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List of pontifices maximi

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The pontifex maximus was the chief priest of the ancient Roman religion, and head of the Collegium Pontificum ("College of Pontiffs").

Background

According to legend, the first Pontifex Maximus was Numa Marcius, who was appointed by his friend, Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome. No other Pontifices Maximi are mentioned in surviving sources until the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally occurring in 509 BC. Once appointed, the Pontifex Maximus held his position for life; a new Pontifex Maximus was normally appointed following his death.

This list includes all of the Pontifices Maximi mentioned by historians and other ancient writers, down to the end of the Roman Republic. The list prior to the time of the First Punic War is presumably incomplete, as fewer than a dozen holders of the office are known from the first two-and-a-half centuries of the Republic. The last Pontifex Maximus of the Republican era was Lepidus, the triumvir. Upon his death, Augustus assumed the office, further consolidating his authority over the Roman state.

In the imperial era, it was customary for the emperor to serve as Pontifex Maximus. Although Constantine the Great reportedly converted to Christianity, and most of his successors were Christians, they continued to hold the office until the time of Gratian (375–383), who declined it,[1] instead assuming the title of Pontifex Inclytus, which was not associated with the former pagan state religion. The title of Pontifex Maximus thereafter fell into abeyance. After the sack of Constantinople and the end of the Eastern Roman Empire in the fifteenth century, the title was revived by the Popes, notwithstanding its pagan origins, and is now a part of the papacy's official titulature.

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Numa Marcius

Numa Marcius

Numa Marcius, son of Marcus, was the first Pontifex Maximus of Ancient Rome.

Numa Pompilius

Numa Pompilius

Numa Pompilius was the legendary second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus after a one-year interregnum. He was of Sabine origin, and many of Rome's most important religious and political institutions are attributed to him, such as the Roman calendar, Vestal Virgins, the cult of Mars, the cult of Jupiter, the cult of Romulus, and the office of pontifex maximus.

King of Rome

King of Rome

The king of Rome was the ruler of the Roman Kingdom. According to legend, the first king of Rome was Romulus, who founded the city in 753 BC upon the Palatine Hill. Seven legendary kings are said to have ruled Rome until 509 BC, when the last king was overthrown. These kings ruled for an average of 35 years.

Overthrow of the Roman monarchy

Overthrow of the Roman monarchy

The overthrow of the Roman monarchy was an event in ancient Rome that took place between the 6th and 5th centuries BC where a political revolution replaced the then-existing Roman monarchy under Lucius Tarquinius Superbus with a republic. The details of the event were largely forgotten by the Romans a few centuries later; later Roman historians invented a narrative of the events, traditionally dated to c. 509 BC, but this narrative is largely believed to be fictitious by modern scholars.

Roman Republic

Roman Republic

The Roman Republic was a form of government of Rome and the era of the classical Roman civilization when it was run through public representation of the Roman people. Beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire, Rome's control rapidly expanded during this period—from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world.

First Punic War

First Punic War

The First Punic War was the first of three wars fought between Rome and Carthage, the two main powers of the western Mediterranean in the early 3rd century BC. For 23 years, in the longest continuous conflict and greatest naval war of antiquity, the two powers struggled for supremacy. The war was fought primarily on the Mediterranean island of Sicily and its surrounding waters, and also in North Africa. After immense losses on both sides, the Carthaginians were defeated.

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (triumvir)

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (triumvir)

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus was a Roman general and statesman who formed the Second Triumvirate alongside Octavian and Mark Antony during the final years of the Roman Republic. Lepidus had previously been a close ally of Julius Caesar. He was also the last pontifex maximus before the Roman Empire, and (presumably) the last interrex and magister equitum to hold military command.

Augustus

Augustus

Caesar Augustus, also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor; he reigned from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He is known for being the founder of the Roman Principate, which is the first phase of the Roman Empire, and is considered one of the greatest leaders in human history. The reign of Augustus initiated an imperial cult as well as an era associated with imperial peace, the Pax Romana or Pax Augusta. The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession.

Roman Empire

Roman Empire

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, and was ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus as the first Roman emperor to the military anarchy of the 3rd century, it was a Principate with Italia as the metropole of its provinces and the city of Rome as its sole capital. The Empire was later ruled by multiple emperors who shared control over the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. The city of Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until AD 476 when the imperial insignia were sent to Constantinople following the capture of the Western capital of Ravenna by the Germanic barbarians. The adoption of Christianity as the state church of the Roman Empire in AD 380 and the fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings conventionally marks the end of classical antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Because of these events, along with the gradual Hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire, historians distinguish the medieval Roman Empire that remained in the Eastern provinces as the Byzantine Empire.

Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great

Constantine I, also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor from AD 306 to 337, the first one to convert to Christianity. Born in Naissus, Dacia Mediterranea, he was the son of Flavius Constantius, a Roman army officer of Illyrian origin who had been one of the four rulers of the Tetrarchy. His mother, Helena, was a Greek Christian of low birth. Later canonized as a saint, she is traditionally attributed with the conversion of her son. Constantine served with distinction under the Roman emperors Diocletian and Galerius. He began his career by campaigning in the eastern provinces before being recalled in the west to fight alongside his father in Britain. After his father's death in 306, Constantine became emperor. He was acclaimed by his army at Eboracum, and eventually emerged victorious in the civil wars against emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become the sole ruler of the Roman Empire by 324.

Gratian

Gratian

Gratian was emperor of the Western Roman Empire from 367 to 383. The eldest son of Valentinian I, Gratian accompanied his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers and was raised to the rank of Augustus in 367. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian took over government of the west while his half-brother Valentinian II was also acclaimed emperor in Pannonia. Gratian governed the western provinces of the empire, while his uncle Valens was already the emperor over the east.

Pope

Pope

The Pope, also known as supreme pontiff, Roman pontiff or sovereign pontiff, is the bishop of Rome, head of the worldwide Catholic Church, and has also served as the head of state or sovereign of the Papal States and later the Vatican City State since the eighth century. From a Catholic viewpoint, the primacy of the bishop of Rome is largely derived from his role as the apostolic successor to Saint Peter, to whom primacy was conferred by Jesus, who gave Peter the Keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing", naming him as the "rock" upon which the Church would be built. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013.

Pontifices maximi of the Roman Kingdom

Pontifices maximi of the Roman Republic

The Pontifex Maximus held his office for life, but the date of death is not known for every man who held the office, and the name of the Pontifex is not recorded for every period. Unless otherwise noted, dates and citations of primary sources are from T.R.S. Broughton's three-volume The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (American Philological Association, 1951, 1986).

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Marcus Horatius Pulvillus

Marcus Horatius Pulvillus

Marcus Horatius Pulvillus was an aristocrat before and during the early Roman Republic at the time of the overthrow of the Roman monarchy. He was a suffect consul in 509 BC and elected again in 507 BC, according to the Varronian chronology.

Aulus Cornelius Cossus

Aulus Cornelius Cossus

Aulus Cornelius Cossus was a Roman general from the early Republic. He is most famous for being the second Roman, after Romulus, to be awarded the spolia opima, Rome's highest military honor, for killing the commander of an enemy army in single combat. Only three Romans ever achieved this feat, but a fourth winner was officially denied the honor by a jealous Consul Caesar Octavianus who insisted the honor was limited exclusively to Roman commanders. Cornelius Cossus proves otherwise.

Roman consul

Roman consul

A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic, and ancient Romans considered the consulship the second-highest level of the cursus honorum after that of the censor. Each year, the Centuriate Assembly elected two consuls to serve jointly for a one-year term. The consuls alternated in holding fasces – taking turns leading – each month when both were in Rome. A consul's imperium extended over Rome and all its provinces.

Praenomen

Praenomen

The praenomen was a personal name chosen by the parents of a Roman child. It was first bestowed on the dies lustricus, the eighth day after the birth of a girl, or the ninth day after the birth of a boy. The praenomen would then be formally conferred a second time when girls married, or when boys assumed the toga virilis upon reaching manhood. Although it was the oldest of the tria nomina commonly used in Roman naming conventions, by the late republic, most praenomina were so common that most people were called by their praenomina only by family or close friends. For this reason, although they continued to be used, praenomina gradually disappeared from public records during imperial times. Although both men and women received praenomina, women's praenomina were frequently ignored, and they were gradually abandoned by many Roman families, though they continued to be used in some families and in the countryside.

Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus

Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus

Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus was one of the two elected Roman consuls in 298 BC. He led the Roman army to victory against the Etruscans near Volterra. A member of the noble Roman family of Scipiones, he was the father of Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Asina and great-grandfather of Scipio Africanus.

Jurist

Jurist

A jurist is a person with expert knowledge of law; someone who analyses and comments on law. This person is usually a specialist legal scholar, mostly with a formal qualification in law and often a legal practitioner. In the United Kingdom the term "jurist" is mostly used for legal academics, while in the United States the term may also be applied to a judge. With reference to Roman law, a "jurist" is a jurisconsult (iurisconsultus).

Roman law

Roman law

Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables, to the Corpus Juris Civilis ordered by Eastern Roman emperor Justinian I. Roman law forms the basic framework for civil law, the most widely used legal system today, and the terms are sometimes used synonymously. The historical importance of Roman law is reflected by the continued use of Latin legal terminology in many legal systems influenced by it, including common law.

Lucius Caecilius Metellus (consul 251 BC)

Lucius Caecilius Metellus (consul 251 BC)

Lucius Caecilius Metellus was the son of Lucius Caecilius Metellus Denter. He was Consul in 251 BC and 247 BC, Pontifex Maximus beginning about 243 BC and Dictator in 224 BC.

Palladium (classical antiquity)

Palladium (classical antiquity)

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Palladium or Palladion was a cult image of great antiquity on which the safety of Troy and later Rome was said to depend, the wooden statue (xoanon) of Pallas Athena that Odysseus and Diomedes stole from the citadel of Troy and which was later taken to the future site of Rome by Aeneas. The Roman story is related in Virgil's Aeneid and other works. Rome possessed an object regarded as the actual Palladium for several centuries; it was in the care of the Vestal Virgins for nearly all this time.

Publius Licinius Crassus Dives (consul 205 BC)

Publius Licinius Crassus Dives (consul 205 BC)

Publius Licinius Crassus Dives was consul in 205 BC with Scipio Africanus; he was also Pontifex Maximus since 213 or 212 BC, and held several other important positions. Licinius Crassus is mentioned several times in Livy's Histories. He is first mentioned in connection with his surprising election as Pontifex Maximus, and then several times since in various other capacities.

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum was a politician of the Roman Republic. Born into the illustrious family of the Cornelii Scipiones, he was one of the most important Roman statesmen of the second century BC, being consul two times in 162 and 155 BC, censor in 159 BC, pontifex maximus in 150 BC, and finally princeps senatus in 147 BC.

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio was a Roman politician. He is most well known for mobilising the mob which killed Tiberius Gracchus, who was at the time attempting to stand for re-election as plebeian tribune in 133 BC. He was consul in 138 BC and served as pontifex maximus, from possibly 141 through to his death in 132 BC.

Source: "List of pontifices maximi", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, March 17th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pontifices_maximi.

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Notes
  1. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Gratian
  2. ^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus 3.36.4; T.R.S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (American Philological Association, 1951, 1986), vol. 1, p. 4.
  3. ^ Broughton, vol i, pp. 3-6, note 3, pp.4, Cicero, Dom. 139, fr. 15 Consol. Valerius Maximus 5.10.1, Seneca Cons. ad. Marc. 13.1, places him in 508 BC
  4. ^ Livy 3.54.5.
  5. ^ Asconius 77C; Broughton, MRR1, p. 49.
  6. ^ Livy 4.27.1; Broughton, MRR1, p. 64.
  7. ^ Plutarch, "On Putting One's Enemies to Use 6 (see also Livy 4.44.11–12); Broughton, MRR1, p. 71
  8. ^ Livy 5.41.3; Plutarch, Camillus 21.3 (as Fabius); Broughton, MRR1, p. 96; Jörg Rüpke, Fasti sacerdotum (Franz Steiner, 2005), p. 1000.
  9. ^ Livy 25.5.4; Broughton, MRR1, p. 142.
  10. ^ Livy 9.46.6; Broughton, MRR1, p. 168.
  11. ^ Broughton, MRR1, pp. 210 and 218, attested widely in works by Cicero and other sources.
  12. ^ Livy, Periochae 19; Valerius Maximus 8.13.2; Broughton, MRR1, pp. 218 and 234.
  13. ^ Livy 22.10.1; Broughton, MRR1, p. 234.
  14. ^ Livy 25.5.2–4 and 39.46.1; Broughton, MRR1, pp. 271, 381.
  15. ^ Livy 39.46.1 and 40.42.6 and 11–12; Broughton, MRR1, pp. 381, 390.
  16. ^ Livy 40.42.6 and 11–12, Periochae 48; Broughton, MRR1, p. 390.
  17. ^ Cicero, De senectute 50, De natura deorum 3.5, De oratore 3.134; Broughton, MRR1, pp. 390, 457.
  18. ^ Broughton, MRR1, pp. 478–479, 499, citing multiple testimonia.
  19. ^ Broughton, MRR1, pp. 499, 503.
  20. ^ Broughton, MRR1, pp. 503, 532.
  21. ^ Asconius 45–46C; Broughton, MRR1, pp. 532, 534.
  22. ^ Broughton, MRR1, pp. 564–564; MRR2 (1952), p. 37.
  23. ^ Broughton, MRR2, pp. 37, 73.
  24. ^ Broughton, MRR2, pp. 73, 171, 172 (note 3).
  25. ^ Broughton, MRR2, pp. 171, 172 (note 3), 333.
  26. ^ Velleius Paterculus, 2.43; Plutarch, Caesar 7; Suetonius, Divus Julius 13.
  27. ^ Broughton, MRR2, p. 333.
Further reading
  • Bowersock, G. W. (1990). "The Pontificate of Augustus", in Kurt A. Raaflaub and Mark Toher (eds.): Between Republic and Empire: Interpretations of Augustus and his Principate. Berkeley: University of California Press, 380–394. ISBN 0-520-08447-0.

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