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Nephele

Most Influential Gentes of the Republic

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Out of curiosity, I decided to compile a statistical listing of what I shall presume to have been the most powerful and influential gentes of Rome during the time of the Republic. I'm basing this assessment on the number of magistrates produced by each gens.

 

The following list contains the gentes of magistrates listed in volumes I and II of Broughton's The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (509 BCE to 31 BCE), including consuls, praetors, aediles, tribunes, quaestors, etc.

 

262 gentes are represented here, listed from 1st place to 41st place, in descending order of rank. Gentes that contributed equal numbers of magistrates share the same ranking. Gentes that contributed only one magistrate, during the years covered, have not been included on this list.

 

The first number appearing before a gens is the ranking of that gens on the list. The second number represents the number of members from that gens who are listed in Broughton's as having been magistrates during the covered years of the Republic.

 

Notes on names: While Norbana isn't strictly the name of a gens, I've included it on this list because members of this family tended to use Norbanus as their nomen gentilicium anyway. Those Norbani listed in Broughton's had appended the cognomina of Balbus and Flaccus to their name, thus further indicating that Norbanus, while not originally a nomen gentilicium, nevertheless developed into one through usage as such. Claudia and Clodia have been combined, as these are variations of the same name. Likewise with Caelia/Coelia, Plautia/Plotia, and Quinctia/Quintia. In each instance where spelling variations of the same name have been combined, I've included in parentheses the number of magistrates listed in Broughton's originally assigned to each name.

 

One may ask: "What is the value of such a list?" Well, besides giving me something amusing to do this weekend, this list may not only serve to illustrate which gentes may have been the most influential during the time of Rome's Republic, but also indicate the degree of each gens' influence in comparison with other gentes.

 

1 185 Cornelia

2 92 Claudia (81) / Clodia (11)

3 78 Valeria

4 72 Fabia

5 64 Licinia

5 64 Servilia

6 62 Manlia

7 56 Aemilia

8 53 Junia

9 52 Papiria

9 52 Sempronia

10 50 Furia

10 50 Marcia

10 50 Postumia

11 47 Caecilia

12 43 Sulpicia

13 39 Julia

13 39 Minucia

14 36 Quinctia (34) / Quintia (2)

15 35 Atilia

16 34 Calpurnia

16 34 Fulvia

17 30 Plautia (27) / Plotia (3)

18 29 Pompeia

19 28 Octavia

20 27 Aurelia

21 26 Pomponia

22 24 Cassia

22 24 Porcia

22 24 Terentia

23 23 Annia

23 23 Popillia

24 22 Aelia

24 22 Appuleia

25 20 Antistia

25 20 Lucretia

26 19 Fonteia

26 19 Oppia

26 19 Coelia (10) / Caelia (9)

