one of the most ancient patrician gentes at Rome, which traced its origin to Hercules and the Arcadian Evander. (Ov. Fast. 2.237
, ex Pon.
3.3. 99; Juv. 8.14
; Plut. Fab. Max.
1; Paul. Diac. s. v. Favii,
The name is said to have originally been Fodii or Fovii, which was believed to have been derived from the fact of the first who bore it having invented the method of catching wolves by means of ditches (foveac
), whereas, according to Pliny, (Plin. Nat. 18.3
), the name was derived from faba,
a bean, a vegetable which the Fabii were said to have first cultivated.
The question as to whether the Fabii were a Latin or a Sabine gens, is a disputed point. Niebuhr and, after him, Göttling (Gesch. der Röm. Staatsv.
pp. 109, 194,) look upon them as Sabines.
But the reason adduced does not seem satisfactory; and there is a legend in which their name occurs, which refers to a time when the Sabines were not yet incorporated in the Roman state.
This legend, it is true, is related only by the pseudo-Aurelius Victor (de Orig. Gent. Rom.
22); but it is alluded to also by Plutarch (Romul.
22) and Valerius Maximus (2.2.9). When Romulus and Remus, it is said, after the d ath of Amulius, offered up sacrifices in the Lupercal, and afterwards celebrated a festival, which became the origin of the Lupercalia, the two heroes divided their band of shepherds into two parts, and each gave to his followers a special name: Romulus called his the Quinctilii, and Remus his the Fabii. (Comp. Ov. Fast. 2.361
, &c., 375, &c.)
This tradition seems to suggest, that the Fabii and Quinctilii in the earliest times had the superintendence of the sacra at the Lupercalia, and hence the two colleges of the Luperci retained these names even in much later times, although the privilege had ceased to be confined to those two gentes. (Cic. Phil. 2.34
, 13.15, pro Cael.
26 ; Propert. 4.26; Plut. Caes. 61
It was from the Fabia gens that one of the Roman tribes derived its name, as the Claudia, in later times, was named after the Claudia gens. The Fabii do not act a prominent part in history till after the establishment of the commonwealth; and three brothers belonging to the gens are said to have been invested with seven successive consulships, from B. C. 485 to 479.
The house derived its greatest lustre from the patriotic courage and tragic fate of the 306 Fabii in the battle on the Cremera, B. C. 477. [VIBULANUS, No. 3.] But the Fabii were not distinguished as warriors alone: several members of the gens act an important part also in the history of Roman literature and of the arts.
The name occurs as late as the second century after the Christian aera.
The family-names of this gens under the republic are:--AMBUSTUS, BUTEO, DORSO, LABEO, LICINUS, MAXIMUS (with the agnomens Aemilianus, Allobrogicus, Eburnus, Gurges, Rullianus, Servilianus, Verrucosus
), PICTOR, and VMULANUS. The other cognomens, which do not belong to the gens, are given below. [L.S
The only cognomens that occur on coins are Hispaniensis
[see Vol. I. p. 180a.], Labeo, Maximus,
The two coins represented below have no cognomen upon them, and it is doubtful to whom they are to be referred.
The former has on the obverse the two-faced head of Janus, and on the reverse the prow of a ship: the latter ex hhibits on the obverse a female head, and on the reverse Victory in a biga; the letters EX A. PV. denote Ex Argento Publico.
(Eckhel, vol. v. p. 209, &c.)