Scipio Asiaticus

Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus (2nd century BC-aft. 183 BC) was a Roman general and statesman. He was the son of Publius Cornelius Scipio and younger brother of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. He was elected consul in 190 BC, and later that year led (with his brother) the Roman forces to victory at the Battle of Magnesia.

While his career may be eclipsed by the shadow of his elder brother, Lucius' life is noteworthy in several respects.

Early career

Lucius and his brother both became aediles at a very young age; Scipio became curule aedile in 214 or 213 BC, but Lucius's aedileship is undated.

Asiaticus served under his brother in Spain, and in 208 BC took a town on his own. He was sent to the Senate with the news of the victory in the Spanish war, circa 206 BC.. In 193 BC, he was elected praetor, with Sicily as his province, with the influence of his brother; however, Scipio's declining influence was not sufficient to get him elected consul in 191 BC. He was finally elected consul in 190 BC with his co-consul being his brother's old second-in-command Gaius Laelius.

Consul and proconsul

According to Smith:
The senate had not much confidence in his abilities (Cic. Phil. xi. 7), and it was only through the offer of his brother Africanus to accompany him as a legate that he obtained the province of Greece and the conduct of the war against Antiochus (Liv. xxviii. 3, 4, 17, xxxiv. 54, 55, xxxvi. 45, xxxvii. 1).

The loser was therefore his co-consul Gaius Laelius who was not a rich man, and who had hoped to make his family fortunes in the East.

As consular commander of the forces sent against Antiochus III, Asiaticus was a bitter enemy of the Aetolians. He refused the peace negotiated with the Aetolians by his brother, thus proving him to be of a strong nature.

He was supreme commander at Magnesia and thus received full credit (at his brother's insistence) for the victory over Antiochus. Upon his return to Rome, he celebrated a full triumph and requested the title "Asiaticus" to signify his conquest of Western Asia Minor.

Political fall

Towards the end of his brother's life, Lucius was accused of misappropriating the funds collected from Antiochus as an indemnity. Africanus, then Princeps Senatus, was outraged, going as far as destroying the campaign's financial records while on the floor of the Senate as an act of defiance.

After his brother's death (circa 183 BC), Lucius was thrown in prison for this supposed theft. He was eventually pardoned by the tribune Tiberius Gracchus), although he was forced to sell his property and pay the state a lump sum. Roman historians report that he refused to accept any gifts or loans from his friends to pay the penalty.

During his brother's lifetime in 185 BC, Asiaticus celebrated with great splendour the games which he had vowed in his war with Antiochus.(Liv. xxxviii. 60) Valerius of Antium related that he obtained the necessary money during an embassy on which he was sent after his condemnation, to settle the dis­putes between the kings Antiochus and Eumenes.

He was a candidate for the censorship in 184 BC, but was defeated by the old enemy of his family, M. Porcius Cato, who deprived Asiaticus of his Public Horse at the review of the equites (Liv. xxxix. 22, 40, 44). It appears, therefore, that even as late as this time an eques did not forfeit his horse by becoming a senator.

His coins are the only ones of his family to survive.


Asiaticus had descendants, the last of whom was the consul Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus who had an adoptive son. This second Asiaticus passed into obscurity after 82 BC.

  1. Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus II, son of the conqueror of Antiochus; he was a quaestor, possibly the same man who met King Prusias of Bithynia in 167 BC.
    1. Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus III, is only known from the Fasti Capitolini.
      1. Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus, is first mentioned in 100 BC, when he took up arms with the other members of the senate against Saturninus (Cic. pro Rabir. Perd. 7). In the Social War he was stationed with L. Acilius in the town of Aesernia, from which they escaped on the approach of Vettius Scato in the dress of slaves (Appian, B. C.i. 41). He belonged to the Marian party in the civil wars, and was appointed consul in 83 BC with C. Norbanus. In this year Sulla returned to Italy, and advanced against the consuls. He defeated Norbanus in Italy, but seduced the troops of Scipio to desert their general.

He was taken prisoner in his camp along with his son Lucius, but was dismissed by Sulla unin­jured. He was, however, included in the pro­scription in the following year, 82 BC, where­upon he fled to Massilia, and passed there the remainder of his life. His daughter was married to P. Sestius (Appian, B. C. i. 82, 85, 86 ; Plut. Sull. 28, Sertor. 6 ; Liv. Epit. 85 ; Flor. iii. 21 ; Oros. v. 21 ; Cic. Phil. xii. 11, xiii. 1 ; Cic. pro Sest. 3 ; Schol. Bob. in Sest. p. 293, ed. Orelli). Cicero speaks favourably of the oratorical powers of this Scipio (dicebat non imperite^ Cic. Brut. 47).



, v. 3, p. 746

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