Ancient History & Civilisation


Before Augustus

ROMULUS: Founder and first king of Rome.

REMUS: His twin brother. Killed in mysterious circumstances.

TARQUIN THE PROUD: The last king of Rome, expelled in 509 BC.

BRUTUS: Tarquin’s cousin, and leader of the revolution that founded the Republic.

CORNELIUS COSSUS: The second Roman general, after Romulus, to win the ‘spoils of honour’.

MARCUS CURTIUS: A Roman who sacrificed himself for the good of his city by jumping into a mysterious chasm.

SCIPIO AFRICANUS: The conqueror of Carthage.

MARCELLUS: The third Roman general, after Romulus and Cornelius Cossus, to win the ‘spoils of honour’.

TIBERIUS GRACCHUS: Tribune and champion of the plebs. Murdered in 133 BC.

GAIUS GRACCHUS: Younger brother of Tiberius Gracchus. Tribune and champion of the plebs. Murdered in 121 BC.

MARCUS LIVIUS DRUSUS: Champion of the Italians, whose murder in 91 BC helped to prompt their revolt. Livia’s adoptive grandfather.

POMPEY ‘THE GREAT’: The most powerful man in Rome during the last decades of the Republic.

SEXTUS POMPEY: His son. A piratical opponent of the Triumvirs following Julius Caesar’s assassination.

CRASSUS: A fabulously wealthy power-broker who died fighting the Parthians in 53 BC.

HORTENSIUS HORTALUS: An orator famous for his brilliance and high living.

HORTENSIA: His daughter.

CASSIUS: Assassin of Julius Caesar.

BRUTUS: Assassin of Julius Caesar. Descended from the Brutus who expelled Tarquin the Proud.

JUNIA: His sister. Long-lived.

ANTONY: Lieutenant of Julius Caesar. Triumvir. Bon viveur.

LUCIUS: Antony’s brother.

IULLUS ANTONIUS: Antony’s son.

CLEOPATRA: The Queen of Egypt. Paramour first of Julius Caesar, then of Antony.

LEPIDUS: Triumvir and Pontifex Maximus.

The Julians

AENEAS: Son of Venus. A Trojan prince who fled the sack of his city for Italy.

JULUS: The son of Aeneas. Ancestor of the Julians.

JULIUS CAESAR: The conqueror of Gaul whose crossing of the Rubicon led to civil war and his own subsequent dictatorship. Assassinated in 44 BC.

OCTAVIUS: Great-nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar. Triumvir. Ended up as Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus, and ruled as Princeps until his death in AD 14.

SCRIBONIA: His first wife.

JULIA: The daughter of Augustus and Scribonia. Close friends with Iullus Antonius. Exiled in 2 BC.

OCTAVIA: Augustus’s sister. Married to Antony, then divorced. Stepmother to Iullus Antonius.

MARCELLUS: Son of Octavia by her first marriage. Descended from the Marcellus who won the ‘spoils of honour’. Died in 23 BC.

ANTONIA THE ELDER: Elder daughter of Octavia and Antony.

ANTONIA THE YOUNGER: Younger daughter of Octavia and Antony. Mother of Germanicus, Livilla and Claudius.

GAIUS: Oldest son of Julia and Agrippa. Adopted by Augustus. Died in AD 4 in Asia Minor.

JULIA: Oldest daughter of Julia and Agrippa. Owner of the smallest dwarf in Rome. Exiled in AD 8.

LUCIUS: Second son of Julia and Agrippa. Adopted by Augustus. Died in AD 2 in southern Gaul.

AGRIPPINA (I): Second daughter of Julia and Agrippa. Married Germanicus. Mother of Nero (I), Drusus (III), Caligula, Agrippina (II), Drusilla and Julia Drusilla. Returned to Rome with her husband’s ashes in an urn. Fell out spectacularly with Tiberius.

AGRIPPA POSTUMUS: Third son of Julia and Agrippa. Adopted by Augustus, then exiled by him in AD 9.

The Claudians

ATTIUS CLAUSUS: Migrated to Rome in 504 BC. Founder of the Claudian line.

