He was obliged to defend in 54 Publius Vatinius, whom he had fiercely attacked during the trial of Sestius; also Aulus Gabinius, one of the consuls to whom his exile was due; and Rabirius Postumus, an agent of Gabinius.
He was soon encouraged by the growing coolness between Pompey and Caesar to attack the acts of Caesar during his consulship, and after his successful defence of Publius Sestius on the 10th of March he proposed on the 5th of April that the senate should on the 15th of May discuss Caesar's distribution of the Campanian land.
At Rome he was educated like a free man in the house of Terentius Lucanus, a senator, by whom he was soon emancipated; whereupon he took his master's nomen Terentius, and thenceforward his name was Publius Terentius Afer, of which the last member seems to imply that he was not a Phoenician (Poenus) by blood.
Our knowledge of the life of the celebrated Latin playwright, Publius Terentius Afer, is derived chiefly from a fragment of the lost work of Suetonius, De viris illustribus, preserved in the commentary of Donatus, who adds a few words of his own.
Cicero states that from the earliest period down to the pontificate of Publius Mucius Scaevola (c. 131 B.C.), it was usual for the pontifex maximus to record on a white tablet (album), which was exhibited in an open place at his house, so that the people might read it, first, the name of the consuls and other magistrates, and then the noteworthy events that had occurred during the year (per singulos dies, as Servius says).
The national history, however, furnished the theme of the Brutus and Decius, - the expulsion of the Tarquins and the self-sacrifice of Publius Decius Mus the younger.
During his term of office he aided Publius Clodius in bringing about the exile of Cicero.
The senate had already chosen Sulla; but the tribune Publius Sulpicius Rufus moved that Marius should have the command.
Swarms of hardy and desperate men now joined the rebels, and when the praetor Publius Varinius took the field against them he found them entrenched like a regular army on the plain.
He must have died before 246, in which year his sister Claudia was fined for publicly expressing a wish that her brother Publius could rise from the grave to lose a second fleet and thereby diminish the number of the people.