Skip to main content Accessibility help

Article contents

The Praefectura Urbis of 45 B.C. and the Ambitions of L. Cornelius Balbus

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2015

Kathryn E. Welch
University of Queensland


In late 46, Caesar decided not to hold elections for 45, but instead to take the unprecedented step of nominating six or eight officials called praefecti urbi to act in place of the praetors, quaestors and curule aediles. In this way, he made his most openly autocratic inroads into the traditional Republican constitution. Because of the traumatic effect that this had on the governing class and the Roman structure of government, this office, which Caesar completely adapted, deserves special consideration.

Research Article
Copyright © Australasian Society for Classical Studies 1990

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


1 Suet, . D. Iul. 76.2Google Scholar; Dio 43.28.2,48.

2 Mommsen (StR 1.666Google Scholar) believes that the praefectus urbi was a prototype of the laterpraetor, used whenever the consuls were absent from the city. According to this theory, the office lost importance when the praetorship was introduced in 367 B.C. This is probably too neat a theory for such an early period. While it is possibly true, all the evidence on a civil rather than religious praefectus is so late that such precision can be accepted only as good guesswork. See also Sacher, RE 22, 2511, who follows Mommsen. Even for the praefectus urbi feriarum Latinorum causa, the earliest reference is Junius (Gell, Aul.. NA 14.8.1Google Scholar), from 100. Vano and Tubero found it very difficult to be precise concerning the powers of the civil praefectus. They used no specific instances to back up their argument (Gel., Aul.NA 14.8.2Google Scholar).

3 Tac, . Ann. 6.11Google Scholar. Sacher, RE. Praefectus Urbi; 22.2211. SämterKE. Feriae Latinae 62.2213-6.

4 Dam, Nic.. Vit.Aug. 5.13Google Scholar. This is a curious study, bearing all the hallmarks of a wise child myth, forOctavius dispenses justice with sagacity beyond his years, causing wonder to all who come to watch. Its veracity is doubtful.

5 QFr. 2.4.2Google Scholar: dies erant duo, qui post Latinos habentur religiosi: ceteroqui confectum Latiar erat; also Plut, . Cam. 42Google Scholar. See n.9, where a description of the power of a praefectus urbi before this period is given.

6 Aul, . Gell. NA 14.8.1Google Scholar.

7 Sp. Lucretius (509): 1.59.12; 1.60.3; Q. Servilius (465)3.3.6;Q. Fabius Vibulanus(462):3.8.7; 9.1-13; Ap. Claudius (424): 4.36.5; L. Papirius Crassus (?) (325): 8.36.1. See Ogilvie, R.M., CL 229Google Scholar. A comparison of Liv. 1.59.12 with Tac, . Ann. 6.1Google Scholar. shows up Livy's lack of interest in the praefectus urbias an institution. Tactitus gives a genealogy of the office from Romulus through the regal period: nomque antea, profeclis domo regibus ac max magistratibus, ne urbs sine imperio foret, in tempus deligebatur, qui ius redderet ac subitis mederetur; feruntque ab Romulo Dentrem Romulium, post ab Tullo Hostilio Numam Marcium et ab Tarquinio Superbo Spurium Lucretium impositos. dein consules mandabant; duratque simulacrum quotiens ob ferias Latinas praeficitur qui consulare munus usurpet. Livy (1.60.3), by contrast, makes little of the office: he mentions that Lucretius was one, and was therefore able to hold the elections. In fact, Dionysius calls Lucretius an interrex (4.76.1;84.5: μεσοβασιλεύς). Ogilvie argues from this that the passage must have been written before 25 B.C. There is no reflection of the debate which surrounded the institution of the office when M. Valerius Messalla resigned it after only five days.

8 A. Sempronius Atratinus (499): 6.2.3; T. (?) Larcius Flavus (494): 6.42.1; Sp. Larcius Flavus (487) 8.64.3. It is interesting that the examples do not overlap at all, and that there is no correlation between the tasks of Livy’s praefecti urbi and Dionysius’. The tradition, such as it was, must have been very hazy. There may have existed an even longer list of examples from which both historians drew their data, but it is hard to determine who compiled or preserved it. Dionysius’ acquaintance with Q. Aelius Tubero might account for his particular version of the early praefecti, for Tubero was certainly interested in it during this period (see note 10). Another probable source for the Dionysian variant is Varro. Livy was apparently not really interested in either author (Ogilvie, R., CL 6,17Google Scholar).