27 18 Baebia

27 18 Domitia

27 18 Hostilia

27 18 Memmia

27 18 Verginia

28 17 Acilia

28 17 Genucia

29 16 Antonia

29 16 Aquillia

29 16 Livia

29 16 Sergia

29 16 Titia

29 16 Veturia

30 13 Publicia

30 13 Titinia

31 12 Mucia

31 12 Pinaria

31 12 Rutilia

31 12 Scribonia

32 11 Aebutia

32 11 Fannia

32 11 Flavia

32 11 Maria

32 11 Plaetoria

32 11 Sextilia

33 10 Attia

33 10 Decia

33 10 Juventia

33 10 Maenia

33 10 Mamilia

33 10 Nautia

33 10 Opimia

33 10 Publilia

33 10 Quinctilia

33 10 Sicinia

33 10 Tullia

33 10 Vibia

34 9 Aufidia

34 9 Cloelia

34 9 Cosconia

34 9 Curtia

34 9 Herennia

34 9 Horatia

34 9 Lucilia

34 9 Lutatia

34 9 Manilia

34 9 Menenia

34 9 Sextia

35 8 Atinia

35 8 Carvilia

35 8 Duillia

35 8 Flaminia

35 8 Hortensia

35 8 Mummia

35 8 Nonia

35 8 Rubria

35 8 Volumnia

36 7 Considia

36 7 Decimia

36 7 Gabinia

36 7 Lollia

36 7 Poetelia

36 7 Silia

36 7 Trebonia

36 7 Villia

37 6 Caninia

37 6 Curia

37 6 Didia

37 6 Fundania

37 6 Gegania

37 6 Icilia

37 6 Laetoria

37 6 Mallia

37 6 Munatia

37 6 Otacilia

37 6 Papia

37 6 Peducaea

37 6 Perperna

37 6 Pupia

37 6 Sestia

37 6 Tremellia

38 5 Anicia

38 5 Ateia

38 5 Caedicia

38 5 Canuleia

38 5 Cluvia

38 5 Curiatia

38 5 Egnatia

38 5 Fabricia

38 5 Laelia

38 5 Matiena

38 5 Naevia

38 5 Ogulnia

38 5 Petillia

38 5 Roscia

38 5 Voconia

38 5 Volcatia

39 4 Aburia

39 4 Allia

39 4 Antia

39 4 Apustia

39 4 Aurunculeia

39 4 Calidia

39 4 Cincia

39 4 Cominia

39 4 Cornificia

39 4 Gallia

39 4 Gellia

39 4 Helvia

39 4 Magia

39 4 Metilia

39 4 Numitoria

39 4 Petronia

39 4 Sentia

39 4 Septimia

40 3 Afrania

40 3 Albinia

40 3 Arria

40 3 Asellia

40 3 Asinia

40 3 Aulia

40 3 Autronia

40 3 Caesetia

40 3 Catia

40 3 Cestia

40 3 Cocceia

40 3 Coponia

40 3 Coruncania

40 3 Crepereia

40 3 Decidia

40 3 Fufia

40 3 Gratidia

40 3 Insteia

40 3 Laberia

40 3 Maelia

40 3 Norbana

40 3 Rabiria

40 3 Rupilia

40 3 Salonia

40 3 Saufeia

40 3 Siccia

40 3 Stertinia

40 3 Tarquitia

40 3 Vargunteia

40 3 Velleia

40 3 Vergilia

40 3 Vettia

40 3 Volusia

41 2 Afinia

41 2 Albia

41 2 Aliena

41 2 Ampia

41 2 Ancharia

41 2 Apronia

41 2 Arrenia

41 2 Arruntia

41 2 Axia

41 2 Caepasia

41 2 Caesia

41 2 Carisia

41 2 Cicereia

41 2 Cispia

41 2 Cossutia

41 2 Critonia

41 2 Cupiennia

41 2 Digitia

41 2 Duronia

41 2 Egnatuleia

41 2 Epidia

41 2 Erucia

41 2 Falcidia

41 2 Folia

41 2 Fufidia

41 2 Furnia

41 2 Herminia

41 2 Hirtuleia

41 2 Labiena

41 2 Larcia

41 2 Ligaria

41 2 Livineia

41 2 Lucceia

41 2 Maecilia

41 2 Maevia

41 2 Maiania

41 2 Mania

41 2 Mindia

41 2 Nasidia

41 2 Nigidia

41 2 Novia

41 2 Numicia

41 2 Numisia

41 2 Occia

41 2 Pedia

41 2 Procilia

41 2 Pullia

41 2 Quintia

41 2 Rabuleia

41 2 Raecia

41 2 Remmia

41 2 Saenia

41 2 Sallustia

41 2 Salvia

41 2 Scantinia

41 2 Scantia

41 2 Scaptia

41 2 Serria

41 2 Sosia

41 2 Statia

41 2 Thoria

41 2 Tillia

41 2 Tituria

41 2 Trebellia

41 2 Tuccia

41 2 Turia

41 2 Turullia

41 2 Valgia

41 2 Varia

41 2 Ventidia

41 2 Venuleia

41 2 Vibullia

41 2 Vinicia

41 2 Volteia

41 2 Volusena

 

-- Nephele

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This is a wonderful list Nephele! Far more comprehensive than any other similar list that I've seen.

 

When compiling this list, did you happen to preserve information (e.g., in a spreadsheet) about the dates of the magistracies of each magistrate? I ask because I wonder about the prominence of certain families, such as the Valerii and Fabii, who seem to be highly prominent in the early and middle republic, but much less so in the late republic. Depending on what information you preserved when generating the list, we could answer a number of interesting questions.

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This is a wonderful list Nephele! Far more comprehensive than any other similar list that I've seen.

 

Thank you, MPC!

