*messa/las, a cognomen of the Gens Valeria at Rome, was originally assumed by M. Valerius Maximus [No. 1] after his relief of Messana in Sicily from blockade by the Carthaginians in the second year of the first Punic war, B. C. 263. (Macr. 1.6
; Sen. Brev. Vit.
13.) For the antiquity of the Messalla branch of the Valerian gens see Tibullus (Carm.
1.28; comp. Dionys. A. R. 4.67
; Rutil. Iter.
1.169; Sidon. Apoll. Ep.
1.9). They appear for the first time on the consular Fasti in B. C. 263, and for the last in A. D. 506 ; and, during this period of nearly eight centuries, they held twenty-two consulships and three censorships. (Sidon. Apoll. Carm.
9.302; Rutil. l.c.;
Symmach. Ep. 7.90.)
The cognomen Messalla, frequently written Messala, appears with the agnomens Barbatus, Niger, Rufus, with the nomens Ennodius, Pacatus, Silius, Thrasia Priscus, Vipstanus, and with the praenomens Potitus and Volesus, and was itself originally, and when combined with Corvinus, an agnomen, as M. Valerius Maximus Corvinus Messalla, i. e. of Messana.