23. M. Aemilius
Lepidus, the brother of No. 22, was consul A. D. 6 with L. Arruntius. (Propert. 4.11. 63; D. C. 4.25
.) Instead of conspiring against Augustus, like his brother, he seems always to have lived on the most intimate terms with him.
He was employed by Augustus in the war against the Dalmatians in A. D. 9. (Vell. 2.114
; D. C. 56.12
.) When Augustus shortly before his death was speaking of the Roman nobles, whose abilities would qualify them for the supreme power, or whose ambition would prompt them to aspire to it, he described Lepidus as “capax sed aspernans.
” (Tac. Ann. 1.13
The high estimation in which he was held by Augustus he continued to enjoy even with the jealous and suspicious Tiberius; and although he took no part in the fulsome flatteries which the senate were continually presenting to the emperor, and used his influence in the cause of justice, yet such was his prudence, that he did not forfeit the favour of Tiberius.
The praises bestowed upon him by Velleius Paterculus (l.c.
), which would not of themselves be of much value, as this writer always speaks favourably of the friends of Augustus, are confirmed by the weightier authority of Tacitus, who bears the strongest testimony to the virtues and wisdom of Lepidus. (Tac. Ann. 4.20
The name of M. Lepidus occurs several times in Tacitus, and must be carefully distinguished from that of M'. Lepidus [see No. 25], with which it is frequently confounded, both in the MSS. and editions of the historian. M. Lepidus is first mentioned in Tacitus at the accession of Tiberius, A. D. 14, next in A. D. 21, when he declined the proconsulate of Africa, and also in the debate in the senate in the same year respecting the punishment of C. Lutorius Priscus; again in A. D. 24; then in A. D. 26, when he was appointed governor of the province of Asia; and lastly in A. D. 33, which was the year of his death. (Tac. Ann. 1.13
It was this M. Lepidus who repaired the Aemilia Basilica in A. D. 22 (Tac. Ann. 3.72
), as is mentioned above. [No. 16.]