APPIUS CLAUDIUS THE BLIND: Builder of the Appian Way.

CLAUDIUS PULCHER: Son of Appius Claudius. His descendants, the Pulchri, constituted the more high-achieving branch of the Claudians.

CLAUDIUS NERO: Son of Appius Claudius. Ancestor of the Nerones, whose achievements under the Republic failed to measure up to those of the Pulchri.

APPIUS CLAUDIUS PULCHER: Notoriously arrogant head of the Claudians during the last decade of the Republic. A fan of oracles.

CLODIUS PULCHER: His younger brother. Tribune and paramilitary.

CLODIA METELLI: Eldest of the three sisters of Appius Claudius and Clodius. Famously soignée.

DRUSUS CLAUDIANUS: A partisan of Julius Caesar who then became a follower of his assassins. Livia’s father.

LIVIA DRUSILLA: Mother of Tiberius and wife of Augustus. Ended up a goddess.

TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS NERO: First husband of Livia. Unsuccessful rebel.

TIBERIUS: The elder son of Livia and Tiberius Claudius Nero. Son-in-law, then adopted son of Augustus. Rome’s most effective general. Succeeded Augustus as Princeps. Ruled from AD 14–37.

DRUSUS (I): The younger son of Livia and Tiberius Claudius Nero. Married to Antonia the Younger. Led a Roman army to the Elbe. Father of Germanicus, Livilla and Claudius.

VIPSANIA: Tiberius’s much-loved first wife, until he was obliged by Augustus to divorce her. Subsequently married to Asinius Gallus.

DRUSUS (II): The son of Tiberius and Vipsania. Married to Livilla. Father of Gemellus.

GERMANICUS: The elder son of Drusus and Antonia the Younger. Dashing. Married to Agrippina (I).

LIVILLA: The daughter of Drusus and Antonia the Younger. Bitchy. Married to Drusus (II).

GEMELLUS: The son of Drusus (II) and Livilla. Tiberius’s grandson.

CLAUDIUS: The younger son of Drusus and Antonia the Younger. Prone to stammering and dribbling. Emperor from AD 41 to 54.

ANTONIA: Daughter of Claudius and his second wife, Aelia Patina.

MESSALINA: Wife of Claudius. A great-grandniece of Augustus. Notorious for her love-life.

OCTAVIA: Daughter of Claudius and Messalina. Nero’s first wife. Their marriage was not a success.

BRITANNICUS: Son of Claudius and Messalina. The last of the Claudians.

The Julio-Claudians

NERO (I): Eldest son of Germanicus and Agrippina (I). Came to a sticky end.

DRUSUS (III): Second son of Germanicus and Agrippina (I). Came to a sticky end.

CALIGULA: Youngest son of Germanicus and Agrippina (I). Properly called Gaius, ‘Caligula’ was a nickname given him as a young boy. Emperor from AD 37 to 41.

LOLLIA PAULINA: Famously rich and beautiful. Caligula married her in AD 38, then divorced her six months later.

MILONIA CAESONIA: Caligula’s last wife. Enjoyed dressing up.

JULIA DRUSILLA: The daughter of Caligula and Milonia Caesonia. Reportedly an unpleasant child.

AGRIPPINA (II): Eldest daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina (I). Sister of Caligula, niece and wife of Claudius, mother of the Emperor Nero.

NERO: The son of Agrippina (II) and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus. Adopted by Claudius in AD 50. Emperor from AD 54 to 68.

DRUSILLA: Second daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina. Caligula’s favourite sister. Ended up a goddess.

JULIA LIVILLA: Youngest daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina. Exiled by both Caligula and Claudius.

The Ahenobarbi

LUCIUS DOMITIUS AHENOBARBUS: Married to Antonia the Elder. The first Roman general to cross the Elbe.

GNAEUS DOMITIUS AHENOBARBUS: His son. Married to Agrippina (II). Father of Nero.

DOMITIA: Nero’s aunt, who looked after him during his mother’s exile.

DOMITIA LEPIDA: Domitia’s sister. The mother of Messalina.

Augustus’s Rome

MARCUS AGRIPPA: Augustus’s consigliere. Married to Julia (I).

MAECENAS: Descendant of Etruscan kings. Patron of poets.

HORACE: Poet and – thanks to Maecenas – owner of a Sabine farm.

VEDIUS POLLIO: Financier who flashed his cash too much for Augustus’s liking.

EGNATIUS RUFUS: Sponsor of firemen and would-be consul.

HOSTIUS QUADRA: Notorious as the most depraved man in Rome. Fond of mirrors.

OVID: Poet. A flâneur who pushed at limits.

TITUS LABIENUS: Historian, whose account of the civil wars was burned on Augustus’s orders.

CASSIUS SEVERUS: Sharp-tongued lawyer.

Governors and generals

MARCUS LICINIUS CRASSUS: Grandson of the Crassus killed at Carrhae. Governor of Macedonia, but not as decorated a general as he would have liked to be.

BALBUS: The last citizen from outside the August Family to celebrate a triumph.

LOLLIUS: Governor of Gaul who lost an eagle to a war-band of Germans. Guardian of Gaius on his eastern tour. Grandfather of Lollia Paulina.

VARUS: Governor of Germany. Led three legions into the Teutoburg Pass. Did not lead them back out.

CAECINA: Germanicus’s deputy in Germany.

GNAEUS CALPURNIUS PISO: Governor of Syria. Close associate of Tiberius and opponent of Germanicus. Ended up in serious legal difficulties.

PLANCINA: Piso’s wife. Friend of Livia.

SENTIUS: Appointed governor of Syria by enemies of Piso.

GALBA: Appointed to the command of the Rhine by Caligula. Appointed to Spain by Nero.

SUETONIUS PAULINUS: As governor of Mauretania he crossed the Atlas mountains, and as governor of Britain suppressed Boudicca’s revolt.


SEIUS STRABO: An Etrurian. Appointed Prefect by Augustus. Ended up as Governor of Egypt.

AELIUS SEJANUS: His son. Promoted by Tiberius to the joint command of the Praetorians, then served as sole Prefect. Tiberius’s right-hand man.

APICATA: Sejanus’s wife. Divorced in AD 23.

MACRO: Prefect in succession to Sejanus.

CASSIUS CHAEREA: A grizzled veteran with a soft voice.

CORNELIUS SABINUS: Praetorian officer. Colleague of Cassius Chaerea.

BURRUS: Agrippina’s protégé, appointed as Prefect under Claudius. Famed for his blunt speaking.

TIGELLINUS: Gigolo, racehorse trainer and party animal. Appointed one of two prefects by Nero in succession to Burrus.

FAENIUS RUFUS: Tigellinus’s colleague as Prefect.

NYMPHIDIUS SABINUS: Prefect in succession to Faenius Rufus. Rumoured to be Caligula’s son.


CREMUTIUS CORDUS: A historian who named Brutus and Cassius ‘the last of the Romans’, and paid for it.

ASINIUS GALLUS: Husband of Vipsania, Tiberius’s divorced wife. Fatally prone to snideness.

TITIUS SABINUS: An associate of Germanicus. Victim of a sting.

JUNIUS SILANUS: Former consul. Father-in-law of Caligula.

ATANIUS SECUNDUS: Equestrian. Victim of his own hyperbole.

JUNIUS PRISCUS: Not as rich as he was rumoured to be.

PASTOR: Father of a murdered son.

ASPRENAS: A senator spattered with flamingo blood.

SILANUS: The victim of a bad dream.

POPPAEA SABINA (I): Love rival of Messalina.

SUILLIUS RUFUS: Notorious prosecutor. His comeuppance arrived in the end.

RUBELLIUS PLAUTUS: Tiberius’s great-grandson. Suspected of having an affair with Agrippina (II).

LUCIUS JUNIUS SILANUS: Nero excepted, the last surviving descendant of Augustus.

THRAESA PAETUS: Famously upright, in the sternest moral tradition of the Senate.


MARCUS AEMILIUS LEPIDUS: Caligula’s close friend, and intimate of his sisters.

GAETULICUS: A henchman of Sejanus. Commander of the Rhine under Tiberius and Caligula.

BETILIENUS CAPITO: Father of a murdered son.

MARCUS VINICIUS: Married to Julia Livilla. Would-be emperor in the wake of Caligula’s death.

ANNIUS VINICIANUS: Friend of Lepidus. Would-be emperor in the wake of Caligula’s death.

PAETUS: Not as brave as his wife.

GAIUS SILIUS: The most handsome man in Rome. Reported to have made an unwise marriage.

GAIUS CALPURNIUS PISO: Distinguished, well-bred and ambitious to reach the top – despite not being related to the August Family.

FLAVIUS SCAEVINUS: A senator in possession of a dagger removed from a temple.


MEMMIUS REGULUS: Consul and trusted henchman of Tiberius. Husband of Lollia Paulina, before Caligula obliged him to divorce her.

THRASYLLUS: Tiberius’s astrologer. Avoided being thrown off a cliff.

LUCIUS VITELLIUS: Governor of Syria. Returned from his term of office to establish himself in Rome as a trusted agent of both Caligula and Claudius. A smooth operator.

CAECINA LARGUS: An early backer of Claudius to be emperor. Owned a house on the Palatine complete with lotus trees.

Freedmen and Slaves

CLEMENS: Slave and look-alike of Agrippa Postumus – or was he?

PALLAS: Former slave of Antonia the Younger. One of Claudius’s most valued freedmen.

CALLISTUS: Powerful freedman under Caligula and Claudius. Died in his bed. The grandfather of Nymphidius Sabinus.

NARCISSUS: The third of Claudius’s triumvirate of powerful freedmen. Not an admirer of Messalina.

CALPURNIA: One of Claudius’s concubines.

ACTE: Nero’s first girlfriend. Presided over his funeral.

SPORUS: A young boy possessed of girlish looks. Castrated, then married, by Nero.

PHAON: Owner of a villa north of Rome.

Actors and Artists

APELLES: Actor, with a tendency to stammer without a script.

MNESTER: Actor. Much admired by Caligula.

PARIS: Actor. Much admired by Nero.

ZENODORUS: Sculptor of Nero’s Colossus.


GAIUS JULIUS VERCONDARIDUBNUS: High priest of Rome and Augustus at Lugdunum.

VALERIUS ASIATICUS: Fabulously wealthy. Would-be emperor in the wake of Caligula’s assassination. Owner of expensive gardens.

JULIUS CLASSICIANUS: Appointed by Claudius to restore the administration of Britain after Boudicca’s revolt.

JULIUS VINDEX: A descendant of kings with a rebellious instinct.


DELDO: King of the Bastarnians.

PHRAATES: King of Parthia and enthusiast for détente with Augustus.

ARMINIUS: Roman equestrian and chieftain of the Cherusci.

CUNOBELIN: King of the Catuvellauni.

CARATACUS: His son. Leader of British resistance to the Roman invasion.

PRASUTAGAS: King of the Iceni.

BOUDICCA: Queen of the Iceni. Fiery.

TIRIDATES: King of Armenia. Crowned in Rome by Nero.

Friends and FOES OF NERO

SENECA: Philosopher, rhetorician and writer. Exiled by Claudius, but brought back to Rome by Agrippina (II). Nero’s tutor.

AULUS VITELLIUS: Son of Lucius Vitellius. Friend of Caligula and Nero. Charioteer.

OTHO: Partner of Nero’s night-time revels. Husband of Poppaea Sabina (II).

POPPAEA SABINA (II): Amber-haired beauty, and daughter of Messalina’s great rival. The love of Nero’s life.

VATINIUS: Nero’s court jester.

VESPASIAN: Seasoned general of humble background. Fought in Britain and accompanied Nero to Greece.

STATILIA MESSALINA: Nero’s third wife. A noted intellectual.

CALVIA CRISPINILLA: Sporus’s instructress in the art of being a woman.

PETRONIUS TURPILIANUS: Former governor of Britain. Commander of Nero’s troops in Italy.

VIRGINIUS RUFUS: Commander of the Rhine.

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