previous next

Philippus, Ma'rcius

5. L. Marcius Philippus, Q. F. Q. N., failed in obtaining the military tribuneship, but nevertheless acquired afterwards all the high offices of state (Cic. pro Planc. 21). He was tribune of the plebs, B. C. 104, in which year he brought forward an agrarian law, of the details of which we are not informed, but which is chiefly memorable for the statement he made in recommending the measure, that there were not two thousand men in the state who possessed property (Cic. de Off 2.21). He seems to have brought forward this measure chiefly with the view of acquiring popularity, and he quietly dropped it when he found there was no hope of carrying it. In B. C. 100, he was one of the distinguished men in the state who took up arms against Saturninus and his crew (Cic. pro C. Rabir. 7). He was a candidate for the consulship B. C. 93, but was defeated in the comitia by Herennius; but two years afterwards he carried his election, and was consul in B. C. 91, with Sex. Julius Caesar. This was a very important year in the internal history of Rome, though the events of it are very difficult clearly to understand. It was the year in which M. Livius Drusus, who was then tribune of the plebs, brought forward the various important laws, the object and tendency of which have been discussed elsewhere [DRUSUS, No. 6]. It is sufficient to state here that Drusus at first enjoyed the full confidence of the senate, and endeavoured by his measures to reconcile the people to the senatorial party. Philippus was a personal enemy of Drusus, and as he belonged to the popular party, he offered a vigorous opposition to the tribune, and thus came into open conflict with the senate. The exasperation of parties rose to the greatest height, and even the senate itself was disgraced by scenes of turbulence and indecorum. On one occasion Philippus declared in the senate that he could no longer carry on the government with such a body, and that there was need of a new senate. This roused the great orator L. Licinius Crassus, who asserted in the course of his speech, in which he is said to have surpassed his usual eloquence, that that man could not be his consul who refused to recognise him as senator (Cic. de Orat. 3.1; Quint. Inst. 8.3.89; V. Max. 6.2.2). In the forum scenes of still greater violence occurred. There Philippus strained every nerve to prevent Drusus from carrying his laws. On one occasion he interrupted the tribune while he was haranguing the people; whereupon Drusus ordered one of his clients to drag Philippus to prison: and the order was executed with such violence that the blood started from the nostrils of the consul, as he was dragged away by the throat (V. Max. 9.5.2; Florus, 3.17; Aur. Vict. de Vir. 3.66). The opposition of the consul was, however, in vain; and the laws of the tribune were carried. But a reaction followed almost immediately: all parties in the state who had just before united in favour of Drusus, now began to look upon him with mistrust and suspicion. In this state of affairs, Philippus became reconciled to the senate, and to the leading members of that body, with whom he had hitherto been at deadly feud; and accordingly, on the proposition of the consul, who was also an augur, a senatus consultuim was passed, declaring all the laws of Drusus to be null and void, as having been carried against the auspices (Cic. de Prov. Cons. 9, de Leg. 2.12, Fragm. vol. iv. p. 449, ed. Orelli; Ascon. in Cornel. p. 68). Nothing else is recorded of the consulship of Philippus, except that he reconmended the senate to lay claim to Egypt, in consequence of its having been left to them by the will of Alexander. (Cic. de Leg. Agr. 2.16.)

In B. C. 86, Philippus was censor with M. Perperna, and it is recorded of him that he expelled his own uncle App. Claudius from the senate. (Cic. pro Dom. 32.)

In the civil wars between Marius and Sulla, Philippus took no part. His original predilections might have led him to join Marius; but the experience he had had of the Roman mob in his consulship, together with his reconciliation to the senate, led him probably to desire the success of Sulla, Cicero speaks of him as belonging to the party of the latter; but as he continued at Rome during Cinna's usurpation, and was suffered to remain unmolested, he must have been regarded as neutral in the strife (Cic. Att. 8.3). On Sulla's death, he deprecated any immediate change, and accordingly resisted the attempts of Lepidus, B. C. 78, to alter the constitution that had been recently established (Sall. Hist. 1.18, 19). But Philippus was no friend to the aristocracy in heart, and accordingly gave his support to Pompey, by whose means the people eventually regained most of their former political power. Thus he was one of those who advocated sending Pompey to conduct the war in Spain against Sertorius, and is reported on that occasion to have said "Non se Pompeium sua sententia pro consule, sed pro consulibus mittere." (Cic. pro Leg. Man. 21, Phil. 11.8; Plut. Pomp. 17.) He appears, likewise, to have been a personal friend of Pompey, for he had defended him previously in B. C. 86, when he was accused of having appropriated to his own use the booty taken at Asculum in the Marsic war, B. C. 89. (Cic. Brut. 64; V. Max. 6.2.8; Plut. Pomp. 4.) It would seem that Philippus did not live to see the return of Pompey from Spain.

Philippus was one of the most distinguished orators of his time. His reputation continued even to the Augustan age, whence we read in Horace (Hor. Ep. 1.7.46):--

"Strenuus et fortis causisque Philippus agendis

Cicero says that Philippus was decidedly inferior as an orator to his two great contemporaries Crassus and Antonius, but was without question next to them. In speaking he possessed much freedom and wit; he was fertile in invention, and clear in the development of his ideas; and in altercation he was witty and sarcastic. He was also well acquainted with Greek literature for that time (Cic. Brut. 47). He was accustomed to speak extempore, and, when he rose to speak, he frequently did not know with what word he should begin (Cic. de Or. 2.78): hence in his old age it was with both contempt and anger that he used to listen to the studied periods of Hortensius (Cic. Brut. 95). Philippus was a man of luxurious habits, which his wealth enabled him to gratify: his fish-ponds were particularly celebrated for their magnificence and extent, and are mentioned by the ancients along with those of Lucullus and Hortensius (Varr. R. R. 3.3.10; Colum. viii 16; Plin. Nat. 9.54.80). Besides his son, L. Philippus, who is spoken of below [No. 6], he had a step-son Gellius Publicola [PUBLICOLA]. (Our knowledge respecting Philippus is chiefly derived from Cicero, the various passages in whose writings relating to him are collected in Orelli, Onom. Tull vol. ii. p. 380, &c.; comp Meyer, Orator. Roman. Frtagm. p. 323, &c., 2d ed.; Westermann, Cesch. der Rlm. Beredtsamkeit, ยง 42,.)

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
86 BC (2)
93 BC (1)
91 BC (1)
89 BC (1)
78 BC (1)
104 BC (1)
100 BC (1)
hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 8.3
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 3.1
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 9.54
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 8, 3.89
    • Plutarch, Pompey, 17
    • Plutarch, Pompey, 4
    • Cicero, Brutus, 47
    • Cicero, Brutus, 64
    • Cicero, Brutus, 95
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 6.2.2
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 6.2.8
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 9.5.2
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: