Brill’s New Pauly

Get access

(1,391 words)

[German version]

A. Politics and Society

The Roman gens comprised the members of a  family who descended from a common ancestor and under whose potestas they would have been, if he had still been alive (Varro, Ling. 8,4). The main distinction between gentiles and agnati lay in the fact that the latter could prove their blood relationship with their progenitor, whereas for the former, this relationship was only a fictitious assumption.

The origins of the gens are a matter of scholarly dispute, and will likely remain so…

Cite this page
Deißmann-Merten, Marie-Luise (Freiburg), “Gens”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 25 March 2023 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510

▲   Back to top   ▲