Marcus Perperna (praetor 82 BC)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Marcus Perperna Vento (the cognomen is not clearly documented and may be changed to the well-known Veiento ; † 72 BC ) was a politician of the late Roman Republic . He was instrumental in the murder of the renegade general Quintus Sertorius, who was active on the Iberian Peninsula . Shortly afterwards he succumbed to Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and was executed on his orders.


Origin; early career fighting Sulla

Perperna was probably a son of Marcus Perperna , who lived in 92 BC. Chr. Consul had been, and was one of the populares . He was very ambitious, haughty and proud of his noble origins, as he could count himself to the Roman nobility thanks to the consulates of his father and grandfather. He emphasized this against a Homo novus like Quintus Sertorius .

As a member of the Popularen, Perperna joined the Marian party in the civil war between Marius and Sulla . BC came to the praetur and governor of Sicily . That year, his party in Italy was placed heavily on the defensive by the returned Sulla. The consul Gaius Marius the Younger was trapped in Praeneste , while his counterpart Gnaeus Papirius Carbo fled to North Africa. Sulla then made Perperna the offer to switch to his side. Perperna wanted nothing to do with this suggestion; instead, he declared that he would move from Sicily to Italy with the armed forces at his disposal and try to detain Praeneste.

However, Perperna could not realize this plan in view of the rapid progress of the opponents. Carbo crossed from Africa to Sicily and the young Pompey , standing on Sulla's side, met here at the end of 82 BC. BC also with significant troops. Apparently Perperna did not want to submit to Consul Carbo and presumably reached a secret agreement with Pompey to evacuate Sicily without a fight against the promise of his personal security. Later Pompey was named because of his 72 BC. Order to have Perperna executed, accused of ungrateful forgetting of what happened in Sicily.

As a result, Perperna, like other supporters of the Marian party, was put on the list of proscriptions by Sulla. But he was able to escape persecution; perhaps he found refuge in Liguria .

Fight under Sertorius' command in the Iberian Peninsula

When after Sulla's death in 78 BC The then consul Marcus Aemilius Lepidus prepared to rally the former Marian party around him and overturn Sulla's new order and move into Italy in the following year, Perperna joined him. Lepidus was defeated by Catulus at the gates of Rome and fled to Sardinia , where he was still 77 BC. BC died. Perperna took command of the remnants of Lepidus' forces and led them from Sardinia to Spain. When he landed, he brought with him rich resources and a large number of troops.

On the Iberian Peninsula, Quintus Sertorius, who was very talented for both warfare and civil administration, successfully represented the interests of the popular. When Perperna invaded Spain, he intended to fight alone against the governor of Hispania ulterior , Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius , appointed by the Senate . Apparently he didn't want to share the prospect of laurels with anyone. But his troops did not like this; they spoke aloud of the need for a union with Sertorius. When news arrived that Pompey, to whom the Senate had granted extraordinary proconsular power, had crossed the Pyrenees , the troops took up arms and yelled at Perperna to lead them to Perperna. Otherwise they would abandon him and place themselves under Sertorius' command of their own accord. At this threat Perperna gave in, led his army to Sertorius and accepted that he was in command. When he united with Sertorius, his army numbered 53 cohorts ; perhaps he had only achieved this strength by recruiting Iberians.

Early 76 BC Perperna received from Sertorius the order to march into the area of ​​the Ilurvaconen with all the troops at his disposal, namely 20,000 infantrymen and 1,500 horsemen, in order to cover the east coast against Pompey. But he was unable to prevent the enemy from crossing the Ebro and advancing against the Turia. It was only when Sertorius himself intervened that the campaign turned and successfully concluded. The two generals set up their winter quarters in Lusitania .

75 BC Perperna fell to about the same task as in the previous year, and he should cope with it together with Gaius Herennius . Both suffered a heavy defeat against Pompey at Valentia (now Valencia ). Herennius and 10,000 soldiers fell into battle; Pompey took Valentia. After this failure Perperna fought together with Sertorius in the Battle of Sucro again against Pompey. He commanded a wing but was defeated, while Sertorius fought happily. The course of the following battle at Saguntum was similar . Perperna lost to Metellus, with 5000 of his warriors falling, while Sertorius was victorious over Pompey. At the end of the year, Perperna again moved into winter quarters with Sertorius in Lusitania. From there it is believed to have been 74 BC. To have advanced into Gallaecien and conquered a place called Cale.

Incitement of the conspiracy against Sertorius

As the war continued on the Iberian Peninsula, Sertorius was gradually abandoned by happiness and more insecure in his own demeanor. Many party comrades felt an increasing displeasure against him; and Perperna became the leader of a plot against him.

Plutarch , who wrote a biography of Sertorius and regards him very benevolently, claims that many of Sertorius' distinguished Roman supporters, including Perperna, harbored a ridiculous jealousy of his successes. Only as long as they still regarded Sertorius as a lifeline out of fear of their enemies would they have kept quiet. Perperna in particular had secretly made malicious speeches against Sertorius and thus prepared the conspiracy against him. Incited by him, his sympathizers had secretly sowed discord between Sertorius and the Iberians by treating the Iberians cruelly and paying tribute, as if on Sertorius's orders, a behavior that had driven the Iberian cities to apostasy. As a result, Sertorius had become suspicious and took unjust measures of violence against numerous Iberian allies.

The war historian Appian gives a slightly different motivation for the cause of the conspiracy compared with Plutarch's report; The suspicion and cruelty of Sertorius had made Perperna concerned about his own safety, so that he wanted to prevent this danger by inciting a conspiracy. Both representations can be correct to a certain extent, as can the inconsistent statements made by Plutarch and Appian about the conspiracy.

Besides Perperna, a Manlius, a Graecinus and an Aufidius are named as participants in the plot that was directed against Sertorius' life. The conspirators let Sertorius 72 BC. A fictional report by one of his sub-generals about a victory he had won through a fraudulent messenger. Since Sertorius was very pleased, Perperna invited him to a feast that he wanted to give him and some friends on the occasion of the joyful victory. Sertorius was finally moved by many requests to accept the invitation. At the table the conspirators tried to irritate Sertorius by allowing indecent jokes and indecent gestures in front of him, who did not get along indecent jokes and loud talking by pretending to be drunk. Sertorius unwillingly turned to one side. Perperna asked for a cup of pure wine for himself and let it fall on the floor while he was drinking. The resulting noise was the agreed signal, whereupon Antonius, lying next to Sertorius, drew his dagger, wounded it and held it until it was killed by the stings of the other conspirators.

Perperna as the successor of Sertorius and death

After the murder of Sertorius, Perperna acted as his successor. However, this bloody act provoked an outrage in most of the Sertorians, especially directed against Perperna, which he was only able to control with difficulty. When, at the opening of Sertorius' will, it turned out that he had named Perperna one of his heirs, the indignation against his murderer continued to grow. It seemed that Perperna had committed a heinous act not only against his superior and general, but also against his friend and benefactor.

Most of the Iberians present in the army left Perperna instantly and surrendered to Pompey and Metellus. Perperna tried to win the remaining troops through gifts and promises, but did not shy away from threats and executions either. Then he wanted to take the Iberian cities for himself by releasing those of their citizens who were held captive on Sertorius' orders and also releasing the hostages taken by the Iberians. In this way he achieved that he was recognized by the soldiers who remained with him, albeit reluctantly, as Sertorius' successor. As soon as Perperna felt more secure, he was cruel and even had several distinguished Romans, including his nephew, executed.

Perperna could not fill Sertorius' place. Metellus left the defeat of Perpernas to Pompey alone and took over the pacification of the rest of Spain himself. For a few days there were only minor skirmishes between Perperna and Pompey. The decisive battle took place on the tenth day. But Perperna was just as lacking in general talent as his troops in zeal for him. Pompey sent ten cohorts against him, which he ordered to appear to disperse. Perperna let himself be lured into the trap and carried away into careless pursuit, whereupon Pompey suddenly appeared with his main power and inflicted a complete defeat on him. Most of Perperna's commanders fell in battle.

