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Pompey, Cato, and the Governance of the Roman Empire$
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Kit Morrell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755142

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198755142.001.0001

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The equites and the extortion law

The equites and the extortion law

(p.153) 5 The equites and the extortion law
Pompey, Cato, and the Governance of the Roman Empire

Kit Morrell

Oxford University Press

One obvious shortcoming of the lex Julia (the subject of chapter 4) was that it applied only to senators and not to the equestrian members of a governor’s cohort, who might be equally guilty of extortion in the provinces. This chapter explores Pompey’s unsuccessful attempt in 55 to rectify that deficiency by extending the law to equestrian officials. The attempt was unpopular, but had the vigorous support of a few senators who should be identified as Cato and friends. In fact, Cato seems to have revived the attempt by back-door means when, as praetor in 54, he facilitated the trial of the equestrian financier Gaius Rabirius Postumus on grounds that had more to do with extortion proper—and larger concerns about Roman dealings with Egypt—than with the recovery provision under which Rabirius was charged. The chapter includes a detailed discussion dating the trials of Gabinius and Rabirius to 54.

Keywords:   Lex Julia de pecuniis repetundis, Extortion, Equites, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey), Marcus Porcius Cato ‘Uticensis’, Gaius Rabirius Postumus, Aulus Gabinius, Egypt, Trials

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