21. Q. Metellus
Metellus Nepos, Q. F. Q. N., brother of the preceding, and son of the elder Nepos [No. 16]. In B. C. 67 he served as legate of Pompey in the war against the pirates, and was still with him in Asia in B. C. 64. In B. C. 63 he returned to Rome, in order to become a candidate for the tribunate, that he might thereby favour the views of Pompey.
The aristocracy, who now dreaded Pompey more than any one else in the state, were in the utmost consternation. They brought forward M. Cato as a rival candidate, and succeeded in carrying his election, but were unable to prevent the election of Metellus likewise. Metellus entered upon his office on the 10th of December, B. C. 63, and commenced his official career by a violent attack upon Cicero, whom he looked upon as the main support of the existing order of things.
He openly asserted that he who had condemned Roman citizens without a hearing ought not to be heard himself, and accordingly prevented Cicero from addressing the people on the last day of his consulship, when he had to lay down his office, and only allowed him to take the usual oath, whereupon Cicero swore that he had saved the state. On the 1st of January, B. C. 62, Cicero attacked Metellus with great bitterness in the senate, and two days afterwards Metellus replied to him with equal bitterness, upbraiding him with his low origin, denouncing him as a tyrant for condemning Roman citizens to death unheard, and threatening him with an impeachment. Stung to the quick. Cicero published an oration against him, entitled " Metellina," of the nature of which the second Philippic will probably give us the best idea. Supported by Caesar, who was anxious, above all things, to drive Pompey to an open rupture with the senate, Metellus brought forward a bill to summon Pompey, with his army, to Rome, in order to restore peace and protect the citizens from arbitrary punishment. Parties were in the state of the highest exasperation: on the day on which the bill was to be brought forward, Cato attempted to prevent its being read, but was driven out of the forum by force.
He soon, however, returned, supported by a large body of the aristocracy; and this time the victory remained in their hands. Metellus was obliged to take to flight, and repaired to Pompey: the senate proposed to deprive him of his office, and according to some accounts actually did so.
Metellus returned to Rome with Pompey, and was raised to the praetorship in B. C. 60.
In this year he brought forward a law for the abolition of the vectigalia in Italy; and the senate, out of hatred to Metellus, attempted to call the law by the name of some other person.
In the following year he appears not to have gone to a province, but to have remained in Rome. In B. C. 57 he was consul with P. Cornelius Lentulus Spinther. Cicero, who had been banished in the preceding year, and whose friends were now exerting themselves to obtain his recall, was greatly alarmed at the election of Metellus, since he was one of his bitterest personal enemies.
But since Clodius had offended both Pompey and Caesar, and the latter was anxious to mortify and weaken the power of the demagogue, Metellus, out of respect to them, suppressed his feelings towards Cicero, and announced in the senate on the 1st of January, that he should not oppose his recall from exile. Cicero wrote to him to express his gratitude (ad Fam.
5.4), and in subsequent speeches he frequently praises his moderation and magnanimity.
At the same time the friends of Cicero at Rome seem to have had some suspicions of Metellus; but he was eventually induced, very much by the influence of his relative, P. Servilius, to give a hearty support to Cicero's friends, and in the month of September the orator was at Rome.
But almost immediately afterwards we again find Metellus on the other side, and in the month of November using his efforts to obtain the aedileship for Clodius.
In B. C. 56 Metellus administered the province of Nearer Spain. Either before he left Rome or soon afterwards Metellus had quarrelled with Clodius, and this enmity naturally led to a reconciliation with Cicero, to whom he writes in apparently cordial terms (ad Fam.
In the month of April he repaired, with many other distinguished Roman nobles, to Caesar's winterquarters at Luca, doubtless with the view of obtaining the prolongation of his command. On his return to Spain he made a sudden and apparently unjustifiable attack upon the Vaccaei, whom he defeated; but in the following year (B. C. 55) they took the town of Clunia from him, and advanced with such considerable forces that Metellus dared not attack them. Metellus seems to have returned to Rome in the course of this year, and to have died in the same year, as his name does not occur again.
In his testament he left Carrinas (probably the consul of B. C. 43) the heir of all his property, passing over all the Metelli and likewise the Clandii, with whom he was so nearly connected (V. Max. 7.8.3
.) Metellus did not adhere strictly to the political principles of his family.
He did not support the aristocracy, like his brother; nor, on the other hand, can he be said to have been a leader of the demnocracy.
He was in fact little more than a servant of Pompey, and according to his bidding at one time opposed, and at another supported Cicero.
App. Mith. 95
; Flor. 3.6
; J. AJ 4.2.3
, B. J.
1.6.2; Plut. Cat. Mi. 20
; D. C. 37.38
; Plut. Caes. 21
; the passages of Cicero in Orelli's Onom. Tull.
vol. ii. p. 107, &c.