It appears that gens Foslia for example only produced one: Marcus Foslius Flaccinator in 433.

Are there examples of patrician families that produced no consuls?

Or is it that our knowledge of patrician families comes mainly from the lists of consuls in the first place? So that there may have been patrician families out there that never produced a consul and we would never know about them?

1 Answer 1


According to Titus Livius (Livy) the patrician families were founded during the reign of the first King of Rome, namely Romulus. Livy says of Romulus in his Ab Urbe Condita, 1.8:

He created a hundred senators; either because that number was adequate, or because there were only a hundred heads of houses who could be created. In any case they were called the "Patres" in virtue of their rank, and their descendants were called "Patricians."

From what I can deduce, these families did not necessarily come to be patrician because any of the individual members acquired the rank of consul, but came to be so due to their proximity to the first king as advisors. Their prominant position in Roman social life certainly gave them an advantage in acquiring the consulship as it was reserved solely for the patricians until the institution of the Lex Licinia Sextia in 367 B.C.

I had a look at a list of the known patrician families on Wikipedia and searched through the known list of consulships which confirmed the Foslia, Potitii, Pollii and Siccia gentes never produced a consul. So yes, it would appear that there were patrician families which never produced a consul and those families are bound to be more obscure in the historical records in comparison to those families which managed to maintain exclusive control of the office.

  • Excellent answer. (I started to answer, but your research and your results were better)
    – MCW
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 18:51
  • @Mark C. Wallace Thanks! Roman Republican history is my passion. Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 19:52
  • The first gens you mentioned was in my question and did have a consular tribune: The gens Foslia, later Folia, was a patrician family at Rome. The first of the gens to appear in history was Marcus Foslius Flaccinator, consular tribune in 433 BC. The remaining three appear to be correct.
    – Caleb Paul
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 16:57
  • 2
    The consular tribunate was different to the consulship. The "tribuni militum consulari potestate" was a military tribune with consular power, an office which was introduced during the "struggle of the orders" which I touch upon briefly in the latter half of my second paragraph. Although similar in name, it was a different office altogether. Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 8:00

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