Comparatively little is known about Aulus Gellius, the author of the Noctes Atticae, and our sources of information are almost entirely his own writings. There is difference of opinion as to the date and the place of his birth and of his death, as to the time and duration of his residence in Athens, and as to the time of his appointment as iudex and the beginning of his legal career. Opinions regarding these moot points are based upon his own statements or on the certain dates—also comparatively few in number—in the lives of various personages whom he mentions in the Noctes; and the estimates of different scholars vary greatly.
The gens Gellia was a clan of Samnite origin, which seems to have taken up its residence in Rome soon after the close of the second Punic war. Two generals of the family, Statius Gellius and Gellius Egnatius, fought against the Romans, the former in the first, the latter in the second Samnite war. The one was defeated and taken prisoner in 305 b.c.,1 the other lost his life in the battle of Sentinum in 295.2 At Rome one branch of the