18. M. Pupius
Piso, consul B. C. 61, belonged originally to the Calpurnia gens, but was adopted by M. Pupius, when the latter was an old man (Cic. pro Dom.
He retained, however, his family-name Piso, just as Scipio, after his adoption by Metellus, was called Metellus Scipio. [METELLUS, No. 22.] There was, however, no occasion for the addition of Calpurnianus to his name, as that of Piso showed sufficiently his original family. Piso had attained some importance as earls as the first civil war. On the death of L. Cinna, in B. C. 84, he married his wife Annia, and in the following year, 83, was appointed quaestor to the consul L. Scipio; but he quickly deserted this party, and went over to Sulla, who compelled him to divorce his wife on account of her previous connection with Cinna (Cic. Ver. 1.14
; Vell. 2.41
He failed in obtaining the aedileship (Cic. pro Planc.
5, 21), and the year of his praetorship is uncertain.
After his praetorship he received the province of Spain with the title of proconsul, and on his return to Rome in 69, enjoyed the honour of a triumph, although it was asserted by some that he had no claim to this distinction. (Cic. pro Flacc. 3, in Pison.
26; Ascon. in Pison.
p. 15.) Piso served in the Mithridatic war as a legatus of Pompey, who sent him to Rome in B. C. 62, to become a candidate for the consulship, as he was anxious to obtain the ratification of his acts in Asia, anti therefore wished to have one of his friends at the head of the state. Piso was accordingly elected consul for the following year, B. C. 61, with M. Valerius Messalla Niger.
In his consulship he gave great offence to Cicero, by not asking him first in the senate for his opinion, and still further increased the anger of the orator by taking P. Clodius under his protection after his violation of the mysteries of the Bona Dea. Cicero revenged himself on Piso, by preventing him from obtaining the province of Syria, which had been promised him. (D. C. 37.4
; Cic. Att. 1.12
.) Piso must have died, in all probability, before the breaking out of the second civil war, for in B. C. 47 Antony inhabited his house at Rome. (Cic. Phil. 2.25
.) Piso, in his younger days, had so high a reputation as an orator, that Cicero was taken to him by his father, in order to receive instruction from him.
He possessed some natural ability, but was chiefly indebted for his excellence to study, especially of Greek literature, in the knowledge of which he surpassed all previous orators.
He did not, however, prosecute oratory long, partly on account of ill-health, and partly because his irritable temper would not submit to the rude encounters of the forum.
He belonged to the Peripatetic school in philosophy, in which he received instructions from Staseas. (Cic. Brut. 67
, de Or.
1.22, de Nat. Deor.
1.7; Ascon. l.c.