Valerius originally was a Roman nomen of the "gens" Valeria, one of the oldest patrician families of the city. The name was in use throughout Roman history. Later it became also a given name.

Possible Latin forms include, in the nominative:
*"Valerius", male singular
*"Valeria", female singular
*"Valerii", male plural
*"Valerianus", male adoptive


The Valeria gens was one of the most ancient and most celebrated at Rome; and no other Roman gens was distinguished for so long a period, although a few others, such as the Cor­nelia gens, produced a greater number of illustrious men. The Valerii are universally admitted to have been of Sabine origin, and their ancestor Volesus or Volusus is said to have settled at Rome with Titus Tatius. [Dionys. ii. 46 ; Plut. Num. 5, Publ. 1. (cited in Smith)]

One of the descendants of this Volesus, P. Valerius, afterwards surnamed Publicola, plays a distinguished part in the story of the ex­pulsion of the kings, and was elected consul in the first year of the republic, 509 BC. From this time forward down to the latest period of the empire, for nearly a thousand years, the name occurs more or less frequently in the Fasti, and it was borne by the emperors Maximinus, Maximianus, Maxentius, Diocletian, Constantius, Constantine the Great and others.

The Valeria gens enjoyed ex­traordinary honours and privileges at Rome. Their house at the bottom of the Velia was the only one in Rome of which the doors were allowed to open back into the street. [Dionys. v. 39 ; Pint. Publ. 20.(cited in Smith)] In the Circus Maximus a conspicuous place was set apart for them, where a small throne was erected, an honour of which there was no other example among the Romans. [Liv. ii. 31.(cited in Smith)] They were also allowed to bury their dead within the walls, a privilege which was also granted to some other gentes; and when they had exchanged the older custom of in­terment for that of burning the corpse, although they did not light the funeral pile on their burying-ground, the bier was set down there, as a sym­bolical way of preserving their right. [Cic. de Leg. ii. 23 ; Plut. Publ. 23.(cited in Smith)] Niebuhr, who mentions these distinctions, conjectures that among the gra­dual changes of the constitution from a monarchy to an aristocracy, the Valeria gens for a time pos­sessed the right that one of its members should exercise the kingly power for the Tides, to which tribe the Valerii must have belonged, as their Sabine origin indicates; [Hist. of Rome vol. i. p. 538( cited in Smith)] but on this point, as on many others in early Roman history, it is impossible to come to any certainty.

The Valerii in early times were always foremost in advocating the rights of the plebeians, and the laws which they proposed at various times were the great charters of the liberties of the second order. [See Dict. of Antiq. s. v. "Leges Valeriae".(cited in Smith)]

Branches of the gens Valeria

The earliest branches of Poplicola , Potitus, and Volusus appear to be derived from Publius Valerius Poplicola, an early republican hero. The other branches appear only from the mid-fourth century, starting with Corvus or Corvinus, apparently descended from another great Valerian consul. The Messalla or Messala branch, so prominent in imperial Rome, is a sub-branch of this. The origins of the Flaccus branch is less certain; the first consul by that name appears in 261 BC, but a Potitus had been nicknamed Flacus (with one "c") some decades earlier circa 331 BC. In late republican Rome, the branches of Messalla (or Messala) and Flaccus were the best-known and most influential.

The Valerii Messalla (or Valerii Messala)

Among the branches of the Valerii, there were those who bore the cognomen Messalla.Messalla was originally assumed by Manius Valerius Maximus Corvinus Messalla after his relief of Messana in Sicily from blockade by the Carthaginians in the second year of the first Punic War, 263 BC.(Macrob. Sat. i. 6 ; Sen. Brev. Vit. 13.) They appear for the first time on the consular Fasti in 263 BC, and for the last in 506; during these nearly eight centuries, they held twenty-two consulships and three cen­sorships.(Sidon. Apollin. Carm. ix. 302 ; Rutil. L c.; Symmach. Ep. vii. 90.)

