5. Q. Caecilius
Metellus Macedonicus, Q. F. L. N., son of No. 2, is first mentioned in B. C. 168, when he was serving in the army of Aemilius Paullus in Macedonia, and was sent to Rome with two others to announce the defeat of Perseus. In B. C. 148 he was praetor, and received Macedonia as his province, where Andriscus, who pretended to be a son of Perseus, and had assumed the name of Philip, had defeated the Roman praetor Juventius.
He was, however, defeated and taken prisoner by Metellus. After Metellus had concluded this war he turned his arms against the Achaeans, who had insulted an embassy which he had sent to Corinth, and refused to listen to any overtures of peace.
At the beginning of B. C. 146 he defeated Critoläus, the Achaean praetor, near Scarpheia in Locris, and subsequently an Arcadian army near Chaeroneia; but he was unable to bring the war to a conclusion before the arrival of the consul L. Mummius, for whom was reserved the glory of subduing Greece. On his return to Rome in B. C. 146, Metellus celebrated a triumph on account of his victory over Andriscus, and received in consequence the surname of Macedonicus.
Notwithstanding the glory which he had acquired in this war, Metellus was twice a candidate for the consulship without success; and he did not obtain this honour till B. C. 143 along with Ap. Claudius Pulcher.
The province of Nearer Spain fell to the lot of Metellus, who carried on the war with success during this and the following year against the Celtiberi, and was succeeded by Q. Pompeius in B. C. 141. Many anecdotes are related of his conduct during this campaign; the severity with which he maintained discipline, the humanity which he displayed on one occasion towards the enemy (a rare virtue with Roman generals !), and the prudence and skill with which he prosecuted the war, are particularly celebrated by Valerius Maximus and Frontinus.
But he sullied his reputation by the efforts which he used to render his army as inefficient as possible on his departure from the province, in order that his successor, Q. Pompeius, whom he envied and hated, might find it difficult to obscure his glory.
In B. C. 131 Metellus was censor with Q. Pompeius, the first time that both the censors were elected from the plebs.
In his censorship Metellus proposed that every Roman should be compelled to marry, for the purpose of increasing the free population of the city: the oration which he delivered on the subject was extant in the time of Augustus, and was read by that emperor in the senate when he brought forward his law de Maritandis Ordinibus.
(Suet. Aug. 89
.) Some fragments of it are preserved by A. Gellius (1.6
), who, however, attributes it erroneously to Metellus Numidicus. Metellus during his censorship narrowly escaped death at the hands of the tribune C. Atinius Labeo, whom he had expelled from the senate during the first year of his censorship, and who, in the following year, seized him in the forum and commanded him to be thrown down the Tarpeian rock: he was rescued from death by the intervention of another tribune, but Labeo revenged himself by dedicating the property of Metellus to the gods.
It is related of Metellus, that he was a political opponent of Scipio Africanus the younger, but that he conducted his opposition without any bitterness or malice, and was one of the first at his death to recognise and acknowledge his greatness.
He united with the aristocracy in opposing the measures of the Gracchi; and the speech which he delivered against Tib. Gracchus is referred to by Cicero, who speaks highly of his eloquence, and alludes to several of his orations. (Cic. de Orat. 1.49
21.) Like the other Roman nobles of his time, he either had or pretended to have a love of art.
He erected a splendid porticus, and two temples dedicated to Jupiter and Juno, which were the first at Rome built of marble; and in front of them was placed the celebrated group of horsemen who fell at the battle of the Granicus, which Lysippus executed at the command of Alexander the Great, and which Metellus carried to Rome, on the conquest of Andriscus in Macedonia.
Metellus died in B. C. 115, when his son Marcus was consul, full of years and honours.
He is frequently quoted by the ancient writers as an extraordinary instance of human felicity. Not only was he distinguished by his noble birth, his military glory, and the high political offices he had held, but his was the rare lot of living to see four sons rise to the highest honours of the state, and of being carried to the funeral pile by these four children. Three of these sons had obtained the consulship in his lifetime, and the fourth was a candidate for the office at the time of his father's death. Metellus also left behind him two married daughters (not three, as some writers state), and numerous grandchildren. (Liv. Epit. 49
; Vell. 1.11
; Tac. Ann. 12.62
; Flor 2.14, 17 Eutrop. 4.13
; Aurel. Vic. de Vn Ill.
61; Zonar. 9.28
; Paus. 7.13
; App. Hisp. 76
; V. Max. 2.7.10
; Frontin. Strat.
3.7, 4.1.23; the passages of Cicero in Orelli's Onom. Tull.
vol. ii. p. 102; Meyer, Orator. Roman. Fragm.
p. 159, 2d. ed.)