Roman Republic

Lucius’ Antiquarian Activity

Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, I: p. 641, Appendix I, A24) deduced from the surviving evidence that Lucius was responsible for:

  1. “... a number of scholarly works, including libri pontificales [probably best translated as ‘books on pontifical affairs’] and libri auspiciorum [books on auspices].

Neither of these works survives.  I discuss: 

  1. the libri pontificales below; and

  2. the libri auspiciorum in my page: Lucius' Putative Libri Auspiciorum

Origo Gentis Romanae (OGR)

The discussion begins with a work known as the ‘Origo Gentis Romanae(OGR: Origins of the Roman Race - this link goes directly to a pdf), which (as summarised in the table above) contains all but one of the certain or possible citations of this work. The OGR survives in only two 15th century manuscript collections: as  Thomas Banchich (at p. i of the introduction of the translation in the link above) pointed out:

  1. “Both [of these collections] contain, not only the [OGR], but also:

  2. the collection of sketches of famous figures of Roman history from Romulus and Remus through to Antony and Cleopatra known today as ‘De Viris Illustribus’; and

  3. Sextus Aurelius Victor's ‘De Caesaribus’, [a brief account of the reigns of the Roman emperors from Augustus to Theodosius.

The first two are sometimes also attributed to Sextus Aurelius Victor but, in fact, there is no particular reason to associate either with him.  Since the OGR covers the early ‘history’ of Rome, these three works, taken together, cover the entire history of pre-Christian Rome.

Structure of the OGR

Arnaldo Momigliano (referenced below), in one of the earliest detailed analyses of it, dealt (at p. 70) with what he considered to be:

  1. “... the most difficult [issue relating to the OGR]: structurally, the [it] is a queer thing:

  2. In the first five chapters it is a discussion of some passages of [Virgil’s] ‘Aeneid’ and of their historical implications. Until chapter six the only explicit references are to Virgil, Ennius, and Sallust.

  3. Then we begin to notice a change: ... [the OGR] becomes a normal historical exposition, which can be compared with Book I of Dionysius of Halicarnassus”.  Virgil is still quoted, though ... [only at] 7. 4 and 9. 7.

  4. ... In fact from chapter seven to the end there is a stream of references to early Roman antiquarians and historians.  Virgil is replaced by historians as a main source of information.  At the same time, the literary form changes ..., [becoming] less personal and discursive.  The reference to Virgil in 7: 4 [see below] seems to me to prove that the author [of the OGR] is consciously planning this change.

Another discontinuity is also of interest in the present context: the number of authors cited increases dramatically after the first five chapters.  As Timothy Cornell and Christopher Smith (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, I: p. 96) pointed out, the OGR

  1. “... includes [citations from] all the Republican historians who are ... known to have written about the prehistory of Rome, almost without exception.”

This ‘suspicious’ characteristic was long considered to indicate that it was a late and probably fraudulent work.  However, Arnaldo Momigliano (referenced below. at pp. 71-2) concluded that:

  1. “... the attempts to prove the forgery of the references to pre-Augustan writers in the second part of the [ORG] are not convincing.  Both the structure and the individual references [here] ... suggest that it goes back to sources of the Augustan age.”.

More recently, Thomas Banchich pointed out (at p. ii) that:

  1. “The thesis that the [OGR] is a humanist forgery of ca. 1500 is [now] totally dead, and the notion that the text we have was abbreviated from a longer original only during or after the 12th century appears weak at best.  With respect to [its original] composition ..., the chronological parameters currently rest at 360-400 AD.”

As Timothy Cornell and Christopher Smith (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, I: p. 96) pointed out, the OGR:

  1. “... it is generally agreed to be a genuine work of late antiquity, probably dating the 4th century AD.”

For that reason, all of its citations of early Roman works of history were included in this edition 0f ‘The Fragments of the Roman Historians’.

Citations of Lucius’ Putative Libri Pontificales in the OGR

Timothy Cornell and Christopher Smith (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, I: p. 97) pointed out that:

  1. “The most frequently cited name [in the OGR] is that of Caesar, which appears nine times in all. 

  2. In two of these places, the author refers to Lucius Caesar; and

  3. in one to Caius Caesar. 

  4. [All of the other six citations are of Caesar tout court].  The most economical explanation is that the latter is a mistake, and that all [nine of] these citations are to a single author, namely Lucius Julius Caesar, the consul of 64 BC ... ”.

The OGR also records (at 9:6) the name of the cited work by ‘Caesar’: ‘Caesar Pontificalium libro primo’.  Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, p. 641, appendix A24) suggested that this citation:

  1. “... raises the possibility that [Lucius] may also be the author of the Pontificalium libri cited anonymously at 7:1 and 22:2.”

Christopher Smith (referenced below, 2010, at p. 263) suggested that the author of the OGR:

  1. “ ... knew only one work [by Caesar, presumably the ‘Libri Pontificales’] and cited regularly from [it] ...” 

I have therefore included these citations in my table above and, in what follows, I have assumed his authorship of all eleven of the relevant passages (no least, to avoid the need to write in the conditional).  However, the possibility that this is an assumption needs to be borne in mind.

Lucius in ‘The Fragments of the Roman Historians”, (2013)

Unfortunately Lucius was not included in his own right in ‘The Fragments of the Roman Historians’ (mentioned above and referenced below)  because he was considered to have been an antiquarian (as opposed to an historian).  However:

  1. he appears in this work in relation to citations (in the OGR and in one other work) in which he appears alongside other historians (as we shall see); and

  2. there is a short section on him by Timothy Cornell (at p. 641, A24).

Structure of the Putative Libri Pontificales

In eight of these eleven citations of Lucius’ putative ‘Libri Pontificales’, the OGR specifies a book number:

  1. the citations at 9: 6, 11: 3 and 15: 4 all come from Book I; and

  2. those at 15: 5; 17: 3, 18: 5, 20: 3 and 22: 2 all come from Book II. 

It seems to me that this internal consistency offers further support for the hypothesis that all eleven citations are from a single work.  If so, then (as we shall see):

  1. Book I:

  2. began with or before Evander’s arrival in Italy;

  3. presumably included Aeneas’ arrival in Italy; and

  4. probably ended with the victory of Aeneas’ son, Ascanius over Mezentius (after Aeneas’ death); and

  5. Book II:

  6. probably began with Ascanius’ subsequent history, including his foundation of Alba Longa;

  7. included the reigns of Ascanius’ successors as kings of Alba Longa; and

  8. ended with or after the early part of the history of Romulus and Remus.

There is no surviving evidence for any later books.

Possible Dates for Lucius’ Antiquarian Activity

In order to date Lucius’ work, ee might usefully consider how other leading Republican intellectuals reacted to the new political climate.  For example, Cicero and Varro both left Italy to fight for Pompey in 49 BC, but abandoned the cause when Pompey himself was killed in the following year and sought and received Caesar’s permission to return to Rome.  On 22nd April 46 BC, shortly after Caesar’s victory over the leading Republicans at Thapsus in Africa, Cicero wrote from Rome to Varro at Tusculum with the following advice:

  1. “... let us abide by our resolve to live together in pursuit of those studies of ours, from which we formerly sought only pleasure, but now seek also the preservation of our lives.  And, if anyone wishes for our services in rebuilding the constitution, not merely as architects but also as workmen, let us ... hasten with enthusiasm to the task.  And if, on the other hand, no-one will employ us, let us compose and read and write [about ideal Republics.   Like the most learned of the ancients, if we cannot serve the State in the Senate-House and Forum, we must do so in our libraries and investigate its customs and laws” (‘Letters to Friends’, 9: 2: 5).

This was the climate in which (for example) Varro wrote his ‘De Lingua Latina’: Roland Kent (referenced below, at p. ix) observed that this work was:

  1. “... composed in 47-45 BC and published before the death of Cicero [in the proscriptions of] 43 BC.”

Andrew Drummond (referenced below, at p. 556) referred to another example of the intellectual life of Cicero and his circle at about this time:

  1. “That it was [Cicero’s great friend] Atticus who developed the new [Roman dating] system in his ‘liber annalis’ of 47 BC is reasonably certain.  Cicero refers to Atticus as the source for his ... chronology [at] ‘Brutus’, 72 (of 46  BC).”

Clearly, Cicero and Atticus were devoting their time to substantial political/ historical works that must have involved intensive research.

The case of Marcus Valerius Messalla Rufus is of particular relevance here because, like Lucius, he had had a long career as an augur.  Andrew Drummond (in in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, I: p. 385-9) discussed his life and work: he had been exiled from Rome in 52 BC, served abroad under Caesar during the civil war, and was subsequently able to return to Rome in 49 BC, when he retired from public life.  He wrote a wide-ranging work on auspices at some time after 49 BC and a book ‘De familiis’ at some time after 46 BC.  Drummond argued (at p. 387) that:

  1. “It is ... likely that, as with his work on auspices, Messalla only turned to writing the ‘De familiis’ after his own retirement from active political life [in 49 BC] ...”

It seems to me that Lucius also probably pursued his antiquarian endeavours in earnest in response to the prevailing political climate after 49 BC.

It seems from the above account of Lucius’ career that he effectively retired from public life when he returned from Gaul in 49 BC and that, thereafter, his sympathies probably lay with Cicero and the Republicans, albeit that (unlike most of the leading Republicans) he remained in Rome.  While he might well have pursued his antiquarian interests before this point, it seems likely that these pursuits played a larger part in his life thereafter.

Citations in OGR of the Putative Libri Pontificales

Book I: Period Before Aeneas’ Arrival in Italy

The only surviving citation of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales that relates to the period prior to Aeneas’ arrival in Italy.  The relevant passage is set:

  1. “... during the reign of [King] Faunus, which was about 60 years before Aeneas landed in Italy, [when] Evander Arcas, who was the son of Mercury and the Nymph Carmenta, arrived [there]. ... Faunus welcomed Evander ... , and gave him] land to cultivate ... [Evander] allocated this land to his comrades and built homes on the that he named Pallanteum (from Pallas); we now call it the Palatine”, (‘OGR’, 5: 1-3). 

More specifically, it comes towards the end of the two chapters that the author of the OGR devoted to the story of Hercules and Cacus.