Perperna hid in the bushes, but was discovered by some enemy horsemen who pulled him out and led him to Pompey. Now Perperna tried to save his life by promising Pompey to hand over incriminating papers that had been in Sertorius' possession. These papers included, among other things, several letters from various high-ranking people in Rome, even from some consulars, in which they had invited Sertorius to Italy out of dissatisfaction, since the longing for an overthrow was widespread. But Pompey had all letters found in Sertorius' estate brought and burned unread, and Perperna executed immediately. Appian's claim that Pompey ordered Perperna's execution without leaving him in front of him contradicts the rest of the tradition. In a final résumé, Plutarch assessed Perperna as a general who neither knew how to command nor obey.



  1. Plutarch ( Sertorius 15, 2) is the only ancient author to use the nickname Vento for Perperna , cf. Friedrich Münzer: Perperna 6. In: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XIX, 1, Stuttgart 1937, Sp. 897-901 (here: Sp. 897).
  2. ^ Velleius Paterculus , Historia Romana 2, 30, 1; Plutarch, Sertorius 15, 2 and 25, 2.
  3. See e.g. B. his later designation as praetorius in Velleius ( Historia Romana 2, 30, 1) and Valerius Maximus ( Facta et dicta memorabilia 6, 2, 8).
  4. ^ Diodor , Bibliothḗkē historikḗ 38, 14.
  5. Plutarch, Pompeius 10, 2 and 20, 6, on this Friedrich Münzer: Perperna 6. In: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswwissenschaft (RE). Volume XIX, 1, Stuttgart 1937, Sp. 897-901 (here: Sp. 898).
  6. Velleius Paterculus, Historia Romana 2, 30, 1.
  7. See Orosius , Historiae adversus paganos 5, 24, 16.
  8. Iulius Exuperantius , col. 7 (after Sallust ).
  9. Plutarch, Sertorius 15, 2; Appian , Civil Wars 1, 527.
  10. Plutarch, Sertorius 15, 2-5; Orosius, Historiae adversus paganos 5, 23, 12; Iulius Exuperantius, col. 7th
  11. ^ Titus Livius , Ab urbe condita , Book 91, Fragment 22 ed. Weissenborn .
  12. a b Friedrich Münzer: Perperna 6. In: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XIX, 1, Stuttgart 1937, Col. 897-901 (here: Col. 899).
  13. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 1, 512.
  14. Plutarch, Pompey 18, 3.
  15. Plutarch, Sertorius 19, 1.6 and Pompeius 19, 1 ff. (Without mentioning Perperna); Appian, Civil Wars 1, 512 f. (with a slightly different description of the slaughter); among others
  16. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 1, 513; Plutarch, Sertorius 21, 1ff .; Sallust, Histories 2, 64 f.
  17. ^ Sallust, Historien 3, 43 ed. Maurenbrecher.
  18. Plutarch, Sertorius 25.
  19. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 1, 527.
  20. Plutarch, Sertorius 26, 1-4; Appian, Civil Wars 1, 527 f.
  21. Plutarch, Sertorius 26: 5-11 and Pompey 20: 3; Appian, Civil Wars 1, 528 and Iberike 101; Sallust, Historien 3, 83 ed. Maurenbrecher; Diodor, Bibliothḗkē historikḗ 37, 22 a; Livy, Ab urbe condita , Periocha 96; u .a.
  22. ^ Appian, Civil War 1, 529 ff.
  23. Plutarch, Sertorius 27, 1.
  24. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 1, 532 f .; among others
  25. Plutarch, Pompeius 20, 3 ff. And Sertorius 27, 2 f .; Appian, Civil War 1, 534 ff. And Iberika 101; Sallust, Historien 3, 84 ed. Maurenbrecher; Livy, Ab urbe condita , Periocha 96; among others
  26. Plutarch, Pompey 20: 6-8 and Sertorius 27, 3-6; Appian, Civil War 1, 536 ff. And Iberika 101; Valerius Maximus, Facta et dicta memorabilia 6, 2, 8; among others
  27. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 1, 537; Friedrich Münzer: Perperna 6. In: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XIX, 1, Stuttgart 1937, Col. 897-901 (here: Col. 900).
  28. Plutarch, Sertorius 27, 2.