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Descent of the Antiquarian Lucius Julius Caesar

Adapted from Graham Sumner (referenced below, p. 343, Table 1)

Red = my modifications

Ernst Badian (referenced below, at p. 14) argued that the moneyer of RRC 258/1 was the son of the consul of 157 BC

According to Ernst Badian (referenced below, at p. 16), Caesar was born on 12th July 100 BC

Possible censorship of the antiquarian Lucius Julius Caesar in 61 BC is discussed below

See Michael Crawford (referenced below, at pp. 284, 325 and 471 respectively) for the silver denarii issued by:

Sextus Julius Caesar (praetor of 123 BC) in 129 BC (RRC 258/1):

Lucius Julius Caesar (consul of 90 BC) in 103 BC (RRC 320/1); and

Caius Julius Caesar (consul of 59 BC) in 47-46 BC (RRC 458/1)

Lucius Julius Caesar, the consul of 64 BC, is remembered (if he is remembered at all) for the ‘fact’ that he was a distant  cousin of the dictator Caesar.  Strictly speaking, this is not entirely accurate:

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

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

  3. However, if one follows Graham Sumner (above) their great grandfathers were brothers (which, I think, makes them third cousins). 

In practical terms (as we shall see), they were not as ‘distant’ from each other as is often claimed: for convenience, I refer below to the dictator as Caesar tout court, Lucius’ younger cousin.


Early Years

According to Thomas Broughton (referenced below, 1952, at p. 88-90), Lucius began his political career serving as quaestor in the province of Asia in 77 BC (see below).  A few years later, we find him at a banquet that celebrated the inauguration of Lucius Cornelius Lentulus Niger as a flamen Martialis: according to Macrobius, the guest list included (inter alia) his cousin, who already belonged to the pontifical college, and:

  1. “... Lucius Julius Caesar, the augur who installed Lentulus...”’ (‘Saturnalia’, 3: 13: 11, translated by Matthew Dillon and Lynda Garland, referenced below, at p. 61).

The date on which he became an augur is unknown, but Patrick Tansey (referenced below, at p. 244) concluded that the banquet above took place on 22nd August 70 BC: Stefan Weinstock (referenced below, at p. 29) suggested that he was:

  1. “... augur from 88 (or 80) until 40 BC [see below].”

For some time, Lucius out-shone his younger cousin: in 64 BC, he became the third of the three consuls that his branch of the family produced in four generations.  However, as Erich Gruen (referenced below, at p, 23) observed, in 63 BC:

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

In this year, both cousins were appointed to a two-man committee that was charged with bringing the senator Caius Rabirius to trial for perduellio (high treason).  Later that year, Lucius voted for the execution of the Catalinarian conspirators, even though his cousin opposed it and his own brother-in-law, Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura, was among the accused: his sister (who is usually referred to as Julia Antonia because Mark Antony was her son from her first marriage) had married Sura after the death of her first husband.  Lucius was thus very much his own man, and it seems that he served as one of the censors of 61 BC.  The evidence fore this comes in an inscription (AE 1980, 0858) from Delos, which recorded the so-called Lex Gabinia Calpurnia (58 BC), contained a reference (at line 22) to the auction of the right to raise taxes that:

  1. “L. Cae.... conducted for the island of Delos ...’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patron of Ilion (77 - 61 BC) ?

From the brochure ‘The Route of  Aeneas’, (Edremit Municipality and Antandros Excavations)

As Luis Ballesteros Pastor (referenced below, at p. 217) pointed out, because of its place in Greek mythology, Troy (also known as Ilion or Ilium):

  1. “... became an essential point of reference for Greek and non-Greek conquerors who had a desire to re-enact Homeric deeds ... Moreover, ... [from an early date], the sacrifice to Athena Ilias [at the sanctuary there] was a rite considered obligatory for those who wanted to conquer Asia from Europe or vice-versa.”

Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 225) observed that this mythical past was particularly potent for the Romans,  since the Trojan hero Aeneas was believed to have fled from Troy when the Achaeans destroyed the city, and to have finally and literally ‘burned his boats’ after landing in Italy: his subsequent foundation of  a colony at Lavinium in Latium led to the foundation of nearby Alba Longa and (eventually) to the foundation of Rome.   Thus, when the future Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus and his naval commander Caius Livius Salinator visited Ilion in 190 BC as they prepared for the invasion of Asia Minor, they were careful to make the obligatory sacrifice to Athena Ilias.  Nevertheless, Ilion was sacked by the Roman commander Caius Flavius Fimbria during the First Mithridatic War (88-85 BC). 

As noted above, Lucius began his political career serving as quaestor in the province of Asia in 77 BC.  The evidence comes in an inscription (I Ilion 10, edited by Peter Frisch, referenced below), which recorded a:

  1. “Compact and agreement between the cities [of the Koinon of Athena Ilias (Ilian Confederation)] concerning the [financing of the annual] festival: when Demetrios of Ilion, son of Hippodamas, and his colleagues were agonothetes [presidents of the festival] in the ninth year, in the month of Seleukeios as the Ilians reckon [i.e., 77 BC], while the quaestor Lucius Julius Caesar son of Lucius was residing here, the following agreement and compact was made ...”

Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 246) suggested that Lucius would have been in Ilion at this point:

  1. “... offering the confederation advice [on how] to overcome its financial crisis, no doubt just one instance of the economic problems that beset the cities of Asia Minor after [the war].”

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

  1. I Ilion 71 honoured:

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

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

It used to be assumed that this Lucius Julius was the homonymous father of the consul of 64 BC, who served as consul in 90 BC and censor in 89 BC, in which case, his daughter would have been Julia Antonia (see above).  However, as noted above, the consul of 64 BC had almost certainly also served as censor in 61 BC.  Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 247) pointed out that, although there is no surviving evidence that he had a daughter, it is entirely possible that he did, in fact, have at least one, in which case she would also have been called Julia.  Erskine therefore suggested that:

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

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

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

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

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

Career Under Caesar

Lucius’ career was subsequently shaped by that of Caesar, who attained the praetorship and then the consulship as soon as he was eligible, in 61 and 59 BC respectively:  by the time of his consulate, he was working closely in an informal triumvirate with Pompey and Crassus.  He then, at the end of his consulate he was assigned the province of Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum for five years, with a further 5-year extension in 55 BC. Caesar himself (‘de Bello Gallico’, 7:65) mentioned ‘Lucius Caesar’ as a military legate in Gaul in 52 BC. 

Lucius was probably with Caesar in 49 BC,  when the returning army illegally crossed the Rubicon (an action that precipitated civil war}.  Lucius seems to have adopted a low profile in Rome during the war (although his homonymous son joined Pompey’s army).  However, he was pressed into service after Pompey’s death, during Caesar’s second dictatorship (47 BC), when Mark Antony, Caesar’s master of horse, who was governing Italy in Caesar’s absence, found himself facing growing unrest at Rome and a potential mutiny by those of of Caesar’s veterans who were stationed in Campania: according to Cassius Dio:

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

Lucius seems to have been  largely ineffective in this role and was, in any case, increasingly disenchanted with the new régime.  Thus, in  44 BC, Cicero noted that:

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

Final Years

After Caesar’s assassination, Lucius’ support for Cicero led to the enmity of Mark Antony and his consequent proscription in 43 BC under the triumvirs Lepidus, Mark Antony and Octavian:  according to Appian:

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

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

  1. “The mother of Antony [Julia Antonia] gave shelter to her brother Lucius, Antony's uncle, without concealment: he [avoided arrest] for a long time [because] the centurions had respect [for Julia] as the mother of a triumvir.  When they eventually tried to take him by force, she hurried into the forum where Antony was seated with his colleagues, and exclaimed:

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

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

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

Antiquarian Activity

Libri Auspiciorum

Lindsay Driediger-Murphy (referenced below, at p. 29) observed that:

  1. “Several augurs [of the late Republic] are cited as having written about augury or has having expressed opinions on points of augural doctrine ... Examples include Lucius Julius Caesar (probably the consul of 64 BC); C. Claudius Marcellus (pr. 80); M. Valerius Messalla (cos 53); and App. Claudius Pulcher (cos 54, censor 50).”