9 Gel, Aul.. NA 14.7.4Google Scholar; 8.1-2: praefectum urbi Latinorum causa relictum senatum habere posse Iunius negat, quoniam ne senator quidem sit neque ius habeat sententiae dicendae, cum ex ea aetate praefectus fiat quae non sit senatoria. M. autem Varro in quarto Epistolicarum Quaestionum et Ateius Capito in Coniectaneorum VIII, ius esse praefecto senatus habendi dicunt; deque ea re adsensum esse Capito Varronem Tuberoni contro sententiam Iunii refert. Previously, Varro mentions the triumuiri rei publicae constituendae (14.7.5) by name, so the passage must be later than Caesar, but as he died in 27, could not have reflected Augustus’ praefectus.

10 Antony: Att. 10.8aGoogle Scholar; Caes, . BC 1.11.4,18.2Google Scholar. Q. Cassius: Caes, . BC 2.21.3Google Scholar; Bell. Alex. 48.2Google Scholar.

11 On Antony, see Att. 10.13.2Google Scholar; on Cassius, Quintus, Bell. Alex. 48.2Google Scholar; 50 ff.

12 Hartfield, M., The Roman Dictatorship: Its Character and Evolution (Diss. Zurich 1982) 252263Google Scholar argues that even when the dictatorship was no longer used, the procedures surrounding it were still well understood. Caesar disregarded many of these. For example, he was first named by a praetor while he was outside Rome. In 47 his dictatorship was to last for a year. He held it along with the consulship in 46 and was dictator several times. Sulla, in abdicating even after a lengthy period of time, was far more in keeping with traditional practice. So, in fact, was Caesar in his first dictatorship: he resigned after his task was completed. This signifies that when he did choose to change something, he consciously decided to tamper with the tradition. One might also note Caesar’s interest in and awareness of ancient procedure as demonstrated by the prosecution of Rabinus in 63.

13 Plut, . Ant. 8.3Google Scholar; Dio 42.21.1.

14 Dio 42.21.1-2: .

15 Dio's report of the objections to this annual magistracy have a ring of truth to them for two reasons: first, the disapproval was carefully aimed at Antony, not at Caesar, then, the use of religious law rather than civil was not only a correct method, but may have proved a safer framework in which to voice objections. Antony's administration of Italy in 49 would have caused many to wonder how he would handle the more important position he was given in 47; and in fact, any fears were borne out.

16 Dio 42-29.3: also 32.1. It is possible that the lack of magistrates contributed to the lawlessness of Trebellius and Dolabella, for there were few around to control them.

17 Ant, 8.3Google Scholar:

18 MRR 2.7485Google Scholar. Sulla did not arrange suffect consuls in 82, but he had consuls elected in 81 and 80. In all years he retained the other magistracies.

19 Certainly Caesar retained promagistrates in 48. This actually occurred in 47 as well.

20 Dio 42.27..2:

21 ibid: .

22 Dio 42.27.3:

23 Caes, . BC Scholar; Dio 42.22.1.

24 The magister equitum was further developed in following years. For example, it is uncertain at which stage of 46 Lepidus assumed the title, but very possibly he held it in addition to the consulship (Dio 43.1.1 : Eutr. 6.27). Later, as consul, he named himself magister equitum, again with flagrant disregard for procedures.

25 As the office was designed for emergencies, and emergencies have the best chance of finding their way into historical records, we might have expected to hear of even the odd case of a praefectus urbi being appointed, if the office were used at all.

26 See above, n.8.

27 MRR 2.287Google Scholar lists three quaestors for 478 who were all serving in the provinces. However, there were surely more and one would expect at least one quaestor to be in Rome. He could not have done a worse job than L. Caesar, who apparently was totally ineffectual (Dio 42.30.2: .

