7 C. MANILIUS, tribune of the plebs, B. C. 66, was a partisan of Pompey, and is described by Velleius Paterculus (2.33) as " semper venalis et alienae minister potentiae." Manilius entered upon his tribunate on the 10th of December, B. C. 67, and on the last day of the year carried a law, granting to the freedmen the right of voting in all the tribes along with their patrons; but as there seems to have been a violation of some constitutional forms in the comitia, the senate was able on the following day to declare the law invalid. (D. C. 36.25
; Ascon. in Cic. Corn.
pp. 64, 65, ed. Orelli; comp. [MANLIUS, No. 5].) Not disheartened by this failure, Manilius shortly afterwards brought forward a bill, granting to Pompey the command of the war against Mithridates and Tigranes, and the government of the provinces of Asia, Cilicia, and Bithynia, in the place of Lucullus, Marcius Rex, and Acilius Glabrio.
This bill was warmly opposed by Q. Catulus, Q. Hortensius, and the leaders of the aristocratical party, but was passed notwithstanding by the people, who were worn out by the length of the war, and were very ready to bestow new honours upon their favourite Pompey. Cicero, who was then praetor, spoke in favour of the law; and the oration which he delivered on the occasion has come down to us, and is one of the best specimens of his declamatory oratory.
The reasons which induced Cicero to support the bill and to praise Pompey in such extraordinary terms, are mentioned in the life of the former. [Vol. I. p. 711.] (Cic. pro Lege Manilia; D. C. 36.25
; Vel. Pat. 2.33; Liv. Epit. 100
; Appian, B. Mithr.
97; Plut. Pomp. 30
35.) Manilius had incurred the bitter enmity of the aristocratical party; and, therefore, immediately upon the expiration of his tribunate he was brought to trial before Cicero, whose praetorship had still a few days to run. Dio Cassius and Plutarch speak as if Cicero was at first unfavourably disposed towards the accused, and was induced to support him and attack the senate by the evident displeasure which the people felt at his conduct.
But this can hardly be a true account of the affair; for Cicero would certainly have had every reason for supporting the partizan of Pompey, whose favour and support he was so anxious to gain in order to secure his election to the consulship. So much, however, is certain: that the trial of Manilius was put off to the following year, that Cicero spoke in his favour, and that, notwithstanding all the efforts of his advocate, he was condemned. Of what offence Manilius was accused, is uncertain; Plutarch speaks of extortion, but Asconius says that he was accused of violently disturbing the court for the trial of C. Cornelius. [C. CORNELIUS.] (D. C. 36.27
; Plut. Cic. 9
; Ascon. in Cic. Cornel.
pp. 50, 75, ed. Orelli; Cic. Orat. Fragm.
pp. 445, 448, 450, ed. Orelli; Q. Cic. de Pet. Con.