Livia gens

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Livia Drusilla, wife of the emperor Augustus.

The gens Livia was an illustrious plebeian family at ancient Rome. The first of the Livii to obtain the consulship was Marcus Livius Denter in 302 BC, and from his time the Livii supplied the Republic with eight consuls, two censors, a dictator, and a master of the horse. Members of the gens were honoured with three triumphs. In the reign of Augustus, Livia Drusilla was Roman empress, and her son was the emperor Tiberius.[1][2]


History preserves no traditions concerning the origin of the Livian gens. Although its members are not found in the first two centuries of the Republic, there is nothing in particular to suggest a foreign origin. The regular cognomina of the Livii are all Latin. The nomen Livius is generally supposed to be derived from the same root as liveo, lividus, and livor, all with the meaning of leaden or bluish-grey, but this connection is not absolutely certain.[3][4][5] Pokorny dismissed this derivation, arguing that the nomen either predated these words, or could not be linguistically connected with them. He hypothesized an Etruscan origin for the Livii.[6]

Branches and cognomina[edit]

The cognomina of the Livii during the Republic were Denter, Drusus, Libo, Macatus, and Salinator.[2] Of these, Denter was a common surname originally referring to someone with prominent teeth.[7] Macatus means "spotted", being derived from the same root as macula.[8]

Drusus probably means "stiff", although Suetonius records a tradition that the first of the name received it after slaying a Gallic chieftain named Drausus. If this is the true origin of the name, then it probably dates the story to the year 283 BC, when the Senones, the Gallic people of whom Drausus was said to be the leader, were defeated and scattered, for the most part vacating northern Italy. Libo, derived from libere, designated a libation pourer, and entered the family from the Scribonia gens, one of whom was adopted by the Livii Drusi.[9][1]

The surname Salinator, meaning a salt-merchant,[i] is said to have been given in derision to Marcus Livius, who as censor in 204 BC, imposed an unpopular salt tax. A question arises from the fact that Marcus' father is also referred to as Salinator, although the historians may simply have applied the cognomen retroactively.[11][12][13]


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

Early Livii[edit]

  • Gaius Livius, grandfather of the consul of 302 BC, may have been the magister equitum of 348.[14]
  • Lucius Livius, tribune of the plebs in 320 BC, the year after the disaster at the Caudine Forks. The consul, Albinus, had pledged himself and the other Roman magistrates as guarantors of the peace, in order to preserve the lives of the Roman army. Livius and one of his colleagues resisted the demand to turn themselves over to the Samnites as hostages, as they had nothing to do with the agreement, and moreover were sacrosanct as tribunes, the entire body of the Roman people obliged to defend them; but Postumius browbeat them until they agreed to become hostages. However, the Samnites rejected the hostages, when they realised that the Romans were bound to continue the war with or without them.[15]
  • Marcus Livius Denter, consul in 302 BC. Previously he had been one of the pontiffs chosen from the plebeians to augment the numbers of that college.[16]

Livii Drusi[edit]

Livii Salinatores[edit]

Livii Ocellae[edit]


  • Lucius Livius Andronicus, originally an educated but enslaved Greek named Andronicus, he was purchased by a Marcus Livius Salinator as a tutor for his children. On his manumission, he assumed the name Lucius Livius Andronicus. He was a renowned poet, and the founder of Roman drama.[67][84]
  • Marcus Livius, member of the plenipotentiary board sent to Carthage after the fall of Saguntum in 219 BC to inquire if Hannibal's attack on it had been authorized and declare war if Hannibal could not be brought to justice.[85] He was married to the daughter of Pacuvius Calavius, chief magistrate of Capua in 217 BC. Pacuvius was a patrician who had married a daughter of Appius Claudius.[86]
  • Marcus Livius Macatus, placed by the propraetor Marcus Valerius Laevinus in charge of the garrison at Tarentum in 214 BC, during the Second Punic War. When the town was lost to a surprise attack in 212, Livius and his soldiers retreated to the citadel, where they held out until the city was retaken by Quintus Fabius Maximus in 209. On the question of whether Livius should be punished or rewarded for his conduct, Fabius replied that he could not have recaptured Tarentum but for Livius' actions.[87][88][89][90][91]
  • Gaius Livius, minted coins of Vesci in Baetica and was possibly legate in 40 BC under Octavian and Mark Antony.[92][93]
  • Gaius Livius, possibly the father of the historian.[94]
  • Titus Livius, the historian Livy, flourished during the last decades of the Republic, and through the reign of Augustus. He wrote nothing of his family, and other historians have contributed only that he was from Patavium, and that he had at least one son, and a daughter who married a certain Lucius Magius. Two inscriptions from Patavium in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum are thought to mark the resting place of Livy and several members of his family.[94]
  • Titus Livius T. f. Priscus, thought to be the historian's elder son.[94]
  • Titus Livius T. f. Longus, perhaps the historian's younger son.[94]
  • Livia T. f. Quarta, perhaps a daughter of the historian. If she is the same daughter who married Lucius Magius, there is no indication of it on her monument.[95]
  • Titus Livius Liviae Quartae l. Halys, freedman of Livia Quarta. His funeral plaque was unearthed at the monastery of St. Justina at Padua in 1360, followed in 1413 by the excavation of a lead coffin in the same location, containing a human skeleton. Owing to a misunderstanding of the tablet's inscription, the remains were supposed to belong to the historian, rather than a freedman, until further excavations at Padua explained the inscription's true meaning.[95][96]