28 Cicero's attitude in the Pro Marcello and in some of his letters (e.g. Fam. 4.4; 4.9; 6.13Google Scholar) shows glimmers of approval, though it is always qualified.

29 Ser. Sulpicius, C. Cassius and M. Brutus all held promagistracies in the important areas of Achaia, Syria and Cisalpine Gaul respectively (Fam. 6.6.10Google Scholar).

30 Alt. 12.8Google Scholar, around October: scribe, quaeso, quid referat Celer egisse Caesarem cum candidat es, utrum ipse in Fenicularium an in Martium campum cogilet, el scire sane uelim numquid necessesit comitiis esse Romam. Caesar left sometime in November (by the reformed calendar): CLA 5.304Google Scholar.

31 BC 3.2022Google Scholar; Plut, . Ant. 9.12Google Scholar; Mo 42.22-25,29-32. 52 Dio 42.22.3,29.2.

33 Frei-Stolba, R., Untersuchungen zu den Wahlen in der römischen Kaiserzeit (Zürich 1967) 4953Google Scholar comments that the praefectura urbis shows that Caesar's control of the elections was not as effective in providing him with secure administration as he wished. On p.52 she argues against the belief that haste was the reason for instituting the office, for very cogent reasons: Caesar had from July until November in the city and could have called the elections at any time. One should add that he was aware for some months that the situation in Spain required attention, and the fact that he sent ahead men of no particular military reputation to deal with Cn. Pompeius denotes that he intended to go himself at a later stage. Also, Dio's account implies that the praefecti were appointed before Caesar left rather than after, which indicates choice rather than necessity. Even if haste prevented Caesar from presiding over the comitia, he could have at least directed Lepidus to hold those for the quaestors and curule aediles as Isauricus did in 48. The selection of some (his own election as consul sine collega and those for tribunes and plebian aediles) and rejection of others signifies careful forethought. Frei-Stolba suggests that in appointing praefecti urbi, Caesar was using the right which the Senate had proposed on numerous occasions of naming the magistrates. Caesar did not go so far as this, but compromised with the prefecture. In this way, he avoided for the moment the more drastic step of completely overturning the comitia.

34 Suet, . D. Iul. 76.2Google Scholar; Dio 43.28.2,48.

35 RRC 475. la, 494.31.

36 Dio recognises the difference between these men (ττολιανόμοι) and L. Caesar (πο;λιάρχος). However, Caesar’s appointees were praefecti urbi, as the numismatic evidence makes clear (RRC 475.1a).

37 43.28.2.

38 Suet, . D. Iul. 76.2Google Scholar: ita ut medio tempore comitia nulla habuerit praeter tribunorum et aedilium plebis praefectosque propraetoribus constituerit, qui apsenle se res urbanas administrarent.

39 Dio 43.48.1:


41 43.48.2.

42 Junius' comments from well before this period (Aul. Gell. 14.8.1 ) make it clear that the prefect for the Latin festival could not convene the Senate and was not even considered a senator because of his age, which also makes his right to curule insignia an unlikely proposition. Neither is there an appeal to any precedent set by L. Caesar. Either he was viewed as too different, or he had not held insignia while he was in office. It is also to be noted that there are no specific examples in the sententiae of Varro, Tubero or Capito in NA 14.8.2Google Scholar. They were restricted to tribuni ci an analogies.

43 Dio 43.48.3. This is another example of how little Caesar wanted his subordinates, in this case his own appointees, to take credit for providing public entertainment. It is unclear from the passage who was required to pay for the Ludi Megalenses put on by an unnamed plebeian aedile. Compare Dio 42.27.3-4. where Antony put on entertainments in Caesar’s name.

44 43.48.2.

45 Gell, Aul.. NA 14.8.2Google Scholar. See above, n.43.

46 43.48.1:

47 Dio 43.47.2.

48 RRC This dates the coin conclusively to early 45.

49 Legate in Gaul from 54: Caes, . BG 5.24Google Scholar; Spain: BC 1.40Google Scholar; Africa: Bell.Af. 4. He was named consul designatus for 42.

50 MRR 2.307Google Scholar lists him as a probable praetor. The inscription on Plancus' coinage for this year changes from praef. urb. to pr. urb. (RRC 1.485Google Scholar). Pr. is the normal republican abbreviation for praetor (e.g. Hirtius, , RRC 1.478Google Scholar), but Caesar's titulature remains as DICT. TER. Caesar was dictator for the third time until April 45, if the sequence ran annually from the battle of Thapsus in 46, and as Plancus should have been praefectus until late in 45, the change in inscription cannot prove his changed status. Broughton's reasons for placing him among the praetors of 45 (that he was proconsul in 44) are still better than G. V. Sumner's suggestion, for which there is no evidence at all, that he might have been praetor in 47 (Phoenix 25 [1971] 360Google Scholar).

51 Bell Af. 4; Fam. 13.29Google Scholar. In this letter Cicero asks Plancus to speak on behalf of C. Ateius Capito in order to prevent the loss of an inheritance. (5) … efficias ut mea commendatione, tuo studio, Caesaris beneficio hereditatem propinqui sui C. Capito obtineat. omnia quae potui in hoc summa tua gratia ac potentia a te impetrare, si petissem, ultro te ad me detulisse putabo si hanc rem impetrauero. Although there is no mention of an official role, Shackleion Bailey (CEF 2.442Google Scholar) suggests that this indicates that he was already involved somehow in the confiscation of Pompeian estates. In his CLA (5.341)Google Scholar he further comments that Plancus' duties as praefectus urbi concerned confiscated property. The evidence, a vague reference in Phil 2.78Google Scholar, is very slight, but certainly raising money from the sale of ‘Pompeian’ estates would fit with the financial role of the praefectus urbi.


53 Bell. Af. 89.3Google Scholar. No praenomen is given here either. The question of who Regulus was and his relationship with the moneyer and a praetor, who is also depicted in the coin series, is a vexed one, which space does not permit me to address here. The coins were minted c.42 (RRC 1.502Google Scholar), but if the only praefecti urbi to use the insignia were those of 45 (see above, p.59), then the coin should referto a Caesarian prefect. See, however, Münzer, , RE 13.1.809Google Scholar; Mommsen, , StR 1.383-4Google Scholar, Geschichte des römischen Münzwesens (Berlin 1860) 7411Google Scholar; RRC 1.509-10Google Scholar; MRR 3.125-6Google Scholar. A. Alföldi, ‘Les Praefecti Urbi de César’, Mel. Seston 1-13 sees Livineius’ prefecture as proof that the office was continued. I would have to agree with Broughton (loc.cit) that this was not the case. Dio (43.51.2) makes it very clear that the office was not continued in its curule form, if at all. Much of Alföldi’s argument concerning the praefecti is vitiated by this passage. See also below, p.68.

54 See above, n.50.

55 L. Minucius Basilus (Dio 43.47.5). We know nothing about his activities in the first half of the year. Later, he took a sum of money in lieu of a province and eventually joined the conspirators, apparently because Caesar had insulted him during his praetorship.

56 MRR 2.306.-7. See also Stemkopf, W., Hermes 47 (1912) 329, 336, 337 fGoogle Scholar.

57 Pollio is called praelorius by Velleius Paterculus (2.73.2). He was in Spain for the first part of 45 (Att. 12.38.2Google Scholar; Suet, . D. Iul. 55Google Scholar); Brutus was also in Spain, for he travelled in a chariot with Octavius on their return home (Plut, . Ant. 11.1.Google Scholar); Comificius was in Cilicia (Att. 12.14.2)Google Scholar.

58 These include Hortensius, Q., Bithynicus, A. Pompeius, Sextius, T., Murcus, L. Status and Cimber, L. Tillius: MRR 2.306 ffGoogle Scholar. It would be of great interest to know more of their activities in 45, especially those of Q. Hortensius. There is no mention made of him by Cicero; this does suggest his absence, as Cicero stood close enough to him to make use of his position, if he was in Rome.

59 This is the role usually assigned to Oppius and Balbus. See, for example, Bauman, R. A., LRTP 88-9Google Scholar. Baumanproposes A. Ofilius as another possible praefectus urbi, and points out that the office was essentially equestrian, and therefore would not have affected Ofilius’ status. That Ofilius was a prefect is possible, but the relationship of the office to the senate requires further examination as the praefecti had imperium pro praetore (Suet, . D. Iul. 76.2Google Scholar).

