Caius Bruttius Praesens


0068 – 0140


Who was Caius Bruttius Praesens?

Caius or Gaius Bruttius Praesens Lucius Fulvius Rusticus was an important Roman senator of the reigns of Roman emperors Trajan, Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. A friend of Pliny the Younger and Hadrian, he was twice consul, governed provinces, commanded armies and ended his career as City Prefect of Rome. Bruttius’ life and career left few coherent traces in the literary record, but a number of inscriptions, including his complete cursus honorum, fills out the picture considerably.

Pliny, writing to Praesens refers to him as a Lucanian and an inscription concerning his son has been found at Volceii in Lucania. His father was presumably Lucius Bruttius Maximus, who was Proconsul of Cyprus in 80 and his mother was a member of the Fulvii Rustici, a senatorial family from Cisalpine Gaul. Praesens was born about 68 as can be inferred by the fact that in 88/89 he was a military tribune in Legio I Minervia, when he led a vexillation from Germania Inferior to Pannonia and earned decorations for service on the Danube in Roman emperor Domitian’s campaigns. Despite this early success his career was retarded thereafter. He served as quaestor in Hispania Baetica, and it may have been at this time that he first became friends with the young Hadrian, but thereafter he retired from public life, perhaps finding it too dangerous in Domitian's murderous last years. Pliny in 107 was urging Praesens not to remain thus on his estates in Campania and Lucania but to return to Rome and the conduct of affairs. His language suggests Praesens was an Epicurean in his tastes and beliefs, something he shared with Hadrian. At this point Praesens was married to a woman from Campania, his first wife, whose name is unknown. She most probably died. Some years later Praesens married as his second wife a rich Roman heiress called Laberia Hostilia Crispina, a daughter of Manius Laberius Maximus, twice consul and a Roman general whom Trajan banished to a penal island. Laberia bore Praesens a son, Lucius Fulvius Gaius Bruttius Praesens Laberius Maximus 'Polyonymus', who became consul in 153 and 180. Through his son, Praesens became the paternal grandfather to future Roman empress Bruttia Crispina, who married the emperor Commodus, and to the consul Lucius Bruttius Quintius Crispinus.

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on July 23, 2013


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