Lucius Scribonius Libo (consul 34 BC)
For others of this name see, Lucius Scribonius Libo.
Early Career and the Civil War
Libo's father of the same name was the praetor in 80 BC, and his mother was Cornelia Sulla, the daughter of Pompeia Magna (the daughter of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus) and her first husband Faustus Cornelius Sulla (the only son of the dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla).
A member of the plebeian Scribonia family, Libo was closely connected to the family of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, through Libo’s grandmother Pompeia Magna. Ties were strengthened in 55 BC after Pompey’s son, Sextus Pompey married Libo’s daughter, Scribonia. It is assumed he reached the office of praetor by 50 BC. In 49 BC, he became one of Pompey’s legates, and with the outbreak of the civil war, Pompey left him in command of Etruria. After he was driven from Etruria by Mark Antony, he took over the command of the new recruits in Campania from Ampius Balbus. He then accompanied Pompey during his withdrawal to Brundisium, and here he acted as Pompey’s intermediary with Gaius Caninius Rebilus, a close personal friend, who had been given the task by Julius Caesar to negotiate with Pompey. Rebilius advised Libo that if he could convince Pompey to reach an agreement with Caesar, Caesar would give credit to Libo in halting the civil war before it even began. Although Libo reported Caesar’s proposals, Pompey told Libo he could not agree to anything without the consuls being present.
Following Pompey across to Macedonia, Libo was placed in charge of part of Pompey’s fleet alongside Marcus Octavius with instructions to prevent Caesar’s forces crossing if possible. Off the Dalmatian coast they defeated a fleet under the command of Publius Cornelius Dolabella, and they followed this up by defeating Gaius Antonius who had tried to help Dolabella, and who was forced to flee to Corcyra Nigra. Short of supplies, he soon surrendered to Libo who took him and his troops to Pompey. By the time Caesar landed in Epirus and had taken Oricum, Pompey had sent Libo to join Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, who was in charge of Pompey’s fleet and was blockading Caesar at Oricum, but who was ill and unable to get fresh supplies. In order to break the stalemate, Bibulus and Libo sailed towards Oricum and requested a truce in order to negotiate with Caesar. Caesar agreed and Libo attempted to deceive Caesar into thinking that they were acting on Pompey’s instructions. When Caesar was unable to make Libo agree to give safe conduct to Caesar’s envoys, Caesar concluded that the negotiations were a sham designed to allow Bibulus to resupply his ships, and so Caesar refused to extend the truce and broke off negotiations.
With Bibulus’s death in early 48 BC, Libo was given command of the Pompeian fleet, comprising some fifty galleys. He continued blockading Oricum, but came to the conclusion that if could close off Brundisium from the sea, Caesar could receive no additional reinforcements, and he could redeploy the fleet elsewhere. Moving off to Brundisium, he caught the local commander, Mark Antony, unprepared. Libo burnt a number of storage ships, captured one full of grain, and landed troops on the island that commanded the entrance to the harbour, expelling a squad of Antony’s troops in the process. Confident of success, he sent a letter to Pompey, advising him that he had secured the harbour and that the rest of the fleet should be repaired and rested. Antony, in the meantime, managed to trick Libo into pursuing some decoy ships, causing Libo’s squadron to be trapped and attacked. Most of Libo’s fleet managed to escape, but the troops he landed on the island were trapped and captured.
Later Career and Consulship
With the defeat and death of Pompey in 48 BC, Libo attached himself to Sextus Pompey, who was his son-in-law after marrying Libo’s daughter Scribonia. In 40 BC, Sextus sent him as an unofficial envoy to Mark Antony in Greece, seeking an alliance against Octavianus, who had just defeated Antony’s partisans in the Perusine War, and was instrumental in forming an alliance between the two. Octavianus attempted to drive a wedge between Sextus Pompey and Mark Antony by marrying Libo’s sister, Scribonia. In the subsequent Pact of Misenum, Libo acted as an important negotiator; in return for his support, Sextus managed to extract from Octavianus the promise of a future consulate for Libo.
After Octavianus renewed the war against Sextus Pompey in 36 BC, Libo initially supported him. Yet by 35 BC Libo felt his son-in-law’s cause was lost; he abandoned Sextus and joined up with Mark Antony. As a reward, Antony ensured that Libo was elected consul in 34 BC alongside himself. He left office on 1 July 34 BC, and was replaced by Gaius Memmius. By 31 BC, he had been appointed as one of the Septemviri Epulones, and in 29 BC, he was elevated to patrician status.
Libo was the maternal uncle to consul Publius Cornelius Scipio, Cornelia Scipio and Julia the Elder. His wife was a member of the gens Sulpicius, the family that the Roman Emperor Galba would claim descent from his paternal side.
- T. Robert S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, Vol II (1952).
- Holmes, T. Rice, The Roman Republic and the Founder of the Empire, Vol. III (1923)
- Syme, Ronald, The Roman Revolution, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1939.
- Anthon, Charles & Smith, William, A New Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology and Geography (1860).
- Syme, pg. 228
- Broughton, pg. 247
- Anthon & Smith, pg. 439
- Broughton, pg. 268
- Holmes, pg. 31; Broughton, pg. 266
- Holmes, pg. 31
- Broughton, pg. 267; Holmes, pg. 110
- Holmes, pg. 110; Broughton, pg. 268
- Broughton, pg. 281; Holmes, pg. 124
- Holmes, pgs. 124-125
- Holmes, pg. 125
- Broughton, pg. 281; Holmes, pg. 127
- Holmes, pgs 127-128
- Holmes, pg. 128; Broughton, pg. 281
- Syme, pg. 45
- Syme, pgs. 215-216; Broughton, pg. 383
- Syme, pg. 213
- Syme, pg. 221
- Syme, pg. 232; Anthon & Smith, pg. 439
- Syme, pgs. 232 & 269; Broughton, pg. 409
- Broughton, pg. 409
- Broughton, pg. 427
Publius Cornelius Dollabella and Titus Peducaeus
|Consul of the Roman Republic
with Marcus Antonius
Lucius Sempronius Atratinus and Gaius Memmius