The gens Gellia was a plebeian family at ancient Rome, where they settled after the Second Punic War. The first of the Gellii to obtain the consulship was Lucius Gellius Poplicola, consul in 72 BC, but the most famous member of this gens is probably the grammarian Aulus Gellius, who flourished during the second century AD.
The Gellii were of Samnite origin, and the first of this name occurring in history was the general Statius Gellius, who was captured together with his army in 305 BC, during the Second Samnite War. Another general of the name, Gellius Egnatius, fought against Rome during the Third Samnite War. The family does not appear to have reached Rome before the end of the Second Punic War, but probably arrived soon afterward. The earliest known Gellius at Rome was Gnaeus Gellius, the accuser of Lucius Turius, who was defended by Cato the Elder.
Branches and cognomina
During the Republic, the only cognomina used by the Gellii were Canus and Poplicola or Publicola. The former surname means "white" or "light grey", while the latter means "one who courts the people," and is most famous as the surname of Lucius Valerius Poplicola, one of the first consuls in 509 BC, and his descendants, although the surname occasionally appeared in other gentes.
- Statius Gellius, a Samnite general during the Third Samnite War. He was defeated and captured by the consuls, along with his entire army, in 305 BC.
- Gellius Egnatius, a Samnite general during the Third Samnite War. He forged alliances with the Etruscans, Gauls, and Umbrians, but was finally defeated and slain at the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC.
- Gnaeus Gellius, accused Lucius Turius, who was defended by Cato the Elder. He was probably the father of Gnaeus Gellius, the historian, with whom he is frequently confused.
- Gnaeus Gellius, a historian who flourished during the second century BC. He seems to have paid careful attention to chronology and to the legends associated with the founding of Rome, although his history continued down to at least 145 BC.
- Quintus Gellius Canus, a friend of Titus Pomponius Atticus, initially proscribed by the triumvirs, but removed from the list by Marcus Antonius, who was a friend of Atticus.
- (Gellia) Cana, probably the daughter of Quintus Gellius Canus, was mentioned by Cicero as a potential wife for his nephew, the younger Quintus Tullius Cicero.
- Publicius Gellius, a jurist, and one of the followers of Servius Sulpicius Rufus. His proper name and relationship, if any, to the Gellii, is uncertain.
- Aulus Gellius, a celebrated grammarian, who must have flourished during the reigns of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. He is best remembered for his Noctes Atticae, or "Attic Nights", a rambling collection of topics, anecdotes, and quotations from other ancient authors that interested him.
- Gellius Fuscus, the author of a Life of Tetricus Junior, quoted by Trebellius Pollio.
- Lucius Gellius, grandfather of the consul of 72 BC.
- Lucius Gellius L. f., father of the consul of 72 BC.
- Lucius Gellius L. f. L. n. Poplicola, consul in 72 BC, during the War against Spartacus. He must have reached a great age, as he was the contubernalis of the consul Gaius Papirius Carbo in 120 BC, and was still living in 55 BC, when Cicero speaks of him as his friend.
- Lucius Gellius L. f. L. n. Poplicola, consul in 36 BC, was a man of dubious reputation and loyalty, having been accused of committing incest with his stepmother; after the death of Caesar, Gellius took the side of the republicans, but joined conspiracies against both Brutus and Cassius. Twice pardoned, he then switched sides and supported the triumvirs. He probably died in the Battle of Actium.
- Gellius Poplicola, perhaps a brother of the consul of 72 BC, was a stepson of Lucius Marcius Philippus, consul in 91 BC, and brother of Lucius Marcius Philippus, consul in 56. He spent his life in dissipation, and was an intimate of Publius Clodius Pulcher, thus earning the harshest disapproval of Cicero.
- Gellius Poplicola, quaestor under the proconsul Gaius Junius Silanus in Asia, was later among Silanus' accusers, leading to his banishment in AD 22.
- Lucius Gellius Poplicola, consul suffectus in AD 40, together with the emperor Caligula.
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 235 ("Gellia Gens").
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 600, vol. II, p. 235 ("Publicola or Poplicula or Poplicola", "Gellia Gens").
- Livy, ix. 44.
- Livy, x. 18–29.
- Gellius, xiv. 2.
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 235 ("Cn. Gellius").
- Cornelius Nepos, Life of Atticus, 10.
- Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, xiii. 31, xv. 21.
- Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, xiii. 41, 42.
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 236 ("Publicius Gellius").
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 235 ("A. Gellius").
- Trebellius Pollio, Life of Tetricus Junior, 25.
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 600 ("Gellius Publicola" No. 1).
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 601 ("Gellius Publicola" No. 2).
- Tacitus, Annales, iii. 67.
- Consular Fasti.
- Titus Livius (Livy), Ab Urbe Condita (The History of Rome from the Founding of the City).
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum (Letters to Atticus).
- Cornelius Nepos, The Life of Atticus.
- Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales.
- Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights).
- Aelius Lampridius, Aelius Spartianus, Flavius Vopiscus, Julius Capitolinus, Trebellius Pollio, and Vulcatius Gallicanus, Historia Augusta (Augustan History).
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, ed., Little, Brown and Company, Boston (1849).