plebeian; for the name of T. Caecilius in Livy (4.7
, comp. 6), the patrician consular tribune in B. C. 444, is a false reading for T. Cloelius.
A member of this gens is mentioned in history as early as the fifth century B. C.; but the first of the Caecilii who obtained the consulship was L. Caecilius Metellus Denter, in 284.
The family of the Metelli became from this time one of the most distinguished in the state. Like other Roman families in the later times of the republic, they traced their origin to a mythical personage, and pretended that they were descended from Caeculus, the founder of Praeneste [CAECULUS], or Caecas, the companion of Aeneas. (Festus, s. v. Caeculus.
) The cognomens of this gens under the republic are BASSUS, DENTER, MIETELLUS, NIGER, PINNA, RUFUS, of which the Metelli are the best known: for those whose cognomen is not mentioned, see CAECILIUS.