Of praetorian family and a good popular orator, as quaestor at Ostia was superseded in his cura annonae by Aemilius Scaurus and turned against the ruling oligarchy. As tribune 103 he sought the favour of Marius by passing a law assigning land to his African veterans. Probably in that year, he passed a corn law against violent opposition by optimate tribunes and a law setting up a permanent tribunal of inquiry (quaestio) on maiestas, directed (if in 103) against unpopular nobiles. He and Servilius Glaucia continued turbulent action in 102 and 101. Caecilius Metellus Numidicus tried, as censor, to expel them from the senate, but was prevented by his colleague. Tribune again in 100, he again co‐operated with Marius by proposing to settle the veterans of his German war in Transalpine Gaul and to give Marius a limited (and probably traditional) right to enfranchise non‐Roman colonists. An oath of obedience, to be taken by all magistrates and senators, was attached to the law. Marius found an evasive formula allowing senators to swear it without disgrace, but Metellus refused and went into exile. Marius and Saturninus were later suspected of conspiring to bring this about. With the help of Glaucia, now praetor and supported by the equestrians because of his extortion law, Saturninus also proposed colonies and land assignments for Roman and Italian veterans of other armies that had fought in Thrace and Sicily and of proletarii. Re‐elected tribune for 99, he hoped to have Glaucia as consul, but Marius, now suspicious of their ambitions, rejected Glaucia's candidacy as illegal. After having a hostile candidate murdered in the electoral assembly, Saturninus, by massive use of force in the concilium plebis, tried to pass a law allowing Glaucia's candidacy. In the resulting riot, the senate, on the motion of the princeps senatus Aemilius Scaurus, passed the senatus consultum ultimum—its first use against a tribune in office—and Marius organized an attack on the agitators. On receiving an official promise of safety, they surrendered to him and were imprisoned in the senate‐house, but were murdered by a mob without receiving any protection from Marius (probably autumn 100). This embittered their surviving adherents against Marius. Saturninus' colonies were not founded, but his land assignments seem to have been recognized.
Subjects: Classical Studies.