The cognomen Messalla, frequently written Messala, appears with the agnomens Barbatus, Niger or Rufus, with the nomens Ennodius, Pacatus, Silius, Thrasia Priscus or Vipstanus, and with the praenomens Potitus and Volesus, and was itself originally, and when com­bined with Corvinus, an agnomen, as M. Valerius Maximus Corvinus Messalla, i. e. of Messana.

Notable members of the "gens Valeria"

The gens Valeria produced many consuls and censors, mostly in the early republic. Several authors notably Valerius Maximus also bear the name of Valerius, but their antecedents are mostly unknown.

Early republic

* Publius Valerius Publicola, consul 509 BC, four times consul in the early Republic.
* Marcus Valerius Volusi f. (Volusus?), consul 505 BC
* Lucius Valerius M.f. Potitus (Publicola), consul 483 BC, 470 BC
* Publius Valerius P.f. Poplicola, consul 475 BC, 460 BC
* Marcus Valerius M'.f. Maximus Lactuca, consul 456 BC
* Lucius Valerius Potitus, consul 449 BC
* Gaius Valerius Potitus, consular tribune 415 BC
* Lucius Valerius Potitus, consular tribune 414 BC
* Gaius Valerius L.f. Potitus Volusus, consul 410 BC
* Lucius Valerius L.f. Potitus, consul 393 BC-392 BC, 390 BC, possibly consular tribune 391 BC; possibly the same man who was consular tribune 379 BC in his fifth term.
* Lucius Valerius Publicola, consular tribune 388 BC
* Titus Valerius, consular tribune 385 BC-382 BC
* Lucius Valerius, consular tribune 379 BC, possibly Lucius Valerius L.f. Potitus who had already been consul three times; said to have been this man's fifth term.
* Publius Valerius, consular tribune in 379 BC in his third term, and 376 BC in his fourth term, per Varro
* Gaius Valerius, consular tribune 374 BC
* Publius Valerius, consular tribune 374 BC
* Marcus Valerius L.f. Poplicola, consul 355 BC, 353 BC
* Publius Valerius P.f. Poplicola, 352 BC
* Marcus Valerius Corvus, consul several times in 4th century BC, starting in 348 BC as a young man, then 346 BC, 343 BC, and 335 BC. His last consulship was said to be in 300 BC, with a suffect consulship in 299 BC. He was also dictator in 342 BC and 301 BC. The range of years for his consulship and alleged accomplishments are not impossible, if he was elected consul while in his early twenties. However, it is more likely that the later consulships were attributable to his son, and were confused and exaggerated by later family members including Valerius Antias.
* Gaius Valerius L.f. Potitus (Flacus), consul 331 BC, possible progenitor of the Valerii Flacci branch.
* Marcus Valerius M.f. Maximus Corvinus (Corrinus?), consul 312 BC, 289 BC per Varro; possibly he was the consul in 300 BC and suffect consul in 299 BC and also dictator in 301 BC (the third dictator year), rather than his father.
* Marcus Valerius Maximus Rullianus, dictator 301 BC in fourth dictator year

Middle republic

* Marcus. Valerius Maximus (Potitus?), consul 286 BC
* Publius Valerius Laevinus, consul 280 BC
* Manius Valerius Maximus Corvinus Messalla, consul 263 BC
* Lucius Valerius M.f. Flaccus, consul 261 BC, the first of several consuls cognominated Flaccus or "torpid".
* Quintus Valerius Q.f. Falto, consul 239 BC
* Publius Valerius Q.f. Falto, consul 238 BC
* Publius Valerius L.f. Flaccus, consul 227 BC
* Marcus Valerius M'.f. Maximus Messala, consul 226 BC
* Marcus Valerius Laevinus, consul 210 BC
* Lucius Valerius P.f. Flaccus, consul 195 and censor 183 BC with Cato the Elder
* Marcus Valerius M.f. Messalla, consul 188 BC
* Gaius Valerius M.f. Laevinus, suffect consul 176 BC
* Marcus Valerius Messalla, consul 161 BC
* Lucius Valerius Flaccus, consul 152 BC

