Marcus Scribonius Libo

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Marcus Scribonius Libo Drusus (died September 13, AD 16) was a younger son of the consul Lucius Scribonius Libo by his wife who was a member of the gens Sulpicius, the family that the Roman Emperor Galba, had descended from his paternal side. Marcus was a fatuous young man, who had tastes for absurdities. He was the great Grandson of Pompey and cousin of the Caesars.

Along with his brother Lucius Scribonius Libo, he was accused of conspiring against the Roman Emperor Tiberius. This included asking a fortune-teller if he would be rich enough to pave the Via Appia, what is now the Appian way, as far as Brundisium or Brindisi with money. Tacitus described the accusations against Libo as 'preposterous' and 'pointless'.

The two men were tried in a senatorial court by the Emperor Tiberius. At the trial, Marcus was ill and pleaded for mercy. A maternal relative, Publius Sulpicius Quirinus, defended them and appealed to the Emperor. Tiberius told him to apply to the senate.

Tiberius wanted to investigate Libo's slaves but there was a senatorial decree preventing confessions from tortured slaves from being used in trials against their own masters. To get around this Tiberius had Libo's slaves sold to the treasury agent, then the accusations made against Libo were considered confirmed by Libo's ex slaves.

His aunt, Scribonia (second wife of Roman Emperor Augustus), tried to convince Marcus to face trial rather than commit suicide. However, Marcus stabbed himself twice in the stomach to death on September 13, AD 16. The Roman Senate agreed to divide his property among his accusers, which was the common practice of the time. Furthermore, his statue and funeral masks were removed from descendants' funeral-parades and members of the gens ‘Scribonius’ were forbidden to bear the name ‘Drusus’. His supporters were executed, and the day of his death was declared a public holiday.

Sources[edit]

  • Tacitus - The Annals of Imperial Rome - Chapter 4 - The First Treason Trials
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca - Letters to Lucilius, Letter 70, chapter 10
  • Suetonius - The Twelve Caesars - Tiberius, Paragraph 25 Accession