Caius Nemedius Gallicus
Richard Becker

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Caius Nemedius's family earned the nickname "Gallicus" when his father, a minor Roman patrician from Massilia, used a combination of economic brilliance and political savvy to become the first Roman senator born in Gaul and the primary patron within the western Gaulish provinces. (The title "Gallicus", or "conqueror of Gaul", is applied ironically. Technically it should refer to Julius Caesar, though he never adopted the title formally.) The current Gallicus is the proconsul of Narbonensis, a title virtually owned by his family, even when they don't actually hold it in name. He splits his time between Rome and Narbo.

Like other patricians, Gallicus went through the standard military and civil posts as a youth, but unlike most his family connections gained him appointments almost exclusively in Narbonensis. He didn't come to Rome until late in life, and he still has the distinctive accent of southern Gaul. Though he received an excellent classical education in Arles and is considered one of the finest legal minds in the senate, he's not above playing up his "rural" roots and often uses "folksy" proverbs to make his point, a practice which often disarms those who don't know him well. This does not always endear him to others: when emperor Domitius served a term as consul in 60, emperor Domitius became enraged at the sight of Gallicus gnawing on a carrot in the Senate chambers and had him thrown out. [Political note: Though the emperor is technically a permanent "third consul", it's been a common practice since Augustus for the emperor to arrange for himself to be elected as one of the two consuls every now and then in order to keep a direct hand in senatorial politics.]

In the senate, Gallicus leads a prominent group of senators which urges the emperor to slow the growth of the empire in favor of consolidating what it has. Though he's careful to not directly criticize the empire's policies, he has questioned the wisdom of attempting to annex lands which provide no significant tax revenues and favors the creation of dependent client states instead.

Though Gallicus's family owns little in the area of Rome other than his city villa, in southern Gaul they literally control the political system and the economy through a web of patronage. They own vast estates in the wine country of Narbonensis and Aquitania and have strong interests in wool production, pottery-making, shipping in the western Mediterranean, and messenger systems and gladiatorial training schools throughout Gaul. Through his clients Gallicus also has significant indirect control in Aquitania and Lugudenensis, and even some sway in Belgica and the western German provinces. Through his control of the ports in Lugudenensis, he has a near monopoly on shipments to and from Britannia. He also has many connections with the XXVIII Legio Galli, the Gallic Legion, whose officers and men are mainly drawn from Gallicus's family or clients, currently stationed in southern Germania under the general command of Germanicus.

Gallicus's wife Annia died only a month ago and he is still wearing the toga pulla (dark toga of mourning) for her. Though he has no sons, Gallicus has three younger brothers and a host of cousins who all report to him as the pater familia. He is grooming two of his nephews, Marius Nemedius and Albinus Marcus Nemedius, to eventually inherit the family's interests.

Page updated 7/21/99, Scott Martin