previous next


GENS The word gens, connected etymologically with geno and gigno, signifies primarily an aggregate of individuals forming a political union and sprung from a common source. It is thus applied either to the whole or to part of a community, in either case with special reference to common descent. Nationality is defined by Cicero (de Off. 1.17, 53) as consisting in community [p. 1.907]of gens, natio, lingua; and in this sense of common origin, the most marked characteristic of a distinct nationality, it is constantly applied to whole peoples, as in the expressions gens Numidarum, gens Aegyptiorum, and in the juristic formula of jus gentium. The word may, however, denote a narrower form of common descent than that implied in nationality. Wider than the union of the family, and narrower than the bonds of the state or tribe, the gens at Rome was a social union which had, as its theoretical basis, the notion of descent from a common ancestor. The juristic theory of the gens may be expressed by saying that all the individuals constituting it would, if their descent could be traced far enough upwards, have ultimately come within the patria potestas of this one common ancestor; and would, accordingly, have borne a common name ( “gentilis dicitur ex eodem genere ortus et is qui simili nomine appellatur,” Festus, s. v. gentilis, p. 94). The first of these elements, common descent, was of necessity a doubtful tie. In most cases it would have been impossible to trace ; and accordingly it is the second element, community of name, which, through being taken as a test of the former, was the distinctive and only certain mark of the right to participation in a gens. Those individuals who could through this token lay claim to share in a common gens were called gentiles: their relation towards one another and to the gens as a whole was called gentilitas. The very essence of the distinction between the relation of gentilitas and the relation of agnatio is to be sought in the fact that, when the common descent could be traced through all its stages, and the common patria potestas in which it ended fixed, there the individuals connected by this bond were agnati: when the common descent was only an imaginary fact based on the possession of a common name, the individuals so connected were called gentiles. Yet the latter name necessarily includes the former, only differing from it in being wider and less specific. A theory which draws a sharp distinction between the two must deny to the word gens the idea of common descent, which really lies at the basis of the conception; and is expressed, not only etymologically by the term itself, but by the outward tokens of the common sacra, and common right of inheritance, for which mere community of name, unaccompanied by the idea of descent, could have furnished no justification. The subsequent narrowing of these terms gentilis and gentilitas through the expansion of the gens not having been accompanied by a corresponding expansion of all the rights implied in it, is connected with the relation of the patrician and plebeian elements to one another in the Roman state. Originally, however, the expression “gentiles mihi sunt qui meo nomine appellantur” (Cincius, ap. Fest. l.c.) must have been capable of being uttered by everyone who was deemed a member of a gens, and formed indeed his only obvious claim to this position. This is equivalent to saying that the Roman gentes were all originally patrician. For the unit of the gens was the house (familia); and the most important members of the gens, those alone who would be capable of exercising such rights in private law as the gens possessed in its collective capacity, would be the patres or full heads of households. Assuming the truth of the most probable account of the origin of the Roman patriciate,--namely, that it represented those who were originally the sole full members of the Roman state, and who alone possessed the status of patres (whence patricii, Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.13),--it follows that the Roman gentes were, as represented by tradition, originally exclusively patrician, and that the terms gentilis and gentilitas connoted a perfect equality of status among the members of the several familiae forming the gens. The restricted meaning which these words came to have in the Roman civil law originated with the evolution of the later plebeian rights. To the original gentes of Rome, those formed by the association of patres properly so called, there had from the first been attached a heterogeneous mass of half-free residents in Rome. An element in the state, but yet not in the strict sense a part of the state, these plebeians lived in a state of protected freedom, and in a partial dependence on the full citizens who alone constituted the gens. In this body two main elements may be distinguished: foreigners who had come to Rome on the jus exsulandi; emancipated slaves and their descendants [PLEBS]. Amongst this body there was clearly the same capacity for distinction as that which in the patrician aggregate formed the ground of division into gentes. There were groups of individuals who bore a common name and owned a common descent; and the common name and common descent would become more marked as years went on. Their original unity might only have been the unity of dependence on a common patrician house, but, as plebeian rights as such came to be recognised in contradistinction to patrician, the unity of name and blood in the former would be as distinct as its unity in the latter; and the original dependents on the patrician gens would form a stirps of their own. In the case of the patrician gens on which they were dependent wholly dying out, the plebeians who bore this name would be the sole representatives of the gens. But sometimes, as in the case of the Claudii, the patrician gens might stand side by side with the plebeian stirps, and it is in these circumstances that the question as to the applicability of the terms gentilis and gentilitas originated. That a patrician Claudius would have been a gentilis, not only to the members of his own order, but to the plebeian Claudii who bore his name, is clear. The question is, whether the reverse was true, whether a plebeian Claudius Marcellus could claim to be a gentilis. The answer is probably in the affirmative, so far as concerned the plebeians as a whole. That certain members of the plebeian order were excluded from gentilitas appears in the definition of this term by Scaevola, as quoted by Cicero (Top. 6, 29). The requirements of a gentilis are there stated as being, firstly, community of name; secondly, the condition of being the son of an ingenuus, which, as it is distinguished from the condition next mentioned, has here probably the signification merely of being born of one who is in a state of freedom, according to the definition in the Institutes (i. tit. 4, “Ingenuus qui statim ut nascitur liber est” ), and not what was probably its original meaning, full membership of [p. 1.908]the gens based on the fact that one's remote ancestors had never been in a state of slavery (Ortolan, 1.17). This is fully stated in the third condition given by Cicero, “quorum majorum nemo servitutem servivit ;” and lastly we have the requirement that no capitis deminutio should have been suffered by the person claiming to be a gentilis. It is clear that the third condition which required the ultimate ancestors of a gentilis to have been freemen would have excluded many of the plebeian houses, which had sprung originally from emancipated slaves. But this would not prevent many of the plebeians that had no trace of servile blood in their veins from being gentiles of all who bore their common name. We find that gentile inheritances were shared by the plebeian Minucii (Cic. in Verr. 1.45, 115), and gentile sepulchres shared by the plebeian Popilii (de Leg. 2.22, 55); and though it is true that from the patrician point of view, as shown by the words of Decius Mus ( “semper ista audita sunt eadem, vos soli gentem habetis” ), there would have been no such thing as a plebeian gens, but only a stirps, which was an offshoot of the original patrician house, still connected with it by the tie of dependence; and though the presumption, in the case of the co-existence of plebeian and patrician gentes of the same name, was ap. parently that the former had once been clients of the latter, as in the case of the Claudii and Claudii Marcelli (Cic. de Orat. 1.39, 176; PLEBS), yet these are not sufficient proofs of the denial of gentilitas to plebeians as a whole: the less so as the only professedly exact definition of gentilis which has come down to us does not contain a sufficient number of restrictive conditions to exclude all the plebeian elements in the state.

Any attempt to understand the nature of the Roman gens and the theory on which it rested can only be made by comparing it with the other subdivisions of the Roman people. As has been stated above, the gens rested in theory on a natural basis. It represents the widest limits of blood-relationship possible. The gens, then, is intimately connected with those other units, the familia and agnati, that rest on the basis of kinship. Its distinction from these is the distinction between wider and narrower groups, not between included and excluded elements respectively; the fact being that, as Ortolan states it, the members of a gens might stand to one another in the relation of agnati, gentiles, and cognati, while they possessed a common genealogy, whether natural or civil, peculiarly their own (Ortolan, iii. tit. 2.1032). The attempt to construct the gens, as Niebuhr did, by an exclusion of these family groups, ends necessarily in making the gens an important political factor in the Roman community, and tracing its origin to the requirements not of private but of public life. “The numerical scale of the gentes,” says Niebuhr (Hist. Rome, i. p. 319), “is an irrefragable proof that the Roman gentes were not more ancient than the constitution, but corporations formed by a legislator in harmony with the rest of his scheme;” and he further held (ib. p. 333) that the gens voted as one in the Comitia Curiata, basing his conclusion on a doubtful expression of Laelius Felix (ap. Gell. xv 27), who says, “Cum ex generibus hominum suffragium feratur, curiata, comitia esse,” genus being taken as an equivalent, as it not unfrequently is, to gens. To maintain that the gens was a political union without blood-relationship or connexion through the patria potestas (Niebuhr, Hist. Rome, i. p. 314) is to bring it into closer relation with the curia and the. tribus than with the family: to make it a definitely artificial and not a quasinatural association, and to give it a political importance which there is little evidence to, show that it ever possessed. The small amount. of corporate action possessed by the gens, and. the utter absence of representative power characterising it, which will be touched on subsequently, lead us to suspect that it never could have been an important political factor in the state. Its rights are those of private not of public law, and there are but two exceptions to, this general principle, one an apparent exception, that rests on traditional accounts,--namely, the political distinction with which the traditional history presents us, between the gentes majores and the gentes minores; the other a real exception, that rests on modern conjecture, and which is contained in the theory that at one time the gentes were represented in the senate, or at least made the basis for its formation. The distinction between gentes majores and gentes minores is one that existed within the original patrician gentes. It is said to have originated,. in the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, with the reception of fresh members into the body of the. patrician senate (Cic. de Repub. 2.20, 36; Liv. 1.35, 6), the members now received being called the patres majorum gentium as opposed to the patres minorum gentium or original members ; and it is further stated that there was a difference of rank observed within the senate between the older and later members, the former-having precedence in debate (Cic. de Repub. l.c. “majorum gentium quos priores sententiam rogabant” ). If we accept this account as historically true, it furnishes no real evidence that the senate was ever organised on the basis of the gentes, or that a difference in grade in the gentes caused a difference in grade in the senate The more probable conclusion is, that the senate had in the earlier regal period been composed of patres chosen from the original full members of the Roman state, from the first gentes therefore that formed this body; that, after the arrival and settlement of fresh gentes, a conservatism was still observed, the patres who entered the senate, no doubt on the nomination of the king, being chosen from this body; that at a later period, which tradition puts in the reign of Tarquin, the advisability was felt of a more unfettered choice of patres; and that consequently these were chosen from the newer gentes. The titles majores, minores applied to these gentes may simply denote their comparative antiquity; but it is possible that the titles may have arisen, as Cicero suggests in the passage of the de Republica, from the respective positions their members had within the senatorial body. The patres now chosen would have a less favoured position as compared with the older patres, and this position would reflect on the position of the gentes to which they belonged; so that, so far from a difference of political position in the gentes giving rise to a difference of position in [p. 1.909]the senate, the case would be precisely the reverse; and the gentes would only accidentally possess this reflected political character. The memory of this distinction had not died out down to a late period of the Republic, and probably lasted as long as the patrician gentes themselves. We are told by Cicero that the patrician Papirii belonged to the minores gentes (ad Fam. 9.21, 2), the only name we know as belonging to this category. The names of the gentes majores are not mentioned, but Mommsen conjectures that they may be those who furnished principes senatus, such as the Aemilii, Claudii, Cornelii, Fabii, Manlii, and Valerii (Staatsr. 3.31; Forsch. 1.259).

