three times consul in A. D. 52, 70, and 75 respectively, must have passed by adoption from the Mucian to the Licinian gens. His character is drawn in a few strokes by the masterly hand of Tacitus. (Hist.
He was alike distinguished for good and for evil, for luxurious indulgence and energetic work, for affability and haughtiness; when he had nothing to attend to, he revelled in excessive pleasures; but when business required his attention, he displayed great abilities. Thus his public conduct deserved praise, his private condemnation.
As a youth, he courted with assiduity the favour of the powerful, and succeeded in obtaining the consulship in the reign of Claudius, A. D. 52; but having squandered his property, and becoming likewise an object of suspicion to Claudius, he went into retirement in Asia, and there lived, says Tacitus, as near to the condition of an exile as afterwards to that of an emperor. We gather from Pliny (Plin. Nat. 12.1. s. 5
) that the place of his retirement was Lycia, into which he was sent as legatus by Claudius, as a kind of honourable banishment. Under Nero he was again received into the favour of the imperial court; and at the death of that emperor, A. D. 68, he had the command of the province of Syria, with four legions, while Vespasian was in the neighbouring country of Judaea, at the head of three. Up to Nero's death Mucianus and Vespasian had not been on good terms; but after that event they were induced, by the interposition of friends, to become reconciled to one another, and to act together for their mutual advantage; and their reconciliation was rendered real and lasting by the mediation of Titus, to whom Mucianus became much attached. Mucianus and Vespasian both took the oath of allegiance to Otho; but when the civil war broke out between him and Vitellius, Vespasian resolved to seize the imperial throne.
In this resolution he was warmly encouraged by Mucianus, who hoped to have a great share in the exercise of the imperial power while Vespasian bore the name. When Vespasian at length, after great hesitation, assumed the imperial title, Mucianus immediately administered to his own soldiers the oath of allegiance to the new emperor; and it was resolved that he should march into Europe against Vitellius, while Vespasian and Titus remained behind in Asia. Mucianus used great efforts to provide his army with everything that was necessary; he liberally contributed from his own purse, and unmercifully plundered the provincials to obtain a sufficient supply of money. However, there was little occasion for his services, for the Vitellians were entirely defeated by Antonius Primus [PRIMUS], of whom, in consequence, Mucianus became very jealous. Mucianus marched through Phrygia and Cappadocia, and arrived in Europe just in time to repress a rising of the Dacians, who had seized both banks of the Danube. Primus had entered Rome before Mucianus; but on the arrival of the latter he had to surrender all the power into his hands. Domitian, the son of Vespasian, was nominally at the head of affairs; but Mucianus was the real sovereign, and lived in almost regal splendour. Still, although he boasted haughtily of the services he had rendered to Vespasian, his fidelity never seems to have wavered; and all his various measures were calculated to support and strengthen the new dynasty. When Vespasian was on his way to Italy, Mucianus went to Brundisium to meet him, accompanied by the principal Roman nobles.
The services of Mucianus had been so great, that Vespasian continued to show him his favour, although his patience was not a little tried by the arrogance of his subject.
The last circumstance recorded of Mucianus is that he persuaded Vespasian to banish the philosophers from Rome.
He seems to have died in the reign of Vespasian, as his name does not occur either under Titus or Domitian.
Mucianus was not only a general and a statesman, but an orator and an historian. His powers of oratory are greatly praised by Tacitus, who tells us that Mucianus could address an auditory even in Greek with great effect.
Collection of speeches from the republican period
He made a collection of the speeches of the republican period, which he arranged and published in eleven books of Acta
and three of Epistolae.
The subject of his history is not mentioned; but, judging from the references which Pliny makes to it, it appears to have treated chiefly of the East, and to have contained considerable information on all geographical subjects.
Tac. Hist. 1.10
; Suet. Vesp.
6, 13; D. C. 65.8
; Joseph. B. J.
4.10, 11; Plin. Nat. 12.1. s. 5
, 28.2. s. 5, 34.7. s. 17, et passim; Vossius, De Hist. Lat.
1.27, p. 140, Lug. Bat. 1651; Westermann, Gesch. d. Römischen Beredtsamkeit,
§ 82, n. 19.