2. L. Afranius
, appears to have been of obscure origin, as he is called by Cicero in contempt "the son of Aulus," as a person of whom nobody had heard. (Cic. Att. 1.16
He was first brought into notice by Pompey, and was always his warm friend and partizan. In B. C. 77 he was one of Pompey's legates in the war against Sertorius in Spain, and also served Pompey in the same capacity in the Mithridatic war. (Plut. Sert. 19
34, 36, 39; D. C. 37.5
.) On Pompey's return to Rome, he was anxious to obtain the consulship for Afranius, that he might the more easily carry his own plans into effect; and, notwithstanding the opposition of a powerful party, lie obtained the election of Afranius by influence and bribery. During his consulship, however, (B. C. 60), Afranius did not do much for Pompey (D. C. 37.49
), but probably more from want of experience in political affairs than from any want of inclination. In B. C. 59 Afranius had the province of Cisalpine Gaul (comp. Cic. Att. 1.19
), and it may have been owing to some advantages he had gained over the Gauls, that he obtained the triumph, of which Cicero speaks in his oration against Piso. (c. 24.)
When Pompey obtained the provinces of the two Spains in his second consulship (B. C. 55), he sent Afranius and Petreius to govern Spain in his name, while he himself remained in Rome. (Vell. 2.48
.) On the breaking out of the civil war, B. C. 49, Afranius was still in Spain with three legions, and after uniting his forces with those of Petreius, he had to oppose Caesar in the same year, who had crossed over into Spain as soon as he had obtained possession of Italy.
After a short campaign, in which Afranius and Petreius gained some advantages at first, they were reduced to such straits, that they were obliged to sue for the mercy of Caesar.
This was granted, on condition that their troops should be disbanded, and that they should not serve against him again. (Caes. Civ. 1.38
; Appian, App. BC 2.42. 43
; Dio Cass, 41.20-23; Plut. Pomp. 65
36.) Afranius, however, did not keep his word; he immediately joined Pompey at Dyrrhacium, where he was accused by some of the aristocracy, though certainly without justice, of treachery in Spain.
After the battle of Dyrrhacium, Afranius recommended an immediate return to Italy, especially as Pompey was master of the sea; but this advice was overruled, and the battle of Pharsalia followed, B. C. 48, in which Afranius had the charge of the camp. (Appian, App. BC 2.65
; Plut. Pomp. 66
; D. C. 41.52
; Vel. Pat. 2.52.) As Afranius was one of those who could not hope for pardon, he fled to Africa, and joined the Pompeian army under Cato and Scipio. (D. C. 42.10
After the defeat of the Pompeians at the battle of Thapsus, B. C. 46, at which he was present, he attempted to fly into Mauritania with Faustus Sulla and about 1500 horsemen, but was taken prisoner by P. Sittius, and killed a few days afterwards, according to some accounts, in a sedition of the soldiers, and according to others, by the command of Caesar. (Hirt. Bell. Afric.
95; Suet. (Caes.
75; D. C. 43.12
; Florus, 4.2.90
; Liv. Epit. 114
; Aur. Vict. de Vir. Ill.
Afranius seems to have had some talent for war, but little for civil affairs. Dio Cassius says "that he was a better dancer than a statesman " (37.49), and Cicero speaks of him with the greatest contempt during his consulship (ad Att.
1.18, 20), though at a later time, when Afranius was opposed to Caesar, he calls him summus dux.