23. Q. Caecilius
Metellus Creticus. His descent and that of his two brothers is quite uncertain; for he evidently could not have been the son of Metellus Macedonicus, as Florus (3.8.1
) states. (Drumann, vol. ii. p. 50.) Metellus was consul B. C. 69 with Q. Hortensius, and obtained the conduct of the war against Crete, which Hortensius had declined, when the lot had given this province to him. Metellus left Italy in B. C. 68 with three legions.
He was engaged two whole years in the subjugation of the island, and did not return to Rome till the third.
The difficulty of the conquest was much increased by the unwarrantable interference of Ponpey; for after Cydonia, Cnossus, and many other towns had fallen into the hands of Metellus, and the war seemed almost at an end, the Cretans sent to offer their submission to Pompey, from whom they hoped to obtain more favourable terms than from Metellus.
By the Gabinian law, passed in B. C. 67, which gave to Pompey the conduct of the war against the pirates, the supreme command in the whole of the Mediterranean was also assigned to him; he therefore had a pretext for interfering in the affairs of Crete, but it was clearly never intended that he should supersede Metellus. His emissaries had probably persuaded the Cretans to make this offer ; but however this may be, he immediately complied with their request, and sent his legate L. Octavius to receive the surrender of their towns, and shortly afterwards another of his legates, Cornelius Sisenna, came to the island from Greece with the command of some troops. Metellus, however, refused to take any notice of their claims, and continued to attack and subdue the towns, although the inhabitants were encouraged in their resistance to him by the legates of Pompey. Eleuthera and Luppa fell into his hands; and in the capture of the latter town Octavius was made prisoner, but dismissed by Metellus with contempt. Cornelius Sisenna had meantime died, and hitherto Octavius had not ventured to use force against Metellus, but now he employed the troops of Sisenna to fight on the side of the Cretans.
But as these troops shortly afterwards withdrew from the island, for some reason unknown to us, Octavius took refuge with Aristion in Hierapytna, from which, however, he fled at the approach of Metellus, leaving the Cretans to their fate. Thereupon Lasthenes and Panares, the chief leaders of the Cretans, made their submission to him, and the war was brought to a close.
In B. C. 66 Metellus returned to Rome, but he was prevented from obtaining a triumph by the partisans of Pompey. Metellus, however, could not relinquish his claim to a triumph, and accordingly resolved to wait in the neighbourhood of the city till more favourable circumstances. His patience was as great as his desire for the honour; for he was still waiting before the city in B. C. 63, when the conspiracy of Catiline broke out.
He was sent into Apulia to prevent an apprehended rising of the slaves; and in the following year, B. C. 62, after the death of Catiline, he was at length permitted to make his triumphal entrance into Rome, and received the surname of Creticus.
He was robbed, however, of the chief ornaments of his triumph, Lasthenes and Panares, whom a tribune of the plebs compelled him to surrender to Pompey.
Metellus, as was naturally to be expected, joined Lucullus and the other leaders of the aristocracy in their opposition to Pompey, and succeeded in preventing the latter from obtaining the ratification of his acts in Asia. In B. C. 60 Metellus was sent by the senate with two others to investigate the state of Gaul, where a rising of the people was apprehended.
He is mentioned by Cicero, in B. C. 57, as one of the pontiffs before whom he spoke respecting his house, and he probably died soon afterwards. (Liv. Epit. 98
; Flor. 3.7
; Eutrop. 6.11
; Oros. 6.4
; Vell. 2.34
; Just. 39.5
; Appian, App. Sic. 6
; Dio Cass. Frag.
178, 36.1, 2; Plut. Pomp. 29
; Sal. Cat. 30
; Cic. Verr.
i. 9, pro Flacc.
3, 13, 40, in Pison.
24, ad Att.
1.19, de Har. Resp.