Sulpicia (gens)

The gens Sulpicia was one of the most ancient patrician families at Rome, and produced a succession of distinguished men, from the foundation of the Republic to the imperial period. The first member of the gens who obtained the consulship was Servius Sulpicius Camerinus Cornutus, in 500 BC, only nine years after the expulsion of the Tarquins, and the last of the name who appears on the consular Fasti was Sextus Sulpicius Tertullus in AD 158. Although originally patrician, the family also possessed plebeian members, some of whom may have been descended from freedmen of the gens.[1]


The Sulpicii made regular use of only four praenomina: Publius, Servius, Quintus, and Gaius. The only other praenomen appearing under the Republic is Marcus, known from the father of Gaius Sulpicius Peticus, five times consul during the fourth century BC. The last of the Sulpicii known to have held the consulship, in the second century, was named Sextus, a praenomen otherwise unknown in this gens.[1]

Branches and cognomina

During the Republic, several branches of the Sulpician gens were identified by numerous cognomina, including Camerinus, Cornutus, Galba, Gallus, Longus, Paterculus, Peticus, Praetextatus, Quirinus, Rufus, and Saverrio. In addition to these cognomina, we meet with some other surnames belonging to freedmen and to other persons under the Empire. On coins we find the surnames Galba, Platorinus, Proclus, and Rufus.[1]

Camerinus was the name of an old patrician family of the Sulpicia gens, which probably derived its name from the ancient town of Cameria or Camerium, in Latium. Many of them bore the agnomen Cornutus, from a Latin adjective meaning "horned". The Camerini frequently held the highest offices in the state in the early times of the Republic; but after 345 BC, when Servius Sulpicius Camerinus Rufus was consul, we do not hear of them again for upwards of four hundred years, till Quintus Sulpicius Camerinus obtained the consulship in AD 9. The family was reckoned one of the noblest in Rome in the early times of the Empire.[1]

The Praetextati appear in the second half of the fifth century BC. The family appears to have been a small one, descended from the Camerini. It probably derived its name from one of several related meanings. Praetextus commonly referred to clothing with a decorative border, and especially to the toga praetexta, a toga with a purple border worn by boys and magistrates. Something veiled or concealed could also be described as praetextatus.[1][2][3]

The Sulpicii Longi flourished during the fourth century BC, from the time of the Gallic sack of Rome in 390 to the period of the Samnite Wars. The cognomen Longus may have been bestowed upon the ancestor of this family because he was particularly tall.[1][3]

The surname Rufus, meaning "red", probably referred to the color of the hair of one of the Sulpicii, and may have begun as a cadet branch of the Camerini, as both cognomina were united in the consul of 345 BC.[1]

The Sulpicii Galli were a family of the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. Their cognomen may refer to a cock, or to a Gaul. The greatest of this family, Gaius Sulpicius Gallus, was a successful general and statesman, as well as an orator and scholar much admired by Cicero.[1]

The Sulpicii Galbae first came to prominence during the Second Punic War, and remained distinguished until the first century AD, when Servius Sulpicius Galba claimed the title of Emperor. The surname may share a common root with the adjective galbinus, a greenish-yellow color, although its exact significance with respect to the Sulpicii is unclear.[1][3]


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

Sulpicii Camerini

Sulpicii Praetextati

Sulpicii Petici

Sulpicii Longi

Sulpicii Rufi

Sulpicii Saverriones

Sulpicii Paterculi

Sulpicii Galli

Sulpicii Galbae


Christian figures

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith, Editor.
  2. T. Robert S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (1952).
  3. 1 2 3 D.P. Simpson, Cassell's Latin & English Dictionary (1963).
  4. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, ii. 19.
  5. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romaike Archaiologia, v. 52, 55, 57, vi. 20.
  6. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Brutus, 16.
  7. Joannes Zonaras, Epitome Historiarum, vii. 13.
  8. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romaike Archaiologia, vii. 68, viii. 22.
  9. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, vi. 22, 27.
  10. Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, xv. 41.
  11. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, vii. 28.
  12. Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, xvi. 66.
  13. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, xiii. 52.
  14. Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, lxiii. 18.
  15. Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, Epistulae, v. 3.
  16. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, iv. 23.
  17. Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, xii. 53.
  18. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, vi. 32-34, 36, 38.
  19. Barthold Georg Niebuhr, History of Rome, iii. pp. 2, 3.
  20. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Historiae, iv. 42.
  21. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, vi. 4, 18, 21.
  22. Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX, vi. 7. § 3.
  23. Appianus, Bellum Civile, iv. 39.
  24. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Murena, 26, 27, Epistulae ad Atticum, ix. 18, 19, x. 14, Epistulae ad Familiares, iv. 2, Philippicae, ix. 5.
  25. 1 2 3 4 Fasti Capitolini.
  26. Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, Fragmenta Vaticana’’, p. 60, ed. Dinsdorf.
  27. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xlv. 44.
  28. Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Oratore, i. 53, Brutus, 23, Laelius de Amicitia, 2, 6, Epistulae ad Familiares, iv. 6.
  29. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xxx. 39, xxxii. 7.
  30. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xlii. 28, 31.
  31. 1 2 Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Galba, 3.
  32. Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, xxxix. 11-13.
  33. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Claudius, 4, 41.
  34. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annales, xv. 49, 50, 68.
  35. Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, lxii. 24.
  36. Aelius Lampridius, Alexander Severus, c. 20.
  37. Johann Christian Wernsdorf, Poetae Latini Minores, iii. p. 235 ff., 408.

 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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