Balbus (Lucius Cornelius Balbus) bălˈbəs [key], fl. 1st cent. b.c., Roman statesman, b. Gades (now Cádiz, Spain). He won notice for brilliant service against Sertorius, and Pompey brought him to Rome and had him made a citizen. Balbus helped to bring about the creation of the First Triumvirate (Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus) in 60 b.c. and thereafter was a friend and protégé of Julius Caesar. In 56 b.c. the conservative party, to embarrass Pompey and Crassus in Caesar's absence, charged Balbus with obtaining citizenship illegally. When the case came to trial, Cicero, at Pompey's request, made a brilliant oration in Balbus' defense and secured an acquittal. Balbus at first was neutral, then openly favored Caesar in the struggle with Pompey. After Caesar's death he supported Octavian (later Augustus) and in 40 b.c. was made the first foreign-born Roman consul.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Rome: Biographies