Servius Sulpicius Galba (Consul 144 BC)

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Servius Sulpicius Galba (* around 194 BC; † before 129 BC) came from the Roman patrician family of the Sulpicians . 151 BC He was praetor in Spain and ordered a massacre of Lusitans the following year . He was able to thwart a trial that was brought against him and supported by the elder Cato . 144 BC He officiated as consul . He was considered one of the best speakers of his time.

Confrontation with Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus

Servius Sulpicius Galba, whose filiation in the Fasti Capitolini is not preserved, was probably the son of the city praetor of the same name from 187 BC. Due to the fact that he was a little older than the consuls Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus and Gaius Laelius , his year of birth is estimated to be around 194 BC. Estimated.

As part of the Third Macedonian-Roman War , Galba took part in 168 BC. As a military tribune of the second legion in the successful campaign of the consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus against the last Macedonian king Perseus . Personally, however, he was hostile to the consul. Another Sulpician, Gaius Sulpicius Galus , also served as a war tribune of the second legion under Paullus and was severely reprimanded by him after the war for being too indulgent to the captured Perseus.

After returning to Rome , Galba tried in 167 BC. To prevent Paullus from being conceded a triumph due to a plebiscite . He gave a sharp speech in front of the soldiers, who were dissatisfied with their former commanding officer, put Paullus' past in a bad light and accused him, among other things, of insufficient participation of the soldiers in the money stolen. In particular, he incited his audience to vote against the award of a triumph in the popular assembly. For the first time in Roman history, he also successfully used the instrument of continuous speech as a means of obstruction and in this way achieved that the vote had to be postponed. In addition, the first voting tribe then followed his request to thwart Paullus' triumph. Ultimately, however, his efforts were unsuccessful because the vote was first broken off and then important statesmen such as the consul of 202 BC. BC, Marcus Servilius Pulex Geminus , as well as probably the elder Cato, took massive part in Paullus. After all, Galba has since enjoyed the reputation of a gifted speaker. His method of launching a great career as a young man by indicting an important politician later found many imitators.

Praetor and indictment of war atrocities

It is not known exactly when Galba assumed the priesthood of augur . For 151 BC In any case, he was elected praetor and was assigned Hispania ulterior as a province. There the Romans waged war against the Celtiberians . After his arrival in Spain, Galba and his soldiers came to the aid of those allies of the Romans who were attacked by the Lusitans after a rapid advance of almost 90 kilometers in just one day and one night. At first he was able to drive the enemies away. However, when he pursued the enemy with his exhausted army and proceeded carelessly, he was badly beaten in a counterattack by the Lusitans, with 7000 Romans falling. The praetor managed to escape with the cavalry to the city ​​of Carmo in Andalusia . He collected the remnants of his army, strengthened them to 20,000 men through contingents from the Allied Iberians and spent the winter in Conistorgis .

Early 150 BC Galba, now as a propaetor , invaded Lusitania and devastated the country, while at the same time the proconsul Lucius Licinius attacked Lucullus from the other side. The Lusitans made contact with Galba through envoys and let him know that they regretted the breach of the contract concluded with the former Spanish praetor Marcus Atilius and would keep it in the future. Galba appeared to be friendly to the ambassadors, concluded a truce and promised them fertile land. Your people were to be divided into three associations with women and children and, accordingly, to arrive at three places determined by him, where he would tell them which lands they could settle. The Lusitans appeared at the agreed places and surrendered their weapons on Galba's orders. But Galba had the now no longer defensible warriors killed by his soldiers and the women and children sold into slavery in Gaul . According to Appian , the already extremely wealthy propaetor was so greedy that he left little booty and profit to his friends and soldiers and put most of the booty in his own pocket, which they turned against him. Galba later apologized for his brutal and insidious slaughter of the defenseless by claiming that he had tried to prevent a secret Lusitan attack plan. One of the few who escaped the massacre was Viriathus , who from 147 BC. BC should lead a bloody resistance struggle against the Romans for years.

When Galba returned to Rome, he was born in 149 BC. For his illegal actions in Spain by the tribune Lucius Scribonius Libo and the already 85-year-old Cato violently attacked. Libo applied for the Lusitans enslaved by Galba to be ransomed and for the former praetor to be held accountable for his serious offenses before a newly established criminal court. In addition to Lucius Cornelius Cethegus, Cato in particular spoke out in favor of such a step. The influential former censor made his final public speech on this occasion. The consul of 153 BC BC, Quintus Fulvius Nobilior , was once exposed to sharp attacks from Catos and therefore took over the defense of Galba, who also defended himself in several speeches. Despite his talent in the field of rhetoric, the defendant fought against his threatened conviction with other methods. So he apparently tried to get himself out of the affair by bribing himself considerably. He also asked for pity for the people by showing off his two sons and the young son of his deceased relative Gaius Sulpicius Galus, who was entrusted to him . These children, he complained, would be left helpless if convicted. With this novel appeal for mercy, Galba succeeded; the motion to prosecute him was denied.

