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]


Early Livii[edit]

  • Gaius Livius Denter, grandfather of the consul of 302 BC, may have been the magister equitum of 348.[14]
  • 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.[15]

Livii Drusi[edit]

Livii Salinatores[edit]

  • Marcus Livius, proavus of the consul of 219 and 207 BC.
  • Marcus Livius M. f., grandfather of the consul.
  • Marcus Livius M. f. M. n. (Salinator), father of the consul, was decemvir sacris faciundis in 236 BC. Either he or perhaps his son purchased an educated Greek, named Andronicus, as a tutor for his children; once freed, Andronicus became the founder of Roman drama.[55][56][57]
  • Marcus Livius M. f. M. n. Salinator, was consul during the Second Illyrian War, and despite triumphing over the enemy, he was afterward charged with misappropriating the spoils of war, and sent into exile. During the Second Punic War he was induced to return and resume his seat in the Senate, although he rarely spoke, except to speak on behalf of his kinsman, Marcus Livius Macatus. Consul for the second time in 207, he and his colleague, Gaius Claudius Nero, defeated and slew Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, before the two could unite their forces, and he triumphed for the second time, he was appointed dictator the following year to host the elections, and censor in 204, but he and his colleague quarreled severely.[58][59][60][12][61][62][63][64][65]
  • Gaius Livius M. f. M. n. Salinator, praetor in 202 BC, and again in 191, when he had command of the fleet in the War against Antiochus, and defeated the Selucid admiral, Polyxenidas. He was consul in 188.[66][67]


  • Lucius Livius, tribune of the plebs in 320 BC, the year after the disaster at the Caudine Forks. The consul, Spurius Postumius 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 realized that the Romans were bound to continue the war with or without them.[68]
  • 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.[57][69]
  • 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.[70] 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.[71]
  • 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.[72][73][74][75][76]
  • Mamercus Aemilius Lepidus Livianus, consul in 77 BC, he was originally a Livius, but was adopted into the Aemilii Lepidi. He was a supporter of Sulla's party, the optimates, but was one of those who had persuaded Sulla to spare the life of the future dictator, Gaius Julius Caesar.[77][78][79][80]
  • Titus Livius, the historian, 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.[81]
  • Gaius Livius, possibly the father of the historian.[81]
  • Titus Livius T. f. Priscus, thought to be the historian's elder son.[81]
  • Titus Livius T. f. Longus, perhaps the historian's younger son.[81]
  • 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.[82]
  • 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.[82][83]

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.


  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.[17][18]
  3. ^ Pighius confuses him with Livius Drusus Claudianus, the grandson of Marcus and grandfather of the emperor Tiberius;[30] Mai supposes that a certain graffitic barb aimed at the Drusi ("this law binds all the people but the two Drusi"[31]), recorded by Diodorus, refers to Marcus and his father, but it seems much more likely that it was aimed at two brothers.[32]
  4. ^ Pighius, followed by Vaillant, makes him the son of Gaius Livius Drusus, consul in 147 BC, which cannot be justified on chronological grounds.[38][39][40]

See also[edit]


  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, x. 9.
  16. ^ Pighius, Annales, vol. I, p. 416.
  17. ^ a b c d e Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 1075, 1076 ("Drusus").
  18. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, p. 641 ("Nomen").
  19. ^ Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones, v. 38.
  20. ^ Rutilius, Vitae Jurisconsultorum, 19.
  21. ^ Grotius, Vitae Jurisconsultorum, i. 4. § 8.
  22. ^ Appian, Bellum Civile, i. 23.
  23. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Gaius Gracchus", 8–11; Moralia, "Quaestiones Romanae" vii. p. 119 (ed. Reiske).
  24. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 28; De Finibus, iv. 24.
  25. ^ Florus, iii. 4.
  26. ^ Livy, Epitome lxiii.
  27. ^ Cassius Dio, Fragmenta Periesciana, 93 (ed. Reimar, i. p. 40).
  28. ^ Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, xxxiii. 50.
  29. ^ Fasti Capitolini.
  30. ^ Pighius, Annales, iii. 20.
  31. ^ Quoted from the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
  32. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 1078 ("Drusus", no. 5).
  33. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 28.
  34. ^ Mai, Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio, ii. p. 115.
  35. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 1078 ("Drusus", no. 6).
  36. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 62.
  37. ^ Valerius Maximus, iii. 1. § 2.
  38. ^ Pighius, Annales, iii. p. 21.
  39. ^ Vaillant, Numismata Imperatorum, ii. 51.
  40. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 1082 ("Drusus", no. 7).
  41. ^ Cassius Dio, xlviii. 44.
  42. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 71.
  43. ^ Aurelius Victor, De Viris Illustribus, 80.
  44. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Cato the Younger", i. 2.
  45. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. I, p. 1082 ("Drusus", no. 8.
  46. ^ Tacitus, Annales, i. 3, 5, 8, 10, 14; v. 1, 2.
  47. ^ Casius Dio, liii. 33, lvii. 12, lviii. 2, lix. 1, 2, lx. 5.
  48. ^ Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, xiv. 8.
  49. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Tiberius", 50, 51.
  50. ^ Tacitus, Annales, ii. 27–32.
  51. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Tiberius", 25.
  52. ^ Cassius Dio, vii. 15.
  53. ^ Seneca the Younger, Epistulae, 70.
  54. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 130.
  55. ^ Fasti Capitolini.
  56. ^ Broughton, vol. I, p. 223.
  57. ^ a b St. Jerome, In Chronicon Eusebii, 148.
  58. ^ Polybius, iii. 19, xi. 1–3.
  59. ^ Zonaras, viii. 20, ix. 9.
  60. ^ Appian, Bellum Illyricum, 8; Bellum Hannibalicum, 52, 53.
  61. ^ Livy, xxii. 35, xxvii. 34, xxix. 37, xxvii. 34, 35, 40, 46–49, xxviii. 9, 10, 46, xxix. 5, 13, 37, xxxvi. 36.
  62. ^ Orosius, iv. 18.
  63. ^ Eutropius, iii. 18.
  64. ^ Valerius Maximus, ii. 9. § 6, vi. 2. § 2., vii. 2. § 6, vii. 4. § 4, ix. 3. § 1.
  65. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 18.
  66. ^ 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.
  67. ^ Appian, Syriaca 22–25.
  68. ^ Livy, ix. 8–11.
  69. ^ Quintilian, Institutio Oritoria, x. 2. § 7.
  70. ^ Livy, xxi. 18.
  71. ^ Livy, xxiii. 2.
  72. ^ Livy, xxiv. 20, xxv. 9, 10, 11, xxvi. 39, xxvii. 25, 34.
  73. ^ Appian, Bellum Hannibalicum, 32.
  74. ^ Polybius, viii. 27. ff.
  75. ^ Cicero, De Senectute, 4; De Oratore, ii. 67.
  76. ^ Plutarch, "The Life of Fabius Maximus", 21.
  77. ^ Suetonius, "The Life of Caesar", 1.
  78. ^ Cicero, Brutus, 47; De Officiis, ii, 17.
  79. ^ Obsequens, 119.
  80. ^ Valerius Maximus, vii. 7. § 6.
  81. ^ a b c d CIL V, 2975
  82. ^ a b CIL V, 2965
  83. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, pp. 790, 791 ("Livius").