Junia (gens)

"Iunius" redirects here. For the sixth month of the Roman calendar, see Iunius (month).
Bust in the Capitoline Museums, traditionally identified as Lucius Junius Brutus.

The gens Junia was one of the most celebrated families in Rome. The gens may originally have been patrician. The family 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]

Origin of the gens

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 appear to have been patricians, and one of them even held the office of Flamen Martialis; but this may be due to the adoption of one of the patrician gens Manlia by one of the Silani. If so, then at least some, if not all, of the later Junii Silani were actually descended from the Manlii, and not the Junii. This hypothesis is supported by the surname Torquatus, the name of a great family of the Manlia gens, which was borne by several of the Silani.[1]

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

Praenomina used by the gens

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.[1]

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.[1][4]

Branches and cognomina of the gens

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 is sometimes considered 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. In any case, it is not entirely certain whether Brutus was a patrician. If he was, his descendants may still have gone over to the plebeians.[3][5][6][7]

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 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 4th century BC, and whose name is said to have meant, "runaway slaves".[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

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.[1][16][17]

Pennus, also a surname of the Quinctia gens, is probably derived from a Latin adjective meaning "sharp". This family flourished during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.[18]

The surname Gracchanus was assumed by one of the Junii on account of his friendship with Gaius Sempronius Gracchus.[19]

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.[1][20][21]

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 name Silanus. 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. They seem to have been patricians, unlike the other Junii, but an early member of the family was adopted into the gens from the patrician Manlii, from whom some of the Silani received the additional surname Torquatus. Additionally, the emperor Augustus raised Marcus Junius Silanus to the Patriciate in 30 BC. Many of this family were related to, or even descended from, Augustus and the emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.[1][16][22]

Members of the gens

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

Junii Bruti

Junii Bubulci

Junii Perae

Junii Penni

Junii Silani

Junii Blaesi

Junii Rustici


Junii in fiction

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  2. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, vi. 42.
  3. 1 2 Barthold Georg Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. i. p. 522 ff.
  4. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, ii. 4, 5.
  5. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romaike Archaiologia, v. 18.
  6. Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, xliv. 12.
  7. Plutarchus, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, Brutus, 1.
  8. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, i. 56.
  9. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romaike Archaiologia, iv. 67.
  10. Nonius Marcellus, De Compendiosa Doctrina, p. 77.
  11. Sextus Pompeius Festus, epitome of Marcus Verrius Flaccus De Verborum Significatu, s. v. Brutum.
  12. Strabo, Geographica, vi. p. 225.
  13. Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, xvi. 15.
  14. Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, x. 3.
  15. Barthold Georg Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. i. pp. 63, 98, 515.
  16. 1 2 D.P. Simpson, Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary (1963).
  17. Gaius Plinius Secundus, Historia Naturalis, xviii. 37.
  18. Isidorus Hispalensis, Origines, xix. 19.
  19. Gaius Plinius Secundus, Historia Naturalis, xxxiii. 2.
  20. Wilhelm Drumann, Geschichte Roms, vol. iv. p. 52.
  21. Johann Caspar von Orelli, Inscriptionum Latinarum Selectarum Collectio.
  22. Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2nd Ed. (1970).
  23. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita Epitome, 16.
  24. 1 2 Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX, ii. 4. § 7.
  25. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xxxiv. 35.
  26. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xxix. 11, xxx. 40, xxxi. 4.
  27. Gaius Plinius Secundus, Historia Naturalis, xviii. 3. s. 5.
  28. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, xv. 7, 8.
  29. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, vi. 1, xiv. 8, Philippicae, xiii. 4.
  30. Marcus Velleius Paterculus, Compendium of Roman History, ii. 88.
  31. Appianus, Bellum Civile, iv. 50.
  32. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Caesar, 50.
  33. Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius, Saturnalia, ii. 2.
  34. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, xiv. 20, xv. 11.
  35. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, iii. 76.
  36. Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, liv. 18.
  37. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, iii. 70.
  38. 1 2 3 4 Fasti Capitolini.
  39. Syme, R. Augustan Aristocracy (1989), pp. 163, 304
  40. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, v. 4.
  41. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, iv. 16.
  42. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xxv. 22.
  43. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Brutus, 48.
  44. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Quinctio, 1.
  45. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 1, 20, 27, 29, 33.
  46. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 49.
  47. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Cluentio, 45.
  48. Gaius Plinius Secundus, Historia Naturalis, xxxv. 10.
  49. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Augustus, 27.
  50. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, vi. 47.
  51. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, xii. 21.
  52. Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, lx. 33.
  53. Publius Papinius Statius, Silvae, iv. 7, ult.
  54. Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, i. 5, § 10, iii. 11, § 3, iv. 22.
  55. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Historiae, iv. 40, Agricola, 45.
  56. Sextus Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus (attributed), 12.
  57. 1 2 Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 

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