60 Balbus: Suet, . D. Iul. 81.2Google Scholar: SHA ‘Balbinus’ 7; Oppius: Gell.M 6.1.2; Suet, . D. Iul. 52.2,53,72Google Scholar; Plut, . Pomp. 10.45Google Scholar; Caes. 17.4,6Google Scholar.

61 See, for example, Frisch, H., Cicero's Fight for the Republic (Copenhagen 1946) 27Google Scholar; A. Alföldi, OAZM, ch.5; R. Syme, , RR 7173Google Scholar.

62 Fam 2.16. (May 49)Google Scholar: togam praelextam text Oppio puto te audisse, nam Curtius nosier dibaphum cogitai; sed eum infector moratur; Att. 10.11.5. (4 May 49): quae illle monstra, di immortales! etiamne Balbus in senatum uenire cogitet? This, of course, is so if Curtius can be identified with Rabinus Postumus. Trebatius is the probable source for Balbus’ aspirations, in which case, the information is almost certainly correct.

63 See especially Suet, . D. Iul. 76.3Google Scholar: eadem licenlia spreto patrio more magistratus in pluris annos ordinami, decem praetoriis uiris consularia ornamenta tributi, ciuitale donatos el quosdam e semibarbaris Gallorum recepii in curiam. Logically, how could Caesar have refused the senate to Balbus in these circumstances? This passage, the very chapter in whcih the description of the praefecti urbi appears, could possibly refer to Balbus, as one who was ciuitale donatus. Also, Dio 43.47.3.

64 Apparently some of Caesar’s new senators did not. Suet, . D. Iul. 80.2Google Scholar: peregrinis in senatum allectis libellus propositus est: ‘Bonum factum: ne quis senatori nono curiam monstrare uelit’. et illa uulgo canebaniur: ‘Gallos Caesar in triumphum dual, idem in curiam; Galli bracas deposuerunt, latum clauum sumpserunt.’ Even allowing for the jocular exaggerations in these statements, Caesar could not justify Balbus’ exclusion if he were adlecting even Transpadani or men from Gallia Cornata. By this stage, Balbus had been a prominent Roman for at least thirteen years.

65 CIL 10. 3854Google Scholar (ILS 888); Plin, . NH 7.136Google Scholar; Dio 48.32.2.

66 Many advisers throughout history have had their careers chosen for them because they were unable to fulfil their real ambitions. Three very different men who acted as advisers to American presidents demonstrate this: Geoerge Cortelyou ran William McKinley’s administration from ‘behind the scenes’, but his ambitions for a place in the cabinet emerged in later years. He went on to be postmaster general and would have run for president if Theodore Roosevelt had endorsed him instead of Taft (Medved, M., The Shadow Presidents [New York 1979] 100-5Google Scholar). Edward House, whose role as Woodrow Wilson’s adviser was crucial, undertook to manipulate a president because a childhood illness had left him without the physical stamina to conduct a political career (A.L., and George, J.L., Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House: a Personality Study [New York 1964]Google Scholar. Harry Hopkins, a key figure in F.D. Roosevelt’s administration, would have been endorsed asa Democrat candidate but stomach cancer left him a permanent invalid. Roosevelt took on a fourth term with H.H. as his chief adviser and negotiator (Anderson, P., The President's Men [New York 1968] 66 ff.Google Scholar; M. Medved, op.cit. 198-233). Balbus, as a foreigner, was in the same category as these men; he was ambitious, but the prejudice of the Roman aristocracy prevented him from ascending the cursus. The role of ‘backroom adviser’ was foisted on him when he failed to achieve the position he had hoped for. Hopkin’s career (and that of most of Roosevelt’s advisers) parallels another aspect of Balbus’ career: F.D.R. never allowed his assistants to steal any of the limelight if he thought he would be disadvantaged, so many of Hopkins’ ambitions and achievements were not known by his contemporaries (P. Anderson, op.cit. 6).

