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Laenas (plural, Laenates) was the name of a plebeian noble family in ancient Rome, notorious for cruelty and arrogance in the 2nd century BC. The name is said by Cicero to be derived from laena, the sacerdotal cloak carried by Marcus Popillius Laenas (consul 359 BC) when he went to the Forum to quell a popular rising. The family Laenas is therefore a branch of the family Popilli, but the only branch which rose to the consulship.

Famous holders of the name are:

  • Marcus Popillius M.f. Laenas, consul in 316 BC, possibly son of the above

  • Marcus Popillius Laenas , notable for conducting a war without the consent of the Senate, and saved from trial (by the tribunes of the plebs) by his brother. Despite this scandal, he became censor in 159 BC.

  • Gaius Popillius Laenas, consul in 172 BC and 158 BC, and brother of the preceding (both being sons of Publius Popillius Laenas). He was sent to Greece in 174 BC to allay the general disaffection, but met with little success. He took part in the war against Perseus, king of Macedonia (Livy xliii.17, 22). When Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, invaded Egypt, Laenas was sent to arrest his progress. Meeting him near Alexandria, he handed him the decree of the Senate, demanding the evacuation of Egypt. Antiochus having asked time for consideration, Laenas drew a circle round him with......
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