Cassius: Hercules and Cacus (OGR, 6:1 - 7: 1) 

The OGR’s version of this part of Rome’s foundation myth had begun in the previous chapter:

  1. “At the time when [Evander] was ruling [on the Palatine], ... a certain Recaranus, of Greek origin, a shepherd ... who was called a Hercules because he surpassed others in stature and courage, came to this place.  While his herd was grazing around the Albula [Tiber], Cacus, a slave of Evander,  ...  stole [Recaranus’] cattle ... and ... dragged them backwards into the cave [to leave tracks that apparently pointed in the other direction]. ... Recaranus despaired of finding them ... and decided to leave the area.  But, when Evander... discovered what had happened, he gave up the slave for punishment and ensured that the cattle were returned.  Then, Recaranus dedicated an altar to the Inventor Pater [Father Finder, a reference to Jupiter] at the foot of the Aventine, called it Ara Maxima, and offered there a tenth of his herd. ... These things Cassius wrote in his first book”, (OGR,  6: 1 - 7: 1)

John Briscoe ( in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, at II: at p.249. F3) translated the whole of paragraph 6 as the work of Lucius Cassius Hemina)  In his introduction to Hemina (at I: p.220) he noted that, although this historian cannot be securely identified, the content of the surviving fragments of his work indicated that he had:

  1. “... completed a substantial part of his work before 149 BC.”

We then come to the citation under discussion here:

  1. “But, in truth, it is related in the libri Pontificalium that Hercules:

  2. having been born from Jove and Alcmena; and

  3. after he had defeated Geryon [and stolen his cattle];

  4. led the noble herd, desirous of introducing this breed of cattle to Greece.  [While he was on this journey], he came by chance to [Evander’s land on the Palatine] and, pleased by the rich fodder ... , established a base there for a while.  While [his cattle] were pasturing in the vale where the Circus Maximus is now, ... a certain bandit of the same region, surpassing others in stature and courage, dragged eight of the cattle away to a cave, using  their tails so that the theft would be less able to be solved by the tracks.  When Hercules ... happened to move the rest of the herd past the same cave, ... some of the [stolen] cattle inside lowed ... and the theft was thus detected.  And, when:

  5. Cacus had been killed; and

  6. ... when Evander heard of the affair;

  7. he [Evander] went to meet the stranger, giving thanks because his own territories had been freed from so great an evil.  When he had ascertained from which parents Hercules had been born, the matter was brought exactly as it had transpired to the attention of Faunus [the king of Latium ... and] he too sought most desirously the friendship of Hercules”, (OGR, 7: 1-3) 

Recaranus/ Hercules

We might reasonably assume from the wording of 7: 1 that the author of the OGR preferred Lucius‘ account to that of Hemina.  The main points of difference between the two accounts concern Recaranus/ Hercules and the origins of his cattle:

  1. for Hemina, Recaranus, the owner of the stolen cattle, was a mortal  was a mortal man who had been given the nickname Hercules because of his strength and courage, and the cattle in question were local; while

  2. for Lucius, the victim of the theft was the Demigod Hercules, and he had stolen the cattle from Geryon on an island called Erythia, in order to accomplish his 10th Labour.

Arnaldo Momigliano (referenced below. at pp. 63) pointed out that :

  1. “Hercules' original name Recaranus in [OGR 6] is not to be found elsewhere, but it is confirmed by ‘Garanus’ in Servius Daniel [at ad Aen 8. 203] ... ”.

Douglas Chatterton (referenced below, at p.13) pointed out that:

  1. “Although the events of the myth, which later writers would follow, had been roughly established in the 2nd century BC by Hemina, ...  the characters involved were not yet standardised.  As the Augustan grammarian Verrius Flaccus [as cited by Servius Daniel - see above] writes:

  2. ‘Garanus (the same as Recaranus) was a shepherd of great strength, who crushed Cacus and, indeed, all those of great strength were called Hercules among the ancients.’

  3. [However], by the 1st century BC, Hercules had become the obvious choice for the protagonist in the story.  He was a strong foreigner whose tradition had him wandering through Italy on his return from Erythia with Geryon's cattle.  ... [Thus], his existing story naturally lent itself to incorporation into [an indigenous] Cacus' myth.”

Chatterton (at p. 12) used  Livy, Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Virgil to characterise  the tradition as it stood in the 1st century BC.  However, if this citation at OGR 7 does indeed refer to Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales, then Lucius had embraced this ‘merged’ tradition before them.


After his citation of the libri Pontificalium, the author observed that:

  1. “ Maro [i.e. Virgil] hesitated to follow this opinion”, (OGR, 7: 4).

This reference to Virgil would relate to his account of Hercules and Cacus at ‘Aeneid’, 8. 193-272 (see the translation by Jacklyn Neel, referenced below, at pp. 26-8).

That Virgil had ‘followed’ Lucius identification of the demigod Hercules into his account of the Cacus myth is clear from the following passage

  1. “... Hercules, the mightiest of avengers, glorying in the slaughter and spoils of triple Geryon, ... drove his huge bulls in triumph, and his oxen filled vale and riverside.  But Cacus, his wits wild with frenzy, ... drove from their stalls four bulls of surpassing form, and as many heifers of peerless beauty” (‘Aeneid’, 8: 201-4, translated by Henry Rushton Fairclough, 1918, referenced below).

As we saw above, Virgil did agree with Lucius that Hercules was a demigod.  Christopher Smith (referenced below, 2010, at p. 114) argued that Virgil had neglected to follow “the Faunus section” of Lucius’ account.

Book I: Aeneas’ Arrival in Italy

The next two citations of Lucius’ work come in the section of the OGR that deals with his journey from Troy to the territory of King Latinus. 

Account in the OGR of Aeneas’ Arrival in Italy (9: 4 - 10: 4)

It will be useful to start by summarising the OGR account, in order to put the citations of Lucius’ work into context.  He mentioned only two stops that Aeneas made before he reached the coast of Italy:

  1. at Thace, which he named Aenus, after himself (9: 4); and

  2. at Delos, where he married Lavinia, for whom he named the Lavinian shores (9: 5).

Aeneas first landed on Italian soil at a harbour on the promontory near.[the later site of Baiae - see below], where he buried his recently-deceased comrade, Misenus, who had been either:

  1. a navigator; or

  2. “as Caesar writes in Book I of his Libri Pontificales”, a trumpeter (9: 6-8).

He named this place Misenum in Misenus’ memory.

The author of the OGR then named five places that Aeneus visited as he sailed northwards towards Latinus’ territory:

  1. “According to certain writers”, he buried [Boia], the recently-deceased mother of his comrade [Euximus] on the shores of a lake between Misenum and Avernus, and named the place for her (10: 1).

  2. He then visited the Sibyl at Cimmimius (possibly Cumae, who told him of the death of a female relative called Prochyta, and forbad him to bury her in Italy.  He therefore returned to the fleet at and took her body to on an island off Misenum, which he named it in her memory, “as Vulcatius and Acilius Piso write” (10: 2); and

  3. During the subsequent journey northwards, he buried his recently-deceased nurse at another harbour, which he named Caeta, either:

  4. from the nurse’s name; or

  5. as “Caesar and Sempronius say”, from the cognomen (derived from the Greek word for fire) that he had given her when she had instigated the burning of the Trojan ships (10: 3-4).

It is evident that the author of the OGR and his sources had derived his account of this journey essentially on the basis of the traditional aetiological myths that were associated with ancient settlements in the region.

How the Port of Misenum Acquired its Name (OGR, 9: 6)

According to the OGR:

  1. “After [leaving the island of Delos, and] having traversed many seas, [Aeneas] was brought to the promontory of Italy that is near Baiae, around the lake of Avernus, and there he buried his navigator, Misenus, who had been carried off by disease”, (OGR, 9: 6).

We then come to the first explicit citation of ‘Caesar’:

  1. “[They say that] urbem Misenun [the future town of Misenum] was named for [Misenus], as Caesar writes in Book I of his Libri Pontificales, although he relates that this Misenus was not a navigator but a trumpeter”, (OGR, 9: 6).

How the City of Caieta Acquired its Name (OGR, 10: 3)

Soon after leaving Misenum, Aeneas:

  1. “... arrived at the place that is now called Portus Caietae [the port of Caieta], from the name of his [recently-deceased] nurse, whom ... he buried  there, the place where she had died. But, Caesar and Sempronius say that Caieta was her cognomen (not her name), obviously given to her because the Trojan mothers, weary of the long voyage, had burned the fleet at her plan and instigation.  In other words, the [cognomen] coms from the Greek [word] ... that means ‘to burn’”, (OGR, 10: 3-4).

Christopher Smith (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below) translated this passage ( at II: p 341) as a surviving fragment from the work of Caius Sempronius Tuditanus, and provided a commentary (at III: p. 223) in which he commented that “Caesar’ was probably Lucius Julius Caesar, the consul of 64 BC.  He also argued (at I: p. 240) that:

  1. “[Although] there is no secure information of [Sempronius’] date, he is likely to have written [after] 150 BC ... and ... was quoted by Marcus Valerius Messalla Rufus, the consul of 53 BC.”

Virgil’s Parallel Account of Aeneas’ Arrival in Italy

An important difference between Virgil’s account of Aeneas’ arrival in Italy and that in the OGR is Aeneas’ point of arrival:

  1. Virgil had his ships arrive at Cumae (Aen, 6: 1); while

  2. as we have seen, the author of the OGR had them arrive at Baiae.


Virgil then had Aeneas immediately visit the Sibyl of Cumae, intent upon descending into the underworld in order to visit his father, but the Sibyl told him that he must first bury one of his comrades, who was lying dead on the beach (Aen, 6: 136-55).  When he returned to his ships. he saw:

  1. “... Misenus on the dry beach, cut off by untimely death: Misenus, son of Aeolus, surpassed by none in stirring men with his  trumpet’s blare ...”, (Aen. 6: 161, translated by Henry Rushton Fairclough, 1916, referenced below).

As instructed:

  1. “Loyal Aeneas built a massive tomb over [Misenus’ body, his] arms, his oar and his trumpet.  [The tomb was] beneath a lofty hill, which is now called Misenum , and [so] keeps Misenus’ name alive from age to age”, (Aen. 6: 232-4, translated by Henry Rushton Fairclough, 1916, referenced below).

Thus, like Lucius, Virgil also recorded that Misenum had been named for Misenus. 

As we have seen, the author of the OGR believed that Misenus had been Aeneas’ helmsman, but he noted that:

  1. “Caesar writes in Book I of his Libri Pontificales ... that this Misenus was not a navigator but a trumpeter”, (OGR, 9: 6).

He also noted that other unnamed authorities had cast doubt on the claim that Misenus had been a trumpeter: 

  1. “... [asserting], with  ... Homer, that the use of the trumpet was still unknown in Trojan times”, (OGR, 9: 8). 

This would have been a reference to the Homeric scholiasts: in his commentary on ‘Iliad”: 18: 219, in which Achilles’ voice is “clear as a trumpet’s voice, Richard Rutherford observed that:

  1. “As the scholia (Arn/AT) remark, the trumpet is an anachronism, in the sense that Homer’s heroes do not use the instrument; it is an intrusion from [Homer’s] own age.”

In fact, it is clear from the other quotations above that Virgil, like Lucius, believed that Misenus had been a trumpeter, rather than a helmsman.


