The lex Manilia (Law of Manilius) was a Roman law passed in 66 BC. The proposal of the law was supported by Cicero in his De Imperio Cn. Pompei speech, as an attempt to gain the notice of the influential Pompey.
Instituted by the tribune Gaius Manilius one year after the passage of the lex Gabinia, it gave Pompey supreme command in the war against Mithridates's kingdom of Pontus. Pompey would emerge victorious from the campaign in 62 BC.
The law was passed at a key point in Pompey's career, after his enormous success against the pirates in the Mediterranean. The law transferred command from Lucius Licinius Lucullus to Pompey,[dubious ] which angered the aristocracy, who, as with the lex Gabinia, felt threatened by Pompey's increasing power. Many members of the aristocracy were also angered over the humiliation of Lucullus, and viewed Pompey with envy and suspicion.
Like the lex Gabinia, the lex Manilia awarded more military power to Pompey. Because these laws gave supreme military power to one man, they did not meet with the approval of the traditional aristocracy. However, despite Pompey’s growing unpopularity with the wealthy aristocracy, his popularity with the common people was at its peak. This enabled the passing of the two laws by the Popular Assembly, an unorthodox, but not a completely unfamiliar way of bypassing the senate to enact legislation.
- David Shotter: The Fall of the Roman Republic, 2nd ed.
- Plutarch: Fall of the Roman Republic
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