the name of the most distinguished family of the plebeian Calpurnia gens.
This name, like many other Roman cognomens, is connected with agriculture, the noblest and most honourable pursuit of the ancient Romans : it comes from the verb pisere
and refers to the pounding or grinding of corn. Thus the author of the poem addressed to Piso, ascribed by Wernsdorf to Saleius Bassus [BASSUS], says (16, 17) : --
Claraque Pisonis tulerit cognomina prima,
Humida callosa cum pinseret hordea dextra.
(Comp. Plin. Nat. 18.3
.) Many of the Pisones bore this cognomen alone, but others were distinguished by the surnames of Caesoninus
The family first rose from obscurity during the second Punic war, and from that time it became one of the most distinguished families in the Roman state.
It preserved its celebrity under the empire, and during the first century of the Christian era was second to the imperial family alone.
The following stemma contains a list of all the Pisones mentioned in history, and will serve as an index to the following account. Of most of them it is impossible to ascertain the descent.