior de Senectute, 14.
  23. ^ Livy, xxvi. 48.
  24. ^ Livy, xxxii. 27, 28, xxxiii. 25, 42.
  25. ^ Appian, Hispanica, 39.
  26. ^ Livy, xxxv. 7, xxxvii. 47, 50, xxxxix. 23, 32, 40, 46, xli. 21.
  27. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 1182 ("Tuditanus", No. 6.).
  28. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, xiii. 6. § 4, 33. § 3.
  29. ^ Broughton, vol. I, pp. 467, 469 (note 4).
  30. ^ Cicero, Philippicae, iii. 6, Academica Priora, ii. 28.
  31. ^ Valerius Maximus, vii. 8. § 1.
  32. ^ Livy, xli. 26.
  33. ^ a b Livy, xxxvii. 57.
  34. ^ Festus, s. v. penatores.
  35. ^ Crawford, pp. 529–530.
  36. ^ Broughton, vol. iii, p. 190.
  37. ^ Tacitus, Annales, vi. 38.
  38. ^ Livy, xli. 21
  39. ^ Livy, xxxix. 32, 38.
  40. ^ a b Broughton, vol. 3, p. 190.
  41. ^ Livy, xxxix 9, 11, 19.
  42. ^ Caesar, De Bello Gallico, vii. 90.
  43. ^ Livy, xlv. 13.
  44. ^ a b Cicero, De Oratore, ii. 60 s. 247.
  45. ^ Valerius Maximus, vi. 1. § 13.
  46. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 384 ("Asellio, P. Sempronius").
  47. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 491.
  48. ^ a b Badian, "Sempronii Aselliones", p. 1.
  49. ^ Diodorus, xxxvii. 8.
  50. ^ Broughton, vol. II, p. 9.
  51. ^ Badian, "Sempronii Aselliones", p. 2.
  52. ^ A. Díaz Fernández, "Asullius: A Missing Roman Nomen?", Latomus: revue d'études latines, vol. 76, no. 4 (2017), pp. 961–974
  53. ^ Broughton, vol. II, p. 33.
  54. ^ Livy, xxxiv. 46.
  55. ^ Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, p. 256.
  56. ^ SIG, 674.
  57. ^ Sherk, "Senatus Consultum De Agro Pergameno", p. 367.
  58. ^ Marcus Caelius Rufus, apud Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, viii. 8.
  59. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, vi. 2. § 10, Epistulae ad Familiares, 22, 25, 29.
  60. ^ Cassius Dio, xlix. 39.
  61. ^ Cicero, Pro Caelio, 1, 3, 7.
  62. ^ Tacitus, Historiae, i. 43.
  63. ^ Cassius Dio, lxiv. 6.
  64. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Galba", 26.
  65. ^ Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, iv. 22.
  66. ^ Bastianini, "Lista dei prefetti d'Egitto", pp. 292 ff.
  67. ^ Cassius Dio, lxxviii. 17.