The theory that the gentes originally formed the basis of representation in the Roman senate originates mainly with the consideration of the close correspondence of numbers between the gentes and the senate. The full numbers of both. are given by tradition as 300; while the symmetrical divisions of the gentes into the 30 curiae, 10 to each, and of the curiae into the three original tribes of the state, seem, if we accept it, to point to a definitely political organisation. This is further supported by the theory that the Roman. state was a gradual amalgamation of three domains (tribus) into one; and the rise of the senate from 100, its original number as constituted by Romulus, to 300 as its final number, is accounted for by the gradual amalgamation of these three tribes with their 100 gentes each, the gentes minores being some-times identified with the gentes of the last-admitted of these tribes, that of the Luceres (Ortolan, 1.33); while a parallel to the original centumviral constitution of the senate before the συνοικισμὸς is found in the centumviri of the Italian municipia, supposed to be derived from the same invariable division of a tribus, or community, into 100 gentes (Mommsen, Hist. Rome, i. p. 73). The connexion of the gentes with senatorial representation is therefore not without some theoretical support, although it is never distinctly stated by ancient writers, and it crosses, though it does not absolutely conflict with, the more probable account that the senators were nominated by the king. The chief objections are to be found in the political character it gives to the gens, a character it did not bear in historical times, and also in the symmetrical principle of division such a system implies, a principle which conflicts with the nature of the origin of the gens, which is based not on an artificial but on a natural unity. The political division of the curia is not into gentes, according to the best tradition, but into decuriae, which is more probably the meaning of the δεκάδες of Dionysius (2.7) than gentes; and that there was ever a fixed and normal number for the gentes of Rome, which must from their natural character have fluctuated considerably, is improbable (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.12). Yet that there may have been some original connexion between the gentes and the senate, not definitely political but accidental, such as that traced in the case of the gentes majores and minores, it is quite possible to imagine.

That the gentes had not, or, if they had, could not have retained, the fixed numbers which the above-mentioned political distribution attributes to them, is shown by the fact that it was possible for new gentes to be added to the community, and even for old gentes to quit it. Thus the reception by the original Roman community of at least six gentes that had once belonged to the parent state of Alba--the Cloelii, Curiatii, Geganii, Julii, Quinctilii (or Quinctii), and Servilii--is mentioned by our authorities (Liv. 1.30; Dionys. A. R. 3.29); and not only were Latin races so received, but Sabine races as well, such as the Valerii (Dionys. A. R. 2.46). These new gentes are spoken of as being cooptatae in patres (Liv. 4.4, “nobilitatem vestram per cooptationem in patres habetis;” Suet. Tib. 1, “gens Claudia in patricios cooptata” ). This expression probably means nothing more than that their position in the state was conferred on them by a vote of the Comitia Curiata, all the constituents of which were originally patres, and therefore the only gentiles; so that the alternative expressions of Livy of cooptatio in patres and jussu populi to describe a reception of this kind, may be taken as denoting the same act. This is not, however, to assign any corporate action to the gens as such. Their corporate action in this case only rests on the original exclusive participation of their members in the comitia populi; and such an act would require, as every popular act did, the co-operation of the Roman magistrate,--that is, in early times of the king. We do, indeed, get references to the reception of gentes, to the reception of individuals into gentes, and even to the transference of gentes from the plebeian to the patrician order by the act of the curiae or the king alone, as in the case of Servius and Numa, who are said to have been transferred by the populus from the ranks of the δῆμος to those of the πατρίκιοι (Dionys. A. R. 4.13), and in that of a whole gens, the Octavii being raised by Servius Tullius to the patrician order (Suet. Aug. 2). But in all these cases, if they are not merely hypothetical, we must probably understand a joint working of the magistrate and the people. The only mode by which the king or magistrate could have in any way raised the position of a plebeian gens would have been to choose some of its members for the senate, as the first consuls are said to have done (Dionys. A. R. 5.13), but even this would not have rendered them patrician. They would have been patres in the sense of senators, had the word attained that meaning at this early time, but not patres in the sense of heads of house-holds. That the plebeian community at Rome could at this period have been called gentes at all is improbable; the gens is a union of familiae, and therefore a union of patres; the refusal of the title patres to this class, the origin of the distinction between patricii and plebeii, excludes the idea of their union into gentes. To speak of the plcbeia gens of the Octavii becoming a patricia gens is therefore an anachronism; but this does not exclude the possibility of a division of the plebeian community being “coopted” into the gentes by the original Comitia Curiata on the proposal of a magistrate. The reception of fresh gentes ceased, in the course of the Republic, because there was no political assembly composed exclusively of members who fulfilled all the conditions of being gentiles. When we get the conferring of the patriciate again revived, as it was by the dictator Caesar, the power to confer it was received from a vote of the populus; [p. 1.910]although it afterwards became one of the privileges of the Roman princeps (Mommsen, Staatsr. 4.1046). As a gens might be received into the Roman community, so a gens might quit it. The only instance of the expulsion of a gens is that of the Tarquinii, and the decree that this whole gens had forfeited its right to be a member of the Roman state was passed by the populus (Liv. 2.2, “Brutus ad populum tulit ut omnes Tarquiniae gentis exsules essent;” Varro, ap. Nonium, p. 222 M., “omnes Tarquinios ejicerent, ne quam reditionis per gentilitatem spem haberent” ).

