2. L. Munatius
Plancls, L. F. L. N., was a friend of Julius Caesar, and served under him both in the Gallic and the civil wars.
He is mentioned as one of Caesar's legati in Gaul in the winter of B. C. 54 and 53; and he was in conjunction with C. Fabius, the commander of Caesar's troops near Herda in Spain at the beginning of B. C. 49.
He accompanied Caesar in his African campaign in B. C. 46, and attempted, but without success, to induce C. Considius, the Pompeian commander, to surrender to him the town of Adrumetum.
At the end of this year he was appointed one of the praefects of the city, to whom the charge of Rome was entrusted during Caesar's absence in Spain next year.
He received a still further proof of Caesar's confidence in being nominated to the government of Transalpine Gaul for B. C. 44, with the exception of the Narbonese and Belgic portions of the province, and also to the consulship for B. C. 42, with D. Brutus as his colleague. On the death of Caesar in B. C. 44 the political life of Plancus may be said to commence.
After declaring himself in favour of an amnesty he hastened into Gaul to take possession of his province as speedily as possible. While here he carried on an active correspondence with Cicero, who pressed him with the greatest eagerness to join the senatorial party, and to cross the Alps to the relief of D. Brutus, who was now besieged by Antony in Mutina.
After some hesitation and delay Plancus, at length in the month of April B. C. 43, commenced his march southwards, but he had not crossed the Alps when he received intelligence of the defeat of Antony and the relief of Mutina by Octavian and the consuls Hirtius and Pansa. Thereupon he halted in the territory of the Allobroges, and being joined by D. Brutus and his army, prepared to carry on the war against Antony. But when shortly afterwards Lepidus joined Antony, and their united forces threatened to overwhelm Plancus, the latter, despairing of any assistance from the senate, was easily persuaded by Asinius Pollio to follow his example, and unite with Antony and Lepidus.
He therefore abandoned D. Brutus to his fate, and the latter was shortly afterwards slain in the Alps. Plancus during his government of Gaul founded the colonies of Lugdunum and Raurica (Oreih, Inscrip.
No. 590 ; D. C. 46.50
; Sen. Fp.
91; Strab. iv. pp. 186, 192.)
In the autumn of the same year, B. C. 43, the triumvirate was formed, and Planeus agreed to the proscription of his own brother L. Plautius. [See PLAUTIUS.] He returned to Rome at the end of the year, and on the 29th of December he celebrated a triumph for some victory gained in Gaul.
In the inscription given below it is said to have been ex Raetis;
and the victory was probably only an insignificant advantage gained over some Alpine tribes, in consequence of which he had assumed the title of imperator even before the battle of Mutina, as we see from his correspondence with Cicero (Cic. Fam. 10.8
In B. C. 42 Plancus was consul according to the arrangement made by the dictator Caesar, and had as his colleague M. Lepidus in place of D. Brutus. The Perusinian war in the following year, B. C. 41, placed Plancus in great difficulty.
He had the command of Antony's troops in Italy; and accordingly when L. Antonius, the brother, and Fulvia, the wife of the triumvir, declared war against Octavian, they naturally expected assistance from Plancus; but as he did not know the views of his superior, he kept aloof from the contest as far as possible. On the fall of Perusia in B. C. 40, he fled with Fulvia to Athens, leaving his army to shift for itself as it best could.
He returned to Italy with Antony, and again accompanied him when he went back to the East. Antony then gave him the government of the province of Asia, which he abandoned on the invasion of the Parthians under T. Labienus, and took refuge in the islands.
He subsequently obtained the consulship a second time (Plin. Nat. 13.3. s. 5
), but the year is not mentioned : he may have been one of the consuls suffecti in B. C. 36. In B. C. 35 he governed the province of Syria for Antony, and was thought by many to have been the cause of the murder of Sex. Pompeius. On his return to Alexandria he was coolly received by Antony on account of the shameless manner in which he had plundered the province.
He remained at Alexandria some time longer, taking part in the orgies of the court, and even condescending on one occasion to play the part of a mime, and represent in a ballet the story of Glaucus.
But foreseeing the fall of his patron he resolved to secure himself, and therefore repaired secretly to Rome in B. C. 32. taking with him his nephew Titius. From Plancus Octavian received some valuable information respecting Antony, especially in relation to his will, which he employed in exasperating the Romans against his rival. Plancus himself, like other renegades, endeavoured to purchase the favour of his new master by vilifying his old one ; and on one occasion brought in the senate such abominable charges against Antony, from whom he had received innumerable favors, that Coponius publicly upbraided him with his conduct (Vel. Pat. 2.83).
Plancus had no occasion to change again, and quietly settled down to enjoy the fortune he had acquired by the plunder of Syria, caring nothing about the state of public affairs, and quite contented to play the courtier in the new monarchy.
It was on his proposal that Octavian received the title of Augustus in B. C. 27; and the emperor conferred upon him the censorship in B. C. 22 with Paulus Aemilius Lepidus.
He built the temple of Saturn to please the emperor, who expected the wealthy nobles of his court to adorn the city with public buildings.
The year in which Plancus died is uncertain.
The character of Plancus, both public and private, is drawn in the blackest colours by Velleius Paterculus, who, however, evidently takes delight in exaggerating his crimes and his vices.
But still, after making every deduction from his colouring, the sketch which we have given of the life of Plancus shows that he was a man without any fixed principles, and not only ready to desert his friends when it served his interests, but also to betray their secrets for his own advantage. His private life was equally contemptible: his adulteries were notorious.
The ancient writers speak of him as one of the orators of the time, but we know nothing of him in that capacity. One of Horace's odes (Carm.
1.7) is addressed to him.
In personal appearance he resembled an actor of the name of Rubrius, who was therefore nicknamed Plancus.
The various honours which Plancus held are enumerated in the following inscription (Orelli, No. 590): "L. Munat. L. f. L. n. L. pron. Plancus Cos. Cens. Imp. iter. VII. vir Epul. triump. ex Raetis aedem Saturni fecit de manubiis agros divisit in Italia Beneventi, in Gallia colonias deduxit Lugdunum et Rauricam." Plancus had three brothers and a sister, a son and a daughter. His brothers and son are spoken of below: his sister Munatia married M. Titius [TITIUS], his daughter Munatia Plancina married Cn. Piso. [PLANCINA.] (Caes. Gal. 5.24
, &c., B. C. 1.40; Hirt. B. Afr.
4; Cic. Fam. 10.1
3.15, 13.19; Plut. Brut. 19
56, 58; Appian, App. BC 3.46
; D. C. 46.29
. 3; Vell. 2.63
; Macr. 2.2
; Suet. III. Rhet.
6; Plin. Nat. 7.10. s. 12
; Solin. 1.75
There are several coins of Plancus.
The following one was not struck in B. C. 40, as Eckhel supposes (vol. vi. p. 44), but in B. C. 34 to commemorate the victory over the Armenians (Borghesi, Giorn. Arcad.
vol. xxv. p. 359, &c.).
It represents on the obverse a lituus and a guttu, which was a vessel used in sacrifices, with the legend M. ANTON. IMP. AVG. IIIVIR. R. P. C. (i. e. M. Antonius Imperator Augur Triumvir Reipublicae constituendae
); and it bears on the reverse a guttus between a thunderbolt, and a caduceus, with the legend L. PLANCVS IMP. ITER. In the drawing above the position of the obverse and the reverse has been accidentally transposed by the artist.