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On this page: Opfmia Gens – Opimia – Oppmius

OPIMIUS.

nine parts, and named Musae, is referred to by A. Gellius (i. 25), who quotes from it an expla­ nation of the word Induciae, accompanied by a most foolish derivation. To another piece termed Pinnae an acrostic was prefixed on his own name which he there gave as Opillius. (Sueton. de Iliustr. Gramm. 6 ; Lersch, SprachpUlosopJiie der Alien, iii. p. 150.) ^ [W. R.J

OPIMIA, a vestal virgin in the time of the second Punic War, was unfaithful to her vow of chastity, and was in consequence buried alive at the Colline gate. (Liv. xxii. 57.)

OPFMIA GENS, plebeian, is first mentioned in the time of the Samnite wars. The first member of the gens who obtained the consulship, was Q. Opimius, in b. c. 154. The only cog­nomen of the Opimii is Pansa, but the more dis­tinguished persons of this name are mentioned without any surname. On coins the name is always written Opeimius, as in the annexed spe­cimen, which, represents on the 'obverse the head of Pallas, and on the reverse Apollo in a chariot bending his bow, with M. opeim. roma. None of the coins of this gens can be referred with cer­tainty to any particular person.

COIN OF THE OPIMIA GENS.

OPPMIUS. 1. C. opimius pansa, quaestor b. c. 294, was killed in the quaestorium or quaes­tor's tent, in an attack made by the Samnites upon the Roman camp. (Liv. x. 32.)

2. Q. opimius Q. f. Q. n., was consul b. c. 154, with L. Postumius Albinus. Opimius in his consulship carried on war with the Oxybii and Deciatae, Ligurian tribes on the northern side of the Alps, who had attacked the territory of the people of Massilia, the allies of the Roman people, and had laid waste the towns of Antipolis and Nicaea, which belonged to Massilia. Opimius subdued these people without any difficulty, and obtained in consequence the honour of a triumph. (Polyb. xxxiii. 5, 7, 8 ; Liv. Epit. 47 ; Fasti Capit. ; Obsequ. 76.) This Opimius seems to have been a man of as little principle as his son, and was notorious in his youth for his riotous living. Lucilius described him as " formosus homo et famosus" (Nonius, iv. s. v. Fama, p. 658, ed. Gothofred.), and Cicero speaks of him as " qui adolesceritums male audisset." (De Orat. ii. 68, fin.) In the same passage Cicero relates a joke of Opimius.

3. L. opimius Q. f. Q. n., son of the preceding, was praetor b.c. 125, in which year he marched against Fregellae, which had risen in revolt, in order to obtain the Roman franchise. The town was betrayed to Opimius by one of its citizens, Q. Nu-mitorius Pullus, and severe vengeance was taken upon the inhabitants. (Liv. Epit. 60 ; Cic. De Invent, ii. 34 ; Ascon. in Pison. p. 17, ed. Orelli ; Veil. Pat. ii. 6 ; Plut. C. Gracch. 3.) Opimius be­longed to the high aristocratical party, and pos­sessed great influence in the senate. He was one of the most violent and, at the same time, one of

VOL. III.

OPIMIUS. 33

the most formidable opponents of C. Gracchus ; and accordingly when he first became a candidate for the consulship, C. Gracchus used all his influence with the people to induce them to prefer C. Fan-nius Strabo in his stead. (Plut. C. Gracch. 11.) Gracchus succeeded in his object, and Fannius was consul in b. c. 122; but he was unable to prevent the election of Opimius for the following year, and had only rendered the latter a still bitterer enemy by the affront he had put upon him. Opimius's col­league was Q. Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus. The history of the consulship of Opimius, b. c. 121, is given at length in the life of C. Gracchus. It is only necessary to state here in general, that Opi­mius entered, with all the zeal of an unscrupulous partisan and the animosity of a personal enemy, into the measures which the senate adopted to crush Gracchus, and forced on matters to an open rupture. As soon as he was armed by the senate with the well-known decree, " That the consuls should take care that the republic suffered no in­jury," he resolved to make away with Gracchus, and succeeded, as is related in the life of the latter. Opimius and his party abused their victory most savagely, and are said to have killed more than three thousand persons. [For details see Vol. II. pp. 197, 198, and the authorities there quoted.]

In the following year, b.c. 120, Opimius was accused by Q. Decius, tribune of the plebs, of hav­ing put Roman citizens to death without a trial. He was defended by the consul, C. Papirius Carbo, who had formerly belonged to the party of Grac­chus, but had gone over to that of the aristocracy. Although the judices now belonged to the eques­trian order by one of the la.ws of Gracchus, they were too much terrified by the events of the pre­ceding year to condemn the person who had been the prime mover in them, and accordingly acquitted the accused. (Liv. Epit. 61 ; Cic. de Orat. ii. 25.) Opimius thus escaped for the present, but his ve­nality and corruption brought him before the judices again a few years afterwards, when he met with a different fate. He had been at the head of the commission which was sent into Africa in u. c. 112, in order to divide the dominions of Micipsa be­tween Jugurtha and Adherbal, and had allowed himself to be bribed by Jugurtha, to assign to him the better part of the country. This scandalous conduct had passed unnoticed at the time •, but when the defeat of the Roman army, through the misconduct of Albinus, in b.c. 109, had roused the indignation of the Roman people, the tribune, C. Mamilius Limetanus, brought forward a bill for inquiry into the conduct of all those who had re­ceived bribes from Jugurtha. By this law Opi­mius was condemned along with many others of the leading members of the aristocracy. He Avent into exile to Dyrrhachium in Epeirus, where he lived for some years, hated and insulted by the people, and \vhere he eventually died in great po­verty. He richly deserved his punishment, and met with a due recompense for his cruel and fero­cious conduct towards C. Gracchus and his party. Cicero, on the contrary, who, after his consulship, had identified himself with the aristocratical party, frequently laments the fate of Opimius, and com­plains of the cruelty shoAvn towards a man who had conferred such signal services upon his country as the conquest of Fregellae and the destruction of j Gracchus. He calls him the saviour of the com-[ monwealth, and characterises his condemnation as

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