a celebrated plebeian gens, to which belonged C. Licinius Calvus Stolo, whose exertions threw open the consulship to the plebeians, and which became one of the most illustrious gentes in the latter days of the republic, by the Crassi and Luculli, who were likewise members of it.
The origin of the gens is uncertain.
A bilingual inscription, published by Lanzi (Saggio di Lingua Etrusc.
vol. ii. p. 342, Rom. 1789), shows that the name of Lecne,
which frequently occurs in Etruscan sepulchral monuments, corresponds to that of Licinius, and hence it would appear that the family was of Etruscan origin.
This opinion is thought to be supported by the fact, that in the consulship of C. Licinius Calvus Stolo, B. C. 364, Etruscan players took part in the public games at Rome; but as it is recorded by Livy that scenic games were established in this year to avert the anger of the gods, and that Etruscan players were accordingly sent for (Liv. 7.2
), it is not necessary to imagine that this was done simply because Licinius kept up his connection with Etruria. We moreover find the name in the cities of Latium, both in the form of a cognomen (Licinus), and of the gentile name (Licinius). Thus we meet in Tusculum with the Porcii Licini [LICINUS], and in Lanuvium with the Licinii Murenae [MURENA].
The name would therefore seem to have been originally spread both through Etruria and Latium.
The first member of this gens who obtained the consulship, was the celebrated C. Licinius Calvus Stolo, in B. C. 364; and from this period down to the later times of the empire, the Licinii constantly held some of the higher offices of the state, until eventually they obtained the imperial dignity. [See below, p. 783.]
The family-names of this gens are, CALVUS (with the agnomens Esquilinus
), CRASSUS (with the agnomen Dives
), GETA, LUCULLUS, MACER, MURENA, NERVA, SACERDOS, VARUS. The other cognomens of this gens are personal surnames rather than family-names: they are ARCHIAS, CAECINA [CAECINA, No. 10], DAMASIPPUS, IMBREX, LARTIUS, LENTICULUS, NEPOS, PROCULUS, REGULUS, RUFINUS, SQUILLUS, TEGULA. The only cognomens which occur on coins are Crassus, Macer, Alurena, Nerva, Stolo.
A few Licinii occur without a surname: they are, with one or two exceptions, freedmen, and are given under LICINIUS.