1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Scaurus, Marcus Aemilius

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SCAURUS, MARCUS AEMILIUS (c. 163–88 B.C.), Roman statesman, was a member of a great patrician family which had sunk into obscurity. His father had been a coal-dealer, and he himself had thought of becoming a money-changer, but finally decided in favour of a political career. Having served in the army in Spain and Sardinia, he became curule aedile, praetor and (after an unsuccessful attempt in 117) consul in 115. During his consulship he celebrated a triumph for his victory over certain Alpine tribes. In 112 he was one of the commissioners sent to Africa to arrange the dispute between Jugurtha and Adherbal. When a special committee was appointed to examine the charges of venality in their dealings with Jugurtha brought against the Roman representatives, Scaurus, who was equally guilty with the rest, was especially active in promoting the establishment of the committee, and even managed to get himself put at the head of it. He thus saved himself, but his intercession on behalf of the other offenders was of no avail. In 109 Scaurus was censor, and constructed the Via Aemilia and restored the Mulvian bridge.[1] In 104 he superseded Saturninus (q.v.) in the management of the corn supply at Ostia.

During all his life Scaurus was a firm adherent of the moderate aristocratical party, which frequently involved him in quarrels with the representatives of the people and the extremists on his own side. Though not a great orator, his speeches were weighty and impressive. His wife was Caecilia Metella, who after his death married the dictator Sulla. His daughter Aemilia was the wife of Manius Acilius Glabrio, and subsequently of Pompey, the triumvir.

See Sallust, Jugurtha; Orelli's Onomasticon Tullianum; Asconius, In Scaurum; Aurelius Victor, De viris illustribus, 72; A. H. J. Greenidge, Hist. of Rome, i. 296; and M. G. Bloch, Mélanges d'histoire ancienne, i. (1909).

Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, his son, served during the third Mithradatic War (74–61 B.C.) as quaestor to Pompey, by whom he was sent to Judaea to settle the quarrel between Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. Scaurus decided in favour of the latter, who was able to offer more money. On his arrival in Syria, Pompey reversed the decision, but, ignoring the charge of bribery brought against Scaurus, left him in command of the district. An incidental campaign against Aretas, king of the Nabataeans, was ended by the payment of 300 talents by Aretas to secure his possessions. This agreement is represented on coins of Scaurus—Aretas kneeling by the side of a camel, and holding out an olive branch in an attitude of supplication. As curule aedile in 58, Scaurus celebrated the public games on a scale of magnificence never seen before. Animals, hitherto unknown to the Romans, were exhibited in the circus, and an artificial lake (euripus) was made for the reception of crocodiles and hippopotamuses. One of the greatest curiosities was a huge skeleton brought from Joppa, said to be that of the monster to which Andromeda had been exposed. A wooden theatre was erected for the occasion, capable of holding 80,000 spectators. In 56 Scaurus was praetor, and in the following year governor of Sardinia. On his return to Rome (54) he was accused of extortion in his province. Cicero and five others (amongst them the famous Q. Hortensius) undertook his defence, and, although there was no doubt of his guilt, he was acquitted. During the same year, however (according to some, two years later, under Pompey's new law), Scaurus was condemned on a charge of illegal practices when a candidate for the consulship. He went into exile, and nothing further is heard of him.

See Josephus, Antiq. xiv. 3-5, Bell. Jud. i. 7; Appian, Syr. 51, Bell. civ. ii. 24; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxvi. 24; Cicero, Pro Sestio, 54, fragments of Pro Scauro, numerous references in the Letters; Asconius, Argumentum in Scaurum. See also, for both the above, Aemelius (Nos. 140, 141) in Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyclopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, i. pt. 1. (1894), and Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, s.v. Scaurus.


  1. The view that he was consul again in 108 is disproved by Bloch (see bibliog.).