1. L. Gellius
Publicola, was the contubernalis of the consul C. Papirius Carbo, B. C. 120 (Cic. Brut. 27
). None of his family had held any of the higher offices of the state before him, and we do not know how he rose into distinction.
He must, at all events, have been far advanced in years when he attained the consulship.
The year of his praetorship is not mentioned; but after his praetorship he received the province of Achaia, with the title of proconsul; and during his government he offered, in mockery, his mediation to the rival philosophers of Athens, to reconcile their disputes (Cic. de Leg.
1.20). In B. C. 74 he defended the cause of M. Octavius Ligur, whose adversary was unjustly favoured by the praetor Verres (Cic. Ver. 1.48
). In B. C. 72 Gellius was consul with Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus.
The two consuls carried on war against Spartacus. Gellius at first defeated Crixus, one of the principal generals of Spartacus, near mount Garganus in Apulia, and Crixus lost his life in the battle.
The two consuls then marched against Spartacus, who was attempting to escape across the Alps into Gaul.
But they were no match for the leader of the gladiators. Spartacus attacked each of them separately, in the Apennines, and conquered them in succession.
The two consuls then united their forces, but were again defeated in Picenum, by their indefatigable adversary.
It was about this time that Pompey had brought the war in Spain to a conclusion; and as he had conferred the Roman citizenship upon many persons in that country, the consuls brought forward a law to ratify his acts (Cic. pro Balb.
The consuls also proposed in the senate, that no one in the provinces should be accused of capital crimes in their absence.
This was directed against Verres. (Cic. Verr
Two years afterwards, B. C. 70, Gellius was censor with Lentulus, his former colleague in the consulship. They exercised their office with great severity, and expelled many persons from the senate, among whom was C. Antonius.
It was during their censorship that Pompey, who was then consul, appeared as an ordinary eques at the solemn muster of the equites, and, amid the applause of the spectators, led his horse by the curie chair of the censors, and answered the ordinary questions. In B. C. 67 and 66 Gellius served as one of Pompey's legates in the war against the pirates, and had the charge of the Tuscan sea.
In the first conspiracy of Catiline an attempt was made to obtain possession of his fleet, and, though the mutiny was put down, Gellius had a narrow escape of his life.
In consequence of the personal danger he had previously incurred, he was one of the warmest supporters of Cicero in his suppression of the second conspiracy, and accordingly proposed that Cicero should be rewarded with a civic crown. From this time he appears as a steady friend of Cicero and the aristocratical party. In B. C. 59 he opposed the agrarian law of Caesar, and in B. C. 57 he spoke in favour of Cicero's recall from exile.
He was alive in B. C. 55, when Cicero delivered his speech against Piso, but probably died soon afterwards.
He was married twice. (Appian, App. BC 1.117
; Plut. Crass. 9
; Oros. 5.24
; Flor. 3.20.10
; Eutrop. 6.7
; Liv. Epit. 96
; Plut. Pomp. 22
; Cic. Clu. 42
; Ascon. in Tog. Cand.
p. 84, ed. Orelli; Appian, App. Mith. 95
; Flor. 3.6.8
; Cic. post Red. ad Quir.
7; Gel. 5.6
; Cic. Att. 12.21
; Plut. Cic. 26
; Cic. in Pis.
3; V. Max. 5.9.1
.) Orelli, in his Onomasticon Tullianum
(vol. ii. p. 269), makes the L. Gellius, the contubernalis of Carbo, a different person from the consul of B. C. 72; but this is clearly an error, for Cicero speaks of the contubernalis of Carbo as his friend (Brut.
27), and that he reached a great age is evident from many passages. (Cic. Brut. 47
; Plut. Cic. 26