Roman Republic

Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire

Lucius Julius Caesar was quaestor in Asia in 77 BC and probably served as propraetor in Macedonia in 70 BC

He probably aided the people of the Troad  as censor in 61 BC

Lucius Julius Caesar, the consul of 64 BC, should be better known than he is, not least because he was an accomplished. antiquarian (see the linked pages above).  Unfortunately, he is generally remembered (if he is remembered at all) for the ‘fact’ that he was a cousin of the Julius Caesar (i.e., Caius Julius Caesar, the consul of 59 BC and subsequent dictator).  Strictly speaking, this is not entirely accurate:

  1. According to Christopher Smith (referenced below, 2010, at p. 260):

  2. “Lucius’ grandfather and [the dictator’s] great-grandfather were brothers ... [so they] were therefore second cousins once removed.”

  3. However, if one follows Graham Sumner ((referenced below, p. 343, Table 1)) their great grandfathers were brothers (which, I think, makes them third cousins). 

In what follows, I refer to the antiquarian as ‘Lucius’, and dictator as Caesar tout court: their respective genealogies are depicted on the family tree reproduced in my page Divine Descent of the Gens Julia.

Lucius’ Political Career

Lucius’ Early Career (ca. 88 - 70 BC)

Quaestor in Asia (77 BC)

According to Robert Broughton (referenced below, 1952, at p. 89), Lucius served as quaestor in the province of Asia in 77 BC.  He cited an inscription (I Ilion 10, edited by Peter Frisch, referenced below), which recorded a:

  1. “Compact and agreement between the cities [of the Koinon of Athena Ilias (Ilian or Trojan Confederation)] concerning the [financing of the annual] festival: when Demetrios of Ilion, son of Hippodamas, and his colleagues were agonothetes [presidents of the festival] in the ninth year, in the month of Seleukeios as the Ilians reckon, while the quaestor, Lucius Julius Caesar son of Lucius, was residing here, the following agreement and compact was made ...”

Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 246) suggested that Lucius would have been in Ilium (which was thought to stand on the site of Homer’s Troy) at this point:

  1. “... offering the confederation advice [on how] to overcome its financial crisis, no doubt just one instance of the economic problems that beset the cities of Asia Minor after [First Mithridatic War (88-85 BC)].”

As we shall see below, this assignment would have had particular significance for Lucius, who belonged to a family that claimed descent from Aeneas, Prince of Dardania in the Troad.

Lucius, the Augur

Jörg Rüpke (referenced below, at p. 115 and p. 117) recorded that Lucius was first documented as an augur in either 88 or 81 BC, when he would have been in his late teens or early twenties.  Rüpke (at pp. 119-32) had him as the senior member of the college in the period 75 - 40 BC and absent thereafter (which indicates that he died in 40 BC). 

Despite Lucius’ 35 years as the most senior member of the collegium augurum, we find him acting in this capacity in the surviving sources on only one occasion, when he attended a sumptuous banquet that was held to celebrate the inauguration of Lucius Cornelius Lentulus Niger as a flamen Martialis: Macrobius recorded this:

  1. “... pontifical dinner on 20th August [during the term as pontifex maximus of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius] ... The pontiffs [present ... included Caius Julius Caesar] ... and Lucius Julius Caesar, the augur who inaugurated Lentulus ...”, (‘Saturnalia’, 3: 13: 11, translated by Robert Kastor, referenced below, at vol. II: p. 93).

According to Jörg Rüpke (referenced below, at p. 938, note 2 and p. 122), the date would have been 20th August 70 BC.

As described in my page on Lucius' Putative Libri Auspiciorum, he is also known to have written a substantial book on augury.

Praetor in Rome and Propraetor of Macedonia (ca.  70 BC)

Silver Tetradrachm (Moushmov 5858) from Macedonia  (from ‘Wildwinds’)

Obverse: head of Alexander the Great and the legend  CAE PR MAKEDONWN

Reverse: Money chest, club and chair; all within wreath, and the legend AESILLAS Q

Robert Broughton (referenced below, 1952, at p. 143 and note 2) pointed out that Lucius must have served as praetor in or before 69 BC, the latest date possible under the lex Cornelia.  T. Corey Brennan (referenced below, at p. 752) suggested that the actual year might well have been 71 BC since (as he pointed out at p. 919, note 386), Harold Mattingly had argued that he had held:

  1. “... an ex praetura command in Macedonia in ca. 70 BC.”

The otherwise unknown quaestor Aesillas minted a number of coins in Macedonia, including a small subset (including the coin illustrated above) with an obverse legend commemorating a praetor (or, more accurately, a propraetor), CAE[SAR].  Harold B. Mattingly (referenced below, at p. 162-5) argued that the Caesar in question had been Lucius (the future consul of 64 BC), and that his putative: :

  1. “... Macedonian governorship could [have fallen] in 69-7 BC, which would fit the numismatic evidence admirably.”

He also pointed out that (at p. 166, citing David Lewis, referenced below, at pp 296-8 ) that the similar coins with the reverse legend ‘SVVRA LEG PROQ’ had probably been issued by Lucius’ brother-in-law, Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura, who had been consul in 71 BC but subsequently expelled from the Senate, and therefore:

  1. “... now had every incentive to seek a post (the first step to rehabilitation) on [Lucius’] staff.”

T. Corey Brennan (referenced below, at p. 532) argued that:

  1. “Mattingly’s basic identification of [this] Macedonian governor ... [as] the consul of 64 BC ... seems not just plausible but practically necessary.  The only real  problem with [it] ... has to do with the precise dates of [Lucius’] provincial command: he must  have been in Macedonia by 70 BC ...  If [this is correct, then Lucius Aurelius Cotta (praetor in 70 BC)] will have proceeded as proconsule to Macedonia  in 69 BC.”

He reflected this proposed chronology in his table at p. 710, as did David Rafferty (referenced below, at p. 197, although he cited an alternative view in his note 237).

Lucius in Rome (64 - 61 BC)

In 64 BC, Lucius became the third of the three consuls that his branch of the family had produced in four generations.  He does not seem to have followed this with a provincial governorship: instead, we find him playing an active part  of the political life of Rome over the next three years.  Erich Gruen (referenced below, at p, 23) observed that, in 63 BC, Caesar (who was younger than Lucius and at an earlier stage in his career):

  1. “...achieved an astounding political victory: he was a mere 37 years old, not even of praetorian rank, but he gained election ... to the post of Pontifex Maximus.”

In this year, both Lucius and Caesar were appointed to a two-man committee that was charged with bringing the senator Caius Rabirius to trial for perduellio (high treason).  Later that year, Lucius voted for the execution of the Catalinarian conspirators, even though:

  1. Caesar opposed it; and

  2. his own brother-in-law, Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura, was among the accused. 

There is evidence that Lucius served as one of the censors of 61 BC.  It is in the form of an inscription (AE 1980, 0858) from Delos, which recorded the so-called Lex Gabinia Calpurnia (58 BC), and which contained a reference (at line 22) to the auction of the right to raise taxes that:

  1. ‘ L. Cae[ ... ...] conducted for the island of Delos ...’

Claude Nicolet (referenced below) completed this part of the inscription as:

  1. “... the auction that L. Cae[sar and ? C. Curio, the censors] conducted for the island of Delos ...”;

and noted that the last censorship prior to 58 BC had been that of 61 BC.  In a review of a later work by Nicolet, Andrew Lintott (referenced below), observed that he:

  1. “... convincingly restates his view that line 22 [of this inscription] refers to the letting of taxes by the censors of 61 BC, one of whom was L. Julius Caesar (cos 64 BC) and the other was probably C. Scribonius Curio (cos 76 BC).”

Harold B. Mattingly (referenced below, at p. 152) observed that Nicolet’s insight:

  1. “...  supports the view that L. Caesar was a man of real consequence in the late 60s BC.”

Two other surviving inscriptions from statue bases at Ilium indicate that the city subsequently enjoyed the direct patronage of this branch of the gens Julia:

  1. I Ilion 71 honoured:

  2. ‘Lucius Julius , son of Lucius, who: became censor; restored the sacred territory to Athena Ilias; and removed it from the revenue contract” (translated by Robert Sherk, referenced below, at p. 70, entry 59); and

  3. I Ilion 72 honoured Julia, the daughter of Lucius Julius, because of her father’s benefactions to the city.

The identity of this Lucius has long been the subject of debate:

  1. It used to be assumed that this Lucius Julius Caesar was the consul in 90 BC, who had served as censor in 89 BC, in which case, his daughter would have been Julia Antonia (later the mother of Mark Antony). 

  2. However, it might also have been ‘our’ Lucius Julius Caesar, who had almost certainly also served as censor in 61 BC, and that he had given assistance . 

Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 247) was of the latter view: he pointed out that, although there is no surviving evidence that this Lucius had a daughter, it is entirely possible that he had at least one, and, if so, then she would also have been called Julia.  Erskine therefore suggested that:

  1. “Perhaps approached by the Ilians, who remembered his earlier assistance [as quaestor in 77 BC, Lucius, as censor of 61 BC], assured them of the tax-exempt status of Athena’s sacred land in the face of pressure from the Roman tax collectors.  The controversy over the tax contracts [at this time] and the general uncertainty in Asia following the recently-concluded Third Mithridatic War [75-63 BC] would offer a suitable context for a fiscal problem such as this.”

Christopher Smith (referenced below, 2010, at p. 253 and note 18) accepted the hypothesis that:

  1. “... the consul of 64 BC, Lucius Julius Caesar, had a longstanding relationship with the city of Ilium, which began in his quaestorship of 77 BC and continued through his censorship of 61 BC; it was perhaps his daughter who was honoured [in I Ilion 72 ].” 

Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 247) pointed out that, whether the censor above had held office in 89 or in 61 BC, these three inscriptions indicate:

  1. “... an active interest in Ilium on the part of [this branch of the gens Julia] prior to [the later interest of Caesar as dictator] ... .”

Lucius’ Career Under Caesar (49 - 44 BC)

Lucius’ career was subsequently over-shadowed by that of Caesar, who attained the praetorship and then the consulship as soon as he was eligible, in 61 and 59 BC respectively: by the time of his consulate, he was working in an informal triumvirate with Pompey and Crassus, and, at the end of his consulate, he began what was to be a ten-year proconsulship in Gaul. Caesar himself (‘de Bello Gallico’, 7:65) mentioned ‘Lucius Caesar’ as a military legate in Gaul in 52 BC.  Lucius was probably with Caesar in 49 BC,  when the returning army illegally crossed the Rubicon (an action that precipitated civil war}.  Lucius seems to have adopted a low profile in Rome during the war (although his homonymous son joined Pompey’s army).  However, he was pressed into service after Pompey’s death, during Caesar’s second dictatorship (47 BC), when Mark Antony, Caesar’s master of horse, who was governing Italy in Caesar’s absence, found himself facing growing unrest at Rome and a potential mutiny by those of of Caesar’s veterans who were stationed in Campania: according to Cassius Dio:

  1. “Fearing that they might begin some rebellion, [Mark Antony] turned over the charge of the city to Lucius Caesar, appointing him city prefect, an office never before conferred by a master of the horse, and then set out himself to join the soldiers”, (‘Roman History’, 42: 21: 1-2).

Lucius seems to have been  largely ineffective in this role. 

Final Years (ca. 44 - 40 BC)

Lucius seems to have withdrawn from public life after Caesar’s murder, as his nephew Mark Antony and Caesar’s son by adoption Octavian tussled for power.  Thus, in  a letter of September 44 BC, Cicero noted that:

  1. “L. Caesar, most admirable and gallant of citizens, is prevented [from attending the Senate] by ill-health; ...”, (Letter to Cassius, 12: 2: 3)

We next hear of him in March 43 BC, when the Senate (which was backing Octavian)  authorised a peace embassy to negotiate with Mark Antony, who was under siege at Mutina in Cisalpine Gaul.  The proposed delegation was to consist of five consulars, whom Cicero named in a speech that he delivered in the Senate, when opinion was hardening against Mark Antony, he insisted that:

  1. “...  I have all along inveighed against Antonius,and also against the partners and ministers of his crimes, both those present in the Senate] and those who are with him [at Mutina] (in fact against the whole family circle of Marcus Antonius).  And so, when these traitorous citizens were lively and cheerful at the prospect of peace and were congratulating each other as though they had triumphed, they were in favour of rejecting me [as a peace envoy, characterising me] as biased.  Neither did they trust [Publius Servilius Isauricus], remembering how Antony had been impaled by his views expressed in this body.  They [were inclined to accept] Lucius Caesar because. although he is a brave and resolute senator [i.e. he agreed with Cicero], since he is nonetheless Antonius’ uncle.  [They also accepted Quintus Fufius Calenus], his agent, and [Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus], his close friend”, (‘Philippics’: 12: 18, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, at p. 203).