The account we have of whole gentes being received into Rome is accompanied by the account that the members of a gens originally kept together in their settlement at Rome. Thus, in the case of the migratory gens of the Claudii, we are told that, on the reception of the civitas, they received as well a special tract of territory across the Anio for the settlement of themselves and their clients (Liv. 2.16; Suet. Tib. 1), to be divided up into allotments for the various familiae constituting the gens (Dionys. A. R. 5.40). This at once suggests an original connexion between the gens and the soil; the fact, that is, that the unity of the gens was one not merely natural (γενική), but also local (τοπική). On this fact, which there is no reason to doubt, and on the traces supplied by juristic tradition of the earliest modes of possession at Rome, a theory has been constructed that the gens originally held a common ownership of the soil. Mommsen points out that the earliest names for Roman territorial possessions are heredium, ager publicus, and ager privatus. The heredium was the personal property of the citizen as such, consisting only of two jugera, an amount clearly insufficient for the support of a family; the permittance of private possession of this limited allotment is attributed to Romulus (Varro, R. R. 1.10, 2; Plin. Nat. 18.7), and seems a modification of some kind of original common possession. The ager publicus is the property of the populus Romanus, and the ager privatus, if it exclude the heredium, can only have been the property of some division of the populus, in all probability of its natural division, the gens. Again, that the terms which denote individual possession (manus, mancipium) referred originally only to movable property and not to fixed property in land is certain (Mommsen, Staatsr. iii. p. 23), and point to a time when some aggregate wider than the family was the owner of the soil. It is tempting to consider this aggregate to have been originally the gens, the only natural unit wider than the family, especially in view of the later rights of inheritance possessed by the gentiles. There is little in the traditional history, however, to bear out the hypothesis. The only one of the larger divisions of the state to which fixed land assignments are said to have been made, was, according to Dionysius (2.7), the curia (φράτρα), not the gens; and in the accounts of the early distribution of conquered land, the assignation is represented as being made to individuals (viritim, Cic. de Repub. 2.14, 16), not to a larger aggregate. If we hold that the gens was once the common possessor of the ager privatus at Rome, the mode of possession can only be a matter of the purest conjecture; whether the system was one of vicarious enjoyment of land allotments, or of a life-tenure in such allotments, or even of heritable but inalienable allotments, the alternatives presented by Mommsen (l.c. p. 26), it is impossible to determine.<

But, uncertain as the theory of this original common possessing is, there were certain reversionary rights of inheritance possessed by the gentiles which may be a relic of such a system. In the case of failure of a suus heres, a man's property passed to his agnati, and on the failure of agnati to the gentiles. This order of succession is found laid down in the laws of the Twelve Tables, “Si agnatus nec escit gentiles familiam habento,” and would have applied from the first to the patricians who were the only original gentiles. it is in this connexion that the importance of the definition of gentilitas asserts itself; and since, as has been shown, a considerable portion of the plebeians would have been gentiles, they would have enjoyed, equally with the patricians, this right of inheritance (see above: cf. Cic. in Verr. 1.45, 115). We find this right of the gentiles to inherit in the last