BESTIA, the name of a family in ancient Rome, of which the following were the most distinguished.
1. Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, Roman tribune of the people in 121 B.C., consul in 111. Having been appointed to the command of the operations against Jugurtha, he at first carried on the campaign energetically, but soon, having been heavily bribed, concluded a disgraceful peace. On his return to Rome he was brought to trial for his conduct and condemned, in spite of the efforts of Marcus Scaurus who, though formerly his legate and equally guilty, was one of the judges. He is probably identical with the Bestia who encouraged the Italians in their revolt, and went into exile (90) to avoid punishment under the law of Q. Varius, whereby those who had secretly or openly aided the Italian allies against Rome were to be brought to trial (Appian, Bell. Civ. i. 37; Val. Max. viii. 6. 4). Both Cicero and Sallust express a high opinion of Bestia's abilities, but his love of money demoralized him. He is mentioned in a Carthaginian inscription as one of a board of three, perhaps an agricultural commission.
See Sallust, Jugurtha; Cicero, Brutus, xxxiv. 128; for the general history, A.H.J. Greenidge, Hist. of Rome, vol. i. (1904), pp. 346 foll.
2. Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, one of the Catilinarian conspirators, possibly a grandson of the above. He was tribune elect in 63, and it had been arranged that, after entering upon his office, he should publicly accuse Cicero of responsibility for the impending war. This was to be the signal for the outbreak of revolution. The conspiracy, however, was put down and Bestia had to content himself with delivering a violent attack upon the consul on the expiration of his office. This Bestia is probably not the Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, aedile, and a candidate for the praetorship in 57. He was accused of bribery during his candidature, and, in spite of Cicero's defence, was condemned. In 43 he attached himself to the party of Antony, apparently in the hope of obtaining the consulship.
Sallust, Catiline, xvii. 43; Appian, Bell. Civ. ii. 3; Cicero, Ad Q. Fr. ii. 3, 6.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)