Lamia the younger was scion of an illustrious family of cavalry officers that Augustus
elevated to senatorial status to increase the ranks of his
patrician supporters. He, or more likely his father, was a
close friend of Horace & Cicero
In 3 CE
Lucius Lamia Jr. was appointed consul of Rome. He gained
the confidence of Tiberius,
under whom he twice served as legion commander in Germany (4-6
& 10-11 CE).
After Tiberius became emperor, he twice appointed Lamia as his
personal legate, first to Africa (19 CE)
& then Syria (22 CE).
The latter assignment, however, was in name only, since he was
detained in Rome as Tiberius relinquished administration of the
empire to the praetorian prefect, Sejanus, following the death
of his own son. The absence of an imperial legate in Syria for a
decade gave Pontius Pilate much greater autonomy than was usual
for a military prefect of Judea.
Sources fail to
record any reason for Lamia being prevented from assuming his
imperial post, but the fact that his detention coincided with
the period in which another cavalry officer [Sejanus] was
consolidating administrative power in his own hands justifies
suspicions that it was related to professional rivalry.
All that is certain is that soon after the praetorian prefect's
downfall (31 CE)
& a decade as
provincial governor in absentia, Lamia was elevated by
the office of prefect of Rome (32 CE). The aging military
bureaucrat died after only a year in office & was honored by the
emperor with a state funeral.
* Note: It is
not easy to distinguish father & son when both bear the same
name & references in sources are few. According to Tacitus,
Lamia Jr. was of venerable age when he died. But he would have
had to be almost a centenarian to have been a contemporary &
intimate colleague of Horace (65 BCE
- 8 BCE)
& other intellectuals of the Augustan age. It
would have been remarkable for someone of that influential
circle to have remained in political obscurity until
& to have assumed his first recorded military commands
[under Tiberius] as a septuagenarian.
The known details
of Lamia's career in imperial service fit better someone who was
born only after Julius Caesar's assassination
which would still make him almost 80 when he died.
Cassius Dio, Roman
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