The house of the Caecilii Metelli was one of ancient Rome's most prestigious yet overshadowed plebeian families. Replete with dynamic orators, successful generals, and charismatic women, the Caecilii Metelli lived during the period of Rome's great expansion. Having participated in its transformation into the principal power in the Mediterranean, they survived until the fall of the Republic. By contemporary Roman standards they were a powerful and respected family. Seventeen consulships, nine triumphs, nine members of priestly colleges—including three who became pontifex maximus—and five censors are evidence of their high position in Rome. The trappings of magisterial office and military decorations notwithstanding, the Caecilii Metelli were nevertheless often overshadowed on the stage of Roman politics by stronger personalities and did not receive substantial attention in the ancient sources. This study seeks to understand the political connections and activities of the Caecilii Metelli in Republican Rome. While attention must be given to the appropriate social and historical contexts, the focus must always remain on the individuals and their interactions with each other. Each generation of the Metellan family was involved in varying degrees in the political processes of the time. A deeper understanding of the role of the Metelli in these processes shows that the Metelli can be understood as a family of outsiders who successfully attempted to make their presence felt in Roman politics, but were ultimately doomed to fail in the collapse of the Republic. They can serve as a paradigm for understanding the struggles of aristocratic families to maintain power and influence throughout the Roman Republic.



College and Department

Humanities; Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature



Date Submitted


Document Type





Caecilius Metellus, prosopography, Republican Rome, Roman politics