the name of a distinguished plebeian family of the gens Popillia.
The name was derived, according to Cicero (Cic. Brut. 14
), from the sacerdotal cloak (laena
) with which the consul M. Popillius, who was at the same time flamen Carmentalis, rushed from a public sacrifice into the forum, to pacify the plebeians, who were in open revolt against the nobility.
The name is to be spelt accordingly Laenas, as the Fasti Capitolini and Diodorus (16.15
) have it, and not Lenas, as is found in some MSS. of Livy.
The family of the Laenates was unfavourably distinguished even among the Romans for their sternness, cruelty, and haughtiness of character.