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Ancient Roman family
Denarius issued by Aulus Postumius Albinus, moneyer in 96 BC. The obverse depicts a head of Diana, inscribed Roma, while the reverse features three horsemen trampling a fallen enemy.
The gens Postumia was a noble patrician family at ancient Rome. Throughout the history of the Republic, the Postumii frequently occupied the chief magistracies of the Roman state, beginning with Publius Postumius Tubertus, consul in 505 BC, the fifth year of the Republic. Although like much of the old Roman aristocracy, the Postumii faded for a time into obscurity under the Empire, individuals bearing the name of Postumius again filled a number of important offices from the second century AD to the end of the Western Empire.
The nomenPostumius is a patronymic surname, derived from the praenomenPostumus, which presumably belonged to the ancestor of the gens. That name is derived from the Latin adjective, postremus, meaning "last" or "hindmost," originally indicating a last-born or youngest child. However, its meaning has long been confounded with that of posthumous, indicating a child born after the death of the father; this misunderstanding is fostered by the fact that a posthumous child is also necessarily the youngest.
The most prominent families of the Postumii during the early Republic favored the praenomina Aulus, Spurius, and Lucius, with Marcus, Publius, and Quintus receiving lesser use. Other names are occasionally found toward the end of the Republic, including Gaius, Gnaeus, and Titus.
In the later Republic other surnames are found among the Postumii, including Megellus; Pyrgensis, from the Etruscan city of Pyrgi; Tempsanus, from Temesa, a city of Magna Graecia; and Tympanus, from tympanum, a drum. A few of Postumii without cognomina are known from various sources.
Aulus Postumius A. f. A. n. Albinus, served under Aemilius Paullus in 168 BC, he was given custody of Perseus. As consul in 151, he was imprisoned by the tribunes of the plebs for pursuing the levy with too much vigor. Later an ambassador to Greece, where he was well received, he wrote extensively in Greek, including a history of Rome, which was poorly regarded by other writers.
Spurius Postumius (Sp. f.) Albinus, consul in 110 BC, had command of the war against Jugurtha, but took no offensive action, either through indecision, susceptibility to the deceptions of the Numidian king, or, some alleged, bribery. He was subsequently condemned by the lex Mamilia, a law punishing those who had aided Jugurtha.
Aulus Postumius (Sp. f.) Albinus, legate under his brother, the consul Spurius, during the Jugurthine war, he was lured into an ambush and defeated by Jugurtha, and forced to submit. He was consul in 99 BC, and ten years later commander of a Roman fleet during the Social War, in the course of which he was murdered by his own men.
Aulus Postumius Albinus, placed in command of Sicily by Caesar in 48 BC.
Decimus Junius (D. f. D. n.) Brutus Albinus, a descendant of the Junii Bruti, was adopted by an unknown Aulus Postumius Albinus. Caesar placed him in command of his fleet during the Civil War, but Brutus would become one of his assassins.
Lucius Postumius S. f. (Megellus), father of Lucius Postumius Megellus, consul in 305, 294, and 291 BC.
Lucius Postumius L. f. S. n. Megellus, consul in 305 BC, during the Second Samnite War, captured a number of towns from the Samnites. Consul for the second time in 294, during the Third Samnite War, he defeated the Samnites and the Etruscans, and received a triumph. In his third consulship, BC 291, he captured Cominium, but made a number of enemies through his conduct, and was fined a previously unheard-of 500,000 asses.
Postumia, a Vestal Virgin, was accused of unchastity in 420 BC, apparently due to her taste in fashionable clothing and unseemly gregariousness. Although reprimanded by the Pontifex Maximus for her lack of humility, she was acquitted of the charges.
Lucius Postumius Tempsanus, praetor in 185 BC, was sent to deal with an insurrection in the neighborhood of Tarentum, which he put down with great severity. He also sought out fugitives alleged to have celebrated the Bacchanalia, after the panic attending the discovery of the rites at Rome.
Postumius, divined that Sulla would succeed in his endeavours, either before a battle with the Samnites in 90 BC, or during his march on Rome in 88. Postumius volunteered to be placed in chains, and put to death if he proved mistaken.
Lucius Postumius, praetor in 90 BC, was killed by the Samnites at Nola.
Marcus Postumius, a quaestor serving under Verres during his administration of Sicily in 73 BC.
Gaius Postumius Pollio, an architect, and probably the builder of the temple of Apollo at Tarracina. He was the master of Gaius Cocceius, who after receiving his freedom built the temple of Augustus at Puteoli.
^Niebuhr suggests that the Postumii bore the surname Regillensis as a result of having come from the town of Regillum, rather than from the battle. This is how the same cognomen came to be used by the early Claudii, who were residents of Regillum. Livy states that Scipio Africanus was the first to acquire a surname as the result of his military feats. However, the Romans themselves believed that the Postumii bore the surname Regillensis as a consequence of the battle, while the Claudii obtained it from their residence.
^ abcdeCrawford, Roman Republican Coinage, pp. 281, 335, 389.
^ abcDictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. III, p. 510 ("Postumia Gens").