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Statue of Balbus in Cadiz, Spain

Lucius Cornelius Balbus (fl. 1st century BC), called Minorthe Younger – to distinguish from his uncle, was a Roman politician and general of Hispanian origin. Although from a family of naturalized foreigners (he received Roman citizenship at the same time as his uncle, around 72 BC) he did valuable services for the early Roman Empire and also contributed to public architecture of its capital.

Life[edit | edit source]

During the civil war, he served under Julius Caesar, by whom he was entrusted with several important missions. He also took part in the Alexandrian and Spanish wars. He was rewarded for his services by being admitted into the college of pontiffs. In 43 BC he was quaestor to Asinius Pollio in Further Spain (Hispania Ulterior), where he amassed a large fortune by plundering the inhabitants. Also, while there he added a suburb to his native town, Gades.[1]

In the same year he crossed over to Bogud, king of Mauretania, and is not heard of again until 21 BC, when he appears as Proconsul of Africa. Mommsen thinks that he had incurred the displeasure of Augustus by his conduct as praetor, and that his African appointment after so many years was due to his exceptional fitness for the post.[1]

In 19 BC Balbus defeated the Garamantes, and on March 27 in that year received the honor of a triumph, which was then for the first time granted to one who was not a Roman citizen by birth, and for the last time to a private individual, until the triumph of Belisarius in 534. He built a magnificent theatre at Rome, which was dedicated on the return of Augustus from Gaul in 13 BC.[2]

Balbus appears to have given some attention to literature. He wrote a play of which the subject was his visit to Lentulus in the camp of Pompey at Dyrrhachium, and, according to Macrobius,[3] was the author of a work called Ἐξηγητικά (Exegetica) dealing with the gods and their worship.[1]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Chisholm 1911, Balbus.
  2. Chisholm 1911, Balbus cites Dio Cassius liv. 25; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxvi. 12. 60.
  3. Chisholm 1911, Balbus cites Saturnalia, iii. 6.

References[edit | edit source]

  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911) "Balbus" Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press  which in turn cites:
    • Velleius Paterculus ii. 51; Cicero, ad Att. viii. 9
    • Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopädie, iv. pt. i. (1900).

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Anthon, Charles (1860). Smith, William. ed. A New Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology and Geography. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 137. 

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