9. L. Calpurnius
Piso Frugi, consul B. C. 133. His descent is quite uncertain, since neither the Fasti nor coins mention the name of his father. From his integrity and conscientiousness he received the surname of Frugi, which is perhaps nearly equivalent to our "man of honour," but the exact force of which is explained at length by Cicero (Tusc.
3.18). Piso was tribune of the plebs, B. C. 149, in which year he proposed the first law for the punishment of extortion in the provinces (Lex Calpurnia de Repetundis, Cic. Brut. 27
3.84, 4.25, de Off.
2.21). In B. C. 133 he was consul with P. Mucius Scaevola, and was sent into Italy against the slaves.
He gained a victory over them, but did not subdue them, and was succeeded in the command by the consul P. Rupilius (Oros. 5.9
; V. Max. 2.7.9
). Piso was a staunch supporter of the aristocratical party; and though he would not look over their crimes, as his law against extortion shows, still he was as little disposed to tolerate any invasion of their rights and privileges.
He therefore offered a strong opposition to the measures of C. Gracchus, and is especially mentioned as a vehement opponent of the lex frumcntaria
of the latter (Cic. pro Font. 13, Tusc.
He is called Censorius
by several ancient writers; and though the date of his censorship is uncertain, it may perhaps be referred to B. C. 120. Piso left behind him orations, which had disappeared in Cicero's time, and Annals, which contained the history of Rome from the earliest period to the age in which Piso himself lived.
This work, which, according to Cicero's judgment (Brut.
27), was written in a meagre style, is frequently referred to by ancient writers. Piso was, in Niebuhr's opinion, the first Roman writer who introduced the practice of giving a rationalistic interpretation to the myths and legends in early Roman history. (Comp. Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. i. pp. 235, 237, vol. ii. p. 9; Lachmann, De Fontiburs T. Livii,
p. 32; Krause, Vitae et Fragm. Hist. Roman.
p. 139; Liebaldt, De L. Pisone Annalium Scriptore,