Lucius Scribonius Libo, fl.56-34 BC

Lucius Scribonius Libo (fr.56-34 BC) was a supporter of Pompey the Great in the civil war between Caesar and the Senate, commanding part of Pompey's fleet in the first year of the war. Libo was tied to Pompey and the Senatorial side in the Great Roman Civil War by marriage - he was the father in law of Sextus Pompey, son of Pompey the Great. He is first mentioned in 56 BC when he supported Pompey's proposed settlement of Egypt.

Battles of the Great Roman Civil War, 49-45 BC
Battles of the
Great Roman Civil War,
49-45 BC

At the start of the Civil War in 49 BC Libo was given command of the Senate's forces in Etruria, but Caesar's rapid advance forced him to abandon this position and join the Consuls in Campania, before moving south to join Pompey at Brundisium.

Libo followed Pompey when he moved to Greece, and was given join command of the Luburnian and Achaean fleets, alongside M. Octavius. These two fleets represented one part of Pompey's powerful naval forces, which were under the overall command of Bibulus. The first year of the Civil War saw Caesar victorious wherever he appeared in person, while his subordinates suffered a series of defeats. Libo and Octavius were responsible for one of those defeats, capturing C. Antonius after the siege of Curicta and defeated Dolabella's fleet.

These successes were all undone early in 48 BC when Caesar managed to slip past Bibulus's fleet and establish himself in Greece. Soon afterwards Bibulus died, and Libo took command of the combined fleets, although he wasn't officially given the post.

Bibulus had attempted to block Caesar's fleets from reaching the eastern side of the Adriatic, but Libo decided to try and blockade them in Brundisium. He captured an island opposite the harbour, destroyed some of Caesar's transports, and looked to be in a very strong position. He was outwitted by Mark Antony, who set an ambush, filling sixty long-boats with his solders and then sending two three-banked galleys out of the harbour to act as bait. Libo fell for the trap, sending five galleys to capture the bait. Antony's galleys turned back, Libo's chased them into the harbour and were then attacked by the long boats. One of the four-banked galleys was captured and the rest forced to flee. After this setback Libo abandoned the island and the blockade. Antony was able to join Caesar, and Pompey was defeated.

Libo disappears for the rest of the Great Roman Civil War, eventually reappearing in Spain in 44 BC, where he had joined Pompey's younger son Sextus. He supported the young Pompey in the wars of the second triumvirate (the civil war between Antony and Octavian). In 40 BC Libo was one of a party of high ranking Romans who was sent to escort Antony's mother Julia from Spain to the East. Octavian saw this as a serious threat, and began to negotiate a peace treaty with Sextus Pompey. This was agreed at Misenum in 39 BC. Octavian married Libo's sister Scribonia, and Libo was promised the post of Consul, alongside Mark Antony, for 34 BC.

The peace agreed at Misenum didn't last long. The war between Pompey and the Triumvirs resumed in 36 BC. Pompey was defeated at Naulochus or Mylae in the same year, but managed to escape to continue the war in the East. Libo stayed with him until the following year, when along with most of Pompey's senior supporters he made his peace with Antony. Libo served as Consul for 34 BC, alongside Antony, and then disappears from the historical record.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 December 2010), Lucius Scribonius Libo, fl.56-34 BC, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_libo_l_s.html

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