According to Cassius Dio, Cicero perceived that Mark Antony’s real purpose in agreeing to receive the envoys:

  1. “... was that he [Cicero] should be removed from their path.  He ... [was duly] alarmed and did not venture to expose himself in Mark Antony’s camp.  Consequently none of the other envoys set out, either”. (‘Roman History’, 46: 32: 3-4)

The situation was transformed when Octavian and Mark Antony joined forces agains the Senate and formed a triumvirate with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus.  Like Cicero, Lucius found himself proscribed, at the behest of Mark Antony.  According to Appian:

  1. “Lepidus was the first to begin the work of proscription, and his brother [Lucius Aemilius Lepidus Paullus] was the first on the list of the proscribed.  Antony came next, and the second name on the list was that of his uncle, Lucius Caesar.  These two men [Paulus and Lucius] had been the first to vote Lepidus and Antony public enemies”, (‘Histories’, 4: 12). 

Appian note that both of them survived: Paulus fled, while:

  1. “The mother of Antony [Julia Antonia] openly gave shelter to her brother Lucius ...: he [avoided arrest] for a long time [because] the centurions had respect [for Julia] as the mother of a triumvir.  When they eventually tried to take him by force, she hurried into the forum where Antony was seated with his colleagues, and exclaimed:

  2. ‘I denounce myself to you, triumvir, for having received Lucius under my roof and for still keeping him, and I shall keep him until you kill us both, for it is decreed that those who give shelter shall suffer the same punishment.’

  3. Antony reproached her for being an unreasonable mother, although a good sister, saying that she ought to have prevented Lucius in the first place from voting her son a public enemy instead of seeking to save him now.  Nevertheless, he procured from the consul [Lucius Munatius Plancus, one of the consuls of 42 BC] a decree restoring Lucius to citizenship, (‘Histories’, 4: 37). 

Lucius was still alive in 40 BC, when he was recorded as still being active as an augur [reference needed].

Read more:

D. Rafferty, “Provincial Allocations in Rome: 123-52 BC”, (2019) Stuttgart

T. J. Cornell (ed.), “The Fragments of the Roman Historians”, (2013) Oxford

R. A. Kaster, “Macrobius: Saturnalia: Volume II, Books 3-5”, (2011) Cambridge (MA)

E. Gruen,”Caesar and the History of Early Rome”, in:

  1. G. Urso (ed.), “Cesare: Precursore o Visionario?”, (2010) Pisa, at pp. 23-36

D. R. Shackleton Bailey (translator) , “Cicero: Philippics 7-14”, as revised by J. Ramsay and G. Manuwald in 2010) Cambridge, MA

C. Smith,”Caesar and the History of Early Rome”, in

  1. G. Urso (ed.), “Cesare: Precursore o Visionario?”, (2010) Pisa, at pp. 249–64

H. B. Mattingly, “From Coins to History: Selected Numismatic Studies”, (2004) Ann Arbor, Michigan

A. Erskine, “Troy Between Greece and Rome”, (2001) Oxford

T. Corey Brennan, “The Praetorship in the Roman Republic: Volume 1: Origins to 122 BC”, (2000) Oxford

P. Tansey, “The Inauguration of Lentulus Niger”, American Journal of Philology, 121: 2 (2000) 237-58

A. Lintott, “Review of J.-C. Dumont et al., ‘ Insula Sacra: La loi Gabinia-Calpurnia de Délos (58 av. J.-C.)’ (1980) Rome”,  Journal of Roman Studies, 74 (1984) 224

R. Sherk, “Rome and the Greek East to the Death of Augustus”, (1984) Cambridge

C. Nicolet, “La Loi Gabinia Calpurnia de Délos et Lucius Iulius Caesar, Censeur en 61 avant J.-C”, Bulletin de la Société Nationale des Antiquaires de France, (1976) at pp. 54-56

G. V. Sumner, “A Note on Julius Caesar's Great-Grandfather”, Classical Philology, 71: 4 (1976) 341-4

P. Frisch, “Die Inschriften von Ilion”, (1975) Bonn

S. Weinstock, “Divus Julius”, (1971) Oxford

D. Lewis, “The Chronology of the Athenian  New Style Coinage”, The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Royal Numismatic Society, 2 (1962) 275-300

T. R. S. Broughton, “The Magistrates of the Roman Republic,Volume II (99 - 31 BC)”,  (1952) New York

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