In fact, Virgil explicitly identifies Aeneas’ helmsman as Palinorus, who had been swept overboard as they had approached the Italian shore.  Later, when Aeneas had finally managed to descend to the underworld, he came across his former comrade:

  1. “Lo! there passed the helmsman, Palinurus, who of late, ...  had fallen from the stern, flung forth in the midst of the waves. ... [Aeneas] accosted [him] thus:

  2. ‘What god, Palinurus, tore you from us and plunged you beneath the open ocean? O tell me! For Apollo, never before found false, ... foretold that you would escape the sea and reach [Italian] shores. Is this how he keeps his promise?’

  3. [Palinurus reassured him that:

  4. ‘...  [no] god plunged me in the deep.  For, by chance, the helm to which I clung ... was violently torn from me and, as I fell headlong, I dragged it down with me.  ... For three stormy nights, ... the South Wind drove me wildly on the water.   On  the fourth dawn,... I sighted Italy. ... [and] swam for the shore. ... I caught with bent fingers at the rugged cliff-spurs, [but] the barbarous folk assailed me with swords,... deeming me a prize, ... and the winds toss me on the beach.  Oh, by Heaven’s sweet light and air, I beseech you, ... [Aeneas], take me with you across the waves, that at least in death I may find a quiet resting place!’

  5. The Sibyl [chastised him thus]:

  6. ‘... Cease to dream, [Palinorus], that Heaven’s decrees may be turned aside by prayer.  But hear and remember my words ... : celestial portents will drive the neighbouring people, in their cities far and wide, to appease your dust: [they] shall build a tomb ... [and] make solemn offerings [there]: and the place shall for ever bear the name of Palinurus’”, (Aen. 5: 841-60, translated by Henry Rushton Fairclough, 1916, referenced below).

This place is today known as Capo di Palinuro (Cape Palinuro).


Although the author of the OGR does not mention the fact, Virgil , like Lucius, had recorded the death of Caieta:

  1. “You, too, Caieta, nurse of Aeneas, have, by your death, given eternal fame to our shores: still, your honour guards your resting place and, in great Hesperia,  ... your name marks your dust.  When the last rites were duly paid and the funeral mound was raised, pious Aeneas ... sails forth ...”, (‘Aeneid’, 7: 1-6, translated by Henry Rushton Fairclough, 1918, referenced below).

Henry Rushton Fairclough observed (at note 1) that, by:

  1. “You, too, Caieta, nurse of Aeneas ...”:

Virgil intended:

  1. “You, Caieta, nurse of Aeneas, like Misenus (6: 234) and Palinurus (6: 381) ....”.

Conclusions of the Citations of 9: 6 and 10: 3

In his study of Virgil’s use of homer in the Aeneid, Georg Nicolaus Knauer referenced below, at p. 66) observed that:

  1. ”... Virgil sometimes combined several Homeric characters into one ... [For example], Elpenor:

  2. falls drunken to his death at the end of Odyssey, 10;

  3. asks for his funeral in 11; and

  4. receives it from Odysseus at the beginning of 12. 

  5. [Similarly];

  6. at the end of Aeneid, 5, the sleepy Palinurus falls to his death;

  7. he asks Aeneas for his funeral in Book 6; [and]

  8. at the beginning of [Book] 7, [Aeneas] buries his nurse Caieta ...

  9. [Furthermore], Virgil, [in Book 6], ... imitated details of [the funeral of Elpenor in that of Misenus].  Elpenor has thus become Palinurus, Misenus and Caieta.”

Nicholas Horsfall (referenced below, at pp. 39-40) pointed out that:

  1. “Misenus ... first appears as he is presented by Virgil ... in the Pontificalia of L. Julius Caesar.   The economical explanation of these attestations is that Misenus ... was first described as a trumpeter and companion of Aeneas in [the work of] the Roman antiquarians.”

Thus, we might reasonably assume that Caesar had also cited Sempronius in his work, which was the direct source of the information in the OGR.

Book I: Aeneas in Italy

Foundation of the Colony of Lavinium (OGR, 11: 3)

Silver denarius (RRC 312/1, 106 BC BC): C SVLPICI C F

See Michael Crawford (referenced below, at p. 320) for the date

Obverse: Jugate, laureate heads of the Dei Penates (identified by ‘D P P’)

Reverse: Two standing male figures, each holding spear and pointing to a sow

The OGR next described the Trojans’ journey northwards along the coast of Italy to the territory of King Latinus.  When they had landed:

  1. “... Anchises [Aeneas’ father] concluded that this was an end of sufferings and wandering, since he remembered that Venus had predicted to him that, when they had been driven by hunger to a foreign shore and had fallen upon consecrated tables, [they would have reached] the pre-destined place for the establishment of their [final] settlement.  [This conviction was then reinforced by another omen]: when [the Trojans] had brought a pregnant sow from one of their ships in order for Aeneas to sacrifice her, she escaped from the hands of the attendants,  [At this point], Aeneas recalled that an oracle had once pronounced  to him that a quadruped would be a guide to the city that he would found.  He followed [the sow] with the statues of the Di Penates [household gods] and, at the place where she stretched out and gave birth to 30 piglets, he took the auspices and † after †  he called it Lavinium.  So writes Caesar in Book I and Lutatius in Book II”, (OGR, 11: 1-3).

The obelised passage † after † relates to a defect in the surviving manuscripts, in which only a single word (‘after’) can be identified.

Original Sources for the Myth of the Sow and her 30 Piglets 

This fragments from Diodorus Siculus transmits the earliest known version of this myth in a direct quotation  of ‘Fabius, who wrote a history of the Romans’:

  1. “An oracle was given to Aeneas, stating that a four-footed animal would lead him to the place where he should found a city.  [Some time later], when he was in the act of sacrificing a pregnant sow, white in colour, it escaped from his hands and was pursued to a certain hill, where it dropped a litter of thirty piglets.  Aeneas was astounded at this strange happening, and, recalling the oracle, he prepared to found a city on the spot.  However, he saw a vision in his sleep which strictly forbade him to do so and counselled him to found the city thirty years hence, corresponding to the number of the litter of piglets, and so he abandoned the project.  After his death, his son Ascanius ascended the throne and, after thirty years had elapsed, he founded a settlement on the hill and gave the city the name of Alba after the colour of the sow (since the Latins call what is white alba).  Ascanius also added another name, Longa (which, translated, means ‘the long’) since the city was narrow in width and of great length”, (‘Library of History’, 7: 5: 4-6).

According to Edward Bispham and Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, III: pp. 14-15), ‘Fabius, who wrote a history of the Romans’ was:

  1. “... presumably [a reference to] the Greek version of Fabius Pictor ...”.

If this is correct, then the passage dates to ca. 220 BC and records the earliest surviving version of the myth.

However, we happen to know that the author of the OGR relied on the work of Cato in ca. 150 BC: in a later paragraph than that under discussion here, he wrote that:

  1. “... Cato, in Origine generis Romani, tells us this: a sow gave birth to 30 piglets in the place where Lavinium is now.  When Aeneas had decided to found a city there and was worrying about the sterility of the soil, the images of the Penates appeared to him in a dream, exhorting him to continue founding the city that he had begun; for, after as many years as the number of the sow’s offspring, the Trojans would move to a fertile and more fruitful place and would found a city of the most renowned name in Italy [i.e. Alba Longa - see below]”, (OGR, 12: 5).

Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, at III, at p. 71) observed that:

  1. “The fact that the whole passage from 12:5 to 13: 5 [which describes the foundation of `Lavinium and the move to Alba Longa discussed below] is in indirect speech clearly implies that it forms a unity and is dependent  [the phrase ‘Cato ... tells us this’]’”

The only material difference between the accounts of Fabius and Cato is that:

  1. Fabius had the pregnant sow guide Aeneas to the pre-destined but future site of Alba Longa; while

  2. Cato had the sow guide him to the the pre-destined site of Lavinium, which he founded immediately.

The iconography of the reverse of the silver denarius RRC 312/1 illustrated above demonstrates that the myth was well-established in the Roman tradition by at least 106 BC.  As we shall see below, the fact that the obverse depicts the jugate heads of the Dei Penates, whose cult was preserved at Lavinium,   suggests that Cato’s version at least was well-established by that time. 

Material  Attributed to Lucius and Lutatius in OGR 11: 1-3

Christopher Smith (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, I: p. 341) translated the whole of this passage (at II, p. 711, Lutatius F3), but commented at (III: p. 453) that:

  1. “... it is quite uncertain what is attributed to [Lucius and Lutatius], particularly since [there is  corrupt text in the penultimate sentence] and it may well be that the citations from [them] have been lost.”

It seems to me that it is most unlikely that the author of the OGR attributed the story of the sow and her 30 piglets to:

  1. Lucius and Lutatius at 11: 1-3; and then

  2. to Cato at 12: 5. 

This supports Smith’s suggestion that the material in paragraph 11 that was attributed to Lucius and Lutatius might well have been contained in the obelised lacuna in the surviving manuscripts.  What survives suggests that this now-lost passage might be completed as follows:

  1. “... [Aeneas] took the auspices and †then marked out the boundary of the new city.  After, to honour his wife, Lavinia† he called it Lavinium.  So writes Caesar in Book I and Lutatius in Book II”, (OGR, 11: 1-3).


Christopher Smith (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, I: p. 341) argued that the Lutatius cited here in the OGR is unlikely to have been Quintus Lutatius Catulus, the consul of 102 BC: Catulus was known to have been the author of only a single book, and this had been autobiographical.  Smith suggested (at I: 342 and note 3) that he might have been the grammarian Lutatius Daphnis, an ex-slave of the family who had probably been freed under the terms of the will that Catulus wrote before committing suicide in 87 BC.  However, Smith cautioned that all we know for certain is that:

  1. “... he was writing under the Republic, because his work is quoted by Varro  in [‘On the Latin Language’ - see below], which was published before Cicero’s death in 43 BC.”

As mentioned above, Roland Kent (referenced below, at p. ix) dated this work to 47-45 BC.  Thus, we can reasonably assume that Lutatius was writing some 6-10 decades after Cato, at a time when the tradition of the sow and her 30 piglets was well known.


Varro’s citation of Lutatius (mentioned above) was in a passage on the etymology of the name of a sacred pool in the Forum:

  1. “Cornelius [not securely identified] and Lutatius write that this place had been fenced around by decree of the Senate [after it had been] struck by lightening: it was called the Lacus Curtius because [the fencing] was done by the consul Curtius, whose colleague was Marcus Genusius [i.e., by Caius Curtius Philo in 445 BC]”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 150).

Varro also referred in this work to both the Penates and the sow and her piglet in a passage on the etymology of the place-names Lavinium and Alba Longa:

  1. “Lavinum was the first town of the Roman line that was founded in Latium; for our Penates are [preserved] there. This [town] was named for Lavinia, the daughter of Latinus, who was wedded to Aeneas.  Thirty years after this, a second town was founded, named Alba [see below]; it was named from the alba (white) sow.  This sow, when she had escaped from Aeneas’ ship to Lavinium, gave birth to a litter of 30 young; from this prodigy, a second city was established 30 years after the founding of Lavinium: it was called Alba Longa ‘the long white city,’ on account of the colour of the sow and the nature of the place”, ‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 144).

It seems to me that, although Varro provided no citation here, it is at least possible that he followed Lutatius for this etymological information, as he had done in a similar context at 5: 150.


It seems to me that Lucius and Varro, had probably derived the information of the etymology of Lavinium to Lutatius Daphnis.  Although Varro provided no citation for this, it is likely that Lucius did, in which case, the author of the OGR would have derived his information from Lucius and provided both citations. 9I return to this suggestion in the context of another citation in the OGR to Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales, this time in relation to the subsequent foundation of Alba Longa.

Death of Aeneas

There is nothing to suggest that the author of the OGR made further use of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales in his narrative until after the death of Aeneas:

  1. He dealt with the war in which Aeneas was to die in paragraph 13, in which he cited:

  2. Cato (13: 1-5), in a continuation of the citation that began at 12: 5 (above); and then

  3. Lutatius:

  4. “When the enemy had been scattered and put to flight, [Aeneas] ... recovered Lavinium and by the consent of all was declared King of the Latins, as Lutatius writes in Book III”, (OGR, 13: 7, translated by Christophe Smith, in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, II: p. 711).  

  5. He then, somewhat surprisingly, described the the death of Aeneas  during the subsequent war without any citations:

  6. “Then Aeneas, ... established a base below Lavinium, and, when his son, Euryleon [see below], had been placed in charge of these, he himself ... deployed his forces in battle formation around the pool of the Numicus River.  There, while a fierce battle was being fought, when the sky had been obscured by a sudden whirlwind, immediately such a great deluge poured from heaven, followed, too, by thunderclaps and bursts of flame, that not only were everyone's eyes blinded but even their minds, too, became confused.  And, when each side wanted  to cease from battle, Aeneas, having been carried off in the tumult of the sudden storm, was ... nowhere to be seen.  ... [At first, it was assumed that he had] accidentally fallen into the river, and that the fighting then was broken off.  Then, ... when the clouds had been scattered and dispersed, and when a serene countenance had shown forth, it was believed that he had been taken up to heaven alive.  And yet it is nevertheless affirmed that he was seen later by Ascanius [called Euryleon above] and certain others above the bank of the Numicus with the same garb and weapons in which he had advanced to battle.  This event confirmed the rumour of his immortality.  And thus it was decided that a temple, consecrated on that spot, be called [‘Jupiter Indiges’]” (OGR, 14: 2-4).

  7. Significantly, Aeneas’ apotheosis was confirmed when he appeared to ‘Ascanius and certain others’, not specifically to Proculus Julius, as he was in later tradition (as discussed below).

Ascanius’ Victory over Mezentius (OGR, 15: 4)

According to the OGR, after the death of Aeneas:

  1. “... his son Ascanius. (who is the same as Euryleon) was made king by the judgment of all the Latins”, (OGR, 14: 5).

Interestingly, the only other surviving source for this name is Dionysius of Halicarnassus:

  1. “When Aeneas departed this life in about the 7th year after the fall of Troy, Euryleon, who had been renamed Ascanius in the flight [to Italy], succeeded to the rule over the Latins, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 65: 1).

The OGR then recorded that Ascanius took over command in the war against Mezentius, the only surviving leader of the Italian resistance.  It will be convenient to take the next four lines one by one: 

  1. “When the citadel [of Lavinium] was completely besieged and surrounded by all of Mezentius’ forces, the Latins sent ambassadors to Mezentius, asking on what conditions he was willing to receive their surrender”, (OGR, 15: 1).

  2. “But when, among the other burdens, Mezentius insisted that all the wine of the Latin land must be brought to him for several years, the Latins, following the advice and under the influence of Ascanius, decided to die for freedom rather than to submit to servitude on those terms”, (OGR, 15: 2). 

  3. “And so, when the wine from the entire vintage had been publicly dedicated and consecrated to Jupiter, the Latins burst from the city and, having routed the [Etruscan] garrison, killed Lausus  [Mezentius’ son] and forced Mezentius [himself] to take flight”, (OGR, 15: 3).  

  4. “Afterwards, [Mezentius] sent ambassadors to solicit the friendship and alliance of the Latins, as we are told by: Lucius Caesar, in Book I; and Aulus Postumius in the volume that he composed concerning the arrival of Aeneas and dedicated to ....: the arrival of Aeneas < ... >”, (OGR, 15: 4).

Aulus Postumius

Simon Northwood (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, II: p. 133) translated two citations of a work on Aeneas’ arrival in Italy: the one above, from the OGR, and another from the Virgilian commentaries:

  1. “Postumius, in his ‘De adventu Aeneas’ ... say[s] that Boia was the nursemaid of Euximus, a companion of Aeneas ...”, S, ad Aen’, 9: 710).

He included these as two of four surviving fragments of the work of Aulus Postumius Albinus and noted (I: p. 85) that:

  1. “We can confidently identify [Aulus Postumius Albinus] , the consul of 151 BC, as the writer of a history of Rome [that was written] in Greek.”

However, he suggested (at I: p. 190) that the ‘de aduentu Aeneae’ was distinct from the work in the other two citations and might have been written by anther A. Postumius, although:

  1. “... for the sake of convenience, and in the absence of any firm evidence to the contrary.”

Substance of the Narrative Attributed to Lucius Caesar and Aulus Postumius

Northwood also noted (at III, p. 61) that:

  1. “... there is some doubt whether [all of OGR, 15: 1-4] should be understood as belonging to the [work of Aulus Postumius].  The very least that can be [unambiguously assigned to him] is line 15: 4 ... Since we have two authors cited [in line 4, i.e., Caesar and Postumius] it is [possible] that only part of the material was found in Postumius.  [On the other hand], it seems difficult to argue that the author of the OGR [did not want] his readers to think that Postumius ... also [recorded] the content of lines 1-3 ... .”

Although Northwood was concentrating on Postumius here, the same uncertainties surround the OGR citation of Lucius Caesar. 

Northwood pointed out (at I: p. 190) that:

  1. “The story of the Latins’ response to Mezentius’ demand [i.e., lines 1-3] is an aetiological explanation for the offering of the first wine to Jupiter ... on 23rd April.”

He also noted (at III, p. 61) that an extract from Macrobius (translated by Timothy Cornell  (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, II: p. 165) indicates that Cato had also recorded this information.  Macrobius, who was referring to an expression used by Virgil (‘Aen’, 7: 648) that Mezentius was ‘a despiser of the gods’, observed that:

  1. “The attentive reader will find the true origin of this phrase (which denotes the worst sort of defiance) in Book I of Cato’s ‘Origines’: Mezentius had commanded the Rutilians to offer to him the first fruits that they usually offered to the gods.  The Latins, fearing a similar command, made the following vow: ‘Jupiter, if you prefer that we make that offering to you rather than to Mezentius, we pray that you give us victory [over him]’”, (‘Saturnalia’, 3: 10).

If the fragment from the OGR cited Aulus Postumius Albinus (cos. 151 BC), then it would be possible that:

  1. Cato had used his explanation; or

  2. Cato and Aulus Postumius had used the explanation of a still earlier author.

However, if the ‘De adventu Aeneas’ was the work of a later Aulus Postumius, then he would have probably used Cato as his source of information.  This was, for example, the view of Timothy Cornell (at III, p. 70), who asserted that this fragment from Cato:

  1. “... gives the earliest known version of an aetiological tale explaining the practice of offering the first wine of every vintage to Jupiter, a ceremony that occurred annually of 23rd April.”

In either case, this aetiology was certainly current at the time that Lucius was writing.  For example, Varro glossed this festival as:

  1. Vinalia (from vino): this is a day sacred to Jupiter, not to Venus.  The feast receives considerable attention in Latium.   For, in some places, the vintages were started by the priests as they are, even now, at Rome: for a flamen Dialis (priest of Jupiter) makes an official start of the vintage and, when he has given the order to gather the grapes, he sacrifices a lamb to Jupiter ...”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 6: 1: 16).

It seems to me that the most likely sequence of events is that:

  1. both Lucius and Varro had derived his information from the later Aulus Postumius;

  2. unlike Varro, Lucius had probably provided a citation; in which case

  3. the author of the OGR would have derived his information from Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales, where it had probably been attributed to this Aulus Postumius.

Northwood also pointed out (at I: p. 190) that:

  1. “If [OGR, 15:4] is a genuine fragment of Postumius Albinus, it is the first report of a treaty between the Latins and Mezentius.”

According to Livy (who did not have Mezentius killed by Ascanius):

  1. “... the [Lain] nation had grown so powerful, in consequence especially of the defeat of the Etruscans that, even when Aeneas died, and even when a woman became its regent and [Ascanius] began his apprenticeship as king, neither Mezentius and his Etruscans nor any other neighbours dared to attack them.  Peace had been agreed to on these terms: that the River Albula, which men now call the Tiber, should be the boundary between the Etruscans and the Latins”, ‘History of Rome’, 1: 3: 5-6).

The OGR apparently cited both Lucius and Postumius for this information.  However, it seems to me that he had probably taken it from Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales, where it had probably been attributed to Aulus Postumius.

Dionysius’ Parallel Account

Dionysius of Halicarnassus gave a much shorter account of these events, which demonstrates this approach already at work in ca. 7 BC (some 43 years after the death of Lucius):

  1. “Aeneas and his companions left Sicily [and] crossed the Tyrrhenian sea.  [They then]:

  2. dropped anchor in Italy in the harbour of Palinurus [some 220 km south of Misenum], which is said to have been named for one of Aeneas’ navigators, who died there; and

  3. [then sailed north along the coast, stopping, in turn at] ... :

  4. an island [modern Licosa, about half way to Misenum] that they named Leucosia for a female cousin of Aeneas who died there;

  5. the deep and excellent harbour of the Opicans, ... [where] one of their number died, a prominent man named Misenus, for whom they named the harbour; and

  6. two places that they named ... in memory of women who died there:

  7. -the island of Prochyta, which is said to have been named for [another] cousin of Aeneas; and

  8. -the promontory of Caieta, which is said to have been named for his nurse”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 53: 2).

Book I: Conclusions

The five citations from the OGR discussed above constitute all that survives from Book I of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales.  The indicate that it contained:

  1. an account of Hemina’s myth of the consecration of the Ara Maximus at the foot of the Aventine, in which (perhaps for the first time ??) Hemina’s mortal Recaranus (nicknamed Hercules) was replaced by Hercules himself;

  2. an early (perhaps the earliest ?) account of the Roman (as opposed to the Greek) tradition that Misenus was a trumpeter in Aeneas’ entourage and that Misenum (where the Trojans first landed) was so-named in his honour;

  3. an account of the naming of another coastal city, Caieta, for Aeneas’ nurse, which he probably attributed to Caius Sempronius Tuditanus;

  4. an account of the naming of Lavinium for Lavinia, which he possibly attributed to Lutatius Daphnis; and

  5. an account of Ascanius’ definitive victory over Mezentius (following the death of Aeneas), in which he probably cited Aulus Postumius’ ‘de aduentu Aeneae’.

This book must have also contained an account of the death of Aeneas, but there is no surviving indication of its content.

Book II: Ascanius, After his Victory Over Mezentius

Ascanius Received the Name Iulus (OGR, 15: 5)

As noted above, the first citation in the OGR of Book II of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales involves a passage that is set in the immediate aftermath of Ascanius’ victory over Mezentius:

  1. “... the Latins ... believed that, because of his outstanding courage, Ascanius [must have been] descended from Jupiter ... [Therefore], by slightly changing his name to form a diminutive [of Jove, they], first called him Iolus and afterward Iulus.  From him, the Julian family originated, as write Caesar in Book II and Cato in the ‘Origines’”, (OGR, 15: 5).

Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, II: p. 167) translated this as F11 of the fragments of Cato’s ‘Origines’.  He observed (at III; p. 71) that:

  1. “The difficulty here, as in all cases where two authors are cited, is to decide which elements of the text comes from [which author]”, and which from both.”

However, he cautioned that, in the case, the author of the OGR:

  1. “... implies that Caesar and Cato said the same things.”

The ‘things’ in question are that:

  1. the reason for Ascanius’ new name, Iulus, and the related claim that it was derived from a diminutive of Jove; and

  2. he was the founder of the Julian clan.

I discuss the attribution of each of these elements below, but in the reverse order.

Iulus Founded the Julian Clan

Attributed to Lucius ?

A body of surviving evidence indicates that, by the time that Lucius was writing, the family tradition of the Julii had claimed descent from Aeneas and Iulus for decades.  This evidence includes the two coins mentioned in the family tree at the top of the page, each of which depicted Venus, divine mother of Aeneas, on the reverse, which were issued (respectively) by

  1. Sextus Julius Caesar (praetor of 123 BC and Lucius’ grandfather) in 129 BC (RRC 258/1):

  2. Lucius Julius Caesar (consul of 90 BC, Lucius’ father) in 103 BC (RRC 320/1).

Front and back of the inscribed altar from Bovillae (CIL XIV 2387)

Adapted from S. Weinstock (referenced below, at p. 8)

The evidence also includes an inscription (CIL XIV 2387) on an altar that was discovered at Bovillae (which was probably near the now-unknown site of Alba Longa): the EAGLE database (see the CIL link), for example, dates the inscription to the period 150-75 BC, on the basis of ‘palaeography, language [note, for example, the doubled vowels] and archeology’).  It reads:

Vediovei Patrei/ genteiles Iuliei/ Ved〚- - -〛 aara (front)

leege Albana dicata (back)

Mary Beard and her colleagues (referenced below, at p. 17) translated this as:

Members of the Julian clan to Father Vediovis/ Altar for Vediovis/ Dedicated by Alban Law

The altar was discovered during excavations that were commissioned by Vincenzo Colonna in 1826, ‘in an external corner of the scena of the theatre, wedged between the floor of large stones' (which was not its original location) and is now in the garden of Palazzo Colonna, Rome.  Beard et al. (as above) commented that, in this inscription:

  1. “... the Julii, acting as a clan, record a dedication or sacrifice  to the god Vediovis.  It seems likely that Vediovis represented, at least for the Julii, the divine form of their [alleged] founder, Iulus, for it was a Latin tradition that founders [of clans or cities] took on a new name when they were deified: so [for example]: Romulus became the god Quirinus; Aeneas (at least at Lavinium) became Indiges; and Latinus (the founder of the Latins) became Jupiter Latiaris” (my slight change of word order).

Stefan Weinstock (referenced below, pp, 8-10) presented the evidence for his assertion (at p.10) that Vediovis was a young Jupiter (rather than a form of Apollo, as other scholars suggest - see below). Like Beard et al., he concluded (at p. 10) that:

  1. “Vediovis was a youthful Jupiter [and] Iulus was [also] assumed to be [a diminutive of Jove]: the conclusion seems unavoidable that the Julii created the gentilician cult of Vediovis precisely because they believed him to be identical with [the deified] Iulus.”

Thus, we can reasonably assume that Lucius at least alluded to this family tradition at some point in his putative Libri Pontificales

Attributed to Cato ?

On the other hand, it is most unlikely that the claim that the Julii were descended from Iulus should be attributed to Cato.  For example, Cesare Letta (referenced below, at p. 348) argued that:

  1. “... we should exclude in the most categorical way [the possibility] that Cato spoke of the Julii as descendants  of Ascanius and therefore of Aeneas and Venus: it would be an inconceivable abrogation of  the principles [embedded in Cato’s approach], according to which 'duces non appointmentvit, sed sine nominibus res notavit'’ (my translation).

The Latin quotation above is from Cornelius Nepos, who recorded that, in all his accounts of wars in the ‘Origines’, Cato:

  1. “... did not name the leaders, but [instead] related the events without mentioning names” (translated by J. C. Rolfe, referenced below, at p. 287).

On the other hand, Letta stressed throughout his paper that Cato would have known that the Julii claimed divine descent.  He argued (at p.351) that:

  1. “... it is difficult to maintain [as some scholars have done] that, at the time of Cato, the Julii were still too unimportant to be able to make such weighty claims: in fact, it must be remembered that, already in 157 BC (that is precisely in the years in which Cato was probably working  the ‘Origines’), a family member [i.e., Lucius’ great grandfather] had reached the consulate ... after a interval of over a century [in which  no member of the family had held a senior public office]”, (my translation).

He concluded (at pp. 351-2) that:

  1. “If, therefore, Cato spoke of Iulus but not of his bond with the Julii ... , his choice must ... [have] had the polemic intention of refuting these [Julian] claims” (my translation). 

Letta (as above) then pointed to another surviving fragment from the ‘Origines’ (discussed below) in which Cato asserted that Ascanius died childless.  He observed that, in doing so, Cato was unique among the surviving ancient sources in emphasising that the Alban kings did not descend from Ascanius/ Iulus since he had died without leaving an heir.  He noted that, although Cato: 

  1. “... made this statement without even mentioning the Julii, it was sufficient to dismantle all their claims.  [After all], if it is true that, when Cato was writing, the tradition of [the Julian] descent from Aeneas and from the Alban kings was already ... [embedded in Julian family] traditions, it is most unlikely that Cato's statement on the absence of posterity for Ascanius/ Iulus was innocent.  On the contrary, it is the sign of a coherent polemic against every form of noble exaltation, which was, in Cato’s view, the cause of the shifting emphasis [in Roman society] from the general interest of the populus and the res publica to the specific interests of particular clans and their members” (my translation).

Alessandro Barchiesi (referenced below, at p. 6), who had seen Letta’s paper prior to its publication, and apparently agreed with it, argued that:

  1. “... Cato had no intention of validating the idea that the Julii were legitimate descendants of Iulus and so of Jupiter.  In fact, we know  ...  that he pointedly declared that Iulus (like Romulus) died childless. ... [He was thus] a powerful problem for the ‘Aeneid’ [and] a potential source for a non-Julian reading of the Aeneas legend.”

Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, at III: p. 72) also accepted that:

  1. “To endorse the ancestral pretensions of a patrician clan is naturally the last thing that Cato would have done: [and] to deny them by stating that Iulus died childless might have given him pleasure.”

Conclusion: Attribution of the Information that the Julii were descended from Iulus

The most likely scenario is that Cato did not record the ‘fact’ that the gens Julia was descended from Iulus.  If this is accepted (as I think it should be), then the author of the OGR should have made it clear that this claim came from Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales.

Etymology of Iulus


Cesare Letta then argued (at p. 348) that:

  1. “... if it is accepted that Cato did not refer to the genealogy of the Julii, ... it follows that he must have provided the [element of the attributed text in the OGR] that related to Ascanius renaming: [clearly], if neither element was included in his work, then the author of the OGR could not have cited it [at line 15: 5].  It follows that Cato was the source of the etymology of Iulus as a diminutive of the name of Jupiter (*Iouilos> Ioulus> Iulus) ... Moreover, the etymology of Jupiter per diminutionem is of a type that we know was practiced by Cato, who ... made a wide use of etymologies in the ‘Origines’” (my translation).

Alessandro Barchiesi (referenced below) found support for this attribution from his analysis of the part that Virgil later assigned to Jupiter in the ‘Aeneid’.  He began by pointing out (at p. 1) that it was Jupiter who (in his prophecy to his daughter Venus, Ascanius’ grandmother) conjured up ... an image of:

  1. “... the boy Ascanius, to whom the extra name ‘Iulus’ is given: he was called ‘Ilus’ while the Ilain [Trojan] state stood firm with its kingdom”, (‘Aen’, 1: 267).

He pointed out:

  1. at p. 1, that, coming from Jupiter:

  2. “We should rather view the sentence as ‘performing’ [rather than simply foretelling] the change of name under the authority of Jupiter”; and

  3. at p. 3:

  4. “It takes Jupiter’s voice to conjure up and guarantee the presence of Iulus in the narrative.”

Brachiesi argued (at p. 6) that:

  1. “This [putative Catonian etymology] could be a worthy intertext for Jupiter’s declaration and performance of name change: Virgil’s Jupiter is allowing Iulus ... to appropriate his own name, and to start [at least potentially, a] new blood line in Italy under a name that means ‘little Jupiter’”.

In short, then, there is no reason to doubt that Cato was the original source of this etymology. 

This time, it is the situation in relation to Lucius that is more complicated: as we shall see below, one of the Virgilian commentaries cites Lucius Caesar in relation to two completely different derivations of the cognomen Iulus.   Of course, it is possible that, at various points in his work, Lucius discussed a number of possible etymologies, only three of which have come down to us.  Since ‘Vediovis’, the god of a private Julian cult, could be considered to be a young Jupiter, there is no reason why he would not have included and cited Cato’s etymology in his putative Libri Pontificales.