Cato, who could not be satisfied with the outcome of the proceedings, ended his (lost) history, which was entitled Origines , by writing down these events, including his own unsuccessful speech against Galba. The latter also published three of his defense speeches at the time, two of which were directed against the tribune Libo and one against his supporter Cethegus.

As a reaction to the failed trial against Galba, there was still 149 BC. At the request of the tribune Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi , a permanent court of repetition was established for the first time in order to enable the inhabitants of the provinces at least to prosecute criminal governors under civil law.

Consulate and later career

Galba's unworthy actions against the Lusitans probably contributed considerably to the delay of his later career, so that he was only 144 BC. To the highest office of the state, the consulate. His counterpart was Lucius Aurelius Cotta . Both consuls claimed the leadership of the war against Viriathus in Spain for themselves, which resulted in heated controversy in the Senate. Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus spoke out against transferring command of the Iberian Peninsula to one of the two consuls, referring in the case of Galba to his greed that was to blame for Viriathus' victories. Scipio's attitude was obviously decisive in that the consuls went empty-handed and instead the consul of the previous year, Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus , was extended command in the Spanish war.

Around 142 BC In BC Publius Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus ran for the aedility and could count on the support of Galba, since his younger son Gaius was engaged to Licinia , the older daughter of Crassus Dives Mucianus, whereby family ties between these two were among the richest Romans proper men passed.

After the consul of 140 BC BC, Gaius Laelius had had little success in defending tenants of the state forests in Bruttium who were accused of serious attacks . On his recommendation, Galba took over in 138 BC. The representation of the accused. Again, Galba used his oratorical dexterity very skillfully, so that his clients escaped conviction.

Galba went to a point in time that cannot be precisely dated after his consulate (according to T. Robert S. Broughton 141 BC, according to Friedrich Münzer 137 BC) as head of a Roman embassy to Crete . There he was supposed to mediate in a war waged between several cities on the island. Before 129 BC According to a comment by the speaker Cicero, he died.

Even in the Cicero era, Galba was considered one of the best speakers of his time. Cicero himself was convinced of this judgment of earlier generations, although, like most of his contemporaries, he no longer had any direct knowledge of Galba's eloquence. After studying some of Galba's extant speeches, however, Cicero was little taken with them; he found them more old-fashioned than the speeches of Laelius and Scipio. Soon afterwards, Galba's speeches were completely forgotten, so that no fragments of them have survived.



  1. Cicero , Brutus 82; on this Friedrich Münzer : Sulpicius 58). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume IV A, 1, Stuttgart 1931, Col. 760.
  2. Livy 45, 35, 8.
  3. ^ Livy 44, 37, 5 and 45, 28, 9f.
  4. Livy 45, 35, 4-45, 36, 7; Plutarch , Aemilius Paullus 30, 2 - 31, 1.
  5. Livius 45, 37-39 (speech in late annalistic elaboration; perhaps a few sentences from an authentic speech by Catos were transferred to the speech that Servilius put in his mouth).
  6. Rede Ad milites contra Galbam ( Aulus Gellius , Noctes Atticae 1, 23, 1); see. Friedrich Münzer: Sulpicius 58). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume IV A, 1, Stuttgart 1931, Col. 760 f.
  7. ^ Cicero, de re publica 3, 42.
  8. Livius, periochae 48; Appian , Iberica 58; Valerius Maximus 8, 1 abs. 2; among others
  9. Appian, Iberica 58; Livy, periochae 48; Orosius 4, 21, 3.
  10. Appian, Iberica 59f .; Livy, periochae 49; Valerius Maximus 8, 1, abs. 2 and 9, 6, 2; Orosius 4, 21, 10; among others
  11. Cicero, de oratore 1, 227 and 2, 263; Brutus 80; Livy 39:40, 12; periochae 49 and periochae from Oxyrhynchos 49; Plutarch, Cato major 15, 5; Valerius Maximus 8, 1, abs. 2; among others
  12. ^ Appian, Iberica 60.
  13. Cicero, de oratore 1, 227; Brutus 80 and 90; Livy, periochae 49; Valerius Maximus 8, 1, abs. 2; Aulus Gellius, Noctes atticae 13, 25, 15; among others
  14. Klaus Bringmann , History of the Roman Republic , Munich 2002, pp. 183f.
  15. Fasti Capitolini ; Livy, periochae from Oxyrhynchos 52; among others
  16. Valerius Maximus 6: 4, 2.
  17. Cicero, de oratore 1, 239f .; Brutus 98 and 127.
  18. Cicero, Brutus 85-89.
  19. ^ T. Robert S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic , Volume 1 (1951), p. 478.
  20. ^ Friedrich Münzer: Sulpicius 58). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume IV A, 1, Stuttgart 1931, Col. 764 f.
  21. ^ Wilhelm Dittenberger , Sylloge inscriptionum Graecarum , 3rd edition 1915-1924, 685 (= inscriptions from Magnesia am Maeander 105).
  22. Cicero, de re publica 3, 42; on this Friedrich Münzer: Sulpicius 58). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume IV A, 1, Stuttgart 1931, Col. 765.
  23. Cicero, Brutus 82; 92f .; u. ö.