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Sulpicius Rufus


1.

Publius, one of the most distinguished orators of his time, born B.C. 124. He commenced public life as a supporter of the aristocratic party, and acquired great influence in the State by his splendid talents, while he was still young. In 93 he was quaestor, and in 89 he served as legate of the consul Cn. Pompeius Strabo in the Marsic War. In 88, he was elected to the tribunate; but he deserted the aristocratic party, and joined Marius. The causes of this sudden change are not expressly stated; but we are told that he was overwhelmed with debt; and there can be little doubt that he was bought by Marius. When Sulla marched upon Rome at the head of his army, Marius and Sulpicius took to flight. Marius succeeded in making his escape to Africa, but Sulpicius was discovered in a villa, and put to death.


2.

Publius, probably son or grandson of the last, was one of Caesar's legates in Gaul and in the Civil War. He was praetor in B.C. 48. Cicero addresses him in 45 as imperator. It appears that he was at that time in Illyricum, along with Vatinius.


3.

Servius, with the surname Lemonia, indicating the tribe to which he belonged, was a contemporary and friend of Cicero, and of about the same age. He first devoted himself to oratory, and he studied this art with Cicero in his youth. He afterwards studied law; and he became one of the best jurists as well as most eloquent orators of his age. He was quaestor of the district of Ostia in B.C. 74; curule aedile, 69; praetor, 65; and consul 51 with M. Claudius Marcellus. He appears to have espoused Caesar's side in the Civil War, and was appointed by Caesar proconsul of Achaia (46 or 45). He died in 43 in the camp of M. Antony, having been sent by the Senate on a mission to Antony, who was besieging Dec. Brutus in Mutina. Sulpicius wrote a great number of legal works. He is often cited by the jurists whose writings are excerpted in the Digest; but there is no excerpt directly from him in the Digest. He had numerous pupils, the most distinguished of whom were Ofilius and Alfenus Varus. There are extant in the collection of Cicero's Epistles (Ad Fam. iv.) two letters from Sulpicius to Cicero, one of which is the well-known letter of consolation on the death of Tullia, the daughter of the orator. The same book contains several letters from Cicero to Sulpicius. He is also said to have written some erotic poetry. Sulpicius left a son Servius, who is frequently mentioned in Caesar's correspondence.

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