This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Gaius Julius Zoilos

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Relief showing Gaius Julius Zoilos
Relief showing Gaius Julius Zoilos

Gaius Julius Zoilos was born in the first half of the 1st century BCE in the Roman city of Aphrodisias (today’s southern Turkey). The excavations carried out there over the last fifty years have revealed his magnificent tomb. At first, archaeologists thought they were dealing with an aristocratic person until an inscription was discovered identifying him as “Gaius Julius Zoilos, freedman of the divine Julius Caesar”.

He was born as a free man, but over time he was kidnapped by pirates or human traffickers, or he ended up a prisoner of war during one of the conflicts of the time. Consequently, he ended up in Rome and became a slave to Gaius Julius Caesar himself. The latter, in turn, gave him freedom, as well as Roman citizenship and the Roman name Gaius Julius Zoilos.

The liberator Zoilos later collaborated with Emperor Octavian Augustus, who must have known him quite well and sympathized with him (in Augustus’ letter, written in 39 or 38 BCE and placed by the people of Aphrodisias on a stone plaque in the city centre, it reads “You know how I like my Zoilos”).

After returning to his native Aphrodisias, Zoilos was already fabulously wealthy, probably thanks to the spoils of Caesar’s campaign, a handful of which went even to slaves or freedmen. He began to build his position. Thanks to his riches, he financed various construction works in the city, including a new stage in the theatre or a general renovation of the main temple. His name has become synonymous with a patron and benefactor.

After his death, the people of Aphrodisias erected him a wonderful tomb. It should also be mentioned about the epitaph of Zoilos’ son discovered in Rome, which if it belongs to a descendant of Zoilos (it is possible that it is only the same names) means that part of his family did not return to Aphrodisias with their father. For this “Tiberius Julius Pappus, son of Zoilos” was commemorated as the superior of imperial libraries from the middle of the 1st century during the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius.

Author: Piotr Pietrych (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

If you like the content that I collect on the website and that I share on social media channels I will be grateful for the support. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server.



Find out more!

Check your curiosity and learn something new about the ancient world of the Romans. By clicking on the link below, you will be redirected to a random entry.

Random curiosity

Random curiosity

Discover secrets of ancient Rome!

If you want to be up to date with newest articles on website and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter, which is sent each Saturday.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Subscribe to newsletter

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: