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Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus (consul 48 BC)

Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus was a Roman consul elected in 48 BC along with Gaius Julius Caesar. He is generally regarded as a puppet of Caesar, having a long friendship with the Dictator. He was the son of Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus, and husband of Junia Prima.

In 54 BC, Vatia was praetor. As praetor he opposed Gaius Pomptinus in his endeavour to obtain a triumph. At the start of the civil war, Vatia defected from the optimates to Caesar. Caesar made him his colleague as consul for 48 BC. Caesar soon left Rome to fight Pompey in Greece and left Vatia in command of the city.

In March 48, praetor Marcus Caelius Rufus began talking of abolishing all debt in the city, as even the upper classes had begun to feel the pressure of shortage of money; even Cicero's wife Terentia was forced to sell most of her jewelry. Caelius, however, had no jurisdiction on the standing of debts, his only magistracy being in the administration of foreigners in Rome; instead, debts fell under Gaius Trebonius' jurisdiction.

After Caelius set up a tribunal within earshot of Trebonius in the Forum for the second time, Vatia Isauricus himself went to the Forum to confront the rogue magistrate, followed by a retinue of fasces-wielding guards. After a heated argument on the tribunal, Vatia Isauricus famously pulled an axe out of one of the fasces and destroyed Caelius's wooden magistrate's chair. Caelius and Vatia Isauricus nearly came to blows, and the mob became so confrontational with the Consul that the guards actually needed to unsheathe their axes to ward them off.

Caelius made fun of Vatia Isauricus by holding up his repaired magistrate's chair, which was held together with leather straps. Famously, Vatia Isauricus was beaten by his father with a strap of leather, which was shameful for the family name, though Vatia Isauricus himself claimed it had toughened him up. Caelius repeatedly escaped Vatia Isauricus, and was not arrested but went to join Titus Annius Milo in an insurrection against Caesar, and were both captured and executed.

After Caesar's murder, Vatia took the side of the Senate against Mark Antony. When Octavian, to whom Vatia's daughter Servilia was engaged to be married, deserted the cause of the Senate and made peace with Mark Anthony, Vatia deserted the cause of the Senate as well. On the formation of the Triumvirate, Octavian broke his engagement with Servilia in order to marry Clodia, the daughter of Fulvia, the wife of Antony. As compensation for this injury, Vatia was made consul in 41 BC with Lucius Antonius as his colleague. Servilia seems to have married Lepidus the Younger, the son of the triumvir.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Weigel, Richard D, Lepidus:The Tarnished Triumvir, Routledge, New York, 1992, p.96/

See alsoEdit