67 In 19 Balbus Minor was the last senator to triumph in his own right for his victories against the Garamantes of Africa (CIL I2 50; Vell. Pat. 2.51.3). He was named a pontifex by Augustus. His theatre, dedicated in 13, was a lasting monument to an extraordinary family. Before they ever came to Rome, the Balbi were members of the highest ranks of Gaditane society (Cic, . Pro Balb. 41.Google Scholar). Gades, a Phoenician colony older than Carthage, retained much of its Phoenician heritage, including the worship of Melqart and Baal, from whom Balbus probably took his cognomen (Münzer, , RE 4.1261Google Scholar). Balbus, therefore, was aristocratic and important in his own right.

68 Fam. 10.32Google Scholar.

69 MRR 2.381,3.63Google Scholar. Also, RRC 1.526.518Google Scholar: BALBVS PRO.PR.; Alföldi, A., RN 15 (1973) 109Google Scholar; Grant, M., FITA 5-6,1819Google Scholar. Contra: Shatzman, I., SWRP 483-4Google Scholar. The arument concerns whether the propraetor was Balbus or his nephew.

70 The first case that we know of was a successful trial de ambitu: Balb. 57; Val.Max. 7.24.7; Schol.Bob. 228. Later, he acted as subscriptor in the trial of L. Valerius Flaccus de repetundis, and in fact had prosecuted Flaccus on other charges before this (Val. Max. 7.24.7).

71 Balb. 63.

72 The praefectus fabrum in the Republican period acted as an aide-de-camp to a Roman commander in whatever capacity the general chose to use him, usually with regard to administering finances. In the imperial period the office had even less significance than previously, but during Caesar’s time it was a useful way of turning a non-senator, and even an important non-citizen, into an adjutant whose duties were completely at the discretion of his commander. Major sources on this subject include StR. 1.98Google Scholar; Maue, I.H.C., Der Praefectus Fabrum (Halle 1887)Google Scholar; Bloch, A., ‘Le Praefectus Fabrum,’ MB 9 (1905)Google Scholar; Suolatili, J., The Junior Officers of the Roman Army in the Republican Period (Helsinki 1955) 200-1Google Scholar.

73 Pro Balb. 18: sin autem multorum uirtus, ingenium, humanitas ex infimo genere etfortunae gradu non modo amicitias et rei familiaris copias consecuta est, sed summam laudem, honores, gloriom, dignitatem, non intellego, cur potius inuidia molatura uirlutem L Corneli quam aequitas uestra pudorem eius adiutura uideatur.

74 Oppius had far fewer barriers to entering the Senate. His pedigree was at least equal to that of L. Plancus or C. Asinius Pollio, C. Caninius Rebilus, P. Ventidius and so many others of equestrian family whom Caesar honoured with the highest office. Syme, , RR 72Google Scholar describes him as coming from a ‘substantial Roman family’. Oppius was the gentilician of at least one praetorian family and of several minor senators (MRR 2.597Google Scholar), and although we cannot assume that our Oppius was related to any of them, this at least shows that the name was known and old. It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss Oppius’ career in detail, but if Balbus were made a senator, it is unlikely that Oppius would have been left out.

75 See especially Alföldi, A., OAZM 3154Google Scholar.

76 For example, Stockton, D., The Gracchi (Oxford 1979) 195Google Scholar: “Octavian, it sometimes seems, was bom middle aged.’

77 There is no mention made by Caesar in any of his own writings. The political situation, especially in the 50s, called for him to highlight the role of his senatorial associates. It appears that as far as Caesar was concerned Balbus, Oppius and men like them were expected to do without rewards until they forced Caesar to recognise their rights.

78 Ann. 12.60Google Scholar.

79 For example, it is to them that Cicero turned for help while he waited in the Limbo of Brandisium. Att. 11.6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 17a, 18, 22Google Scholar. By this time, their language had already taken on many of the characteristics of a senatorial decision: e.g. Att. 11.6.3. (Nov. 48)Google Scholar: <Balbum haec scripsi et ad> Oppium; et quoniam iis piacerei me propius accedere, ut hac de re considera rent…

80 Fam 8.11Google Scholar. Curio needed restraining on the matter of preventing Cicero’s supplicaliones which would use up comitial days.

81 Medved, M., The Shadow Presidents (New York 1979)Google Scholar provides a study of how influential advisers can become. His insights are also useful for the ancient world, especially his autobiographical comment on p. 4: ‘In 1970, as a 21 -year-old drop out f rom Yale Law School, I worked as head speech writer for a major party nominee for the U.S. Senate. I began by helping my candidate put his own thoughts into words, but after a few months it became impossible to tell which ideas were his and which were mine. An extraordinary interdependence developed. In the course of laboring sixteen hours a day in his behalf, I actually took on some of my boss’s gestures and habits of speech. I spent many evenings sleeping on his couch at his home. Eventually, he came to view me as a reliable extension of his own personality. By the end of the campaign, I had been given the authority to issue statements in his name through our press office even if he had never seen the material before its release. It was an eerie feeling to read in the newspapers “the candidate said today… and to know that all the press was really reporting were words that a totally obscure, totally inexperienced 21-year-old aide had put into the candidate’s mouth. The public, as usual, never knew the difference.’ Medved gives many examples when distance only intensifies the opportunity for an unofficial adviser to play a major role. It was left to Balbus and Oppius to continue Caesar’s propaganda campaign in 49 (Att. 9.7a, 7b, 13AGoogle Scholar); they were also well-suited to approach the bankers and moneylenders who were won over to Caesar during his absence (faeneratores, agricolae, publicani: All. 7.7.5; Atticus himself: 10.18.2; L. Papilius Paetus: Fam. 9.19.1,17.1Google Scholar). Eventually, they prepared and passed legislation.

82 Gell, . NA 14.8.2Google Scholar: deque ea re adsensum esse Capito Varronem Tuberoni contra sententiam Iunii refert: nam et tribunis, inquit, plebis senatus habendi ius erat, quamquam senatores non esseni ante Atinium plebiscitum.

83 Fam. 9.15.4Google Scholar.

84 Fam. 6.8.1Google Scholar. For the dating of the letter, see Bailey, Shackleton, CEF 2.403Google Scholar.

85 Att. 13.33.1Google Scholar: neglegenliam miram! seme Ine putas mihidixisse Balbum et Faberium professionem relatam? qui etiam eorum iussu miserium qui profileretur. ita enim opportere dicebant.

86 Reid, J.S., JRS 5 (1915) 208Google Scholar. The word professio itself has a very wide range of meaning, and will cover almost any kind of statement which by law or usage has to be made to constituted authorities.

87 See Elmore, J., JRS 5 (1915) 129Google Scholar; CQ 12 (1918)38CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Reid, J.S., JRS 5 (1915) 209-13Google Scholar; Hardy, E.G., CQ 11 (1917) 32-3CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Some Problems in Roman History (Oxford 1924) 239325Google Scholar; Frederickson, M.W., JRS 55 (1965) 194Google Scholar.

88 Cicero was probably not required to declare all his property (Bailey, Shackleton, CLA 5.359Google Scholar). However, the amount is not as important in this case as the fact of Balbus’ obvious involvement.

89 The arguments concerning the law and its date are summarised by Hardy, E.G., SPRH 239-74Google Scholar. See also Frederickson, M.W., JRS 55 (1965) 194-8Google Scholar.

90 Fam. 6.18.1Google Scholar: Simui accept a Seleuco tuo litteras, statim quaesiui e Balbo per codicillos quid esset in lege. rescripsit eos qui facerent praeconium uetari esse in decurionibus; quifecissent, non uetari. quare bono animo sint tui et mei familiares.

91 ibid: neque enim erat ferendum, cum qui hodie haruspicinam facerent in senatum Romae legerentur, eos qui aliquando praconium fecissent in minicipiis decuriones esse non licere. Shackleton Bailey (CEF 2.384Google Scholar) comments that the term haruspices might have a wider meaning, as this class was now extremely respectable. The quick thrust at newcomers to the Senate in this letter suits the kind of expression Cicero might use for someone of whom he still does not approve, but who has done him a good tum, therefore Balbus himself, as a senator whose origins were not quite respectable.

