Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (executed 39)

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, (639) was the son of consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus.[1] He and his sister Aemilia Lepida were both married to siblings of the Emperor Caligula (Aemilia married Caligula's elder brother Drusus Caesar; Lepidus married to Caligula's younger sister Julia Drusilla).[2] He was also great-grandson of Lucius Aemilius Lepidus Paullus (consul of 50 BC and brother of the triumvir Marcus Aemilius Lepidus). Some areas of his lineage are unclear. However, through his mother Julia the Younger, Lepidus was the great grandson of Emperor Augustus Caesar.[3] Lepidus married Caligula's sister Drusilla sometime in November or December of 37.[4] Little is known about him prior to this.[5] Drusilla had been married to Lucius Cassius Longinus since 33 but Caligula forced his brother-in-law to divorce Drusilla so that she could marry Lepidus.[4] The marriage lasted until Drusilla's death in June 38. They had no children. Because of this marriage, Lepidus had become a close friend to Caligula and his family.[5] After the death of Gemellus in 37, Lepidus was publicly marked by Caligula as his heir.[6] In late 38, when the governor of Egypt Aulus Avilius Flaccus was arrested, Lepidus successfully persuaded Caligula to exile Flaccus to Andros rather than Gyarus.[7][8]

Sometime in 39, however, Caligula made public letters by his sisters Agrippina the Younger and Julia Livilla that detailed an adulterous affair with Lepidus and a plot against the emperor.[9] Lepidus was executed and Caligula's sisters were exiled. Agrippina was given the bones of Lepidus in an urn, and she carried them to Rome.[10] Caligula sent three daggers to the Temple of Mars the Avenger to celebrate the death. In the Senate, Vespasian made a motion that the remains of Lepidus be thrown away instead of buried. The motion was carried and Lepidus was not given a proper burial.[11]


  1. Dion Cassius, LIX, p. 648, 657; Suetonius, in Caio , xxiv , xxxvi ; Tacitus, Annals, XIV, 2.
  2. Barrett (1989), p. 83
  3. JC_stem.JPG at
  4. Ferrill (1991), p. 109
  5. Barrett (1989), p. 82
  6. Barrett (1989), p. 81
  7. Barrett (1989), p. 90
  8. Philo, XVIII 151
  9. Suetonius, 24.3
  10. Ferrill (1991), p. 121
  11. Barrett (1989), p. 106


  • Barrett, Anthony A. (1989). Caligula: The Corruption of Power. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-04653-7.
  • Ferrill, Arther (1991) Caligula: Emperor of Rome. New York: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-25112-6.
  • Philo, Flaccus
  • Suetonius, Life of Caligula
  • A detailed family tree of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty from the Princeton University website.
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