Overview

Dolabella


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

Allegedly born 69 bc (App. BCiv. 2. 129. 539), but certainly earlier. After a dissolute youth (Cicero twice defended him), he divorced his wife in 50 and, against Cicero's wishes, married Cicero's daughter Tullia, embarrassing Cicero by (unsuccessfully) prosecuting Appius Claudius Pulcher. (Divorce followed in 46 and he never repaid the dowry.) After working for Julius Caesar before 49, he was defeated commanding a fleet for him (49), then fought without distinction in Greece. Alleging illness, he returned, had himself adopted by a plebeian Lentulus (see D. R. Shackleton Bailey, Two Studies in Roman Nomenclature (1976) 29 ff.), and, as tribune 47, in Caesar's absence, provoked street fighting (which Mark Antony failed to suppress) by proposing cancellation of debts—largely to escape his own creditors. Forgiven by Caesar, he accompanied him to Africa (but is not mentioned at Thapsus), then fought for him in Spain, was wounded, and utterly charmed him. He was rewarded with confiscated estates and picked to become consul when Caesar left for the east; but Antony blocked the election. On Caesar's death he seized the consulship and, securing recognition, courted the tyrannicides' supporters while negotiating with Antony. He thus obtained Syria for five years (and Cicero considered accepting a position on his staff (legatio): Att. 15. 11. 4). Crossing to Asia, he brutally assassinated the proconsul Gaius Trebonius and plundered the province. The senate now united to outlaw him (cf. Cic. Phil. 11). In May 43 he crossed into Syria, was soon besieged by Cassius in (Syrian) Laodicea, and when, despite support from Cleopatra, he could not hold it, committed suicide. He was the grandfather of the Publius Cornelius Dolabella who was prominent in the reign of Tiberius.

Ernst Badian

Subjects: Classical Studies.


Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.