3. L. Mummius
Achaicus, L. F. L. N., son of No. 1, was praetor in B. C. 154. His province was the further Spain, where, after some serious reverses, he finally retrieved his reputation by victories over the Lusitanians and Blasto-Phoenicians, and triumphed De Lusitaneis
in the following year. (Appian, Hispan.
56-57; Eutrop. 4.9
; Fasti.) Mummius was consul in B. C. 146, when he won for himself the surname of Achaicus, by the destruction of Corinth, the conquest of Greece, and the establishment of the Roman province of Achaia. His surname was the more remarkable from the circumstance that Mummius was the first self-raised man-novus homo
--who attained a national appellation from military service. From the double name of his descendant, Mummia Achaica, the surname appears to have been perpetuated in the Mummian family. The Achaean league, under its weak and rash leaders, the praetors Critoläus and Diaeus, had been for some time inspired by a warlike spirit alien to their interests and the sounder policy of earlier years. Q. Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus, praetor in B. C. 148, had humbled Greece by his victories; but his leniency deceived the Achaean chiefs, and they persuaded themselves that Rome was unable to complete its conquest. They had assembled an army in the Isthmus shortly before the arrival of Mummius.
He promptly dismissed his predecessor, Metellus, defeated the army of the league, whose hasty levies were no match for the discipline of the legions, and entered Corinth without opposition, since the garrison and principal inhabitants had abandoned it, and the spirit of Greece was at length completely broken.
The city was burnt, rased, and given up to pillage: the native Corinthians were sold for slaves, and the rarest specimens of Grecian art, which the luxury and opulence of centuries had accumulated, were given up to the rapacity of an ignorant conqueror. Polybius the historian, who, on the fall of Corinth, had come from Africa to mitigate, if possible, the calamities of his countrymen, saw Roman soldiers playing at draughts upon the far-famed picture of Dionysus by Aristides; and Murmmius himself was so unconscious of the real value of his prize, that he sold the rarer works of painting, sculpture, and carving, to the king of Pergamus, and exacted securities from the masters of vessels who conveyed the remainder to Italy, to replace by equivalents any picture or statue lost or injured in the passage.
But although ignorant, Mummius was more scrupulous in his selection of the spoils than the Roman generals of later tines, or even than some of his contemporaries.
He appropriated secular or private property alone, and religiously abstained from all that had been consecrated to religious uses. Mummius remained in Greece during the greater part of B. C. 146-145, in the latter year with the title of proconsul.
He arranged the fiscal and municipal constitution of the newly acquired province, and won the confidence and esteem of the provincials by his integrity, justice, and equanimity. Mummius was one of the few Roman commanders in the republican aera who did homage to the religion of the Hellenic race.
He dedicated a brazen statue of Zeus at Olympia, and surrounded the shrine of the god with gilt bucklers of brass. The Corinthian bronze, so celebrated in the later art of the ancient world, was an accidental discovery, resulting from the burning of the city.
The metallic ornaments of its sumptuous temples, basilicae, and private dwellings, formed the rich and solid amalgam which was employed afterwards in the fusile department of sculpture. Mummius triumphed in B. C. 145. His procession formed an epoch in the history of Roman art and cultivation. Trains of waggons laden with the works of the purest ages moved along the Via Sacra to the Capitoline Hill: yet the spectator of the triumph, who had seen them in their original sites and number, must have mourned many an irreparable loss.
The fire had destroyed many, the sea had engulfed many; and the royal connoisseurs, the princes of Pergamus, had carried off many for their galleries and temples. Mummius, with a modesty uncommon in conquerors, refused to inscribe the spoils with his name.
He viewed them as the property of the state, and he lent them liberally to adorn the triumphs, the buildings, and even the private houses of others, while in his own villa he retained the severe simplicity of early Rome. Mummius was censor in B. C. 142. His colleague was Cornelius Scipio, better known as the younger Africanus; and no colleagues ever disagreed more heartily.
The polished Scipio was rigid to excess; the rustic Mummius culpably lenient. On laying down his office, Scipio dedared that "he should have discharged his functions well, had he been paired with a different colleague, or with none at all." Mummius, however, in private life, was not exempt from the prevailing immorality of the times, to which his conquest of Corinth, by causing a sudden influx of wealth into Rome, contributed.
He was a respectable orator; and, as his government of Achaia showed, possessed administrative talents. His political opinions inclined to the popular side. Though he brought so much wealth into the statecoffers, Mummius died poor, and the commonwealth furnished a marriage portion to his daughter. (Polby. 3.32, 40.7, 8, 11; Liv. Ep.
52; Appian, App. Pun. 135
; D. C. 81
; Flor. 2.16
; Eutrop. 4.14
; V. Max. 6.4.2
; Cic. in Verr.
1.21, 3.4, 4.2, pro Muraen. 14, de Leg. Agrar.
1.2, de Orat.
70, Brut. 22, de Off.
2.22, ad Att.
13.4, 5, 6, 30, 32, 33, Parad.
8; Pseudo-Ascon. in Cic. Verr.
ii. p. 173, Orelli; Plin. Nat. 34.2
; Diod. 31.5
; Oros. 5.3
; Vell. 1.12, 13, 2.128; Tac. Ann. 14.21
; Paus. 7.12
'; Strabo viii. p.381
; Ath. 4.1
; Zonar. 9.20