Helvidius Priscus

Helvidius Priscus

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Helvidius Priscus, Stoic
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 philosopher and statesman
Statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

, lived during the reigns of Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

, Galba
Galba
Galba , was Roman Emperor for seven months from 68 to 69. Galba was the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, and made a bid for the throne during the rebellion of Julius Vindex...

, Otho
Otho
Otho , was Roman Emperor for three months, from 15 January to 16 April 69. He was the second emperor of the Year of the four emperors.- Birth and lineage :...

, Vitellius
Vitellius
Vitellius , was Roman Emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December 69. Vitellius was acclaimed Emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors...

 and Vespasian
Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

.

Like his father-in-law, Thrasea Paetus
Publius Clodius Thrasea Paetus
Publius Clodius Thrasea Paetus, Roman senator, lived in the first century CE. Notable for his principled opposition to the emperor Nero and his interest in stoicism, he was the husband of Arria the daughter of A...

, he was distinguished for his ardent and courageous republicanism
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

. Although he repeatedly offended his rulers, he held several high offices. During Nero's reign he was quaestor
Quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

 of Achaea
Achaea
Achaea is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of West Greece. It is situated in the northwestern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. The capital is Patras. The population exceeds 300,000 since 2001.-Geography:...

 and tribune of the plebs (AD 56); he restored peace and order in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, and gained the respect and confidence of the provincials. His declared sympathy with Brutus
Marcus Junius Brutus
Marcus Junius Brutus , often referred to as Brutus, was a politician of the late Roman Republic. After being adopted by his uncle he used the name Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, but eventually returned to using his original name...

 and Cassius
Gaius Cassius Longinus
Gaius Cassius Longinus was a Roman senator, a leading instigator of the plot to kill Julius Caesar, and the brother in-law of Marcus Junius Brutus.-Early life:...

 occasioned his banishment in 66.

Having been recalled to Rome
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...

 by Galba in 68, he at once impeached Eprius Marcellus
Titus Clodius Eprius Marcellus
Titus Clodius Eprius Marcellus was a prominent Roman senator, twice Consul, best known for his prosecution of the Stoic senator Thrasea Paetus and his bitter quarrel with Helvidius Priscus...

, the accuser of Thrasea Paetus, but dropped the charge, as the condemnation of Marcellus would have involved a number of senators. As praetor elect he ventured to oppose Vitellius in the senate (Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

, Hist. ii. 91), and as praetor
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...

 (70) he maintained, in opposition to Vespasian, that the management of the finances ought to be left to the discretion of the senate; he proposed that the Temple of Jupiter Best and Greatest, which had been destroyed in the Vitelline/Flavian civil war, should be restored at the public expense; he saluted Vespasian by his private name, and did not recognize him as emperor in his praetorian edicts.

At length he was banished a second time, and shortly afterwards was executed by Vespasian's order. His life, in the form of a warm panegyric
Panegyric
A panegyric is a formal public speech, or written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and discriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical. It is derived from the Greek πανηγυρικός meaning "a speech fit for a general assembly"...

, written at his widow's request by Herennius Senecio
Herennius Senecio
Herennius Senecio was among the Stoic opposition to the emperor Domitian, under whose rule he was executed. He was from Baetica in Roman Spain. He was the author of a laudatory biography of the Stoic martyr Helvidius Priscus....

, caused its author's death in the reign of Domitian
Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

.

Tacitus, Hist.
Histories (Tacitus)
Histories is a book by Tacitus, written c. 100–110, which covers the Year of Four Emperors following the downfall of Nero, the rise of Vespasian, and the rule of the Flavian Dynasty up to the death of Domitian.thumb|180px|Tacitus...

iv. 5, Dialogus, 5; Dio Cassius
Dio Cassius
Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus , known in English as Cassius Dio, Dio Cassius, or Dio was a Roman consul and a noted historian writing in Greek...

 lxvi. 12, lxvii. 13; Suetonius
Lives of the Twelve Caesars
De vita Caesarum commonly known as The Twelve Caesars, is a set of twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.The work, written in AD 121 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, was the most popular work of Suetonius,...

, Vespasian, 15; Pliny
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

, Epp. vii. 19.

Modern Appearances

  • The Helvidius Group of Columbia University, publisher of the Journal of Politics & Society, takes its name from the statesman.
  • Senator Robert Byrd
    Robert Byrd
    Robert Carlyle Byrd was a United States Senator from West Virginia. A member of the Democratic Party, Byrd served as a U.S. Representative from 1953 until 1959 and as a U.S. Senator from 1959 to 2010...

     was quoted in the New York Times on November 20, 2002 referencing Helvidius Priscus.