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On this page: Pothos – Potitia Gens – Potitus



•was Pothinus who placed Achillas over the Egyp­tian forces, with directions to seize a favourable opportunity for attacking Caesar, but he himself remained with the young king in the quarters of Caesar. But as he was here detected in carrying on a treasonable correspondence with Achillas, he was put to death by order of Caesar. (Caes. B. C. iii. 108, 112 ; Dion Cass. xlii. 36, 39 ; Plut. Caes. 48, 49 ; Lucan, x. 333, &c. 515, &c.)

POTHOS (Iloflos), a personification of love or desire, was represented along with Eros and Hi- meros, in the temple of Aphrodite at Megara, by the hand of Scopas. (Paus. i. 43. § 6 ; Plin. PL N. xxxvi. 4, 7.) [L. S.j

POTITIA GENS, one of the most ancient pa­trician gentes at Rome, but it never attained any historical importance. The Potitii were, with the Pinarii, the hereditary priests of Hercules at Rome: the legend which related the establishment of the worship of this god, is given under pinaria gens. It is further stated that the Potitii and Pinarii con­tinued to discharge the duties of their priesthood till the censorship of App. Claudius (b. c. 312), who induced the Potitii, by the sum of 50,000 pounds of copper, to instruct public slaves in the performance of the sacred rites ; whereat the god was so angry, that the whole gens, containing twelve families and thirty grown up men, perished within a year, or, according to other accounts, within thirty days, and Appius himself became blind (Liv. ix. 29 ; Festus, p. 237, ed. Miiller ; Val. Max. i. 1. § 17). Niebuhr remarks that if there is any truth in the tale respecting the de­struction of the Potitia gens, they may have perished in the great plague which raged fifteen or twenty years later, since such legends are not scrupulous with respect to chronology. The same writer further observes that it is probable that the worship of Hercules, as attended to by the Potitii and the Pinarii, was a form of religion peculiar to these gentes, and had nothing to do with the religion of the Roman state ; and that as App. Claudius wished to make these sacra privata part of the sacra publica^ he induced the Potitii to instruct public slaves in the rites, since no foreign god could have a flamen. (Niebuhr, Hist, of Rome, vol. iii. p. 309.)

POTITUS, P. AFRA'NIUS, vowed during an illness of Caligula, to sacrifice his life, if the emperor recovered, expecting to be rewarded for his devotion. But when Caligula got well, and Afranius was unwilling to fulfill his vow, the emperor had him decked out like a sacrificial victim, paraded through the streets, and then hurled down from the eminence (ex age/ere) by the Colline gate. (Dion Cass. lix. 8 ; Suet. Cal. 27.)

POTITUS, VALE'RIUS. Potitus was the name of one of the most ancient and most cele­brated families of the Valeria Gens. This family, like many of the other ancient Roman.families, dis­appears about the time of the Samnite wars ; but the name was revived at a later period by the Va­leria gens, as a praenomen : thus we find mention of a Potitus Valerius Messalla, who was consul suffectus in b. c. 29. The practice of using extinct family-names as praenomens was common to other gentes : as for instance in the Cornelia gens, where the Lentuli adopted, as a praenomen, the extinct cognomen of Cossus. [Cossus ; lentulus.]

1. L. valerius potitus, consul B. c. 483 and 47 Os the founder of the family, was a relation of


the celebrated P. Valerius Publicola ; but it is a matter of dispute whether he was his brother or his nephew. Dionysius, it is true, calls him (viii. 77) his brother *; but it has been conjectured by Glareanus, Gelenius, and Sylburg, that we ought to read d<56A<|>i5ous or a5eA<£o7rcus instead of a5eA-<pos ; and this conjecture is confirmed by the fact that Dionysius elsewhere (viii. 87) speaks of him as the son of Marcus, whereas we know that the father of Publicola was Volusus. If Potitus was the son of Marcus, he was probably the son of the M. Valerius who was consul b. c. 505, four years after the kings were expelled, and who is described in the Fasti as M. Valerius Vol. f. Volusus. More­over, seeing that Potitus was consul a second time B. c. 470, that is, thirty-nine years after the ex­pulsion of the kings, it is much more likely that he should have been a nephew than a brother of the man who took such a prominent part in the events of that time. We may, therefore, conclude with tolerable certainty that he was the nephew of Publicola.

Potitus is first mentioned in b. c. 485, in which year he was one of the quaestoresparricidii, and, in conjunction with his colleague, K. Fabius, im­peached Sp. Cassius Viscellinus before the people. [viscellinus.] (Liv. ii. 41 ; Dionys. viii. 77.) He was consul in b. c. 483, with M. Fabius Vibu-lanus (Liv. ii. 42 ; Dionys. viii. 87), and again in 470 with Ti. Aemilius Mamercus. In the latter year he marched against the Aequi ; and as the enemy would not meet him in the open field, he pro­ceeded to attack their camp, but was prevented from doing so by the indications of the divine will. (Liv. ii. 61, 62 ; Dionys. ix. 51, 55.)

2. L. valerius potitus, consul with M. Ho-ratius Barbatus, In b. c. 449. Dionysius calls him a grandson of the great P. Valerius Publicola, and a son of the P. Valerius Publicola, who was consul in b. c. 460, and who v/as killed that year in the assault of the Capitol, which had been seized by Herdonius (Dionys. xi. 4); and hence we find him described as L. Valerius Publicola Potitus. But we think it more probable that he was the son or grandson of L.Valerius Potitus [No. 1]; first, because we find that Livy, Cicero, and Dionysius, invariably give him the surname of Potitus, and never that of Publicola, and secondly because the great popularity of Potitus would naturally give origin to the tradition that he was a lineal de­scendant of that member of the gens, who took such a prominent part in the expulsion of the kings. The annals of the Valeria gens recorded that L. Valerius Potitus was the first person who offered opposition to the decemvirs ; and whether this was the case or not, there can be no doubt that he took a leading part in the abolition of the tyrannical power. He and M. Horatius are represented as the leaders of the people against Ap. Claudius after the murder of Virginia by her father ; and when the plebeians had seceded to the Sacred Hill, he and Horatius were sent to them by. the senate, as the only acceptable members, to negotiate the terms of peace. In this mission they succeeded ; the de-cemvirate was abolished, and the two friends of the plebs, Valerius and Horatius, were elected consuls, b. c. 449. Their consulship is memorable by the

* Dionysius also calls him L. Valerius Publicola, but this is opposed to the Fasti, and is in itself im-

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