A number of scholars have pointed out that one way of explaining:

  1. Lucius’ apparent etymological indecision or inconsistency in relation to his own family name; and

  2. the fact that Cato would not have given credence to the divine descent of the Julii;

is to assume that the author of the OGR took:

  1. the derivation of Iulus from *Iouilos (the diminutive of Iove) from Cato’s ‘Origines’; and

  2. the claim that Ascanius Iulus was the founder of the the gens Julia from Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales. 

However, Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, at III: p. 71) noted that:

  1. “... this is a contrived interpretation of [the OGR text], which actually implies that Caesar and Cato said the same things. ... On the substantive point, it should be stressed that the two parts of the [OGR] passage are connected, in that speculation about the name Iulus is inevitably linked to the ancestral claims of the gens Julia.”

We might usefully consider what can be gleaned from the likely working methods of the now-anonymous 4th century author.  In his general commentary on the OGR as a citing authority, Cornell argued (at I: p. 99) that:

  1. “It is probable that ... [he] did not himself set eyes on any of the texts he cites, but copied the references at second hand from an intermediate source that relied on an antiquarian work of an Augustan date, plausibly identified by  ... [inter alia] B. W. Frier as Verrius Flaccus ... [This might well explain, inter alia], the author’s habit of citing two or more sources at once, [thereby raising] the problem of deciding ... what exactly is being attributed to each.  A notorious case is [at OGR] 15: 5 ...”

The reference here to the work of Verrius Flaccus is from Bruce Frier (referenced below, summarised at p. 44):

  1. “As the evidence [discussed at pp. 41-4] suggests, ... it is quite probable that the [OGR]  is, in the main, excerpted from a work of Verrius Flaccus or from some intermediate source; ...”.

Frier also noted (at pp. 51-2) that the many citations in the OGR of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales suggest that this was:

  1. “... a work covering Roman pre-history in more or less chronological order and from an antiquarian point of view.  So closely does the work appear to resemble the [OGR] and so often is it cited therein that [it] must have been a major source for the [central paragraphs of the OGR], even if indirectly.”

If we take all these observations into account, it seems to me that the most likely scenario is that:

  1. Cato, in his ‘Origines’, was the original source for the derivation of Iulus from *Iouilos;

  2. Lucius started Book II of his putative Libri Pontificales with the renaming of Iulus, citing Cato for the etymology, and added the claim that he was the founder of the gens Julia; and

  3. the author of the OGR followed Lucius (directly or via an intermediary), and gave both citations.

However, this needs to be considered further in the light of the citation of Lucius Caesar in this context in one of the Virgilian commentaries.

Virgilian Commentaries and Lucius’ Derivation of the Name Iulus

Lucius is cited in relation to the derivation of ‘Iulus’ in the later of two surviving ‘Servian’ commentaries on Virgil’s ‘Aeneid‘ (in the only surviving fragment of his ‘secular’ work outside the OGR). 

  1. The earliest of these commentaries, which is designated ‘S’, is attributed to Servius (Maurus Servius Honoratus) and dates to the 4th century AD. 

  2. The other, which dates to ca. 700 AD and which incorporated and expanded on the earlier work, is known as Servius Auctus or Servius Danielis (‘DS’), from Pierre Daniel, who first published it in 1600.   Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 27) observed that DS:

  3. “... is not only more precise [than S] in its references [to the early sources for Virgil’s information, but] also contain a greater number of such citations.”

Both S and DS comment on Virgil’s phrase:

  1. “The boy Ascanius, surnamed Iulus ...”, (‘Aen’, 1: 267).

Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, II: p. 159) translated the common first part of the commentary in S and DS  as F6a of the fragments of Cato’s ‘Origines’:

  1. “According to Cato, this much of the [Romans’ traditional stories of their Trojan origins] can be believed:

  2. Aeneas came to Italy with his father [Anchises].

  3. Because of a raid on their territory, they fought a battle against Latinus and Turnus in which Latinus died. 

  4. Turnus then fled to [the Etruscan king] Mezentius, and renewed hostilities with his help. 

  5. Both Aeneas and Turnus were killed [in these hostilities].

  6. The war passed to Ascanius and Mezentius, but they fought in single combat”, (S and DS, ‘ad Aen’, 1: 267).

Cornell pointed out (at III, p. 69) that, in this passage:

  1. “... Servius offers what amounts to a précis of [what purports to be] Cato’s account of the wars in Latium between the Trojans and the native people, and of the role of Ascanius in them.”

Fortunately, this part of the commentary is not relevant to the present discussion: however, as Cornell pointed out (at III, at p. 67), it is inconsistent in a number of respects with other citations from Cato’s account, perhaps because it has been :

  1. “... contaminated by the influence of the Virgilian narrative.”

More interestingly for the present discussion, S and DS then diverged: 

  1. “And, when Mezentius had been killed, Ascanius began to be called Iulus, from his downy beard, which grew on him at the time of his victory” (S).

  2. “And, when Mezentius had been killed, Ascanius (as Lucius Caesar writes) began to be called Iulus:

  3. either as if [he was] iobolos (skilled in archery); or

  4. from the first down of his beard, which the Greeks call ioulos and which [appeared] at the time of his victory” (DS).

Timothy Cornell (at III: at p. 71) observed that:

  1. “... the explanation [at OGR 15: 5] of the name of Iulus as a diminutive of Jupiter is incompatible with those given by DS ad Aen, 1: 267, which probably [both] derive from Caesar but not from Cato.”

The situation in S is more complicated: as Timothy Cornell (at III: at p. 69) noted, while the main passage is unambiguously attributed  to Cato [in S and DS]:

  1. “In the further comment [in S] on Ascanius’ nickname Iulus [i.e., that it meant ‘he of the downy beard’], it is not certain that Cato is still the source.”

However, Cesare Letta (referenced below, at p. 347) was in no doubt:

  1. “... the comparison between the testimony of [S, which] cites only Cato, and that of DS, which mentions both Cato also L. Caesar, clearly shows that the etymology [ioulos, downy beard] was from Cato but [the etymology [iobolos, skilled in archery] was not.  [The latter], which is reported only by DS, must therefore be attributed exclusively to L. Caesar.  Evidently Servius only selected the material present in the source that he considered most authoritative (i.e. Cato), while [DS] also [included] the [etymology] from L. Caesar”, (my translation).

There is a link between Cato’s derivation of Iulus from *Iouilos (the diminutive of Iove) and the etymology ioulos (he of the downy beard): the beard in question manifested itself after Ascanius’ bravery marked him out as the young Jupiter.  However, if Cato’s ‘Origines’ gave both etymologies (‘young Jupiter’ or ‘he of the downy beard’), then why did the OGR refer to only the first of these and S refer only to the second ?  I think that is more likely that Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales gave both etymologies, and attributed the first to Cato.

Lucius’ Derivations of Ascanius’ New Name: Overall Conclusions

We must now confront the apparent inconsistencies in Lucius’ etymologies of name of the deified founder of his clan:

  1. based on the analysis above of OGR, 15: 5, I concluded that Lucius started Book II of his putative Libri Pontificales with the renaming of Iulus, citing Cato for its etymology *Iouilos (young Jupiter); while

  2. based on the analysis above of DS ad Aen., 1: 267, I concluded that DS attributed two etymologies to Lucius Caesar himself: ioulos (he of the downy beard) and iobolos (he who is skilled in archery). 

It is, of course, possible that Lucius included all three etymologies in his his putative Libri Pontificales, with the first one attributed to Cato.  However, I suggest below that the citations in DS ad Aen., 1: 267 more probably came from a separate (probably later) work.  [In a section below, I discuss the possibility that this putative later work dealt with Trojan genealogies among Roman families (as did broadly contemporary works by Varro, Hyginus and Horace).] 

Aftermath of Ascanius’ Victory over Mezentius (OGR, 16: 4)

According to the OGR, after Ascanius’ definitive victory over Mezentius:

  1. “... Lavinia [his stepmother], having been left pregnant by Aeneas, fled to the woods and to the master of her father's flock, Tyrrhus, as if [she was] in fear of Ascanius ... There, she bore a son who (from the nature of the place) was called Silvius.  [As a result of her sudden disappearance from Lavinium], a crowd of Latins, thinking that Ascanius had secretly killed her, kindled great ill-will towards him to such a degree that it threatened him with violence”, (OGR, 16: 1-2).

We then come to the next citation of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales:

  1. “Then, Ascanius attempted to clear himself by means of an oath [and, when that had no effect, he offered] enormous rewards to anyone who found Lavinia for him.  Soon, she was found [having given birth in the woods].  Ascanius brought her back to Lavinium with her son and showed her the affection and honour due to a mother.  This restored the goodwill of the people towards him, as Caius Caesar and Sextus Gellius in origine gentis Romanae write”, (OGR, 16: 3-4).

Interestingly, the author of the OGR recorded (at 16: 5) another version of these events by unnamed authors that put Ascanius in a poorer light: in this version, Tyrrhus himself returned Lavinia and her son to Lavinium, but only after he had received a pledge that guaranteed their safety.

The praenomen that the author of the OGR gave to each of the two cited authors is problematic:  

  1. As discussed above, ‘Caius’ is probably a mistake, and this citation should almost certainly related to Lucius Caesar.

  2. John Briscoe (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, III: p. 237) pointed out that:

  3. “There are no other citations to Gellius in the OGR, ... and Sex. Gellius is [otherwise unknown, while the well-known Cnaeus Gellius] would have dealt with Ascanius ...”

  4. He therefore translated these lines (at II: p. 375) with these emended praenomina as a fragment (F19) of the work of Cnaeus Gellius.  He also pointed out (at III: 237) that:

  5. “... [both] Gellius and Caesar must have narrated the [entire chain of] events that led to the restoration of popular goodwill towards Ascanius.”

In other words, it is highly likely that the author of the OGR originally attributed all of the information in 16: 3-4 to both Lucius Caesar and Cnaeus Gellius. 

Briscoe pointed out (at I, pp. 252-3) that one surviving fragment of Gellius’ work related to the events of 146 BC, which thus gives a terminus post quem for his work.  He therefore suggested that this Gellius  might have been the moneyer Cnaeus Gellius, who issued  a set of four coins (RRC 232/ 1-4) in 138 BC.  If so, then it is at least possible that Lucius had cited Cnaeus Gellius as the source of this information,  in which case the author of the OGR would have derived his information from Lucius and provided both citations.

Ascanius’ Foundation of Alba Longa and the Trojan Penates (OGR, 17: 3)  

Prior Events: Foundation of Lavinium

The author of the OGR now returned to the pregnant white sow that had previously led Aeneas to the pre-destined site for Lavinium by giving birth to 30 piglets on this sacred spot (see OGR, 11: 3 above).  The association of Lavinium with both the Trojan penates and the omen of the sow and her 30 piglets in Roman tradition can, in fact, be traced back to Cato, in ca. 150 BC.   The author of the OGR had already cited Book II of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales in the context of this Catonian tradition.  The key text is corrupt in the surviving manuscripts, but I suggested the following completion:

  1. “... after the sow had given birth, Aeneas:  “... took the auspices and †then marked out the boundary of the new city.  To honour his wife, the daughter of Latinus† he called it Lavinium.  So writes Caesar in Book I and Lutatius in Book II”, (OGR, 11: 1-3). 

