of a plebeian branch of the Cornelia gens, was quaestor of Pompey the Great.
In the year B. C. 67, he was tribune of the plebs, and proposed a law in the senate to prevent the lending of money to foreign ambassadors at Rome.
The proposition was not carried, since many of the senators derived profit from the practice, which had led to shameful abuses by the bribery and extortions which it covered.
He then proposed that no person should be released from the obligations of a law except by the populus.
The senate had of late exercised a power, analogous to that of the British Parliament in passing private acts, which exempt individuals in certain cases from the general provisions of the law.
This power the senate was unwilling to be deprived of, and the tribune Servilius Glolbulus, a colleague of Cornelius, was persuaded to interpose, and prohibit the reading of the rotation by the clerk. Cornelius thereupon read it himself, and a tumult followed. Cornelius took no part in the riot, and evinced his moderation by being content with a law, which made the presence of 200 senators requisite to the validity of a dispensing senatusconsultum. When his year of office was ended, he was accused of majestas by P. Cominius, for reading the rogation in defiance of the intercession of Globulus; the accusation was dropped this year, but renewed in B. C. 65. Cornelius was ably defended by Cicero (part of whose speech is extant), and was acquitted by a majority of votes. [COMINIUS, Nos. 5 and 6.]
In his tribuneship, he was the successful proposer of a law, of which the importance can scarcely be over-rated.
In order to check the partiality of occasional edicts, it was enacted by the lex Cornelia " ut praetores ex edictis suis perpetuis jus dicerent." (Dict. of Ant. s. v. Edictum.
Cornelius was a man of blameless private life, and, in his public character, though he was accused of factiousness by the nobles, seems to have advocated usful measures. (Asconius, in Cic. pro Cornel. ; D. C. 36.21
; Drumann's Gesch. Roms,
ii. p. 613.)