Gaius Pius Esuvius Tetricus was the last emperor of the short-lived Gallic Empire (260–274 AD).

"Tetricus" in Latin means cheerless or dark, which makes me think there may be an anecdote on how he got that nickname.

So far, I searched in Google, Wikipedia, and the Historia Augusta and I have not found anything about its origin.

1 Answer 1


You know that the full name of the Gallic emperor was Gaius Pius Esuvius Tetricus. Gaius was his personal name, and either Esuvius or Tetricus was his Nomen or clan name. If Esuvius was his Nomen or clan name Tetricus would have been his cognomen, the name of his family within his clan. The son and caesar and possibly co emperor of Tetricus was also named Gaius Pius Esuvius Tetricus though usually known as Tetricus II in English.

If Tetricus was a cognomen, it is important to note thatCognomen were hereditary and passed on from one generation to the next, and that many cognomen have obscure and uncertain meanings and it was common for a cognomen to be based on a nickname. So if the meanings of Tetricus include cheerless or dark, the original Tetricus ancestor would have been nicknamed Tetricus because he was either gloomy or cheerful, depending on if the nicknamed was meant literally or ironically.

Considering the scant available information about 3rd century Roman history I doubt that there is a recorded anecdote about why the ancestor of the Gallic emperor was named Tetricus.

  • I have read that Tetricus was his agnomen, and he exceptionally passed it to his son, in imitation of Caesar.
    – Brasidas
    Feb 2, 2017 at 3:50
  • Caesar (title) from Wikipedia: "The use of Caesar for the junior partner in a consortium imperii naturally occurred also in break-away 'empires', eager to copy the Rome-proper original; e.g. the last Gallic emperor, Tetricus I, granted the title to his son, Tetricus II."
    – Brasidas
    Feb 2, 2017 at 3:54
  • Brasildas - If the Gallic Emperor was the first to be called Tetricus, I can only point out that it should be been ment either literally or ironically.
    – MAGolding
    Feb 12, 2017 at 17:45
  • 1
    Here is a link to a brief modern mention of the name of Tetricus. books.google.com/…
    – MAGolding
    Feb 12, 2017 at 17:48
  • Same book, but free link: archive.org/stream/archaeologicaljo49brit/…. Very promising preview: "It was no doubt suggested by the history of the name of Tetricus. Until 1866 everyone credited Tetricus with the..." Sadly, the author only talks about Tetricus' nomen and cognomen. Thanks anyways!
    – Brasidas
    Feb 12, 2017 at 17:59

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