30 Years Later: Foundation of Alba Longa

Immediately after his account of Lavinia’s return from the woods to Lavinium, the author of the OGR returned to the myth of the pregnant white sow and her 30 piglets:

  1. “... when thirty years had been completed in Lavinium, Ascanius (having thought from the number of piglets that the white sow had borne that the time for the foundation of a new city had arrived),  ...  examined a [nearby] mountain  ... [on which he] established a fortified city.  He named it Longa from the form of the sow, because she had stretched out so far in length, and Alba, from her colour”, (OGR, 17: 1).

Although he provided no citation here, he was clearly still following the Catonian tradition.

We then come to the next citation of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales: when Ascanius:

  1. “... transferred the images of the Trojan household gods [to Alba Longa], they appeared [back] at Lavinium on the following day.  They were taken back to Alba and put under guard but, as before, they returned to their former home at Lavinium.  As a result, no-one dared to remove them a third time, as is written in:

  2. Book IV of the annals of the Pontifs (‘Annales Maximi’);

  3. Book II of Cincius;

  4. [Book II of] Caesar; and

  5. Book I of Tubero”, (OGR, 17: 1-3).

This fragment from the OGR is included in “The Fragments of the Roman Historians” edited by  T. J. Cornell (referenced below) as:

  1. F1 of the Annales Maximi (at II: p.19);

  2. F7, a possible fragment of Lucius Cincius Alimentus (at II: p.117); and

  3. F2 of Lucius and Quintus Aelius Tubero (at II: p. 749).

Dionysius of Halicarnassus gave an interesting account of these events from which it is clear that the Trojan household gods remained at Lavinium in his own time (ca.7 BC): after they had miraculously returned to Lavinium for the second time, the people of Alba Longa decided:

  1. “... to let the images remain where they were and to conduct men back from Alba to Lavinium to live there and take care of them.  600 men were sent [duly] to Lavinium to have charge of their rites ... and Aegestus was appointed their chief.  As for these gods, the Romans call them Penates. ...  Concerning their figure and appearance, the historian Timaeus [of Tauromenium in Sicily] says that he learned from the inhabitants [of Lavinium] that the sacred objects preserved in the sanctuary [there] are iron and bronze caducei (heralds' wands) and a Trojan earthenware vessel.  For my part, ... I am indignant with those that presume to inquire into or to know more than what is permitted by law”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 67: 2-4).

Thus, although the date of the Annales Maximi is unknown (see John Briscoe, in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, at I: p. 156), the tradition of the presence of the Roman Penates at Lavinium certainly dated back at least to the time of Timaeus (ca. 300 BC).

The identification of the ‘Cincius’ cited here is, in fact, open to debate (see Edward Bispham and Timothy Cornell, in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, at III: p. 65):

  1. If he was, indeed, the historian Lucius Cincius Alimentus (a contemporary of Fabius Pictor), then he was the earliest of the three relatively securely-dated sources above.  It is thus possible that he was the earliest of the Roman historians to combine Timaeus, record of the Roman Penates at Lavinium with Fabius’ Pictor’s account of the white sow and her 30 piglets and the foundation of Alba Longa. 

  2. However, Bruce Frier (referenced below, at p. 51) argued that he was:

  3. “... undoubtedly Lucius Cincius, an antiquarian of the late 1st century BC”

  4. In this scenario, then the three relatively securely-dated sources above were broadly contemporary with each other.

Death of Ascanius and the Alban Succession


There is no sign that the author of the OGR made use of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificales in his narrative of the death of Ascanius/ Iulus and his immediate succession.  The relevant passage, which follows immediately after the foundation of Alba Longa, is as follows:

  1. “... after Ascanius [i.e. Ascanius Iulus, the founder of the gens Julia] had departed from life, a disagreement arose between his son, [who was also called] Iulus and Silvius Postumus [his half-brother] ... , concerning succession to the rule, since it was doubtful whether Aeneas' son or grandson was preferable.  When a debate about this matter had been permitted, Silvius was declared king by the whole people.  All his descendants had the cognomen Silvius and ruled Alba until the foundation of Rome, as has been written in Book IV of the Annals of the Pontifs”, (OGR, 17: 4-5).

John Briscoe  (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, at III: p. 3) argued that the whole of this passage should probably be attributed to Book IV of the ‘Annales Maximi’.  Interestingly, this version tells us nothing about the fate of the younger Ascanius Iulus, who was the fi

Cato’s Origines

As mentioned above, a variant tradition for the Alban succession (in which Ascanius Iulus died childless) is recorded attributed to Cato in the Virgilian commentaries (both S and DS): commenting on Virgil’s phrase:

  1. “That youth [Silvius], ... who leans on a plain spear ...”, (‘Aen’, 6: 760).

S/ DS first summarised the story of Lavinia’s flight from Lavinium and the subsequent birth of her son, Silvius, and then continued:

  1. “Although Ascanius burned with jealousy he [recalled] his stepmother and left [Lavinium] to her: .. for himself, he founded Alba.  Then, since he died without children, he left his realm to Silvius, who was also called Ascanius .... Subsequently, all the Alban kings were called Silvii from his name”, (translation by Timothy Cornell, in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, II: p. 163).

In his commentary on this passage (at III; 70), Cornell summarised:

  1. “According to this fragment, Cato believed that both sons [of Aeneas, the first by Creusa and the second by Lavinia] were called Ascanius [and that]:

  2. Alba was founded by one ([Ascanius], son of Creusa, who was also called Iulus); and

  3. [when he died childless], the Alban dynasty [was founded by] the other (the son of Lavinia, also called Silvius).

  4. This probably represents an attempt to reconcile two originally distinct traditions relating to the foundation of  Alba and the Alban dynasty]:

  5. one of which made Ascanius Iulus the founder; and

  6. the other of which [related to] an indigenous founder called Silvius.”

In the passage that I omitted  from the penultimate sentence, in which S/ SD observed that:

  1. “... consequently, there is uncertainty in Livy [1: 3: 2-3] about which Ascanius founded Alba.”

According to Livy, after Aeneas’s death, Lavinia (as regent) preserved:

  1. “... the Latin State and the kingdom of [Ascanius’] father and grandfather were preserved unimpaired for her [young] son”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 3: 1). 

Livy then outlined the variant sources:

  1. “I will not discuss the question of whether the man whom the Julian house claim, under the name of Iulus, as the founder of their name, was this Ascanius [the son of Lavinia] or an older one, born of Creusa, whilst Ilium was still intact and, after its fall, a sharer in his father's fortunes (for who could speak decisively about a matter of such extreme antiquity ?).  In any case, it is generally agreed that this Ascanius [whether he was the son of Lavinia and born in Italy or the son of Creusa and born in Ilium] was the son of Aeneas and left to his mother/ stepmother the city of Lavinium (which was for those days a prosperous and wealthy city, with a superabundant population).  He built a new city at the foot of the Alban hills [for himself], which was called Alba Longa (from its position, stretching along the side of the hill)”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 3: 2-3).

He added that:

  1. “Ascanius was succeeded by his son Silvius, who by some chance had been born in the forest”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 3: 7).

Book II: Alban Kings

Alban Kings (OGR, 18: 5)

Viktor Susnyak (referenced below) has produced lists of the dozen or so named kings of Alba Longa from the death of Silvius until the death of Silvius Proca (the grandfather of Romulus and Remus).  The OGR reproduced a much shorter list:

  1. Latinus Silvius  (17: 6);

  2. Tiberius Silvius (18: 1), citing Lucius Cincius in Book I and Lutatius in Book III;

  3. Aremulus Silvius (18: 2-4), citing Book IV of the Annals, Book II of the Epitomes of Piso, the Epitomes of Aufidius, and Book I of Domitius;

  4. Aventinus Silvius (18: 5), citing Book II of Lucius Caesar ;

  5. Silvius Procas (19:1).

The surviving sources agree that later kings of Alba Longa had the name Silvius.  Some record that they were, none the less, descended from Ascanius.  For example, according to Livy, Ascanius was succeeded by his son:

  1. “Silvius... , [who was] born, as it chanced, in the forest.  He begat Aeneas Silvius, and he Latinus Silvius.  ... Thereafter the cognomen Silvius was retained by all who ruled at Alba”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 3: 7-8).

Others record they not were descend not from Ascanius but from his step-brother Silvius.   For example, according to Festus:

  1. “Silvii: The name of the Alban kings, after [Silvius], the son of Lavinia, who was pregnant [with him] when Aeneas died.  Afraid for her own life and that of her unborn child, she gave birth to him while hiding in the woods.  After the death of Ascanius, [Silvius] was chosen [to succeed him] in preference to Iulus, the son of his half brother [Ascanius], when they contended for the kingdom”, (‘de Verborum Significatu’, 460L, my translation)

We might reasonably assume that Lucius Julius Caesar would have agreed with Livy that Ascanius‘ line survived his death, but there in no surviving record of his version of events.  All we know is that, according to this line in the OGR, the subsequent Silvian kings of Alba included: 

  1. “... Aventinus Silvius ..., [who] was struck down and buried at the foot of the mountain to which he gave his name, as Lucius Caesar writes in Book II.”

Romulus and Remus Rescued from the Tiber, (OGR 20: 3) 

The last explicit citation of ‘Caesar’ relates to the fate of the twins borne by the priestess Rhea Silvia, who were cast into the Tiber on the orders of the wicked King Amulius.  A swineherd Faustulus discovered them in a basket that had become stuck to a fig tree on the river bank below the Palatine, where a she-wolf was suckling them.  Faustulus:

  1. “... lifted them up, and gave them to Acca Larentia, his wife, for raising, as Ennius in Book I and Caesar in Book II write”, (OGR 20: 3) 

The reading of ‘Ennius’ in the surviving manuscripts is uncertain, but (for example):

  1. Christopher Smith (referenced below, at p. 103 and p. 119) accepted it; and

  2. Sander Goldberg and Gesine Manuwald (referenced below, at p. 115) included this fragment as T7 in the new Loeb edition of the surviving fragments from Ennius’ ‘Annals’.

Ambush of Romulus (OGR, 22. 2)

A final citation of the libri Pontificalium relates to an event that took place at the Lupercalia:

  1. “...  in Book II of ‘Pontifical Matters’, it is reported that Amulius sent men to abduct Remus, a shepherd of flocks.  Since they did not dare to use force on him, [they ambushed him as he was leaving]: some of them pretended to play a kind of game [that involved] a stone used for weighing wool: they had to pick the stone up with their teeth with their hands tied behind their backs, and carry it as far as possible.  [It is reported that] then Remus, confident of his strength, had wagered that he could bear it as far as the Aventine. Then, after he had allowed himself to be bound, [it is reported] that he was dragged to Alba.  After Romulus had  ... [deposed] Amulius... , [it is reported that] his brother was freed from bonds, and his grandfather restored to kingly power.”, (OGR, 22. 2)

As Christopher Smith (referenced below, 2005, at p. 119), the ambush and rescue of Remus is described by other sources (Livy, ‘History of Rome’, 1: 5: 2-3; Dionysius, ‘’Roman Antiquities’, 1: 81; and Plutarch, ‘Life of Romulus’, 7: 1-3), the details in the OGR are otherwise unknown.

In Construction from this point


  1. “Upon the death of Aeneas his son Ascanius ascended the throne and, after 30 years, founded a settlement on the hill and gave the city the name of Alba after the colour of the sow; for the Latins call what is white alba.  Ascanius also added another name, Longa, which translated means ‘the long’, since the city was narrow in width and of great length. ... [He] made Alba the capital of his kingdom and subdued no small number of the settlements round about; and he became a famous man and died after a reign of 38 years", (‘Library of History’, 7: 5: 6-7)

Diodorus, when Ascanius died”

  1. “... there arose a division among the people, because two men who were contending  ...for the throne;

  2. Iulius, since he was the [oldest surviving ?] son of Ascanius, maintained that he should succeed his father; while

  3. Silvius, the brother of Ascanius and, furthermore, a son of Aeneas by Lavinia, the daughter of Latinus (whereas Ascanius was a son of Aeneas by his first wife [Creusa], who had been a woman of Ilium] maintained that the kingdom now belonged to him.

  4. Indeed, after Aeneas' death, Ascanius had plotted against the life of Silvius; and it was while the latter, as a child, was being reared by certain herdsmen on a mountain (because of this plot) that he came to be called Silvius ... Silvius finally received the vote of the people and gained the throne. Iulius, however, though he lost the supreme power, was made pontifex maximus and became a kind of second king; and from him we are told, was sprung the Julian gens, which exists in Rome even to this day", (‘Library of History’, 7: 5: 8)

Augustan Sources


Livy (who was probably writing in ca. 27 BC) was aware of the separate traditions espoused by Cato and by Lucius Julius Caesar:

  1. “I will not discuss the question of whether the man Iulus, whom the Julian house claim as the founder of their name, was  ... [Ascanius, the older son of Aeneas of his brother Silvius, who later took his name] for, who could speak decisively about a matter of such extreme antiquity ?  In any case, it is generally agreed that this Ascanius (where ever he was born and of whatever mother) was the son of Aeneas, and that his mother (or his stepmother) left him the city of Lavinium, which was for those days a prosperous and wealthy city, with a superabundant population, and built a new city at the foot of the Alban hills ...[that] was called Alba Longa”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 3: 2-3).

Dionysius of Halicarnassus

Dionysius, whose book was published in 7 BC, followed (or, more probably, invented) yet another variant:

  1. “Upon the death of the Ascanius [Aeneas’ oldest son] in the 38 year of his reign, Silvius, his brother, succeeded to the rule ... though not without a contest with one of the sons of Ascanius, [particularly] Iulus, the eldest, who claimed the succession to his father's rule.  The issue was decided by vote of the people, who were influenced chiefly by this consideration, among others: that Silvius' mother was heiress to the kingdom.  [Silvius therefore succeeded her and], instead of the sovereignty, a certain sacred authority and honour was conferred on Iulus.  This prerogative was enjoyed, even to my day, by his posterity, who were called Julii after him.  This house became the greatest and at the same time the most illustrious of any we know of, and  produced the most distinguished commanders, whose virtues were so many proofs of their nobility”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 70: 3-4).

In other words, according to Dionysius, Iulus was the oldest son of Ascanius and grandson of Aeneas.  He never became king of Alba Longa, but he enjoyed ‘a certain sacred authority and honour’ that remained the prerogative of the gens Julia even at the time of writing.

As Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at pp. 21-2) pointed out, Roman aristocratic families often claimed descent for mythical figures, including Greek heroes such as Odysseus (the Mamilii) and Hercules (the Fabii).  Other families besides the Julii claimed Trojan ancestry, but:

  1. “What distinguished the Julii was their claim to be related to Aeneas himself and [thus] to Venus, [the Roman equivalent of Greek Aphrodite, whom Homer had identified as Aeneas’ mother].”

The Julii had been advertising a connection with Venus since at least 60 years by the time that Caesar made the speech above, as evidenced by a silver denarius (RRC 258/1) issued in 129 BC by Sextus Julius Caesar (praetor of 123 BC): this coin had the head of Roma on the obverse but, on the reverse, Venus drove in a biga and behind her, cupid place a crown on her head.  However, as Erskine pointed out (at p. 21), this might have simple claimed her protection, which would have implied the family’s Trojan origins but  not necessarily their divine descent. 

Northwood suggested that the author of the OGR might have been following a source or sources that had also also used by Dionysius of Halicarnassus for the information in line 3.  In fact, it seems to me that  this might well have been the case for 14: 5 and 15: 1-4.  I dealt with the case of 14: 5 above.  In the case of the other four lines, the relevant lines from Dionysius are as follows:

  1. “At this time the Trojans were undergoing a siege; the forces of the enemy were increasing daily, and the Latins were unable to assist those who were shut up in Lavinium.  Ascanius and his men, therefore, first invited the enemy to a friendly and reasonable accommodation, but when no heed was paid to them, they  were forced to allow their enemies to put an end to the war upon their own terms”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 65: 1-2, reflected in OGR 15:1). 

  2. “When, however, ... among other intolerable conditions that he imposed upon them... Mezentius] commanded them to bring to the Etruscans every year all the wine the country of the Latins produced, they looked upon this as a thing beyond all endurance and, following the advice of Ascanius, they voted that the fruit of the vine should [instead] be consecrated to Jupiter”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 65: 2, reflected in OGR 15: 2).

  3. “Then, ... praying the gods to assist them in their dangerous enterprise, they ... sallied out of the city ...  The Latins [took the Etruscan camp under cover of darkness and many of the fleeing Etruscans mistakenly killed comrades in the panic that followed] ... ”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 65: 2-4, reflected in OGR 15: 3).

  4. Mezentius, with a few of his men, seized a hill but, when he learned of the fate of his son and of the numbers he had lost, ... he sent heralds to Lavinium to treat for peace.  And since Ascanius advised the Latins to husband their good fortune, Mezentius obtained permission to retire under a truce with the forces he had left; and, from that time, laying aside all his enmity with the Latins, he was their constant friend”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 65: 5, reflected in OGR 15: 3-4).

The main difference between the two accounts is that the author of the OGR lays more emphasis

The Augustan fasti Capitolini record that Caius Julius Jul(l)us, son of Caius and grandson of Lucius was consul in 482 BC.

According to Arnaldo Momigliano (referenced below. at pp. 71-2), in the OGR :

  1. “Three facts have emerged in the course of [the above analysis]:

  2. there is a difference between the first and the second part of the [ORG];

  3. certain features of the structure of the second part of the [ORG] are similar to Dionysius [of Halicarnassus], Book I; and

  4. the attempts to prove the forgery of the references to pre-Augustan writers in the second part of the [ORG] are not convincing.  Both the structure and the individual references of the second part of the [ORG] suggest that it goes back to sources of the Augustan age.  The difficulty is to define the nature of these sources and their relationship to the [ORG].  Personally, I consider it probable that, in the second part of the [ORG], we have a free re-elaboration of a book written under Augustus or Tiberius, which contained the references to early writers.  ... But, of course, it is useless to suggest a specific name for the ultimate source of the [ORG].   In the past, Asconius Pedianus and Verrius Flaccus have been mentioned as possible authors or likely sources of the [ORG].  More recently , [Lucius Julius Caesar], consul 64 BC and author of 'Libri Pontificales', has been chosen for the same role.  All these suggestions are frivolous and, in the case of a pre-Augustan author such as L. Caesar, intrinsically improbable.”

Read more:

M. Crawford, “Roman Republican Coinage”, (2019) Cambridge

R. B. Rutherford (translator), “Homer: Iliad, Book 18)”, (2019) Cambridge

S. M. Goldberg and G. Manuwald (eds and translators), “Fragmentary Republican Latin, Volume I: Ennius: Testimonia: Epic Fragments”, (2018) London

V. Susnyak, “The Kings of Alba Longa’, (2018) online

J. Neel, “Early Rome: Myth and Society: a Sourcebook”, (2017) Hoboken NJ

A. Barchiesi, “Jupiter the Antiquarian”, in:

  1. R. Hunter and S. Oakley (Eds), “Latin Literature and its Transmission”, (2015) Cambridge and New York. at pp. 1-9

D. Chatterton, “The Hercules-Cacus Episode, Virgil's Gaze and the Ideal Hero: Roman Identity”, (2014) thesis from Schreyer Honors College, Pennsylvania State University

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

C. Letta, “Il nome di Iulo e le sue Etimologie in Catone”, in:

  1. R. Ajello et al. (Eds), “Quae Omnia Bella Devoratis’: Studi in Memoria di Edoardo Vineis”, (2010) Pisa, at pp. 345-354

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

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

C. J. Smith, “The Origo Gentis Romanae: Facts and Fictions”, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, 48 (2005) 97-136

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

B. Frier, “Libri Annales Pontificum Maximorum: The Origins of the Annalistic Tradition”, (1999)  Ann Arbor, MI

M. Beard et al. (Eds), “Religions of Rome II: a Sourcebook”, (1998) Cambridge

N. Horsfall, “Stesichorus at Bovillae?”, Journal of Hellenic Studies, 99 (1979) 26-48

A. Drummond, “The Dictator Years”, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 27:4 (1978), 550-72

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

G. N. Knauer, “Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer”, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, 5 (1964) 61-84

A. Momigliano, “Some Observations on the 'Origo Gentis Romanae'”, Journal of Roman Studies, 48:1/2 (1958) 56-73

R. Kent (translator), “Varro: On the Latin Language”, (1938) London

J. C. Rolfe (translator), “Cornelius Nepos: On Great Generals: On Historians”, (1929) London

H. Rushton Fairclough (translator, revised by G. P. Goold) , “Virgil: Aeneid, (Books 7-12)”, (1918) Cambridge, MA

H. Rushton Fairclough (translator, revised by G. P. Goold) , “Virgil: Eclogues; Georgics; Aeneid, (Books 1-6)”, (1916) Cambridge, MA

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