5. M. Fonteius
, son of the preceding.
The praenomens of both these Fonteii are very doubtful. (Orelli, Onom. Tull. s. v. Fonteius.
) Cicero enumerates the offices borne by M. or M'. Fonteius in the following order.
He was a triumvir, but whether for apportioning land, conducting a colony, or of the public treasury, is unknown.
He was quaestor between B. C. 86-83. In B. C. 83 he was legatus, with the title of Pro-quaestor in Further Spain, and afterwards legatus in Macedonia, when he repressed the incursions of the Thracian tribes into the Roman province.
The date of his praetorship is uncertain, but he governed, as his praetorian province, Narbonnese Gaul, between B. C. 76-73, since he remained three years in his government, and in 75 sent provisions, military stores, and recruits to Metellus Pius and Cn. Pompey, who were then occupied with the Sertorian war in Spain. His exactions for this purpose formed one of the charges brought against him by the provincials.
He returned to Rome in B. C. 73-2, but he was not prosecuted for extortion and misgovernment until B. C. 69. M. Plaetorius was the conductor, M. Fabius subscriptor of the prosecution.
With few exceptions, the principal inhabitants of Narbonne appeared at Rome as witnesses against Fonteius, but the most distinguished among them was Induciomarus, a chief of the Allobroges.
The trial was in many respects important; but our knowledge of the cause, as well as of the history of M. Fonteius himself, is limited to the partial and fragmentary speech of his advocate, Cicero.
The prosecution was an experiment of the new law--Lex Aurelia de Judiciis--which had been passed at the close of B. C. 70, and which took away the judicia from the senate alone, and enacted that the judices be chosen equally from the senators, the equites, and the tribuni aerarii.
It was also the year of Cicero's aedileship, and the prosecutor of Verres now came forward to defend a humbler but a similar criminal. Fonteius procured from every province which he had governed witnesses to his official character -- from Spain and Macedonia, from Narbo Martius and Marseille, from the camp of Pompey, and from the companies of revenue-farmers and merchants whom he had protected or connived at during his administration.
He was charged, as far as we can infer from Cicero's speech (Pro Fonteio
), with defrauding his creditors while quaestor; with imposing an exorbitant tax on the wines of Narbonne; and with selling exemptions from the repair of the roads of the province, so that both were the roads impassable, and those who could not afford to buy exemptions were burdened with the duty of the exempted. Cicero denies the charge of fraud, but of the complaints respecting the wine-tax and the roads, he says that they were grave, if true; and that they were true, and that Fonteius was really guilty, are probable from the vague declamation in which his advocate indulges throughout his defence. Whether Fonteius were acquitted is not known; but, as he would have been fined or exiled if pronounced guilty, and as we read of his purchasing, after his trial, a sumptuous house--the domus Rabiriana
(Cic. Att. 1.6
.), at Naples, B. C. 68, it is more probable that the sentence of the judices was favorable. (Cic. pro Font.
; Julius Victor, in Font. Fragm.
; Drumann, Gesch. Rom
vol. v. pp. 329-334, by whom an analysis of Cicero's speech is given.
The fragments we possess belong to the second speech for the defence. Each party spoke twice, land Cicero each time in reply. (Cic. Font. 13
.) Quintilian (6.3 § 51) cites pro Font.
3.7, as an example of enigmatic allusion.)