gens, ancient Roman kinship group. It was the counterpart of what is known in other societies as a patrilineal clan or sib, and the word has been used in social science as a generic term for such groupings. The members of the Roman gens were descended (or assumed to be descended) from a common ancestor, whose name was used by all the members of the group. The second name was the gens name (e.g., Tullius in Marcus Tullius Cicero). The members were united in worship of the common ancestor, and marriage within the gens was discouraged. In early Rome the gens had economic, political, religious, and social functions; it later came to mean little more than a family name. The Greek gens (genos) was similar to the Roman.

The gens Claudia was one of the oldest families in ancient Rome, and for centuries its members were regularly leaders of the city and empire.

The family was traditionally held to have begun with Attius Clausus, a Sabine who favored peace with Rome . This was an unpopular position that led to him leaving Regillus with his followers around 504 BC. Rome was welcoming however, making his followers citizens and giving them land, and making Appius Claudius Sabinus Inregillensis, as he was called in Latin, a senator. It is assumed that the name came from the Latin claudeo (to limp), as many of the family members were lame, probably from some congenital disorder.

Branches of the gens Claudia in the Early Republic

The following branches were descended from the first ancestor or founder Appius Claudius Sabinus.

Branches of the gens Claudia in the Middle Republic

The following branches were descended from the censor Appius Claudius Caecus.

Branches of the gens Claudia in the Late Republic

There were several major branches of the Claudian gens at the end of the Republic.

  • One obscure patrician branch of the family appears to have had no cognomen. A Lucius Claudius served as Rex Sacrorum in the mid-1st Century BC. He is doubly unusual, since "Lucius" is rare in any of the branches of the Claudii and unusual among patricians in general.
  • Those with the cognomen Nero were prominent patrician senators during the late Republic; they favoured the praenomen Tiberius. However, the Neros joined the gens Julia when Tiberius Claudius Nero, the son of another Ti. Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla, daughter of Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus (himself born a member of the other main branch of the gens Claudia - the Claudii Pulchri) was adopted by Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus thus forming the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
  • Those Claudii with the cognomen Marcellus (fem.Marcella, meaning martial) were plebeians. In the first century BC, this branch had three consuls in three successive years (51-49 BC; two brothers and their first cousin); they favoured the praenomina Gaius and Marcus. Gaius Claudius Marcellus (consul 49 BC) was married to Augustus' sister Octavia Minor and their son, Marcus, was married to Augustus' daughter, Julia the Elder. A sub-branch or off-shoot, whose antecedents are unclear, was additionally cognominated Aeserninus as in Marcus Claudius Marcellus Aeserninus.
  • Those Claudii with the cognomen Pulcher (fem. Pulchra, meaning "beautiful") were patricians and also very prominent in the Middle and Late Republic; they favoured the praenomina Appius (the only family to bear this praenomen) and Publius. A plebeian offshoot of this family was created when a Publius Claudius Pulcher, youngest son of an Appius, had himself adopted by a plebeian (for political reasons) and was thereafter known as Publius Clodius. One of his sisters, Clodia, wife of her cousin Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer, also adopted this vulgar spelling. This branch however fell into obscurity with Clodius's death; his daughter Clodia was briefly married to Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, the future Augustus.
  • As noted, some plebian Claudians used the gentilicium "Clodius."
  • Claudia (and Clodia) were the forms used by women.

Notable members of the gens Claudia

Note: Consuls of 51 and 49 BC were brothers and first cousins to the consul of 50 BC.

Note: Claudians after the death of Nero were most likely descended from freedmen of the Claudians, or men granted citizenship by Claudians.

See also


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