She listed (at note 107), four such citations relating to Lucius Julius Caesar, the first of which was by Macrobius (who did not give his praenomen, presumably because it would have been well-known  to his readers):

  1. “Julius Caesar, in the 16th book of his libri auspiciorum (books on augury), says that ... a voting assembly cannot be held on a market day”, (‘Saturnalia’, 1: 16: 29).

Thus, an antiquarian ‘Julius Caesar’ wrote a fairly substantial work on augury.  The other three known citations of this work are individually less specific: 

  1. The Latin grammarian Priscian referred to:

  2. a work by Caesar on augury:

  3. Pecus pecoris: Caesar in auguralibus: ‘si sincera pecus erat’”, (‘Institutiones Grammaticae’, 6,: 16: 86); and

  4. L. Caesar as an expert in augury:

  5. L. Caesar: certaeque res augurantur ...”, (‘Institutiones Grammaticae’, 8,: 4: 15)

  6. Festus cited the opinion of ‘Caesar’ on the distinction in rank between pairs of consuls:

  7. “Caesar thought that the consul maior was the man who had the fasces [at a particular point in the consular year] or the man who was elected first ...”, (‘de Verborum Significatu’, 154L). 

  8. This translation is from Roberta Stewart, (referenced below, at pp. 212-3 ), who assumed that this ‘Caesar’ was:

  9. “... the augur L. Julius Caesar (consul of 64 BC) ...”;

  10. and who referred to:

  11. “The augural terminology and the apparently minority opinions of L. Julius Caesar  ...”

Christopher Smith (referenced below, 2010, at p. 263), who reproduced all four of these citations (as his F1-4 and in this order), argued that:

  1. “The most secure citation is Macrobius’ reference to a work on auspices [F1]; this might be the same as the work that Priscian cites in F2, and [F2] is almost certainly the same as the [work] cited by [Priscian] in F3.”

Obviously, the most economical assumption is that all four citations refer to a single work on augury by the long-serving augur, Lucius Julius Caesar, the consul of 64 BC.

Other Citations from an Antiquarian ‘Caesar’

The author of the ‘Origo Gentis Romanae(OGR: Origin of the Roman Race) cited an antiquarian of the gens Julia nine times:

  1. Lucius Caesar (twice);

  2. Caius Caesar (once); and

  3. Caesar tout court (on six occasions).

These citations were ignored for many years because the OGR was thought to be unreliable.  However, Thomas Banchich (at p. ii of the introduction of the translation in the link above) reflected the current view that:

  1. “The [once-prevalent] thesis that the Origo 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.”

Thus, these citations are accepted by modern scholars and were discussed collectively by Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, I: p. 641, appendix A24).  He argued that:

  1. “The likelihood is that all these citations refer to one and the same person (Caius Caesar being a mistake ...), in which case he would be the most frequently cited author in the whole [of the OGR].  Most scholars agree that he was ...  Lucius Julius Caesar, the consul of 64 BC and cousin of the dictator [Julius Caesar] ...” (slightly changed order of phrases).

Christopher Smith (referenced below, 2010, at pp. 261-3) published all nine of these fragments (as F-4-8a and 9-12) along with another (his F8b) from a commentary on Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’ (‘DS, ad Aen’, 1: 267, discussed below) that cites L. Caesar.

Libri Pontificalium

Christopher Smith (referenced below, 2010, at p. 263) pointed out that his F5 (at OGR , 9: 6) cited Caesar’s:

  1. “... Libri Pontificalium, [which] ought to be different [from the work on augury above].”

Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell, referenced below, I: p. 97) observed that this citation:

  1. “... raises the possibility that [Lucius Julius Caesar] may also be the author of the ‘Pontificalium libri’ [that are] cited anonymously [twice in the OGR]: at 7.1 and 22.2.”

If so, then these two passages (which I discuss below) would  bracket the other nine citations of Caesar’s work in the OGR.  Christopher Smith (referenced below, 2010, at p. 263) noted the possibility that:

  1. “ ... the OGR knew only one work [presumably the. Libri Pontificalium] and cited regularly from [it] ...” 

In other words, it is quite possible that:

  1. all of the surviving citations to any of L. Caesar, C. Caesar and Caesar  in the OGR in fact relate to Lucius Julius Caesar, the consul of 64 BC;

  2. all of them came from a single work, his Libri Pontificalium; and

  3. OGR 7.1 and 22.2 also came from this work.

Possible Dates for this Period of Antiquarian Endeavour

From the account above, it seems that Lucius effectively retired from public life when he returned from Gaul to Italy in 49 BC and that, thereafter, his sympathies lay with Cicero and the Republicans, albeit that (unlike most of the leading Republicans) he remained in Rome. 

We might usefully consider how two other Republican intellectuals, Cicero and Varro, fared in the tumult that followed.  They both left Italy to fight for Pompey in 49 BC but abandoned the cause when Pompey himself was killed in the following year.  In April 46 BC, as news reached Rome that Caesar had defeated the last remnants of Pompeian resistance in Africa, they faced the ill-will of both sides and found it expedient to retire from public life.  Thus, each of them needed a new outlet for his talents.  Cicero wrote to  Varro at this time 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, not merely as architects but also as workmen to build up the constitution, let us not refuse to assist, but rather hasten with enthusiasm to the task.  And if, on the other hand, no one will employ us, let us compose and read ‘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” (‘Epistulae ad Familiare’, 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 chronological 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).”

Another good example is the case of Marcus Valerius Messalla Rufus, who, like Lucius, 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 feigned poor health (see above) and began his antiquarian endeavours in response to the prevailing political climate after 49 BC.

Structure of the Putative Libri Pontificalium

As we shall see, the author of the OGR cited:

  1. Book I of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificalium, at 7: 6, 11: 3 and 15:4; and

  2. Book II, at 15: 5, 17: 3, 18: 5, 20: 3 and 22: 2.

The fact that this series is internally coherent obviously supports the hypothesis that all citations under discussion here belonged to a single work.  It also suggests that:

  1. Book I ended with the definitive victory of Ascanius, Aeneas’ son, over the Etruscan king Mezentius; and

  2. Book II began with an account of how, immediately after this victory, Ascanius was given the cognomen Iulus, indicating that he was the founder of the gens Julia.

Book I

Period Before Aeneas’ Arrival in Italy (‘OGR’, 7: 1) 

Only one of the surviving citations of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificalium relates to the period prior to Aeneas’ arrival in Italy.  It follows an account of the myth of Hercules and Cacus attributed to ‘Cassius’:

  1. “At the time when [Evander] was ruling, ... a certain Recaranus, of Greek origin, a

  2. shepherd of huge frame and great strength, who, excelling others in form and courage, was called a Hercules, came to this place.  While his herd were grazing about the Albula [Tiber], Cacus, the slave of Evander, crafty with evil and beyond other things most thieving, stole the cattle of the guest Recaranus and, lest there be any trace, dragged them backwards into the cave.  After the neighbouring regions had been explored and all the hiding-places examined in this way, Recaranus despaired that he would find them.  Nevertheless he bore the loss philosophically and decided to leave the area.  But, when Evander, a man of excellent justice, found out what had happened, he gave the slave for punishment and had the cattle returned.  Then Recaranus dedicated an altar to the Inventor Pater at the foot of the Aventine and called it Ara Maxima... 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) translated the whole of  paragraph 6 as the work of ‘Cassius’, whom he identified as Lucius Cassius Hemina (his F3).  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.”

The OGR then gave an alternative and preferred version from Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificalium:

  1. “But, in truth, it is related in the Libri Pontificalium that Hercules, having been born from Jove and Alcmena, after Geryon had been defeated, leading the noble herd, desirous of introducing to Greece cattle of its kind, came by chance to the locale and, pleased by the rich fodder, in order that his men and cattle be refreshed from the long journey, established a base there for a while.  While they were pasturing in the vale where the Circus Maximus is now, protection having been neglected because it was believed that no one would dare to violate Hercules' property, a certain bandit of the same region, surpassing others in the size of his body and in courage, dragged eight of the cattle away to a cave by the tails so that the theft be less able to be solved by the tracks. And when Hercules, setting out from there, was moving the rest of the herd by accident past the same cave, by chance some of the cattle inside lowed to those passing and the theft was thus detected”, (‘OGR’, 7. 1-3).

Note that, in this version, the ‘Cacus’ character has lost his name and is identified merely as ‘a certain bandit” and, more importantly, his victim is no longer a mere mortal: he is none other than Hercules, son of Jupiter and Alcmena, and the stolen cattle are those that he had stolen from Geryon in order to accomplish his 10th Labour.

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

  1. “Although the events of the myth ...  had been roughly established in the second century by Hemina (that Cacus took the cattle of a foreign visitor who, after their eventual recovery, dedicated an altar in thanks), the characters in it were not yet standardised.  ... [However], by the 1st century BC, [the Greek hero] Hercules had become the obvious choice for the protagonist in the story: he was a strong foreigner whose [very ancient] tradition had him wandering through Italy on his return from Erythia with Geryon's cattle.  Hercules' arrival in Rome with cattle in the context of his own [originally separate] myth made it a simple matter to conflate the two stories ... In other words, his existing story naturally lent itself to incorporation into 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 (as seems likely) this citation referred to Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificalium, then Lucius had embraced this ‘merged’ tradition before them.

How the City of Misenum Acquired its Name (‘OGR’, 9: 6)

Adapted from the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire

This citation is contained in the OGR’s account of Aeneas’ first landing on the coast of Italy.  In the preceding sentence, he had set sail from Delos, where he had married:

  1. “... Lavinia, daughter of Anius, a priest of Apollo, for whom the Lavinian shores [of Italy] were named”, (‘OGR’, 9: 5).

The author of the OGR did not specify his source for this unusual variant: Lavinia was usually the daughter of the Italian King Latinus).  However, according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus:

  1. “...Aeneas called [his colony in Italy - see below] Lavinium, after the daughter of Latinus, according to the Romans' own account; for her name, they say, was Lavinia.  However, according to some of the Greek mythographers, he named it after the daughter of Anius, the king of Delos, who was also called Lavinia; for as she was the first to die of illness at the time of the building of the city and was buried in the place where she died, the city was made her memorial.  She is said to have embarked with the Trojans after having been given by her father to Aeneas at his desire as a prophetess and a wise woman”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 59: 3-4).

We then come to the first explicit citation of ‘Caesar’, which is in the context of the naming of Misenum:

  1. “After having traversed many seas, [Aeneas] was brought to the promontory of Italy that is near Baiae and the lake of Avernus, ... [where] he buried his navigator Misenus, who had been carried off by disease.  They say that the city was called Misenum [in honour of Misenus], as Caesar writes in Book I of his Libri Pontificalium, although he relates that this Misenus was not a navigator but a trumpeter”, (‘OGR’, 9: 6).

The author of the OGR noted that Virgil (‘Aen’, 6: 232-3) seems to have accepted both versions, since he had Aeneas place both an oar and a trumpet on Misenus’ grave, while other authorities: 

  1. “... assert with the author Homer that the use of the trumpet was in Trojan times then still unknown”, (‘OGR’, 9: 8). 

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

  1. “... Misenus ... is probably the trumpeter and certainly the companion of Aeneas, as indeed he is in Virgil (‘Aen’, 6: 164-5).   [However, in Greek sources], he is a companion of Odysseus and is not described as a trumpeter.  He first appears as he is presented by Virgil  ... in the Pontificalia of L. Julius Caesar. ... [It is likely that] he was first described as a trumpeter and a companion of Aeneas in the [works of] the Roman antiquarians.”

It seems to me that we can neither assume nor rule out the possibility that Lucius was the originator of the Roman (as opposed to the Greek) tradition: that Misenus was a trumpeter in Aeneas’ entourage; and that Misenum was so-named in his honour.

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, from the name of his nurse, whom, having been lost, he buried in that very place. But, in truth, Caesar and Sempronius say that Caieta was her cognomen (not her name) and was evidently assigned to her because, at her instigation, the Trojan mothers, through loathing of a long voyage, burned the fleet in that very place: that is to say, the name [Caieta] comes 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.”

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.

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 if Italy until they reached 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 revers 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 Pontificalium, 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 Pontificalium 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 Aeneus  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 OGR also referred to Aeneas’s son as Euryleon at 14: 2 (above).  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).

Ascanius 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 Pontificalium, 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 Pontificalium, where it had probably been attributed to Aulus Postumius.

Book I: Conclusions

The five citations from the OGR discussed above constitute all that survives from Book I of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificalium.  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 Received the Name Iulus (‘OGR’, 15: 5)

As noted above, the first citation in the OGR of Book II of Lucius’ putative Libri Pontificalium 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 Pontificalium

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,i n doing so, Cato was unique among the surviving ancient source 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 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 this argument:

  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 Pontificalium.

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 ‘Aenead’.  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, was a young Jupiter, there is no reason why he would not have included  and cited Cato’s etymology in his putative Libri Pontificalium.

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 Pontificalium. 

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 t... [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 Pontificalium 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 Pontificalium 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. Cesare.  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 Pontificalium 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 Pontificalium 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 Pontificalium, 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 Pontificalium:

  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 Pontificalium 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 Pontificalium: 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 Pontificalium 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).

In Construction from this point

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 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 Laurentia, his wife, for raising, as Ennius in Book I and Caesar in Book II write”, (‘OGR’ 20: 3) 

Sander Goldberg and Gesine Manuwald included this citation of Ennius in the OGR as F7 in the new Loeb edition of  his surviving works (referenced below).

Origins of the Lupercalia, (‘OGR’, 22. 2)


  1. “Therefore, as a result of the actions which we have described above and the divine event which had occurred in the spot which now is called the Lupercal, festive fellows raced about striking with skins of sacrificial victims whomever was approaching them, with the result that they established what is a solemn sacrifice for themselves and for their descendants and separately named their own, Remus the Fabii, Romulus the Quintilii. The name of each of these two survives even now in ceremonies.  But, in truth, in Book II of Pontifical Matters, it is reported that men had been dispatched by Amulius who were to abduct Remus, a shepherd of flocks.  Since they did not dare to use force on him, when, because Remus was then departing, they had obtained an opportune time for themselves for an ambush, some of them pretended to play a kind of game, bearing as far as possible with their hands tied behind their backs a stone by which wool was wont to be weighed, which had been picked up with their teeth”, (‘OGR’, 22. 2)


  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.

Read more:

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

L. Driediger-Murphy, “Roman Republican Augury: Freedom and Control”, (2019) Oxford

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

M. Dillon and L. Garland, “Ancient Rome: Social and Historical Documents from the Early Republic to the Death of Augustus”, (2015, 2nd edition) Oxford and New York)

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

A. Rogerson, “Virgil's Ascanius: Imagining the Future in the Aeneid”, (2017) Cambridge

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

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

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

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

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

E. Badian, “From the Iulii to Caesar”, in

  1. M. Griffin (ed.), “A Companion to Julius Caesar”, (2009) Malden, MA, at pp. 11-22

L. Ballesteros Pastor, “Troy: Between Mithradates and Rome”, in

  1. J.M. Højte (ed.), “Mithridates VI Eupator and the Pontic Kingdom”, (2009) Aarhus, at 217–31

G. Farney, “Ethnic Identity and Aristocratic Competition in Republican Rome “, (2007) Cambridge

T. M. Banchich et. al. (translators), “Origo Gentis Romanae”, De Imperatoribus Romanis (DIR),(2004), Canisius College, Buffalo, New York

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

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

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

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

R. Stewart, “Public Office in Early Rome: Ritual Procedure and Political Practice”, (1998) Ann Arbor, Michigan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T. Broughton, “The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (II)”, (1952) New York 

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

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

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