14. C. Claudius
Marcellus, C. F. M. N., son of the preceding, and first cousin of M. Marcellus [No. 11 ], whom he succeeded in the consulship, B. C. 50.
He enjoyed the friendship of Cicero from an early age, and attached himself to the party of Pompey in the state, notwithstanding his connection with Caesar by his marrige with Octavia.
It was evidently to the influence of Pompey, combined with that of his cousin M. Marcellus, that he was indebted for his elevation to the consulship at the comitia of the year 51; and during the year of his office he showed himself a zealous and uncompromising advocate of the party hostile to Caesar. His measures were, however, very much impeded by the opposition of his colleague, L. Aenilius Paullus, as well as of the tribune C. Curio, both of whom, though previously hostile, had been recently gained over by Caesar.
The latter is said to have endeavoured to corrupt Marcellus also, but to have found him inaccessible to bribes. (Appian, App. BC 2.26
.) On the 1st of March, B. C. 50, Marcellus brought before the senate, as previously arranged, the question of superseding Caesar in his command; but the interposition of Curio prevented any conclusion being come to at that time; and afterwards the illness of Pompey and the elections for the ensuing year caused the question to be again postponed.
The consul, however, succeeded in obtaining a decree of the senate for withdrawing from Caesar two of his legions, under pretence that they were wanted for the Parthian war; but as soon as the troops arrived in Italy they were detained at Capua, to wait for further orders. Meanwhile, repeated discussions took place in the senate in regard to Caesar, Curio still insisting that if he was compelled to resign his command, Pompey should do so too ; while Marcellus in vain endeavoured to force on a decree in pursuance of the views of himself and the more violent party.
At length, a rumour having arrived that Caesar was actually marching upon Rome with four legions, the consul once more took the opportunity to propose that Pompey should be immediately placed at the head of the forces then in Italy; but having again failed in obtaining the consent of the senate, lie took the extraordinary step of investing Pompey with the command by his own personal authority, supported only by that of the two consuls elect, C. Marcellus and L. Lentulus. (Caes. Gal. 8.54
; D. C. 40.59
; Appian, App. BC 2.27
; Plut. Pomp. 58
The violence with which Marcellus urged matters to a crisis at this time is strangely contrasted with his timidity and helplessness when the war had actually broken out, and which exceeded, according to Cicero, that of all others of his party.
He used his utmost endeavours with Cicero to induce him not to quit Italy, in order that he might himself have an excuse for remaining : but even when the orator reluctantly followed Pompey and the senate to Epeirus, Marcellus could not make up his mind to do the same; he remained in Italy; and probably, from this circumstance, coupled with his relationship to Caesar, readily obtained the forgiveness of the conqueror. Thus, in B. C. 47, he was able to intercede with the dictator in favour of his cousin, M. Marcellus, who was then still in exile: and at a later period we find him enjoying, as the husband of Octavia, a place of high consideration.
He is repeatedly mentioned by Cicero in the year 44, and must have lived till near the close of B. C. 41, as his widow, Octavia, was pregnant by him when betrothed to Antony in the following year. (Cic. Fam. 4.4
, ad Att.
10.15, 15.12, pro Marc.
4, 1 , Phil.
3.6; D. C. 48.31
.) Orelli has referred many of these passages to C. Marcellus, M. f., whom he considers as the husband of Octavia; but Drumann has satisfactorily shown that they relate to his cousin, the subject of the present article.