1. M. Popillius
Laenas, M. F. C. N., was consul B. C. 359.
The civil disturbances which he is said to have suppressed by his authority and eloquence were perhaps more effectually quelled, as Livy intimates (7.12), by a sudden attack in the night of the Tiburtines on Rome.
The city was full of consternation and fear: at daybreak, however, and as soon as the Romans had organised a sufficient corps, and sallied forth with it, the enemy was repulsed.
In the second year after this M. Laenas is mentioned (Liv. 7.16
) as prosecutor of C. Licinius Stolo for the transgression of his own law, which limited the possession of public land to 500 jugera. Pighius (Annales,
vol. i. p. 284) has put down Popillius as praetor of the year B. C. 357, but this is not warranted by Livy's expression, as Drakenborch has shown (ad Liv. 7.16
); and it is even improbable, from the term (accusare
) used by Valerius Maximus (8.6.3). Perhaps Popillius was aedile, whose duty it seems to have been to prosecute the transgressors of agrarian as well as usury laws. (Comp. Liv. 10.13
.) Popillius was consul again in the next year (B. C. 356), when he drove the Tiburtines into their towns. (Liv. 7.17
He was chosen consul for a third time B. C. 350, when he won a hard-fought battle against the Gauls, in which he himself was wounded (Liv. 7.23
; App. Celt.
1.2.), and for which he celebrated a triumph -the first ever obtained by a plebeian. Popillius concluded his brilliant career by a fourth consulship, B. C. 348.