Lives of the Caesars, VI

Liber VI


I. Ex gente Domitia duae familiae claruerunt, Calvinorum et Ahenobarborum. Ahenobarbi auctorem originis itemque cognominis habent L. Domitium, cui rure quondam revertenti iuvenes gemini augustiore forma ex occursu imperasse traduntur, nuntiaret senatui ac populo victoriam, de qua incertum adhuc erat; atque in fidem maiestatis adeo permulsisse malas, ut e nigro rutilum aerique adsimilem capillum redderent. Quod insigne mansit 2 et in posteris eius, ac magna pars rutila barba fuerunt. Functi autem consulatibus septem, triumpho censuraque duplici et inter patricios adlecti perseveraverunt omnes in eodem cognomine. Ac ne praenomina quidem ulla praeterquam Gnaei et Luci usurparunt; eaque ipsa notabili varietate, modo continuantes unum quodque per trinas personas, modo alternantes per singulas. Nam primum secundumque ac tertium Ahenobarborum Lucios, sequentis rursus tres ex ordine Gnaeos accepimus, reliquos non nisi vicissim tum Lucios tum Gnaeos. Pluris e familia cognosci





I. Of the Domitian family two branches have acquired distinction, the Calvini and the Ahenobarbi. The latter have as the founder of their race and the origin of their surname Lucius Domitius, to whom, as he was returning from the country, there once appeared twin youths of more than mortal majesty, so it is said, and bade him carry to the senate and people the news of a victory,1 which was as yet unknown. And as a token of their divinity it is said that they stroked his cheeks and turned his black beard to a ruddy hue, like that of bronze. This sign was perpetuated in his descendants, a great part of whom had red beards. After they had attained seven consulships,2 a triumph,3 and two censorships,4 and were enrolled among the patricians, they all continued to use the same surname. They confined their forenames to Gnaeus and Lucius, and used even these with a noteworthy variation, now conferring each one on three members of the family in succession, and now giving them to individual members in turn. Thus the first, second, and third of the Ahenobarbi, we are told, were called Lucius, the next three in order Gnaeus, while all those that followed were called in turn first Lucius and then Gnaeus. It seems to me worth while to give an account

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.suetonius-lives_caesars_book_vi_nero.1914