The names Appius and Piso are synonymous with Rome's leading family, the Claudians, "lame (kings)". As Cicero bemoaned, to be a Piso was to be born for the consulship. Yet, the name Cicero, "chick pea", relates even him to one of the leading Romans of the era, that of Sulla/Ptolemy IX (Lathyrus, "Chick Pea"). So, Cicero was likely no commoner from small town Italy, but a bonified member of the extended royal Roman family as well.
The name Piso itself would be a form of Peisistratos/Pisistratos, the leading name of ancient Athens in Greece. (Pisistratos is a Latinized spelling of the Greek Peisistratos.) It could be said that all the ruling elite of the Julio-Claudian dynasty were "Piso's", including Nero who was nearly deposed by a Piso. Considering that we are dealing with a single royal family, it is somewhat pointless to discriminate between those who were outwardly Piso's by name, and those who preferred other illustrious rubrics.
Two prominent Piso's were mentioned above (previous post). The vain and haughty Pompeius Magnus literally screams for an association with the New Testament figure of Simon Magus/Lazarus/Paul and the Herodian king Tigranes, who was styled after the even earlier diminuative megalomaniac Nebuchadrezzar (Greek Andopompus/Megakles). The Roman name for this "founding father" was Brutus, which relates to the Persian identity of Nebuchadrezzar as Bardiya.
According to Roman history, Pompeius Magnus was accused in 47 AD (reign of Claudius) of homosexuality and put to death ("in flagrante delicto") along with his male lover. Historians are suspicious however of the charge, because, the mother and father of Pompeius Magnus were also supposedly killed at the same time. This indicates a political rather than morality motivated action. Many Roman sources also state that the parents, Scribonia and M. Licinius Crassus Frugi were still living in the reign of Nero. It is not unreasonable then to also conclude that Pompeius Magnus was not literally killed, but merely had the fire of his dynastic hopes put out in Rome.
Pompeius Magnus had a sister, Licinia Magna, who perhaps corresponds to Martha sister of Lazarus in the Gospels.
A younger brother of Pompeius Magnus is called M. Crassus Frugi. He was elected consul in 64 AD, and if his association with Decimus Junius Silanus is correct, he was accused before the end of his term. The name Frugi connotes "fruit". Piso similarly has a "fishy" Gospel overtone.
Another Piso "brother" of Magnus and Frugi is L. Piso Frugi Licinianus, appointed as co-emperor with Galba in 69 AD. Like Pompeius Magnus and Crassus Frugi, Piso Frugi is considered a son of Scribonia. However, Piso Frugi is spoken of as a young man in 69 AD, making it more likely that he was the son of a different Scribonia than Pompeius and Crassus Frugi, both of which would have been elderly in the 60's AD. More specifically, Pompeius and Crassus Frugi would have been the sons of Scribonia IV (Herodian Mariamne IV) and L. Piso Frugi would have been the son of Scribonia V (Herodian Mariamne V). Herodian Mariamne V was married to two of the world's richest men, and was in her own right of sufficient royalty to put forward a son for the throne.
The name Galba is a variant of Calva. He may have been one and the same as the father of Junia Calvina. As suggested above (previous post), Junia Calvina very well could have been the (other) Roman name of Mariamne V. If so, then Galba would have been setting up his own grandson as his successor.
In 23 BC, Augustus was believed to be dying and made preparations to hand over the reigns of government. The signet ring was given to Marcus Agrippa, which designated him as Caesar's heir in a traditional sense of kingship. However, perpetual kingship was not an institution that was yet taken for granted in Rome. Richard Holland writes in Augustus (p 295):
"Although at the supposed point of extinction, Octavian was still sufficiently braced for duty to go through the republican motions of handing to his latest consular colleague, Cornelius Piso, a list of the military dispositions of the legions and a statement of the latest accounts from the Treasure. If he should die as Princeps - not yet a hereditary title - Piso would automatically become titular head of state, as Mark Antony had done on the death of Caesar, in the equally non-hereditary office of dictator; but Octavian was presumably confident that the troops would continue to take their orders from Agrippa, whatever the constitutional rules might lay down, once they had identified the Princep's signet ring, carved in the shape of a sphinx, on his finger."
Knowing what we know now, it seems evident that Cornelius Calpurnius Piso (sole consul apart from Augustus), and among the so-called "Liberators" of Rome, was one and the same as Tiberius Claudius Nero (Herod the Great), the very one that betrayed his patron Mark Antony and along with Marcus Agrippa assured the triumph of Octavian/Augustus. If Augustus had died as expected, it would have likely led to another bitter succession battle between Agrippa and Herod.
With this new association, it is necessary to reject a former one. The identification of Herod the Great with Iullus Antonius now appears flawed. The disgrace/death of Iullus Antonius did occur in 2 BC, about the time Herod the Great passed on, however Iullus is described as a much younger man in 2 BC and was named as a co-conspirator with Julia the daughter of Augustus in a plot (real or in drunken jest) to overthrow Augustus. Julia was banished and Iullus Antonius was said to have been killed.
Iullus Antonius could instead have been an alias of Antipater, the eldest son of Herod the Great who was killed by Herod just before his own death, at least according to Josephus. Eldest sons were often not the true sons of their fathers, and for that reason just as often persecuted and denied the succession. Antipater was authorized to sire a number of royal children. It was previously assumed that this was by consent of Herod the Great. However, it could have just as easily have been directed by Caesar Augustus.
Cornelius Calpurnius Piso (consul of 23 BC) had a prominent son by the same name, who himself became consul in 7 BC, about the time that Antipater emerged as crown prince under Herod the Great. Cornelius Calpurnius Piso (as with Drusus Claudius Nero) was also considered a friend and ally of the future Caesar Tiberius.
Other Piso's are equally important.
Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso was governor of Syria and took the fall for the death of Germanicus in 19 AD.
The wife of another Piso, Gaius Calpurnius Piso, was taken by Caligula. He was later put forward as a replacement for Nero in the abortive coup of 65 AD. This Piso is not even mentioned by Syme in The Roman Revolution, and only in passing by Barrett in Agrippina. Griffin offers much more insight in Nero: The End of a Dynasty, but still no proposed place in the royal genealogy is given. How unimaginable that the family relations of the such a person would be completely unknown! However, it should be clear that he was someone of the stature of Gemellus (Simon ben Gioras/Gurion).
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.