Quintus Mucius Scaevola Pontifex
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Quintus Mucius Scaevola Pontifex (died 82 BC) was a politician of the Roman Republic and an important early authority on Roman law. He is credited with founding the study of law as a systematic discipline. He was elected Pontifex Maximus (chief priest of Rome), as had been his father and uncle before him. He was the first Roman Pontifex Maximus to be murdered publicly, in Rome in the very Temple of the Vestal Virgins, signifying a breakdown of historical norms and religious taboos in the Republic.
Scaevola was elected tribune in 106 BC, aedile in 104 BC and consul in 95 BC. As consul, together with his relative Lucius Licinius Crassus he had a law (the Lex Licinia Mucia) passed in the Senate that denied Roman citizenship to certain groups within the Roman sphere of influence ("Italians" and "Latins"). The passage of this law was one of the major contributing factors to the Social War.
Scaevola was next made governor of Asia, a position in which he became renowned for his harsh treatment of corrupt tax collectors, and for publishing an edict that later became a standard model for provincial administration. Cicero, for instance, modelled his governor's edict for Cilicia on Scaevola's example. Scaevola's honest administration was so successful that the people he governed instituted a festival day (the dies Mucia) in his honour. This festival was in turn so popular that even Mithridates VI of Pontus left it untouched when he invaded Asia in the First Mithridatic War.
However, by governing Asia so fairly, Scaevola and his legate Publius Rutilius Rufus attracted the enmity of the Equites, who were being denied their usual profits from extorting the locals. These equestrian businessmen later conspired to have Rutilius Rufus prosecuted and exiled for the charge of extortion in 92 BC, a trial that became a byword for injustice in later generations of Romans.
Returning to Rome, Scaevola was elected pontifex maximus. He took the opportunity to more strictly regulate the priestly colleges and to ensure that traditional rituals were properly observed.
Scaevola was the author of a treatise on civil law (Jus civile primus constituit generatim in libros decem et octo redigendo) that spanned 18 volumes, compiling and systematising legislation and precedents. He also wrote a short legal handbook (ο̉ροι, or simply Liber Singularis) containing a glossary of terms and an outline of basic principles. Four short sections of this latter work were incorporated by Justinian I into his Pandectae, but nothing of the rest of his works is extant today. Speeches by Scaevola extant in ancient times were praised by Cicero.
Scaevola was killed in the civil unrest surrounding the power struggle between Sulla and Gaius Marius the Younger in 82 BC. Refusing to side with the Marians, he was pursued by them and killed in the temple of the Vestals and his body thrown into the Tiber. A previous attempt had been made on his life in 86 BC.
Scaevola was married twice, both women were named Licinia. By his first wife, who was noted for her beauty, but whom he divorced after her adultery with another ex-consul, he had a daughter Mucia Tertia; she was married to Pompey the Great, with whom she had his three surviving children. By his granddaughter Pompeia (wife of Faustus Cornelius Sulla, eldest surviving son of the Dictator), Scaevola had illustrious descendants living well into the first and possibly second century of this era.
Gaius Cassius Longinus and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus
| Consul of the Roman Republic
with Lucius Licinius Crassus
Gaius Coelius Caldus and Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus