plebeian; for we have an Hortensius as tribunus plebis [HORTENSIUS, No. 1], and there is no evidence of any patrician families of this name. Cicero, indeed, gives the epithet of nobilis
to the orator (pro Quinct.
22; cf. Plut. Cat. Ma. 25
; Plin. Nat. 9
); but this is sufficiently accounted for by the high curule offices that had been held by several of his ancestors.
The name seems to have been derived from the gardening
propensities of the first person who lore it; and the surname Hortalus, borne by the great orator's son [Nos. 8 and 10], seems, as Drumann observes, to have been a kind of nickname of the orator himself. (Cic. Att. 2.25