resort lasting down to the end of the Republic (Suet. Jul. 1); but it was extinct in the time of Gaius (Inst. 3.17), in the second century A.D. ot must have been an inheritance by individuals, not, as may once have been the case, by a corporation; and the property must have been divided amongst the members who proved their claims to be gentiles. But the gentiles had rights in their collective capacity as well. The guardianship of the insane was in their hands as laid down by the laws of the Twelve Tables, “Si furiosus escit, ast ei custos ne escit, adgnatum gentiliumque in eo pecuniaque ejus potestas esto.” The same reversionary rights of guardianship over women and children belonged to the gentiles (Cic. pro Domo, 13, 15; C. I. L. 6.1527; and Mommsen on this Inscription, Staatsr. 3.28, n. 1). Such a tutela must have given the gentiles all the rights of a person in roman law, and it is difficult to see how it could have been exercised except through some personal representative of the gens. In this respect, however, the gens is regarded as capable of corporate action--a capacity of which there are few manifestations in its history. One of these is contained in the accounts we have of the gens as a whole repudiating the use of a praenomen, on which dishonour had been cast by the actions of one of its possessors. Thus we read of the patrician claudii repudiating by common agreement (consensu) the praenomen of Lucius, because two of its bearers had been convicted of theft and murder respectively (Suet. Tib. 1), and again of the patrician Manlii renouncing by common decision (decreto) the praenomen of Marcus (Cic. Phil. 1.13.32). Such an act must have been purely a matter of agreement, and must have depended on the mere will of the members to observe it, since there could have been no legal sanction to render it binding. The circle of the gens was drawn closer by the common worship and sacrifices that belonged to special gentes as such. Their maintenance was regarded as a fact of extreme importance: not so much perhaps out of regard for the welfare of particular gentes, as from the fact that if the special sacra of a race died out, the community would lose the favour of the divinity to which [p. 1.911]they belonged. It is this fact which explains the close connexion of gentile sacra with property and inheritances (Maine, Ancient Law, pp. 6 and 27). Property in the last resort went to the gentiles; the sacra, that they might be maintained, were a necessary burden associated with it. That the sacra might pass out of the family was of little importance; had they passed out of the gens, there was no security for their continuance, and hence the difficulties that beset the marriage of a woman outside the gens (gentis enuptio), as shown in the case related by Livy (39.19, 5), of Fecenia Hispalla, who was permitted, as a reward for her disclosure of the Bacchanalian conspiracy, to have control of her property and marry without the gens. For by the old Roman law of marriage the property of a woman passed wholly under the power of her husband; and with this dissociation of property from the gens there was a danger of a corresponding dissociation, and consequent noncontinuance of the sacra. The same feeling is shown in the marriage of the patrician Verginia with a plebeian, in which case she was allowed to have no further share in the sacra of her family (Liv. 10.23); and one of the forms observed in cases of change of gens, such as that by adrogatio, was the sacrorum detestatio, or public declaration that the individual seeking this change ceased to claim any participation in the sacra of his race (Mommsen, Staatsr. iii. p. 39); while, in cases of adoption requiring a similar change of gens, it was the duty of the pontifices to inquire how the continuity of the sacred rites might be maintained (Cic. pro Domo, 13, 35; de Leg. 2, 22).

