6. SER. SULPICIUS, SER. F. GALBA was tribune of the soldiers, and belonged to the second legion in Macedonia, under Aemilius Paullus, to whom he was personally hostile.
After the conquest of Perseus, B. C. 167, when Aemilius had returned to Rome, Galba endeavoured to prevent a triumph being conferred upon the former; but he did not succeed, although his efforts created considerable sensation.
He was praetor in B. C. 151, and received Spain as his province, where a war was carried on against the Celtiberians. On his arrival there he hastened to the relief of some Roman subjects who were hard pressed by the Lusitanians. Galba succeeded so far as to put the enemy to flight; but as, with his exhausted and undisciplined army, he was incautious in their pursuit, the Lusitanians turned round, and a fierce contest ensued, in which 7000 Romans fell. Galba then collected the remnants of his army and his allies, and took up his winter-quarters at Conistorgis.
In the spring of B. C. 150, he again marched into Lusitania, and ravaged the country. The Lusitanians sent an embassy to him, declaring that they repeated of having violated the treaty which they had concluded with Atilius, and promised henceforth to observe it faithfully.
The mode in which Galba acted on that occasion is one of the most infamous and atrocious acts of treachery and cruelty that occur in history.
He received the ambassadors kindly, and lamented that circumstances, especially the poverty of their country, should have induced then to revolt against the Romans.
He promised them fertile lands if they would remain faithful allies of Rome.
He induced them, for this purpose, to, leave their homes, and assemble in three hosts, with their women and children, in the three places which he fixed upon, land in which lie himself would inform each host what territory they were to occupy. When they were assembled in the manner he had prescribed, he went to the first body, commanded them to surrender their arms, surrounded them with a ditch, and then sent his armed soldiers into the place, who forthwith massacred them all.
In the same manner he treated the second and third hosts. Very few of the Lusitanians escaped from the bloody scene; but among the survivors was Viriathus, destined one day to be the avenger of the wrong done to his countrymen. Appian states that Galba, although he was very wealthy, was extremely niggardly, and that he did not even scruple to lie or perjure himself, provided he could thereby gain pecuniary advantages.
In the year following, .when he had returned to Rome, the tribune, T. Scribonius Libo, brought a charge against him for the outrage he had committed on the Lusitanians; and Cato, then 85 years old, attacked him most unsparingly in the assembly of the people. Galba, although a man of great oratorical power himself, had nothing to say in his own justification; but bribery, and the fact of his bringing his own children and the orphan child of a relative before the people, and imploring mercy, procured his acquittal. Notwithstanding this occurrence, however, he was afterwards made consul for the year B. C. 144, with L. Aurelius Cotta.
The two consuls disputed in the senate as to which of them was to undertake the command against Viriathus in Spain : great dissension prevailed also in the senate; but it was resolved in the end, that neither should be sent to Spain, and that Q. Fabius Maximus Aemilianus, the consul of the year before, should continue to command the army in Spain.
He must have survived the year B. C. 138, for in that year he spoke for the publicani. (Cic. Brut. 22
.) Cicero speaks of his talent as an orator in terms of high praise, and calls him the first among the Romans whose oratory was what it should be.
He seems to have been a man of learning; his oratory had great power, which was increased by his passionate gesticulation during delivery. Cicero found his orations more oldfashioned than those of Laelius and Scipio, and says, that for this reason they were seldom mentioned in his time. (Appian, Hispan.
58, 59, 60; Liv. 45.35
49; Suet. Galb.
3; Oros. 4.20
; V. Max. 8.1.2
; Plut. Cat. Ma. 15
; Nepos, Cat.
3; Gel. 1.12
; Cic. de Orat. 1.10
, 13, 53, 60, 2.2, 65, 3.7, Brut.
22, 23, 24, 33, 86, 97, Orat.
30, ad Att.
12.5, pro Muren.
1.3, Acad. ii.
16, de Re Publ.
3.30, ad Herenn.
4.5; Fronto, Epist.
p. 85, ed. Rom.; Meyer, Fraym. Orat. Rom.
pp. 120, &c., 164, &c.)