92 None of the discussion on Balbus’ role in this instance and the possible drafting and implementation of the lex lulia municipalis addresses this question. His importance in the matter is generally recognised, but not his right to be involved. Typical of comments on this is Reid's, J.S. (JRS 5 [1915] 213Google Scholar), in connexion with Cicero’s professio: ‘… it is quite natural that Balbus and Faberius should have been concerned with it during the period of Caesar’s ascendancy.’ This is perhaps true, but not that Cicero should be so unworried by it, even if he is a little sarcastic.

93 Compare the tone of the letter to Lepta with Fam. 9.15.4Google Scholar: senatus consulta scribuntur apud amatoremtuum, familiaremmeum; et quidem, cum in mentem uenit, ponor ad scribendum. Note also Fam. 9.17Google Scholar: non tu homo ridiculas es qui, cum Balbus noster apud te fuerit, ex me quaeras quid de istis municipiis et agris futurum putem? quasi aut ego quicquam sciam quod iste nesciat aut, si quid aliquando scio, non ex isto soleam scire! immo uero, si me amas, tu fac ut sciam quid de nobis futurum sit. habuisli enim in tua palesiate ex quo uel ex sobrio vel certe ex ebrio scire posses. This cannot be explained merely by the difference in status of the recipients of the letter. Lepta and Papilius were both close friends of Cicero and both wanted advance knowledge of a particular law. The major difference must therefore be Cicero’s changed attitude to Balbus, or Balbus’ changed status.

94 Alt. 13.2a, 45,37a. 1Google Scholar.

95 Shatzman, I. (SWRP) 484-5)Google Scholar argues that Caesar (or rather, his agents) was able to keep separate what was his and what belonged to res publica. This, no doubt, became increasingly difficult, especially when money from confiscated estates and ‘loans’ raised by Balbus, Faberius and others on Caesar’s behalf went to pay for the army and other ‘public’ expenses. For example, who ‘owned’ the money taken from the aerarium in 49?

96 Att. 12.40.2,13.31.3, 13.7,19.2Google Scholar.

97 Att. 12.13.2Google Scholar.

98 Att. 12.19.2Google Scholar.

99 Att. 12.44.3Google Scholar.

100 Att. 12.47a. 1Google Scholar: Lepidus ad me heri uesperi litteras misit Antio, nam ibi erat…rogai magno opere ut sim in Kalendis in senatu; me et sibi et Coesori uehementer gratum esse facturum, puto equidem nihil esse, dixisset enim tibi fartasse aliquid Oppius, quoniam Balbus est aeger. sed tarnen malui uenire frustra quam desiderari si opus esset et moleste ferre postea.

101 Att. 12.14.1Google Scholar.

102 puto equidem nihil fonasse, dixisset enim tibifortasse Oppius…

103 43.51.2.

104 Brunns, H., Caesar und die römische Öbersicht in den Jahren 49-44 v.Chr. (Göttingen 1978) 163-4CrossRefGoogle Scholar argues that the lex Antonia de candidates was not a measure designed to give Caesar more power, but a reaction to his control of the elections, especially that for the consulship, which was expressly excluded in the law. It enjoyed only legal success, for Caesarthen gained the right to nominate consuls and praetors for the period of the expedition to Parthia, thus causing even greater unpopularity among the governing class.

105 Dio 43.48.3.

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 15 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 1st December 2020. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Hostname: page-component-6d4bddd689-2x8bj Total loading time: 0.939 Render date: 2020-12-01T14:35:38.220Z Query parameters: { "hasAccess": "0", "openAccess": "0", "isLogged": "0", "lang": "en" } Feature Flags last update: Tue Dec 01 2020 13:43:10 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) Feature Flags: { "metrics": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "peerReview": true, "crossMark": true, "comments": true, "relatedCommentaries": true, "subject": true, "clr": false, "languageSwitch": true }

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The Praefectura Urbis of 45 B.C. and the Ambitions of L. Cornelius Balbus
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

The Praefectura Urbis of 45 B.C. and the Ambitions of L. Cornelius Balbus
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

The Praefectura Urbis of 45 B.C. and the Ambitions of L. Cornelius Balbus
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *