7. M. Valerius
Messalla, son of the preceding, was a successful candidate for the consulship in B. C. 53; but, owing to the disturbances at Rome, and the repeated appointment of interreges, he could not enter upon its functions until half of his official year had expired. (D. C. 40.17
; Appian, App. BC 2.19
; Plut. Pomp. 54
; Ascon. ad Milonian.
p. 48, Orelli.) Messalla paid high for his election (Cic. Att. 4.16.6
); his success was anxiously desired by Cicero, who at that time was in daily dread of Clodius (id. ad Quint. Fratr.
3.1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 16); but he was secretly opposed by Cn. Pompey, who disliked Messalla, and wanted to be named dictator himself. (Id. ad Att.
4.9, 15.) Messalla was prosecuted for bribery at the comitia by Q. Pompeius Rufus, a grandson of Sulla's. Cicero admitted Messalla's guilt, but, in common with the bulk of the senatorian party, gave him his political support. Ad Att.
4.16, ad Quint. Fratr.
He was defended by his uncle, Q. Hortensius (Cic. Brut. 96
); acquitted of direct bribery, but found guilty of transgressing the Lex Licinia de Sodalitiis,
that is, of causing and countenancing assemblies or clubs for controlling the elections. (Dict. of Antiq. s. v. Ambitus; Cic. Fam. 8.2
.) Messalla was stoned by the Clodian mob during his consulate. (Schol. Bob. in Or. de aere al. Milon.
p. 343, Orelli.) In B. C. 47 Messalla was with Caesar in the East, and was probably the legatus of that name whom in the African war in the following year a mutinous centurion and his company besieged in Messana. (Auct. B. Afr.
After the battle of Thapsus Messalla was sent to Utica. (Id. 86.) Messalla was in high repute for his skill in augury, on which science he wrote; and scanty fragments from his treatise are preserved by Gellius (N. A.
13.14, 15) and Festus (vv. "serpserit"
"). Cicero (Cic. Fam. 6.18
) mentions letters of Messalla written during the second Spanish war, in B. C. 45.
He was the purchaser of the domus Autroniana. (Cic. Att. 1.13