Later uses[edit]

  • In European languages, Livia is still an ordinary girls' name. In Romanian, the form is Liviu.
  • The town of Forlì in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, is named after Livius Salinator, its legendary founder. The original name was Forum Livii.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The word came to mean a money-dealer or banker, as salt was a valuable commodity, and a common medium of exchange. Salt-works were generally termed salinae, but the district of Salinae at the foot of the Aventine hill was probably the place where salt from Ostia was offloaded and sold. "Salinae... does not refer to the salt fields, since the coastline is located nearly thirty kilometres away, but rather to a site for unloading, stocking and supplying the precious product."[10]
  2. ^ Which version of his name is correct is uncertain, as the Fasti Capitolini are broken in the place where his name appears. As for whether he was the natural or adopted son of Marcus Livius Drusus, an agnomen such as Aemilianus or Mamilianus typically indicates adoption, but it could also signify descent through the female line, particularly if his father were married more than once.[18][19]
  3. ^ Pighius confuses him with Livius Drusus Claudianus, the grandson of Marcus and grandfather of the emperor Tiberius;[23] Mai supposes that a certain graffitic barb aimed at the Drusi ("this law binds all the people but the two Drusi"),[24] recorded by Diodorus, refers to Marcus and his father, but it seems much more likely that it was aimed at two brothers.[25]
  4. ^ Pighius, followed by Vaillant, makes him the son of Gaius Livius Drusus, consul in 147 BC, which cannot be justified on chronological grounds.[46][47][48]
  5. ^ The ancient source gives his nomen as Julius, which Broughton amends to Livius.


  1. ^ a b c d e Suetonius, "The Life of Tiberius", 3.
  2. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 789 ("Livia Gens").
  3. ^ Chase, 150.
  4. ^ Walde, p. 346.
  5. ^ The New College Latin & English Dictionary, "liveo", "lividus", "livor".
  6. ^ Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, p. 965 (1998–2003 edition).
  7. ^ Chase, p. 109.
  8. ^ Chase, p. 110.
  9. ^ Chase, pp. 210, 211.
  10. ^ Grandazzi, pp. 86, 87.
  11. ^ Livy, xxix. 37.
  12. ^ a b Aurelius Victor, De Viris Illustribus, 50.
  13. ^ Valerius Maximus, ii. 9. § 6, vii. 2. § 6.
  14. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 993 ("Livius Denter").
  15. ^ Livy, ix. 8–11.
  16. ^ Livy, x. 9.
  17. ^ Pighius, Annales, vol. I, p. 416.
  18. ^ a b c d Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 1075, 1076 ("Drusus").
  19. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, p. 641 ("Nomen").
  20. ^ Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones, v. 38.
  21. ^ Rutilius, Vitae Jurisconsultorum, 19.
  22. ^ Grotius, Vitae Jurisconsultorum, i. 4. § 8.
  23. ^ Pighius, Annales, iii. 20.
  24. ^ Quoted from the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
  25. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 1078 ("Drusus", no. 5).
  26. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 28.
  27. ^ Mai, Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio, ii. p. 115.
  28. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, i. 23.
  29. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Gaius Gracchus", 8–11; Moralia, "Quaestiones Romanae" vii. p. 119 (ed. Reiske).
  30. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 28; De Finibus, iv. 24.
  31. ^ Florus, iii. 4.
  32. ^ Livy, Epitome lxiii.
  33. ^ Cassius Dio, Fragmenta Periesciana, 93 (ed. Reimar, i. p. 40).
  34. ^ Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, xxxiii. 50.
  35. ^ a b Fasti Capitolini.
  36. ^ Treggiari, Susan (2007). Terentia, Tullia and Publilia: The Women of Cicero's Family. Women of the Ancient World (illustrated ed.). Routledge. p. 152. ISBN 9781134264575.
  37. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 1078 ("Drusus", no. 6).
  38. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Caesar", 1.
  39. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 47; De Officiis, ii, 17.
  40. ^ Obsequens, 119.
  41. ^ Valerius Maximus, vii. 7. § 6.
  42. ^ Broughton, vol. II, pp. 23, 24 (note 11).
  43. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 62.
  44. ^ Valerius Maximus, iii. 1. § 2.
  45. ^ Lindsay, Hugh (2009). Adoption in the Roman world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-511-65821-1. OCLC 647846259.
  46. ^ Pighius, Annales, iii. p. 21.
  47. ^ Vaillant, Numismata Imperatorum, ii. 51.
  48. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 1082 ("Drusus", no. 7).
  49. ^ Cassius Dio, xlviii. 44.
  50. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 71.
  51. ^ Aurelius Victor, De Viris Illustribus, 80.
  52. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Cato the Younger", i. 2.
  53. ^ Istituto italiana per la storia antica (1968). Miscellanea Greca e Romana. Studi pubblicati dall'Istituto italiano per la storia antica. Vol. 2–3. Rome: University of Wisconsin - Madison. pp. 352–353.
  54. ^ Tacitus, Annales, i. 3, 5, 8, 10, 14; v. 1, 2.
  55. ^ Casius Dio, liii. 33, lvii. 12, lviii. 2, lix. 1, 2, lx. 5.
  56. ^ Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, xiv. 8.
  57. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Tiberius", 50, 51.
  58. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 1082 ("Drusus", no. 8).
  59. ^ Pinsent, John (1976). Liverpool Classical Monthly. Vol. 1–2. Indiana University. p. 2.
  60. ^ Syme, 1989. page 259
  61. ^ Tacitus, Annales, ii. 27–32.
  62. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Tiberius", 25.
  63. ^ Cassius Dio, vii. 15.
  64. ^ Seneca the Younger, Epistulae, 70.
  65. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 130.
  66. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 223.
  67. ^ a b St. Jerome, In Chronicon Eusebii, 148.
  68. ^ Polybius, iii. 19, xi. 1–3.
  69. ^ Zonaras, viii. 20, ix. 9.
  70. ^ Appian, Bellum Illyricum, 8; Bellum Hannibalicum, 52, 53.
  71. ^ Livy, xxii. 35, xxvii. 34, xxix. 37, xxvii. 34, 35, 40, 46–49, xxviii. 9, 10, 46, xxix. 5, 13, 37, xxxvi. 36.
  72. ^ Orosius, iv. 18.
  73. ^ Eutropius, iii. 18.
  74. ^ Valerius Maximus, ii. 9. § 6, vi. 2. § 2., vii. 2. § 6, vii. 4. § 4, ix. 3. § 1.
  75. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 18.
  76. ^ Münzer, Friedrich, Ridley, T. (Tr.), Roman Aristocratic Parties and Families (1999), pg. 216
  77. ^ Livy, xxvi. 23, xxix. 38, xxx. 26, 27, xxxv. 5, 10, 24, xxxvi. 2, 42–44, xxxvii. 9–14, 16, 25, xxxviii. 35, xliii. 11.
  78. ^ Appian, Syriaca 22–25.
  79. ^ Broughton, vol II, p. 78.
  80. ^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, iv. 7 (p. 415, ed. Shackleton Bailey).
  81. ^ a b c Maxwell, Imperial Families.
  82. ^ L'architettura del sacro in età romana Paesaggi, p. 112.
  83. ^ Baring-Gould, The Tragedy of the Caesars, vol. 2, p. 91.
  84. ^ Quintilian, Institutio Oritoria, x. 2. § 7.
  85. ^ Livy, xxi. 18.
  86. ^ Livy, xxiii. 2.
  87. ^ Livy, xxiv. 20, xxv. 9, 10, 11, xxvi. 39, xxvii. 25, 34.
  88. ^ Appian, Bellum Hannibalicum, 32.
  89. ^ Polybius, viii. 27. ff.
  90. ^ Cicero, De Senectute, 4; De Oratore, ii. 67.
  91. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Fabius Maximus", 21.
  92. ^ Broughton, Thomas Robert Shannon; Patterson, Marcia L. (1951). The Magistrates of the Roman Republic: 99 B.C.-31 B.C. American Philological Association. p. 384. ISBN 9780891308126.
  93. ^ "Gens: Livius". 4 October 2010. Retrieved 2023-04-05.
  94. ^ a b c d CIL V, 2975
  95. ^ a b CIL V, 2965
  96. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, pp. 790, 791 ("Livius").