Tiberius Catius Caesius Fronto

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Tiberius Catius Caesius Fronto was a Roman senator who was suffect consul in the nundinium September–December 96 with Marcus Calpurnius [...]icus as his colleague. [1] These two consuls were presiding over the Roman Senate when the Emperor Domitian was assassinated (18 September 96), and Nerva elevated as emperor. Fronto was an acquaintance of Pliny the Younger, and he is mentioned as many as four times in the collected letters.

Roman Empire period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–395 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. It had a government headed by emperors and large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome. The Roman Empire was then divided between a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople, and it was ruled by multiple emperors.

Roman consul High political office in ancient Rome

A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic, and ancient Romans considered the consulship the highest level of the cursus honorum.

Nundinium, a Latin word derived from the word nundinum signifying the cycle of days observed by the Romans, which came to be used under the Empire to indicate a period of consulship. When, under the Empire, several pairs of consuls were created in one year, the period of a single consulship was called a nundinium.


From the elements in his name, Olli Salomies believes it likely that Fronto had been adopted by the senator and poet Silius Italicus, and his name at birth was Tiberius Caesius Fronto, or may have been his nephew. If Fronto was not adopted by Italicus, then the common elements in their names were due to his being Italicus' nephew. [2]

Silius Italicus Roman consul, orator, and Latin epic poet

Silius Italicus, in full Tiberius Catius Asconius Silius Italicus, was a Roman consul, orator, and Latin epic poet of the 1st century CE. His only surviving work is the 17-book Punica, an epic poem about the Second Punic War and the longest surviving poem in Latin at over 12,000 lines.


Pliny describes Fronto as "a man with the greatest expertise at extracting tears", [3] and mentions him taking part in three different trials: in the penalty phase of the case of Marius Priscus, who had been proconsul of Africa and was indicted by the people he had governed; [4] in the prosecution of Julius Bassus, who had been accused of mismanagement while proconsul of Bithynia and Pontus; [5] and in the matter of Varenus Rufus, also indicted by the people of Bithynia and Pontus for mismanagement. [6] These prove he was active in the Senate during the first years of the second century. Pliny may be referring to him when he writes to his friend Caninus Rufus about the death of the poet Silius Italicus: in that letter, he mentions that the oldest son was doing well and had attained the consulship. [7]

Africa (Roman province) Africa roman province

Africa Proconsularis was a Roman province on the northwest African coast that was established in 146 BC following the defeat of Carthage in the Third Punic War. It roughly comprised the territory of present-day Tunisia, the northeast of Algeria, and the coast of western Libya along the Gulf of Sirte. The territory was originally inhabited by Berber people, known in Latin as Mauri indigenous to all of North Africa west of Egypt; in the 9th century BC, Phoenicians built settlements along the Mediterranean Sea to facilitate shipping, of which Carthage rose to dominance in the 8th century until its conquest by the Roman Republic.

Bithynia and Pontus Roman province

Bithynia and Pontus was the name of a province of the Roman Empire on the Black Sea coast of Anatolia (Turkey). It was formed during the late Roman Republic by the amalgamation of the former kingdoms of Bithynia and Pontus. The amalgamation was part of a wider conquest of Anatolia and its reduction to Roman provinces.

Although his wife has not yet been identified, Fronto is known to have had a daughter, Caesia Frontina. [2]

Senatorial career

Fronto is not known to have held any offices, either in the emperor's service or proconsulships, in the public sector of the Empire. He is known to have been a member of the Arval Brethren, and is recorded having attended their meetings in 98 and 105. [8]

Proconsul governor of a province in the Roman republic

A proconsul was an official of ancient Rome who acted on behalf of a consul. A proconsul was typically a former consul. The term is also used in recent history for officials with delegated authority.

Arval Brethren an ancient Roman college of priests

In ancient Roman religion, the Arval Brethren or Arval Brothers were a body of priests who offered annual sacrifices to the Lares and gods to guarantee good harvests. Inscriptions provide evidence of their oaths, rituals and sacrifices.

However John D. Grainger believes that as Fronto was one of two consuls at the time of the emperor Domitian's murder, he was party to the conspiracy. Grainger argues Fronto's family was firmly in the party that was hostile to Domitian, if not the Flavian dynasty in general. Although Domitian had appointed him to the highly influential and prestigious office of consul, Domitian had practiced a policy of appointing members of different groups or factions in the Senate in order to gain their support. Lastly, Grainger notes that upon learning of Domitian's death, the consuls, who presided over the Senate and had the authority to convene it, summoned the Senators to a session the next day. "If he had not been originally involved in the plot," notes Grainger, "it would take him some time to convince him of the murder, and he would demand proof -- a sight of the body, no doubt -- which would delay matters even more. The cumulative delays would add up to several hours, yet the Senate met next morning." [9]

Flavian dynasty roman dynasty

The Flavian dynasty was a Roman imperial dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire between 69 AD and 96 AD, encompassing the reigns of Vespasian (69–79), and his two sons Titus (79–81) and Domitian (81–96). The Flavians rose to power during the civil war of 69, known as the Year of the Four Emperors. After Galba and Otho died in quick succession, Vitellius became emperor in mid 69. His claim to the throne was quickly challenged by legions stationed in the Eastern provinces, who declared their commander Vespasian emperor in his place. The Second Battle of Bedriacum tilted the balance decisively in favour of the Flavian forces, who entered Rome on December 20. The following day, the Roman Senate officially declared Vespasian emperor of the Roman Empire, thus commencing the Flavian dynasty. Although the dynasty proved to be short-lived, several significant historic, economic and military events took place during their reign.

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  1. Paul Gallivan, "The Fasti for A. D. 70-96", Classical Quarterly, 31 (1981), pp. 192, 208.
  2. 1 2 Salomies, Adoptive and polyonymous nomenclature in the Roman Empire, (Helsinski: Societas Scientiarum Fenica, 1992), pp. 95f
  3. Pliny, Epistulae II.11.3
  4. Pliny, Epistulae II.11
  5. Pliny, Epistulae IV.9.15
  6. Pliny, Epistulae VI.13.3
  7. Pliny, Epistulae III.7.2
  8. CIL VI, 2074, CIL VI, 2075
  9. Grainger, Nerva; and the Roman Succession Crisis of AD 96-99 (London: Routledge, 2004), pp. 8-12
Political offices
Preceded by
Quintus Fabius Postuminus,
and Titus Prifernius

as Suffect consuls
Suffect consul of the Roman Empire
with Marcus Calpurnius [...]icus
Succeeded by
Marcus Cocceius Nerva  III,
and Lucius Verginius Rufus  III

as Ordinary consuls