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The Petronii (German: Petronians) were an important family ( gens Petronia) in ancient Rome.


The Petronius family does not seem to have been Roman originally, but rather Etruscan, Umbrian or Sabine. In what was once Umbrian Perusia (today Perugia ) there were ash boxes with Etruscan inscriptions (a branch of the Petronius family was later nicknamed "Umbrinus"), in Montepulciano there lived a haruspex C. Petronius, son of Crispina, (although the mother's name is typical is Etruscan) and also in Praeneste (today: Palestrina ) there are old tombstones with the Etruscan name "Petruni", which maybe from the 7th / 6th centuries. Century.

Like other families, the Petronians traced back to very old ancestors, whose historical existence is doubtful. In the first book of the Exempla collection of Valerius Maximus (published 31 AD), which deals with religion, there is a paradigmatic narrative that is hardly concerned with historical correctness. Maximus reports that the Roman king Tarquinius Superbus once acquired the Sibylline books and ordered two selected men to protect them. One of them, a certain Atilius, was soon bribed by a Sabine named Petronius to allow him to copy the books. Atilius was then bagged like a parricide . In 495 BC BC one is said to have consulted the Sibylline books copied by Petronius before the temple of Liber, Libera and Ceres was dedicated.

The narrative is hardly historical.

Petronii during the Roman Republic

The name Petronius does not actually appear in Rome until the 2nd century BC. Chr.

  • The historian Polybius reports on a C. Petronius who died in 156 BC. To Asia to investigate the issues between the kings of Pergamon and Bithynia.
  • In the following hundred years the name Petronius appears on Delos and in the Fabian Tribus in Rome
  • An L. Petronius, of low origin, achieved knighthood through his friend P. Coelius Caldus. 87 BC He fell as commander in Placentia (today Piacenza ).
  • At the time of Caesar there were already several Petronii with military rank. In 53 a Petronius served as a military tribune under Crassus and was an eyewitness to his death in the fight against the Parthians
  • An M. Petronius served as a centurion in Caesar's VIII Legion and sacrificed himself for his fellow soldiers during the conquest of Gergovia (52 BC).
  • Another M. Petronius was a co-conspirator against Caesar. He fled in 41 BC. Together with other followers of the Caesar killers Brutus and Cassius to Ephesus. Antonius pardons those pleading for protection. Only Petronius was convicted - although he too had sought asylum in the temple - because he was directly involved in the murder of Caesar in 44 BC. Was involved.

Petronii during the imperial era

The Senator L. Petronius Rufus (= PIR² P 305) was on May 23, 17 BC. Chr. Witness to a Senate decision.

Petronii without cognomen / Petronii Turpiliani

The most important branch of the family were the Petronii without cognomen (it seems that individual sons of this family nonetheless carried the cognomen Turpilianus). Apparently, in this family in particular, one held a Sabine descent to the credit. The founder of this branch was:

  • Publius Petronius (Prefect of Egypt) (erroneously called Gaius), Roman knight, approx. 25-21 Prefect of Egypt (= PIR² P 270), perhaps identical to 53 BC. Chr. Called military tribunes of the Crassus.
  • Publius Petronius Turpilianus (mint master) , Roman mint master (IIIvir monetalis) around 20-18 BC. Chr., Possibly. Son of the previous one, probably identical to the proconsul of the same name from Hispania Baetica around 6/5 BC. Beginning with him, the family belongs to the senatorial class. (= PIR² P 314)
  • Petronia , first wife of the later emperor Vitellius (probably daughter of Publius), mother of
- Petronianus Vitellius and des
- Servius Cornelius Dolabella Petronianus (Consul 86) (= PIR² P 323)

The most important son of this line was undoubtedly the poet

  • Titus Petronius called Arbiter (* approx. 14, † 66 AD), erroneously also Publius Petronius Niger, Roman politician and writer, author of Satyricon, also probably a son of the augur Publius Petronius. (= PIR² P 294)

Petronii Nigri

Possibly closely related to this line are the Petronii Nigri:

  • Publius Petronius Niger , 62 suffect consul (son of the previous one) (see PIR² P 294, there mixed with Titus Petr. Arbiter),
  • sh. a. under Pontia (probably daughter of P. Petronius Niger) (= PIR² P 832)

Petronii Umbri (ni)

In addition, the Petronii Umbri (ni) family gained some importance early on:

  • C. Petronius Umbrinus, (before 24 AD) (= PIR² P 319)
  • Petronia Cf, daughter of the previous one, married to Galeo (Tettienus) (= PIR² P 324)
  • Q. Petronius Umber, 54 legate of Neros in Galatia (brother of the previous ones) (= PIR² P 318)
  • M. Petronius Umbrinus, 81 suffect consul (son of the previous one) (= PIR² P 320)
  • M. Petronius Cremutius, 87 Arvalbruder (son of the previous one) (= PIR² P 278)

Further Petronii of the 1st century

In the 1st century AD there are also:

  • Petronius Musa, 1st century pharmacologist (= PIR² P 293) (see Publius Petronius Niger )
  • Petronius Aristocrates, from Magnesia, philosopher, elder friend and teacher d. A. Persius Flaccus (34-62)
  • A. Petronius Lurco , 58 suffect consul, (= PIR² P 284)
  • Petronius Priscus, banned as a participant in the Pisonian Conspiracy in 65 (= PIR² P 297)
  • M. Petronius Flaccus, 61 mentioned as a knight together with M. Petronius Narcissus (a freedman?) In Pannonia ( AE 1998, 1056 )
  • Petronius Urbi (cus), 68 Procurator v. Norica (= PIR² P 322)
  • P. Petronius Secundus, probably father of P. Petronius Achaicus ( grave inscription in Smyrna )
  • Other members of the Petronius Secundus family are the following prefect of Egypt and later L. Petronius Secundus, who was buried by his father of the same name in the Priscilla catacomb in Rome and was therefore probably a Christian (ILCV 738)

Petronii as prefect of Egypt

In the year 88 AD a rich lady is mentioned in Egypt, named

  • Petronia Magna.

According to Publius Petronius in the 1st century BC A number of Petronii appear as prefects of Egypt from the end of the 1st to the middle of the 2nd century BC (see above):

  • Titus Petronius Secundus († 97), 92 Prefect v. Egypt, Praetorian prefect (= PIR² P 308)
  • Petronius quadratus, at the beginning of the 2nd century (124/126?) Prefect v. Egypt (= PIR² P 303)
  • M. Petronius Mamertinus, 133-137 Prefect v. Egypt, 139–143 Praetorian prefect (= PIR² P 288)
  • M. Petronius Honoratus , 147/148 Prefect v. Egypt (probably brother of the previous one) (= PIR² P 281)

Petronii Mamertini

The two last-mentioned Petronii belong to the Petronii Mamertini family, whose members held various high offices in the 2nd century:

  • M Petronius Sura, Proconsul under Hadrian (= PIR² P 310), brother of M. Petr. Mamertinus preaf. aeg. , Father of (Petronius) Antoninus (PIR² P 273)
  • M. Petronius Mamertinus, 150 suffect consul (= PIR² P 287), son of the previous one
  • Petronius (Sura?) Antoninus (PIR² P 272)

Petronii as procurators, city prefects, consuls and in other high offices from the 2nd to the 4th century.

From the 2nd to the 4th century there were always other Petronii who held high and highest offices:

  • Q. Petronius Modestus, son of Gaius, between 96 a. 102 Procurator of Hispania citerior (= PIR² P 292)
  • C. Petronius Celer, 137 Procurator v. Mauritania (= PIR² P 277)
  • T. Petronius Priscus, under Hadrian procurator of Asia a. Syria (= PIR² P 300)
  • ? P. Petronius Priscus, ( Praetor ?), 184 Magister of the Arval Brothers, † after 193. (= PIR² P 299)
  • Q. Petronius Melior, father of
  • Q. Petronius Melior, around 184 procurator annonae (= PIR² P 291)
  • ? Q. Petronius Melior, prefectus frumenti dandi (= PIR² P 290)
  • L. Petronius Sabinus, (son of the previous one?) From Ancona, procurator Augustorum under Marcus Antoninus and Commodus (177–180) (= PIR² P 307)
  • Petronius Junior, a nobleman killed by Septimius Severus (193-211) (= PIR² P 282)
  • L. Petronius Verus, 198 Procurator of Galatia (= PIR² P 316)
  • C. Petronius Magnus, consular, called 223., (= PIR² P 286), probably identical with Petronius Magnus, praetor under Caracalla , and with the anti-emperor Magnus of the year 235
  • In 225, Father Petronius Felix, former Tribune of the Praetorians, founded a portico with his son in Thuburbo Maius (Tunisia).
  • Petronius Victorinus gen. 256 (= PIR² P 317)
  • L. Petronius Taurus Volusianus, 261 consul, 267/68 city prefect (= PIR² P 313)
  • Petronius Annianus, 314 consul
  • Petronius Claudius, 369 and 370 proconsul v. Africa
  • Petronius Apollodorus, 370 pontifex maior
  • Petronius, 390 vicarius Africae

Petronii Probi (ani)

From the beginning of the 4th to the beginning of the 6th century the branch of Petronii Probiani represents a number of consuls:

  • Petronius Probianus, 322 consul, 329-31 city prefect
  • Petronius Probinus, 341 consul, 345/46 city prefect
  • Petronius Probinus, 489 consul

Petronii as a relative of the emperors

Even in the closest relatives of the emperors there are always members of the family, after all a Petronius even becomes an emperor himself:

  • Petronius Didius Severus, father of Emperor Didius Iulianus (* 133 in Milan; † 193)
  • M. Petronius Sura, son-in-law of Emperor Mark Aurel (121–180) (= PIR² P 311) (see above)
  • Petronius Antoninus, grandson of the emperor Mark Aurel (121–180) (= PIR² P 272), son of the previous one
  • Petronius, father-in-law of Emperor Valens (364–378)
  • Petronius Maximus , 433 a. 433 Consul, Western Rom. Emperor from March 17 to May 31, 455 (* 396; † 455 in Rome)

Petronii as bishops and other representatives of the high clergy

From the 4th century onwards, the higher clergy also included members of the Petronius family in their ranks:

  • L. Petronius Dexter, bishop in Clusium † 322
  • Petronius, bishop in the eastern half of the empire, participant in an allegedly Roman synod under Pope Silvester I (314–335)
  • Petronius of Ionopolis / Abunoteichos, bishop and participant in the Council of Nicaea 325
  • Petronius, Abbot of the White Monastery († 346)
  • Petronius, 431 Bishop of Nevae (Nabav)
  • Petronius Bononiensis , saint and bishop of Bologna († 450 at the latest)
  • Petronius, Gallic bishop, Mitadressat a letter from Pope Leo I. v. 27.1.452; possibly identical to
  • Petronius, Bishop of Die (Dea Augusta) (before 463)
  • Petronius, 487 or 488 Roman presbyter
  • Petronius Aredius, 644 Bishop of Vaison

Released Petronii

In addition to these families, many hundreds of Petronii have immortalized themselves in inscriptions (probably mostly released slaves). The following collection of Cognomina does not claim to be complete:

Petronius ... Achilles / Achillius, Adaucta, Aelus, Agilus, Amerimnus, Amphionus, Andronicus, Annianus, Antoninus, Apronianus, Aquila, Aquileiensus, Argentillus, Avita,
Castus, Cautinus, Celsus, Certus, Charito, Chryseros, Classi / cus Marrucinus, Cominianus, Crassillus ?, Crescens,
Discoridianus, Dossenus, Dyssullus,
Epactianus, Epitynchan (o), Euscherus, Exoratus,
Felix, Fisianus, Florentinus, Florinus, Fortunatus,
Galerius, Gemellus / Gemelliaasmid,
Hermesatus, , Hermonax, Hilary,
Institutus, Iucundus, Justus,
Laudocius / Laodicius, Liccaeus,
Maevius (Mevius) Mamertinus, Marcella, Marcianus, Martial, Maternushaus, maximus / Maximillus, Myrismus Iunior,
Nepos, Nicepor / Nicephorus, Numphodotus,
Parthenius , Pauper, Philomusus, Pierius, Petronianus, Philogenes, Potens, Primigenius, Primitivus, Primus / Primulus, Priscus / Priscianus, Proculus, Probus, Pupinius Modestus,
Romanus, Rusticus,
Saturus, Salvius / Salvianus, Scaenarius, Severus / Severinus, Stephanus, Sucessus, Sulla,
Tenax, Tertius, Thiasus, Trophimus, Tryphon,
Urnius, Ursus / Ursulus, Valens, Veteranus, Vocusianus

See also


  • Wilhelm Kroll (ed.): Paulys Real Encyclopedia of Classical Classical Studies. Vol. 19 (Stuttgart, 1938) Col. 1192-1234.
  • Adolf Lippold, Rudolf Hanslik: Petronius . In: Der Kleine Pauly , Vol. 4 (1972) Col. 672-674.
  • Prosopographia Imperii Romani , 2nd edition, part 6 (Berlin, 1998), (PIR² P), no. 264-332 u. 812.
  • Der Neue Pauly , Vol. 9 (Stuttgart and Weimar, 2000) Col. 671-677.


  1. or M. Tullius, Dionysius Rom. ant. IV 62 calls him M. Aetilius
  2. Tarquinius autem rex M. Atilium duumvirum, quod librum secreta rituum civilium sacrorum continentem, custodiae suae conmissum corruptus Petronio Sabino describendum dedisset, culleo insutum in mare abici iussit, idque supplicii genus multo post parricidis est, iustrogissum est ac deorum violatio expianda est. (Valer. Max. I 1.13 cf. RE XIX 1230).
  3. Polyb. XXXII 28.3
  4. L. Petronius before 151/150, P. Petronius in the year 88 BC. Chr. (RE XIX 1231f.)
  5. (Titus Petronius, son of Publius, officer in the alliance war 89 BC (RE XIX 1232)
  6. Valerius Maximus VII.5; RE XIX 1231.
  7. Plutarch Crassus 30f)
  8. APPIAN bello civ. V 1.4
  9. CIL VI 32323 v. 51 acta ludorum saecularum (RE XI .1 Sp. 1222)
  10. ^ According to Suetonius vita Persii, one of the most learned and venerable men ( doctissimorum et sanctissimorum virorum ); RE 19 (1938) col. 1214
  11. RE 19 (1938) col. 1221
  12. RE 19 (1938) col. 1197