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2. C. Laelius Sapiens, was son of the preceding. His intimacy with the younger Scipio Africanus was as remarkable as his father's friendship with the elder (Vell. 2.127; V. Max. 4.7.7), and it obtained an imperishable monument in Cicero's treatise "Laelius sive de Amicitia" He was born about B. C. 186-5; was tribune the plebs in 151; praetor in 145 (Cic. de Amic. 25); and consul, after being once rejected, in 140 (Cic. Brut. 43, Tusc. 5.19; Plut. Imp. Apophthegm. p. 200). His character was dissimilar to that of his father. The elder Laelius was an officer of the old Roman stamp, softened, perhaps, by his intercourse with Polybius, but essentially practical and enterprising. A mild philosophy refined, and, it may be, enfeebled the younger Laelius, who, though not devoid of military talents, as his campaign against the Lusitanian guerilla-chief Viriatus proved (Cic. de Off. 2.11), was more of a statesman than a soldier, and more a philosopher than a statesman. From Diogenes of Babylon [DIOGENES, literary, 3], and afterwards from Panaetius, he imbibed the doctrines of the stoic school (Cic. de Fin. 2.8); his father's friend Polybius was friend also; the wit and idiom of Terence were pointed and polished by his and Scipio's conversation (Suet. vit. Terent. 2; Prolog. Terent Adelph. 15; Cic. Att. 7.3; comp. Quint. Inst. 10.1.99); the satirist Lucilius was his familiar companion (Cic. de Fin. 2.8; Hor. Sat. 2.1, 65; Schol. Vet. in Hor. loc.); and Caelius Antipater dedicated to him his history of the Punic war (Cic. Orat. 69). 1 Laelius was so distinguished also for his augural science, that, according to Cicero (Cic. Phil. 2.33), "Laelius" and "bonus augur" were convertible terms. (Id. De Nat. Deor. 3.2.)

The political opinions of Laelius were different at different periods of his life. At first he inclined to the party which aimed at renovating the plebs by making them again land-owners, and at raising the equites into an efficient middle-class. He endeavoured, probably during his tribunate, to procure a re-division of the state-demesnes, but, either alarmed at the hostility it excited, or convinced of its impracticability, lie desisted from the attempt, and for his forbearance received the appellation of the Wise or the Prudent (Plut. TG 8). Laelius indeed had neither the steady principles of Tiberius, nor the fervid genius of C. Gracchus. He could discern, but he could not apply the remedy for social evils. And after the tribunate of the elder Gracchus, B. C. 133, his sentiments underwent a change. He assisted the consuls of B. C. 132 in examining C. Blossius of Cumae and the other partizans of Tib. Gracchus (Cic. de Amic. 11 ; comp. Plut. TG 20), and in B. C. 130, he spoke against the Papirian Rogation, which would have enabled the tribunes of the plebs to be re-elected from year to year (Cic. de Amic. 25; Liv. Epit. 59). But although Laelius was the strenuous opponent of the popular leaders of his age--the tribunes C. Licinius Crassus, B. C. 145, C. Papirius Carbo, B. C. 131, and C. Gracchus B. C. 123-122 --nature had denied him the qualities of a great orator. His speeches read better than those of his contemporary and rival C. Servius Galba, yet Galba was doubtless the more eloquent. (Cic. Brut. 24.) Laelius in his own age was the model, and in history is the representative of the Greek culture which sprang up rapidly at Rome in the seventh century of the city. Serene and philosophical by temperament (Cic. de Off. 1.26; Sen. Ep. 11), erudite and refined by education, Laelius was among the earliest examples of that cosmopolite character (Cic. Tusc. 4.3), which, in Cicero's time, had nearly effaced the old Latin type, and of which the younger Brutus perhaps presents the fairest of aspect. Smoothness-lenitas (Cic. de Orat. 3.7.28), which he probably derived from his old master Diogenes (Gel. 7.14), was the characteristic of his eloquence. It was better adapted for a deliberative assembly than for the tumult of the forum. Cicero, indeed (Brut. 21),-and his censure is confirmed by the author of the dialogue De Causis Corruptae Eloquentiae (25)--complains of a certain harshness and crudity in the diction of Laelius. The grammarians resorted to his writings for archaisms (Festus, s. v. Satura; Nonius, s. v. Samium), and he may have shown habits of study rather than of business. But the defect was perhaps as much in the organ lie employed as in Laelius himself. The Latin tongue was yet in the bondage of the old Saturnian forms Compp. Varr. R. R. 1.2); and had not acquired the ductility and copiousness it possessed in Cicero's age. A fragment of the younger Scipio's orations, preserved by Macrobius (Saturn. 2.10), will afford a notion of the language of Laelius.

The titles of the following orations of Laelius have been preserved:-1. De Collegiis, delivered by Laelius when praetor, B. C. 145. It was directed against the rogation of C. Licinius Crassus, then tribune of the plebs, who proposed to transfer the election of the augurs from the college to the people in their tribes. The bill was rejected through Laelius' eloquence. (Cic. Brut. 21, de Amic. 25, de Repub. 6.2, de Nat. Deor. 3.2, 17, where it is described as aureola oratiuncula; Nonius, s. v. Samium.) 2. Pro Publicanis, B. C. 139. Laelius, after twice pleading in behalf of the revenuecontractors, resigned their cause to his rival C. Servius Galba, since it seemed to require a more acrimonious style than his own. (Cic. Brut. 22.) 3. Dissuasio Legis Papiriae, B. C. 131, against the law of C. Papirius Carbo, which enacted that a tribune, whose office had expired, might be re-elected as often as the people thought advisable. Scipio Africanus the younger supported, and C. Gracchus opposed Laelius in this debate. (Cic. de Amic. 25; Liv. Epit. lix.) 4. Pro se. The date and immediate occasion of this speech are uncertain; but it was probably in reply to Carbo or Gracchus. An extract from it seems to have once been read in Festus (s. v. Satura; comp. Sallust. Jug. 29.) 5. Laudationes P. Africani minors, written after B. C. 129. These were mortuary orations, which Laelius, after the manner of Isaeus and the Greek rhetoricians, composed for other speakers. Q. Tubero, the nephew of Africanus (Cic. de Orat. 2.84), delivered one, and Q. Fab. Maximus, brother of the deceased, the other of these orations, at Scipio's funeral. (Schol. Bob. pro Milon. p. 283, Orelli; comp. Cic. pro Muraen. 36.)

Laelius is the principal interlocutor in Cicero's dialogue De Amicitia; one of the speakers in the De Senectute, and in the De Republica, maintains the reality of justice against the sceptical academician Philus. His domestic life is pleasingly described by Cicero (Cic. de Orat. 2.6) and by Horace (Sat. 2.1. 65-74). He seems to have had a country house at Formiae (Cic. de Rep. 1.39). His two daughters were married, the one to Q. Mccius Scaevola, the augur, the other to C. Fannius Strabo (de Amic. 8). Of his wit and playfulness --hilaritas (de Off. 1.30), only two specimens have been transmitted (de Orat. 2.71; Sen. Nat. Quaest. 6.32). The opinion of his worth seems to have been universal, and it is one of Seneca's injunctions to his friend Lucilius " to live like Laelius." (Cic. Topic. 20.78; Sen. Ep. 104.)


1 * It isdoubtful, however, whether in this passage, and in Auct. ad Herennium, 4.12, for Laelio, we should not read L. Aelio. (Comp. Cic. pro Scauro, p. 172, 285. Orelli.)

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  • Cross-references from this page (13):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 7.3
    • Cicero, Philippics, 2.33
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 2.6
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 2.84
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 3.7
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 7.14
    • Plutarch, Tiberius Gracchus, 20
    • Plutarch, Tiberius Gracchus, 8
    • Cicero, Brutus, 21
    • Cicero, Brutus, 22
    • Cicero, Brutus, 24
    • Cicero, Brutus, 43
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 4.7.7
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