 

When compiling this list, did you happen to preserve information (e.g., in a spreadsheet) about the dates of the magistracies of each magistrate? I ask because I wonder about the prominence of certain families, such as the Valerii and Fabii, who seem to be highly prominent in the early and middle republic, but much less so in the late republic. Depending on what information you preserved when generating the list, we could answer a number of interesting questions.

 

No, I didn't make a note of dates, but it wouldn't really have helped much here, regarding your suggestion. The problem with this is that, while Broughton drew on numerous sources in recording Republican magistrates, their years of office, and their offices held, he explains that "earlier periods are sketchily treated" due to less information being available.

 

And so more names (with accompanying offices held) appear under Broughton's annual lists towards the end of the Republic, than at the beginning. Broughton apologizes in the preface to his work by stating: "The present collection is not designed to serve as a complete prosopography of the Roman Republic, the necessary scale of which would take us too far afield, but may help to clear the way for one."

 

I just now compiled a list of dates for first office held by each of the Valerii and Fabii cited in Broughton's volumes and, as I imagined (due to the reasons given above), the occurrence of names is pretty evenly distributed over the period of time covered. For the Valerii, 32% of their names appear as having held office during the 1st century BCE, 20% during the 2nd century, 20% during the 3rd, 13% during the 4th, 10% during the 5th, and 5% during the 6th. For the Fabii, 19.5% of their names appear as having held office during the 1st century, 22% during the 2nd, 22% during the 3rd, 19.5% during the 4th, and 17% during the 5th.

 

-- Nephele

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I didn't make a note of dates, but it wouldn't really have helped much here, regarding your suggestion. The problem with this is that, while Broughton drew on numerous sources in recording Republican magistrates, their years of office, and their offices held, he explains that "earlier periods are sketchily treated" due to less information being available.

 

Aha! I think we have different questions in mind for the data.

 

My question boils down to: "Of the known magistracies for a given time interval, what % were held by each gens {Valerii, Fabii, etc}." For this problem, it's OK that the number of known magistracies varies from year-to-year or even for data to be sparse in the early years since the data is sparse for ALL gentes across ALL magistracies.

 

I think the question you had in mind in your calculations was, "Of the magistracies held by a gens, what % were held at each time interval" For this problem, it wouldn't be OK for the number of known magistracies to increase systematically, since the bias would lead families that held a stable number of magistracies to appear to rise in prominence, families that declined in prominence to appear stable (clearly what we're seeing the data for the Fabii and Valerii), families that rose in prominence to appear to rise faster than they did in actuality.

 

Is this clear?

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Aha! I think we have different questions in mind for the data.

 

My question boils down to: "Of the known magistracies for a given time interval, what % were held by each gens {Valerii, Fabii, etc}."

 

Ah, I think I see what you mean now. In which case, I would need to compile data based on magistracies on a year-to-year basis, rather than by occurrence of name alone over the entire span of the Republic. As with the consular lists, which show us definitively which gentes contributed the most members to that particular office, and when.

 

I put together my list chiefly from names as they appear in Broughton's index, cross-referencing them with the body of Broughton's work as an additional check, to give an overview of the frequency of appearance of the individual gentes holding office throughout the entire period of the Republic. I'll consider going over each of the annual lists individually, and compiling gentes that way (which will take considerable more time than a mere weekend!)

 

-- Nephele

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I think it will be useful to put the names in some sort of historical context. Also, the order in which you enter the names doesn't matter, as long as there is a field in your spreadsheet or database for the year in which a given magistrate held his office.

 

It's too bad the Broughton work isn't a searchable text file on a CD or the web. It's hard to believe that Oxford really makes so much money off these volumes that it's more profitable to distribute the information via paper, ink, and muscle than via electrons, phosphors, and fingertips.

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I think it will be useful to put the names in some sort of historical context. Also, the order in which you enter the names doesn't matter, as long as there is a field in your spreadsheet or database for the year in which a given magistrate held his office.

 

Good suggestions all. It should be an interesting project, if I can designate some time for it.

 

It's too bad the Broughton work isn't a searchable text file on a CD or the web. It's hard to believe that Oxford really makes so much money off these volumes that it's more profitable to distribute the information via paper, ink, and muscle than via electrons, phosphors, and fingertips.

