3. M. Popillius
Laenas, P. F. P. N., one of the tribunes for establishing a colony near Pisae (Liv. 40.43
), was chosen praetor B. C. 1 76 (Liv. 41.18
), but obtained leave to stop at Rome instead of going into his province, Sardinia, the command of which was continued to the pro-praetor, Aebutius. Popillius was chosen consul B. C. 172. and sent with an army against the Ligurian mountaineers.
He conquered them in a pitched battle, after great slaughter.
The remainder of the whole tribe who had escaped from the carnage determined on surrendering themselves to the mercy of the Roman general; but they were all sold as slaves, and their city plundered and destroyed. When this news reached Rome, the senate disapproved of Popillius's proceedings, and decreed, in spite of his haughty and angry remonstrances, that he should restore the Ligurians to liberty, to their country, and, as far as possible, to their property. Popillius, however, acted in direct opposition to this decree. On his return to Rome he was called to account, but escaped through the influence of his family. (Liv. 42.22
.) Nevertheless, Popillius obtained (B. C. 159) the most honourable office of Rome, that of censor, which he exercised, as may be presumed, with vigour and severity. (Fast. Capitol.; Liv. Epit. 47
; Gel. 4.20
; Nonius, s. v. Strigosus.