Late republic

* Lucius Valerius Flaccus, consul 131 BC
* Lucius Valerius Flaccus, consul 100 BC (ally of Gaius Marius)
* Gaius Valerius Flaccus, consul 93 BC
* Valerius Aedituus, poet circa 100s BC
* Quintus Valerius Soranus, scholar, poet and tribune, executed in 82 BC for revealing the arcane name of Rome
* Valerius Antias, annalist 1st century BC
* Lucius Valerius Flaccus, suffect consul 86 BC (after death of Marius)
* Valeria Messala, fourth wife and widow of the dictator Sulla
* Marcus Valerius Messalla Niger, consul 61 BC
* Quintus Valerius Orca, praetor 57 BC and officer under Julius Caesar in the civil war
* Gaius Valerius Catullus, the poet ("fl." 50s BC)
* Marcus Valerius Messalla Rufus, consul 53 BC
* Marcus Valerius Messalla, suffect consul 32 BC
* Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, consul and suffect consul 31 BC
* Publis Valerius Cato, scholar and poet 1st century BC

Early imperial Rome

* Marcus Valerius Messala Barbatus, husband of Domitia Lepida
* Marcus Valerius Messalla Messallinus, consul 3 BC
* Valerius Maximus, historian 1st century
* Lucius Valerius Messalla Volesus, possible consul 5
* Marcus Valerius Messalla Barbatus, consul 20
* Decimus Valerius Asiaticus, consul in 35 and 46
* Valeria Messalina, died 48, third wife of the Emperor Claudius
* Potitus Valerius Corvus Rufus Sulla, consul in 100
* Volsus Valerius Valus Sulla Valerianus, praetor in 132
* Poplicola Valerius Sulla Felix
* Phillipus Valerius Sulla Felix
* Phillipus Valerius Sulla Felix Cassianus, consul in 193
* Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial), poet 1st century
* Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, consul 58
* Gaius Calpetanus Rantius Quirinalis Valerius Festus, suffect consul 71
* Gaius Valerius Flaccus, poet 1st century
* Lucius Valerius Licinianus, advocate 1st century
* Valerius Probus, grammarian 1st century
* Marcus Valerius Bradua Mauricus, consul 191
* Lucius Valerius Messalla Thrasea Priscus, consul 196
* Lucius Valerius Messalla Apollinaris, consul 214
* Publius Valerius Comazon Eutychianus, consul 220
* Lucius Valerius Maximus, consul 233
* Valerius Maximus, consul 253
* Lucius Valerius Maximus, consul 256

Late imperial Rome

* Imp. Caesar Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius Augustus (Claudius II), Roman emperor
* Imp. Caesar Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus (Diocletian), emperor
* Imp. Caesar Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus Augustus (Maximian), emperor
* Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus Caesar (Galerius), emperor
* Flavius Valerius Constantinus Caesar (Constantius Chlorus), emperor
* Flavius Valerius Severus, short-lived emperor circa 306
* Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius (Maxentius), emperor 306-312
* Marcus Valerius Romulus, consul 309
* Flavius Julius Valerius Crispus (Crispus)
* Flavius Galerius Valerius Licinianus Licinius (Licinius), emperor
* Imp. Caesar Flauius Valerius Constantinus Augustus (Constantine I), emperor
* Imp. Caesar Galerius Valerius Maximinus Augustus (Maximinus), emperor
* Julius Valerius Alexander Polemius, scholar 4th century
* Julius Valerius Majorianus (Majorian), emperor 457-461

Other uses of the name Valerius

*Adriaen Valerius, who composed or compiled an anthology of Dutch patriotic songs during the Eighty Years' War against the Habsburg suzerains
* Valeria of Milan, a first or second century Christian martyr
*Valerius of Trèves, a 4th century bishop of Trier
* Valerius of Saragossa, bishop of Zaragoza in 290-315.
* Valerius II, bishop of Zaragoza (Spain) in circa 380.


* Friedrich Münzer, "Roman Aristocratic Parties and Families" (1920)
* "Oxford Classical Dictionary"
*SmithDGRBM|author=William Ramsay|article=Valeria Gens|volume=3|page=1215


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