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P. Cornelius Dolabella, b. about B.C. 70.

DOLABELLA is on a much lower plane than Antony, and would not be much worth our attention were it not for his peculiar connexion with Cicero. He was one of the wildest and most extravagant of the young nobles of the day, but was apparently possessed of some oratorical ability. As was the fashion of the time, he trusted to this ability to bring him office and means to escape from his embarrassments, and in order to make himself a name as an orator and man of affairs commenced a prosecution of a man of high rank for malversation in his province. The person he selected was Appius Claudius, Cicero's predecessor in Cilicia. This happened to be particularly inconvenient to Cicero, who, besides wishing to stand well with Claudius, found that just about the time the prosecution was to begin (early in B.C. 50) his wife had consented to Dolabella's marriage with Tullia. It is not quite clear what Cicero's views on the subject were. He had been consulted, and wrote to Terentia leaving the matter in her hands. Yet when he found it an accomplished fact, he felt much annoyed, especially as in the meanwhile he had been visited by Tiberius Nero with a proposal for Tullia's hand, and would have preferred him. The marriage, however, had taken place, and he was obliged to make the best of it, and consoled himself in B.C. 50-49 with the reflexion that, as Dolabella took Caesar's side in the Civil War, he might prove a protection to his wife's family, which perhaps turned out to be the case. But neither was the marriage a happy one, owing to Dolabella's gross misbehaviour, nor had Cicero any reason to approve his son-in-law's public conduct. He was tribune in B.C. 47, whilst Caesar was in Alexandria, and produced much uproar in Rome by proposing a law for the abolition of debts. Though his conduct was condoned by Caesar, who took him on his campaigns in Africa and Spain (B.C.. 46-45), he never shewed any qualities fitting him for public life. However, his behaviour in the field may be supposed to have earned Caesar's regard, for he promised him the consulship for half the year B.C. 44, when he himself should have gone on the Getic and Parthian expeditions. Antony objected to such a colleague and went so far as to attempt to invalidate the election—as he had threatened to do—by announcing bad omens. The decision of the augurs on the point was not given when Caesar was assassinated, and in the confusion that followed Dolabella assumed the insignia of the consulship. Two years before this his conduct had been so outrageous that Cicero had induced Tullia—somewhat unwillingly, it seems—to divorce him. But the strangest part of the business to our feelings is the cordial and almost affectionate manner in which Cicero continues to address him. This is raised to absolute adulation—in spite of a private grievance as to the failure to repay Tullia's dowry—by his belief that after Caesar's death Dolabella meant to take the constitutional side. He had at first openly shewn his sympathy with the assassins, and a few weeks later had suppressed the riots which took place round the column and altar placed over the spot where Caesar's body had been burnt, by executing—in what appears a most arbitrary manner—a number of citizens and slaves. But this show of republican ardour soon disappeared. He shared with Antony in the plunder of the temple of Ops, obtained a nomination to the province of Syria, left Rome while still consul to take possession before Cassius could get there, and on his way through Asia barbarously murdered the governor of Asia, Trebonius (February, B.C. 43). Trebonius was in Asia with the express understanding that he was to collect forces and money for the republican party; and this act of Dolabella's was a declaration of hostility to it. The senate declared him a hostis and Cassius was commissioned to crush him. Rumour of his fall (he committed suicide while blockaded in Laodicea) reached Rome before the correspondence closes, but no official confirmation of it. Dolabella's private character was bad, and there is nothing in his public conduct to make up for it.


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