Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (consul 78 BC)
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (March 2013)|
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (120 BC – 77 BC) was a Roman statesman. After the death of Sulla, he attempted to undermine the Sullan constitution and revive the populares faction. His forces were defeated in a battle on the Campus Martius.
Reaction against Sulla
Lepidus gained wealth and power by politically allying himself with Lucius Cornelius Sulla, but once the dictator had resigned in 79 BC, Lepidus attempted to undermine the Sullan constitution. He was elected consul for the year 78 BC with the support of Pompey, and tried to stop Sulla from being buried in the Campus Martius. However, Pompey turned against his candidate and used his influence to ensure that the full funeral and burial went ahead.
Lepidus passed several resolutions during his term that firmly placed him in the camp of the populares. He offered to restore land that had been taken by Sulla to the Italians. This put him at odds with his fellow consul, Quintus Lutatius Catulus. The two factions came so close to war that the senate made them swear not to fight, and sent Lepidus to administer the province of Transalpine Gaul. The terms of their oath did not prevent Lepidus from returning the next year with an army, so he agreed to it. Before he left, he offered those Sulla had sent into exile a chance to return, a move which alarmed the Senate. They correctly judged that he was attempting to gather his allies around him to start a civil war.
Lepidus was recalled from his province, but brought his army with him back to Rome, where he was defeated by Catulus in a pitched battle on the Campus Martius. Forced into exile in Sardinia, he died soon afterwards.
His fellow rebel, Marcus Junius Brutus the Elder, the father of Caesar's famous murderer of the same name, remained at Mutina, in Gaul. Pompey marched to destroy him, but Brutus surrendered before a battle had to be fought. Brutus was soon killed by one of Pompey's men, named Geminius.
- Tabularium, built by Lepidus and Catulus in 78 BC
Appius Claudius Pulcher and Publius Servilius Vatia
|Consul of the Roman Republic
with Quintus Lutatius Catulus
Mamercus Aemilius Lepidus Livianus and Decimus Junius Brutus