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AHENOBARBVS




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AHENOBARBVS. - This surname, which appears on a denarius of the Domitia gens, has reference to one of the most popular legens of early Rome. - The news of the important victory achieved by Postumius, over the Latins, near lake Regillus (B.C. 498) reached and spreaf through the city, with a rapidity, which, not-withstanding the short distance between the two places, was regarded by the credulous and over-joyed populace as a prodigy. Two young soldiers, as the story goes, had met Lucius Domitius, a distinguished citizen, who was on his return from the country. Announcing to him the news of the battle and the success of the Romans, they charged him to make it known to his fellow-citizens: and in order to win his confidence by a miracle, they touched his cheeks, the black beard of which instantly became red. (Suetonius, in Nerone, c. i. Plutarch, Vita Pauli Aemilei, 25). - It is said to have been for this readon that Domitius was afterwards called Ahenobarbus, red beard, or beard of the colour of brass; a sobriquet which attached itself, for many ages, to one of the most illustrious families of the republic. - The Domitii, doubtless, were in the habit of exposing to view, in the vestibule of their house, the waxen image of that man, to whose eyes Castor and Pollux had condescended to make themselves visible, and whom they had chosen to be the bearer of such good news. - (Visconti, Iconograpic Romaine, tome ii. p. 48) - At the period of the civil war waged against Cassius and Brutus, a member of the family above named, Cneus Domitius Ahenobarbus, had allied himself to their party, and was placed in command of a formidable fleet, which, crossing the Ionian sea, blockaded the ports of Italy. This individual, to defray the expenses of his expedition, caused money to be minted, on which were stamped the head of his ancestor, the Lucius Domitius of the early republic, designated by his surname AHENOBARBVS. The reverse type is a trophy raised on the prow of a galley, allusive to the victory gained by Cneus Domitius Imperator (Emperor, that is to say Commander-in-Chief.) - The battle alluded to was fought on the Ionian sea, between the port of Brundusium, whence the fleet of Octavius Caesar (afterwards Augustus) had sailed, and Epirus, towards which it had steered. The event took place the same day that Cassius and Brutus were defeated at Philippi, in the year 42 before the Christian era. (Appian Alex. de bello civili, cited by Visconti in his work above-named.)

 

 
 
 
 

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