Aulus Gabinius

Aulus Gabinius

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Aulus Gabinius, Roman
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 statesman and general, and supporter of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, was a prominent figure in the later days of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...


In 67 BC, when tribune
Tribune was a title shared by elected officials in the Roman Republic. Tribunes had the power to convene the Plebeian Council and to act as its president, which also gave them the right to propose legislation before it. They were sacrosanct, in the sense that any assault on their person was...

 of the plebs
The plebs was the general body of free land-owning Roman citizens in Ancient Rome. They were distinct from the higher order of the patricians. A member of the plebs was known as a plebeian...

, he brought forward the law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 (Lex Gabinia
Lex Gabinia
In the law of ancient Rome, the Lex Gabinia of 67 BC granted Pompeius Magnus extraordinary proconsular powers in any province within 50 miles of the Mediterranean Sea...

) which gave Pompey the command in the war against the Mediterranean pirates, with extensive powers that gave him absolute control over the sea and the coasts for 50 miles inland. By two other measures of Gabinius, loans of money to foreign ambassadors in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 were made non-actionable (as a check on the corruption of the Senate) and the Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 was ordered to give audience to foreign envoys on certain fixed days (February 1 - March 1).

In 61, Gabinius, then praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

, tried to win public favour by providing games on a scale of unusual splendour, and in 58 managed to secure the consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

ship, although not without suspicion of bribery
Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift giving that alters the behavior of the recipient. Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or...

. During his term of office he aided Publius Clodius in bringing about the exile of Marcus Tullius Cicero. In 57 Gabinius went as proconsul to Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. On his arrival he reinstated Hyrcanus in the high-priesthood at Jerusalem, suppressed revolts, introduced important changes in the government of Judaea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

, and rebuilt several towns.

In 55 BC, Gabinius was sent by Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 to Egypt
Aegyptus (Roman province)
The Roman province of Egypt was established in 30 BC after Octavian defeated his rival Mark Antony, deposed his lover Queen Cleopatra VII and annexed the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt to the Roman Empire. The province encompassed most of modern-day Egypt except for the Sinai Peninsula...

, without the consent of the Senate, to restore Ptolemy XII to his kingdom. He succeeded in fulfilling his task after a short successful campaign, in which he was supported by the young Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

. He left a part of his troops, the so-called Gabiniani
The Gabiniani were Roman troops left in Egypt by Aulus Gabinius after his military restoration of Ptolemy XII on the Egyptian throne in 55 BC. The soldiers were to protect the king, but they soon adopted the manners of their new country and became completely alienated from the Roman Empire...

, in Egypt to protect Ptolemy XII. These Gabiniani fought against rebellious subjects of the king and later, after his death, against Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....


During Gabinius' absence in Egypt, Syria
History of Syria
The history of Syria:*Prehistory and Ancient Near East: see Pre-history of the Southern Levant, Fertile Crescent, Ebla, Mitanni*Antiquity: see Syro-Hittite states, Greater Syria, Roman Syria...

 had been devastated by robbers, and Alexander, son of Aristobulus
Aristobulus II
Aristobulus II was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea, 66 BC to 63 BC, from the Hasmonean Dynasty.-Family:Aristobulus was the younger son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome. After the death of Alexander in 76 BC, his widow succeeded to the rule of Judea and...

, had again taken up arms with the object of depriving Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II
Hyrcanus II, a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, was the Jewish High Priest and King of Judea in the 1st century BC.-Accession:Hyrcanus was the eldest son of Alexander Jannaeus, King and High Priest, and Alexandra Salome...

 of the high-priesthood. With some difficulty Gabinius restored order, and in 54 BC handed over the province to his successor, Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus was a Roman general and politician who commanded the right wing of Sulla's army at the Battle of the Colline Gate, suppressed the slave revolt led by Spartacus, provided political and financial support to Julius Caesar and entered into the political alliance known as the...

. The knights
Equestrian (Roman)
The Roman equestrian order constituted the lower of the two aristocratic classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the patricians , a hereditary caste that monopolised political power during the regal era and during the early Republic . A member of the equestrian order was known as an eques...

, who as farmers of the taxes
Tax farming
Farming is a technique of financial management, namely the process of commuting , by its assignment by legal contract to a third party, a future uncertain revenue stream into fixed and certain periodic rents, in consideration for which commutation a discount in value received is suffered...

 had suffered heavy losses during the disturbances in Syria, were greatly embittered against Gabinius, and, when he appeared in the Senate to give an account of his governorship, he was brought to trial on three counts, all involving a capital offence.

On the charge of maiestas (high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

) incurred by having left his province for Egypt without the consent of the senate and in defiance of the Sibylline books
Sibylline Books
The Sibylline Books or Libri Sibyllini were a collection of oracular utterances, set out in Greek hexameters, purchased from a sibyl by the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, and consulted at momentous crises through the history of the Republic and the Empire...

, he was acquitted; it is said that the judges were bribed, and even Cicero, an enemy of Gabinius, was persuaded by Pompey to say as little as he could. On the second charge, that of repetundae (extortion during the administration of his province), with special reference to the 10,000 talents
Talent (weight)
The "talent" was one of several ancient units of mass, as well as corresponding units of value equivalent to these masses of a precious metal. It was approximately the mass of water required to fill an amphora. A Greek, or Attic talent, was , a Roman talent was , an Egyptian talent was , and a...

 paid by Ptolemy XII for his restoration, he was found guilty, in spite of evidence offered on his behalf by Pompey and witnesses from Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 and the eloquence of Cicero, who had been induced to plead his cause. Nothing but Cicero's wish to do a favour to Pompey could have induced him to take on the task; it is hinted that the half-heartedness of the defence contributed to Gabinius's condemnation. The third charge, that of ambitus (illegalities committed during his canvass for the consulship), was consequently dropped; Gabinius went into exile, and his property was confiscated.

After the outbreak of the civil war
Caesar's civil war
The Great Roman Civil War , also known as Caesar's Civil War, was one of the last politico-military conflicts in the Roman Republic before the establishment of the Roman Empire...

, he was recalled by Gaius Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 in 49 BC, and entered his service, but took no active part against his old patron Pompey. After the Battle of Pharsalus
Battle of Pharsalus
The Battle of Pharsalus was a decisive battle of Caesar's Civil War. On 9 August 48 BC at Pharsalus in central Greece, Gaius Julius Caesar and his allies formed up opposite the army of the republic under the command of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus...

, he was commissioned to transport some recently levied troops to Illyricum
Illyricum (Roman province)
The Roman province of Illyricum or Illyris Romana or Illyris Barbara or Illyria Barbara replaced most of the region of Illyria. It stretched from the Drilon river in modern north Albania to Istria in the west and to the Sava river in the north. Salona functioned as its capital...

. On his way thither by land, he was attacked by the Dalmatians
The Dalmatae or Delmatae were an ancient people who inhabited the core of what would then become known as Dalmatia after the Roman conquest - now the eastern Adriatic coast in Croatia, between the rivers Krka and Neretva...

 and with difficulty made his way to Salona
Salona was an ancient Illyrian Delmati city in the first millennium BC. The Greeks had set up an emporion there. After the conquest by the Romans, Salona became the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia...

 (Dalmatia). Here he bravely defended himself against the attacks of the Pompeian commander, Marcus Octavius, but in a few months died of illness (48 or the beginning of 47).

Gabinius in popular culture

Aulus Gabinius appears as a character in John Maddox Roberts
John Maddox Roberts
John Maddox Roberts is an author who has written many science fiction and fantasy novels, including his successful historical fiction, such as the SPQR series and Hannibal's Children....

' novel The Princess and the Pirates
SPQR series
The SPQR series is a collection of detective stories by John Maddox Roberts set in the time of the Roman Republic. SPQR is a Latin initialism for Senatus Populusque Romanus , the official name of the Republic.The stories are told in first-person form by Senator Decius...

(ISBN 0-312-33723-X), set in Cyprus in 50 BC during Gabinius' exile.