 

Well, Broughton's work was first published by the American Philological Association about a half-century ago, so the APA has a lot of catching up to do with modern technology, if they should ever be inclined to make the entire work available as a searchable text file on a CD or the web. That would be amazing, if they did, and I'd certainly pay money for a subscription. I'm sure others would, too, since the hard copy text is so expensive and difficult to come by. With your love of the Republic, MPC, I could see you really enjoying these volumes.

 

-- Nephele

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To add a little context to Nephele's names, I did a quick analysis of the patrician/plebeian breakdown.

 

Of the 2890 names on the list, about 70% (2018) were plebeian and 30% (871) were patrician. This proportion roughly corresponds to the proportion of republican history in which the consulship was open to plebeians (i.e., 345 of the 478 years between 376 and 31 BCE). Proportionately speaking, it is as if the first 133 years of Roman history were totally dominated by patricians, whereas the next 345 years were totally dominated by plebeians.

 

What the patricians lacked in numbers, however, they more than made up for in productivity, with the average patrician family producing nearly 5 times the number of magistrates as the average family. For all the gentes listed, the average number of magistrates per family was 11 (i.e., 2890 magistrates divided among 62 families). For patricians, the average number was 54.5 ( 871/16) magistrates per family, with all but three patrician families (Nautia, Quinctillia, and Cloelia) producing more than 11 magistrates per family. In contrast, for the plebeians, the average number of magistrates was 8.2 per family, with only one family (Licinia) producing more than was average for the patricians.

 

Possibly, this large patrician/plebeian disparity comes from the fact that patrician gentes (with their many branches) were larger than plebeian ones. It would be interesting to see the breakdown by branch.

 

To better visualize the difference between the patricians and plebs, look at the top half of the distribution. Note how it follows the standard Pareto distribution (almost identical to individual differences in UNRV posts, btw).

 

gallery_998_25_11146.gif

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Intriguing -- and exciting, MPC!

 

It would be interesting to see the breakdown by branch.

 

I can get that information for you, although it may take a couple of days to compile. I'd very much like to see what else can be projected from all this!

 

-- Nephele

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You two are doing a magnificent job.

 

Thank you, GO. It's my interest in Roman nomenclature which led to a desire to find out how the various gentes statistically contributed to the Republican magistracies (and compared with each other). Combined with MPC's interest in the patrician vs. plebian influences on Roman history, this may result in an interesting joint effort here.

 

-- Nephele

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Salve, amici!

 

Congratulations, this list is going to be an extraordinary tool and it should be posted in the "government" section of UNRV.

 

For getting the statistical analysis even better, I think some precisions might be in order:

 

- Broughton's list is inevitably incomplete; 2890 names over 478 years give us around six magistrates/year (6,05). A typical year of the late Republic would have had 34 annual magistrates (2 consuls, 8 praetors, 4 aediles and 20 quaestors) plus censors and the extraordinary ones, like dictators.

 

- Patrician names frequently encompass several plebeian branches; that is specially true for the largest gentes, like the Cornelii, the Claudii and the Valerii.

 

- Conversely, some "plebeian" nomina may include patrician magistrates, as the Cassii and the Tullii.

 

- Some minor gentes of the early Republic may be underrepresented; for one, I couldn't find the Romilia gens (T. Romilius Rocus Vaticanus, consul in 455 BC and one of the Decemviri).

 

- Even if the consulship was closed for the plebs until CCCLXXVIII AUC / 376 BC, other magistratures were open to them at least since CCCXXXIII AUC / 421 BC (quaestorship).

 

- We can't be sure that patrician families were larger than the plebeian, as we have virtually only the records of their magistrates (ie, plebeian families could have been even larger, but underrepresented at the Senate).

 

Anyway, I may be wrong. Any correction would be welcomed.

 

I hope this stuff may be useful.

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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I hope this stuff may be useful.

I don't mean for this to sound rude, but No--your comments aren't useful. But they could be very useful IF you would follow up your own suggestions with specific contributions.

 

For example, we all know that patrician names cover plebeian branches as well, so if you want to be helpful, go make a list of the patrician and plebeian branches of the 16 patrician gentes, publish the list here, and compute what the new numbers should be. That would be helpful.

 

Similarly, we already know that the consulship was closed for the plebs until 376 but that other magistracies were open to them. This comment really doesn't change anything in our list or commentary. If you want to turn this observation into something useful, then go look at the magistracies between 509 and 376 and between 376 and 31 and report back how many plebs (and from which gentes) were represented in each of the non-consular magistracies in each of these two time periods. That would be helpful.

 

You're also right that we can't assume family size from the list of magistrates alone. Again, if this comment is going to improve our knowledge rather than just fret about its epistemological status, then there has to be a list of non-magistrates as well, coded for year, for family, and for patrician/plebeian status. Compiling this list would also be helpful.

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Salve, Asclepiades. I'll try to address those points you brought up:

 

- Broughton's list is inevitably incomplete; 2890 names over 478 years give us around six magistrates/year (6,05). A typical year of the late Republic would have had 34 annual magistrates (2 consuls, 8 praetors, 4 aediles and 20 quaestors) plus censors and the extraordinary ones, like dictators.

 

This is true that Broughton's annual lists are incomplete -- but it should be noted that T. Robert S. Broughton of Bryn Mawr College (with some collaboration on Volume I with Marcia L. Patterson of Kent Place School) compiled his annual lists of Republican magistracies from many sources (not all of these being complete, themselves). He also discarded those sources that proved to be unreliable or invented. Most of the reliable records for the early period of the Republic included only the major magistrates, and this is why these earlier, annual lists are much shorter than those lists of the later period of the Republic, which included the minor magistrates as well. Broughton's bibliography of primary and secondary sources for his work is extensive, including general histories and standard works of reference, collections of fragmentary texts and legal documents, inscriptions, coins, books and articles,

 

- Patrician names frequently encompass several plebeian branches; that is specially true for the largest gentes, like the Cornelii, the Claudii and the Valerii.

 

Very true, and this is why MPC suggested that a listing of the branches would be helpful. As we know, for example, that the Balbi and Galli branches of the Cornelii (who appear in Broughton's annual lists) were plebian. This is what I'll be working on next, for this little project.

 

- Conversely, some "plebeian" nomina may include patrician magistrates, as the Cassii and the Tullii.

 

Any patrician Cassii or Tullii will appear only in the earliest years of the Republic, and thus far as I can see there is only one record of a patrician Cassius having held a magisterial position: Sp. Cassius Viscellinus (or Vescellinus), consul in 502 BCE.

 

- Some minor gentes of the early Republic may be underrepresented; for one, I couldn't find the Romilia gens (T. Romilius Rocus Vaticanus, consul in 455 BC and one of the Decemviri).

 

Romilius is included in Broughton's, but because he was the only representative of his gens, I did not include Romilia on my initial list. (See my notes in the first posting in this thread.) I will probably add back into my statistics all of those gentes that contributed only one member to the magisterial lists.

 

- Even if the consulship was closed for the plebs until CCCLXXVIII AUC / 376 BC, other magistratures were open to them at least since CCCXXXIII AUC / 421 BC (quaestorship).

 

Broughton's includes all of these magistracies. And, even in the less complete lists of the early Republic, the office of Tribune of the Plebs is consistently included.

 

- We can't be sure that patrician families were larger than the plebeian, as we have virtually only the records of their magistrates (ie, plebeian families could have been even larger, but underrepresented at the Senate).

 

I'm not certain that MPC was stating that patrician families were larger than the plebian, when he wrote: "What the patricians lacked in numbers, however, they more than made up for in productivity, with the average patrician family producing nearly 5 times the number of magistrates as the average family." I may be wrong, but I interpreted "productivity" to mean contributions of existing family members to the magistracies -- not "productivity" as in generating more offspring.

 

-- Nephele

Edited by Nephele

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- We can't be sure that patrician families were larger than the plebeian, as we have virtually only the records of their magistrates (ie, plebeian families could have been even larger, but underrepresented at the Senate).

I'm not certain that MPC was stating that patrician families were larger than the plebian, when he wrote: "What the patricians lacked in numbers, however, they more than made up for in productivity, with the average patrician family producing nearly 5 times the number of magistrates as the average family." I may be wrong, but I interpreted "productivity" to mean contributions of existing family members to the magistracies -- not "productivity" as in generating more offspring.

 

Asclepiades had me right, but he was referring to another of my comments: "Possibly, this large patrician/plebeian disparity comes from the fact that patrician gentes (with their many branches) were larger than plebeian ones. It would be interesting to see the breakdown by branch."

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