Palica'nus, M. Lo'llius
a Picentine of humble origin, was tribune of the plebs, B. C. 71, in which year he exerted himself most vigorously to obtain for the tribunes the restoration of those powers and privileges of which they had been deprived by a law of the dictator Sulla. On Pompey's return to Rome, towards the close of the year after his victory over Sertorius, Palicanus immediately held an assembly of the people outside the city-gates, in which Pompey promised the restoration of the tribunitian privileges, a promise which he fulfilled in his consulship in the following year. (Pseudo-Ascon. in Cic. Divin. in Caecil.
p. 103, in Verr.
p. 148, ed. Orelli.) Palicanus also supported the lex judiciuria
of the praetor L. Aurelius Cotta, by which the senators were deprived of their exclusive right to act as judices, and the judicia were given to courts consisting of senators, equites, and tribuni aerarii.
He further attempted to excite the indignation of the people against the aristocracy by recounting to them the tyrannical and cruel conduct of Verres; and to produce a still greater impression upon their minds he brought before them a Roman citizen whom Verres had scourged. (Cic. in Verr.
1.47, 2.41; Schol. Gronov. in Cic. Verr.
p. 386.) Such steady opposition, united with a humble origin, made him a special object of hatred to the aristocracy; and accordingly when he became a candidate for the consulship in B. C. 67, the consul Piso, who presided at the comitia, positively refused to announce his name if he should be elected (V. Max. 3.8.3
). In B. C. 64, it was expected that he would again come forward as a candidate (Cic. Att. 1.1
); but though he seems to have been very popular, he had not distinguished himself sufficiently to counterbalance his lowly birth, and to overcome the formidable opposition of the aristocracy.
The last time he is mentioned is in B. C. 60, when he is said to have been abusing almost every day the consul Afranius (ad Att.
1.18). His powers as an orator are perhaps somewhat unduly depreciated through party-hatred: Cicero says of him (Brut.
62) Palicanus aptissimus auribus imperitorum,
and Sallust describes him (apud Quintil.
4.2, init.) loquax magis quam facundus.
The Lollia, who was the wife of A. Gabinius, and who was debauched by Caesar, is supposed to have been the daughter of Palicanus. [LOLLIA, No. 1.] (Comp. Drumann, Geschichte Roms,
vol. iv. p. 386.)
The name of Palicanus, written with a k
, PALI KANVS, occurs on several coins of the Lollia gens.
The specimen, given on the preceding page, has on the obverse the head of Liberty, and on the reverse the Rostra in the forum. (Eckhel, vol. v. p. 236.)