1. L. Calpurnius
Bestia, tribune of the plebs, B. C. 121, obtained in his tribuneship the recall of P. Popillius Laenas, who had been banished through the efforts of C. Gracchus in 123. (Cic. Brut.
34; comp. Veil. Pat. 2.7; Plut. C. Gracch.
This made him popular with the aristocratical party, who then had the chief power in the state; and it was through their influence doubtless that he obtained the consulship in 111.
The war against Jugurtha was assigned to him.
He prosecuted it at first with the greatest vigour; but when Jugurtha offered him and his legate, M. Scaurus, large sums of money, he concluded a peace with the Numidian without consulting the senate, and returned to Rome to hold the comitia. His conduct excited the greatest indignation at Rome, and the aristocracy was obliged to yield to the wishes of the people, and allow an investigation into the whole matter.
A bill was introduced for the purpose by C. Mamilius Limetanus, and three commissioners or judges (quaesitores
) appointed, one of whom Scaurus contrived to be chosen. Manymen of high rank were condemned, and Bestia among the rest, B. C. 110.
The nature of Bestia's punishment is not mentioned; but he was living at Rome in B. C. 90, in which year he went voluntarily into exile, after the passing of the Varia lex, by which all were to be brought to trial who had been engaged in exciting the Italians to revolt.
Bestia possessed many good qualities; he was prudent, active, and capable of enduring fatigue, not ignorant of warfare, and undismayed by danger; but his greediness of gain spoilt all. (Cic. l.c.; Sal. Jug. 27
; Appian, App. BC 1.37
; V. Max. 8.6.4