How peculiar rites became attached to particular gentes it is not easy to determine. In some cases they may have gone back to the ante-Roman traditions of the gens, as may have been the case with the peculiar sacrifices of the Claudii (Festus, s. v. propudi, p. 238), who are said to have entered the Roman community at a comparatively late period. But we are told that in many cases these sacra were in the nature of acquired cults imposed by the community on family groups (Cincius, ap. Arnob. 3.38, “solere Romanos religiones urbium superatarum partim privatim per familias spargere, partim publice consecrare” ); and, if this were so, many of these gentile cults would not have had a natural growth, and “would have had as slender a connexion with the gens as the exercise of his office had with the person of the magistrate” (Mommsen, Staatsr. iii. p. 19). The worship of Apollo by the Julia gens is probably an instance of such an acquired cult. Connected, as has been seen, with the question of the sacra gentilicia is the question of the changing of his gens by an individual. Membership of a gens is either natural, as that by birth, or artificial; and all the artificial modes of membership, such as adoption, adrogation or marriage, are necessarily also modes of exchanging one gens for another. As regards birth, in the time of the exclusively patrician gentes, and before the extension of the jus conubii to the plebs (Liv. 4.1), marriage with a patrician mother, and by the ceremony of confarreatio, was necessary to constitute gentilitas for the child. This form of religious marriage also necessitated a change of gens on the part of the wife. Dionysius (2.5) tells us that a woman married by the confarreatio (κατὰ τοὺς ἱέρους νόμους became a sharer in the property and sacra of her husband (ἀνδρὶ κοινωνὸν ἁπάντων χρημάτων τε καὶ ἱερῶν), and there is some slight trace of her originally changing her gentile name as well (Plut. Qu. Rom. 30). A similar change of gens, accompanied by a change of citizenship, must have befallen the woman who married by confarreatio a member of another community which had the jus conubii with Rome. The religious was soon replaced by the secular marriage, requiring mere consensus on the part of the contracting parties; and where the confarreatio was still necessary, as in the case of wives of religious officers, such as the Flamen Dialis, we sometimes find the assumption by a wife of her husband's gentilitas in a modified form. She was in her husband's power (in potestate viri) only sacrorum causa (Tac. Ann. 4.16). The ordinary marriage by consensus did not lead to a woman's being in the potestas of her husband, except this was assumed by prescriptive right or by coemptio. In this case she became a member of the family; but that the logical conclusion was pressed, and that she became a member of the gens, is doubtful, and we must conclude with Mommsen that the anomaly resulted “of a Cornelia being in the power of an Aemilius, a patrician in that of a plebeian, even a Praenestine woman in that of a Roman burgess” (Staatsr. iii. p. 36).

The artificial assumption of new family ties through adoption and adrogation might necessitate a change in the gens. Adoption by will which replaced that through fictitious sale, and adrogation, or the definite renouncing of old family ties by a man who is sui juris for the purpose of seeking others, were performed, first through the action of the pontifices, to consider the question of the continuity of the sacra, next through the action of the curies, for the purpose of declaring the change of family or gens, and the fact that the rights of the old ones were renounced before those of the new one were assumed (Servius in Aen. 2.156, “consuetudo apud antiquos fuit, ut qui in familiam vel gentem transiret prius se abdicaret ab ea in qua fuerat et sic ab alia acciperetur” ). A new gens in these cases is acquired through a new familia. In the case of the recall of the dictator Camillus, if, with Mommsen, we take the proceedings in the Comitia Curiata mentioned by Livy (5.46) to refer, not to his appointment as dictator, but to his re-investment with his personal rights, this would be an instance of the attainment of a gens, without the intermediate attainment of a fresh familia (Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.41; ADOPTIO; ADROGATIO).

[Mommsen, Römisches Staatsrecht, iii. i. pp. 15-42; Becker, Handb. der Römischen Alterthümer, Th. ii., Abth. 1; Lange, Römische Alterthümer, Bd. i., Abschn. ii. (Das Gentilrecht); Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, i. pp. 306 ff. Ortolan's view of the relation of gentilitas to agnatio, differing from that taken in this article, will be found in his History of Roman Law (transl.), p. 588, and in the third volume of that work comprising the commentary on the Institutes of Justinian, tit. 2.1.]


hide References (21 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (21):
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.1.115
    • Cicero, Philippics, 1.13
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 2
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 1
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 1
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.16
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 1.39
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 18.7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 46
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 1
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 23
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 30
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 35
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 6
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 16
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 4
    • Cicero, De Republica, 2.14
    • Cicero, De Republica, 2.20
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: