Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 431 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PUBLIUS CORNELIUS LENTULUS, called SPINTHER from his likeness to an actor of that name, one of the chief adherents of the Pompeian party. In 63 n.c. he was curule aedile, assisted Cicero in the suppression of the Catilinarian conspiracy, and distinguished himself by the splendour of the games he provided. Praetor in 6o, he obtained the governorship of Hispania Citerior (59) through the support of Caesar, to whom he was also indebted for his election to the consulship (57). Lentulus played a prominent part in the recall of Cicero from exile, and although a temporary coolness seems to have arisen between them, Cicero speaks of him in most grateful terms. From 56—53 Lentulus was governor of the province of Cilicia (with Cyprus) and during that time was commissioned by the senate to restore Ptolemy XI. Auletes to his kingdom (see PTOLEMIES). The Sibylline books, however, declared that the king must not be restored by force of arms, at the risk of peril to Rome. As a provincial governor, Lentulus appears to have looked after the interests of his subjects, and did not enrich himself at their expense. In spite of his indebtedness to Caesar, Lentulus joined the Pompeians on the outbreak of civil war (49). The generosity with which he was treated by Caesar after the capitulation of Corfinium made him hesitate, but he finally decided in favour of Pompey. After the battle of Pharsalus, Lentulus escaped to Rhodes, where he was at first refused admission, although he subsequently found an asylum there (Cicero, Ad Alt. xi. 13. 1). According to Aurelius Victor (De vir. ill. lxxviii., 9, if the reading be correct), he subsequently fell into Caesar's hands and was put to death. Gee Caesar, Bell. Cie. i. 15-23, iii. 102; Plutarch, Pomp. 49; Valerius Maximus ix. 14, 4; many letters of Cicero, especially Ad Fu,n. i. i-9.

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