Quintus Mucius Scaevola Pontifex

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Quintus Mucius Scaevola Pontifex (died 82 BC), the son of Publius Mucius Scaevola (consul in 133 BC and also Pontifex Maximus) 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.[1] He was nephew and son of two men elected Pontifices Maximi, and would himself be elected chief priest of Rome.[2] He was also the first Roman Pontifex Maximus to be murdered publicly[citation needed], in Rome in the very Temple of the Vestal Virgins, signifying a breakdown of historical norms and religious taboos in the Republic.

Political career

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. He proved so popular that the people he governed instituted a festival day (the dies Mucia) in his honour.

Returning to Rome, he 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.

He was also the originator of cautelary law giving his name to the cautio muciana and the praesumptio muciana.


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 despite his daughter's marriage to Young Marius, 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 twice married, to two women 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, who was wife of Pompey the Great and mother of 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.

See also


  1. Tuori, Kaius. Ancient Roman Lawyers and Modern Legal Ideals: Studies on the Impact of Contemporary Concerns in the Interpretation of Ancient Roman Legal History Vittorio Klostermann: 2007 ISBN 3-465-04034-1 ISBN 9783465040347
  2. Knight, Charles. The English Cyclopedia 1857; p. 293.
Political offices
Preceded by
Gaius Cassius Longinus and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Lucius Licinius Crassus
95 BC
Succeeded by
Gaius Coelius Caldus and Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus