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Valerius Messalla Corvinus, Marcus

(64—8 bc)


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(64 bc–ad 8),

Roman public figure. He first distinguished himself in the Philippi campaign (43–42), following his hero Cassius. Declining command of the republican army after this defeat, he transferred his allegiance first to Antony (Marcus Antonius ), then to Octavian (see augustus). He fought against Sextus Pompeius (36), wrote pamphlets against Antony, and as consul with Octavian (31) fought in the battle of Actium. After a command in Syria he governed Gaul, where he conquered the Aquitani, celebrating a triumph in 27. In 26 or 25 he was made city prefect but resigned after a few days, claiming that he was uncertain how to operate or, more bluntly, that the power was unsuitable for a citizen amongst citizens. Thereafter he enjoyed less prominence, but there was no public breach with Augustus. Already an augur and by 20 bc an arval brother (a priestly college, of which the reigning emperor was always a member; in a festival the brethren sang a famous ‘song’), he became the first permanent commissioner for the water supply in 11, and it was he who proposed the title of Pater Patriae (see cura(tio), curator) for Augustus (2 bc). He reconstructed part of the via Latina; he gained fame as an orator; he wrote his memoirs, and was patron of an impressive literary circle—Tibullus, the young Ovid, and his own niece Sulpicia.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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