Va'tia or Va'tia Isauricus
1. P. Servilius
Vatia, C. F. M. N., surnamed ISAURICUS, was the grandson of Q. Metcllus Macedonicus. (Cic. pro Dom.
He is first mentioned in B. C. 100, where he took up arms with the other Roman nobles against Saturninus. (Cic. pro C. Rabir. perd.
He was raised to the consulship by Sulla in B. C. 79, along with Ap. Claudius Pulcher, and in the following year (B. C. 78) was sent as proconsul to Cilicia, with a powerful fleet and army, in order to clear the seas of the pirates, whose ravages now spread far and wide.
He was a man of integrity, resolution, and energy, and carried on the war with great ability and success.
At first he sailed against the pirates, and defeated them in a naval engagement off the coast of Cilicia.
The pirates then abandoned the sea and took refuge in their strongholds among the mountains which skirt the southern coast of Asia Minor. Servilius proceeded to attack their fortresses, which were defended with the greatest obstinacy and courage. We have only fragmentary accounts of this war, which occupied Servilius about three years; but it appears that the Romans experienced all the sufferings and dangers to which regular troops are generally exposed in a warfare among mountains defended by brave and hardy inhabitants. Servilius, after landing, first took Olympus, a town of Lycia, situated on a mountain of the same name, which was resolutely defended by a robber chief, called Zenicetus, who perished with his followers in the flames of the place.
He next obtained possession of Phaselis in Pamphylia, as well as other places of less importance, in his march through the country; and he then penetrated into Cilicia, where he took the strong fortress of Corycus on the coast. Having thus subdued the strongholds of the pirates on the coast, he resolved to carry his arms against the robber-tribes in the interior of the country, and for this purpose crossed Mount Taurus, which was the first time that a Roman army had passed these mountains. His arms were chiefly directed against the Isauri, and he laid siege to their capital, Isaura, of which he obtained possession by diverting the course of a river, and thus depriving the inhabitants of water, who were in consequence compelled to surrender.
This was reckoned his most brilliant success : his army gave him the title of Imperator, and he obtained the surname of Isauricus.
After giving Cilicia and the surrounding country the organization of a Roman province, he sailed home and entered Rome in triumph in B. C. 74. His triumph was a brilliant one.
The people flocked to see the formidable Nicon, and the other leaders of the pirates, who walked in the procession, and also the rich booty which he had obtained in the captured cities and which he conscientiously deposited in the public treasury, without appropriating any portion to himself, after the fashion of most proconsuls.
But brilliant as his success had been, it was not complete; the pirates were only repressed for a time, and their ravages soon became more formidable than ever. (Liv. Epit. 90
; Oros. 5.23
; Flor. 3.6
; Eutrop. 6.3
; Strab. xiv. pp. 667, 671; Frontin. Strat.
3.7.1; Cic. Ver. 1.21
, 3.90, 5.26, 30, de Leg. Agr.
1.2, 2.19 ; V. Max. 8.5.6
; comp. Drumann, Geschichte Roms,
vol. iv. pp. 396, 397.)
Servilius, after his return, was regarded as one of the leading members of the senate, and is frequently mentioned in the orations and letters of Cicero in terms of great respect. In B. C. 70 he was one of the judices at the trial of Verres; in B. C. 66 he supported the rogation of Manilius for conferring upon Pompey the command of the war against the pirates; in B. C. 63 he was a candidate for the dignity of pontifex maximus, but was defeated by Julius Caesar, who had served under him in the war against the pirates; in the same year he assisted Cicero in the suppression of the Catilinarian conspiracy, and spoke in the senate in favour of inflicting the last penalty of the law upon the conspirators; in B. C. 57 he joined the other nobles in procuring Cicero's recall from banishment ; in B. C. 56 he opposed the restoration of Ptolemy to his kingdom; and in B. C. 55 he was censor with M. Valerius Messala Niger.
The other occasions on which his name occurs do not require notice.
He took no part in the civil wars, probably on account of his advanced age, and died in B. C. 44, the same year as Caesar.
By the Leges Annales, which were strictly enforced by Sulla, Servilius must have been at the least 43 years of age at his consulship, B. C. 79, and must therefore have been about 80 at the time of his death.
The respect in which he was held by his contemporaries is shown by a striking tale, which is related by Valerius Maximus and Dio Cassius. (Cic. Ver. 1.21
, pro Leg. Man. 23, ad Att.
12.21, de Prov. Cons. 1, post Red. ad Quir. 7, post Red. in Sen. 10, ad Fam.
1.1, 16.23, Philipp
2.5 ; V. Max. 8.5.6
; D. C. 45.16