The Sword of Rome: A Biography of Marcus Claudius Marcellus

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Toggle navigation. All By Date Books All Reference Books Politics. Latest Releases Coming Soon Blog. Your basket is empty. Add to Basket. What's this? Description Reviews 2 About the Author Marcellus' military exploits were largely unmatched by any other aristocrat of Roman Middle Republic. Marcus Claudius Marcellus Marcellus' military exploits were largely unmatched by any other aristocrat of Roman Middle Republic.

As a young soldier in the… Available in the following formats: Hardback Kindle ePub. Available in the following formats: Hardback Kindle ePub. Campaigning in Somaliland and Oman Since the Second World War British soldiers have been continuously involved in small wars many of which, largely for political… Available in the following formats: Hardback Paperback Kindle ePub. Available in the following formats: Kindle ePub.

Marcus Claudius Marcellus

Available in the following formats: Paperback Kindle ePub. Available in the following formats: Kindle Paperback ePub. Available in the following formats: ePub Hardback Kindle. V of the Loeb Classical Library edition, The text is in the public domain. If you find a mistake though, please let me know! For he was by experience a man of war, of a sturdy body and a vigorous arm. In Sicily he saved his brother Otacilius from peril of his life, covering him with his shield and killing those who were setting upon him. This is a species of priesthood, to which the law particularly assigns the observation and study of prophetic signs from the flight of birds.

He had a son, named Marcus like himself, who was in the flower of his boyish beauty, and not less admired by his countrymen for his modesty and good training.

Early life: distinguished soldier and politician

To this boy Capitolinus, the colleague of Marcellus, a bold and licentious man, made overtures of love. The boy at first repelled the attempt by himself, but when it was made again, told his father. Marcellus, highly indignant, denounced the man in the senate. There had been no witness of his proposals, and therefore the senate decided to summon the boy before them. With this money Marcellus had silver libation-bowls made, and dedicated them to the gods.

Nevertheless, the Romans were greatly alarmed by the proximity of their country to the enemy, with whom they could wage war so near their own boundaries and homes, as well as by the ancient renown of the Gauls, whom the Romans seems to have feared more than any other people. Their alarm was also shown by their preparations for the war neither before nor since that time, we are told, were there so many thousands of Romans in arms at once , and by the extraordinary sacrifices which they made to the gods.

At once, therefore, the senate sent letters to the camp, summoning the consuls to return to the city with all speed and lay down their office, and forbidding them, while they were still consuls, to take any steps against the enemy. Whenever a magistrate, sitting in a hired house or tent outside the city to take auspices from the flight of birds, is compelled for any reason to return to the city before sure signs have appeared, he must give up the house first hired and take another, and from this he must take the observations anew. But afterwards, discovering this error, he referred the matter to the senate.

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This, however, took place at a later time. Moreover, because the squeak of a shrew-mouse they call it " sorex " was heard just as Minucius the dictator appointed Caius Flaminius his master of horse, the people deposed these officials and put others in their places. And although they were punctilious in such trifling matters, they did not fall into any superstition, because they made no change or deviation in their ancient rites. He took the office, and appointed Gnaeus Cornelius his colleague. Now it has been said that, although the Gauls made many conciliatory proposals, and although the senate was peaceably inclined, Marcellus tried to provoke the people to continue the war.

They numbered thirty thousand themselves, and the Insubrians, whom they joined, were much more numerous. With high confidence, therefore, they marched at once to Acerrae, a city situated to the north of the river Po. For they were most excellent fighters on horseback, and were thought to be specially superior as such, and, besides, at this time they far outnumbered Marcellus. Immediately, therefore, they charged upon him with great violence and dreadful threats, thinking to overwhelm him, their king riding in front of them.

And now, just as he was turning to make a charge, his horse, frightened by the ferocious aspect of the enemy, wheeled about and bore mostly forcibly back. And in the moment of closing with the enemy he is said to have vowed that he would consecrate to Jupiter Feretrius the most beautiful suit of armour among them. His stature exceeded that of the other Gauls, and he was conspicuous for a suit of armour which was set off with gold and silver and bright colours and all sorts of broideries; it gleamed like lightning.

He therefore rushed upon the man, and by a thrust of his spear which pierced his adversary's breastplate, and by the impact of his horse in full career, threw him, still living, upon the ground, where, with a second and third blow, he promptly killed him. Do thou therefore grant us a like fortune as we prosecute the rest of the war.

For never before or since, as we are told, have so few horsemen conquered so many horsemen and footmen together. After slaying the greater part of the enemy and getting possession of their arms and baggage, Marcellus returned to his colleague, who was hard put to it in his war with the Gauls near their largest and most populous city.

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But when Marcellus came up, and when the Gaesatae, on learning of the defeat and death of their king, withdrew, Mediolanum was taken, the Gauls themselves surrendered the rest of their cities, and put themselves entirely at the disposition of the Romans. They obtained peace on equitable terms. The army followed, arrayed in the most beautiful armour, singing odes composed for the occasion, together with paeans of victory in praise of the god and their general.

The first was Romulus, who despoiled Acron the Caeninensian; 10 the second was Cornelius Cossus, who despoiled Tolumnius the Tuscan; and after them Marcellus, who despoiled Britomartus, king of the Gauls; but after Marcellus, no man. But others say the name is derived from the blow one gives an enemy, since even now in battles, when they are pursuing their enemies, they exhort one another with the word " feri ," which means smite!

Spoils in general they call " spolia ," and these in particular, " opima. However, the general and prevailing account is that only those spoils are " opima " which are taken first, in a pitched battle, where general slays general. So much, then, on this subject. Most of the leaders and influential men among the Romans had fallen in battle; and as for Fabius Maximus, who was held in the greatest esteem for his sagacity and trustworthiness, his excessive care in planning to avoid losses was censured as cowardly inactivity.

In Neapolis he merely confirmed the minds of the citizens, who were of their own choice steadfast friends of Rome; but on entering Nola, he found a state of discord, the senate being unable to regulate and manage the people, which favoured Hannibal. Marcellus thought it wrong to put to death a man so illustrious in his good fortune who had taken part with the Romans in their greatest conflicts, and, besides his natural kindliness, he had an address that was likely to win over a character whose ambition was for honour. One day, therefore, when Bantius saluted him, he asked him who he was, not that he had not known him for some time, but seeking occasion and excuse for conversation with him.

Can it be that you think us loath to requite valour in friends who are honoured even among our enemies? Consequently there were no armed men to be seen, and Hannibal was thus induced to lead up his forces in some disorder, supposing the city to be in a tumult. But at this juncture Marcellus ordered the gate where he stood to be thrown open, and marched out, having with him the flower of his horsemen, and charging directly down upon the enemy joined battle with them.

And still again, while Hannibal was dividing his forces to meet these, the third gate was thrown open, and through it the rest rushed forth and fell upon their enemies on every side. These were dismayed by the unexpected onset, and made a poor defence against those with whom they were already engaged because of those who charged upon them later. Here for the first time the soldiers of Hannibal gave way before the Romans, being beaten back to their camp with much slaughter and many wounds.

Livy, however, will not affirm 18 that the victory was so great nor that so many of the enemy were slain, but says that this battle brought a great renown to Marcellus, and to the Romans a wonderful courage after their disasters. They felt that they were contending, not against a resistless and unconquerable foe, but against one who was liable, like themselves, to defeat.

Marcellus, Marcus Claudius approximately B.C B.C. [WorldCat Identities]

He was made consul by a unanimous vote, but there was a peal of thunder at the time, and since the augurs considered the omen unpropitious, but hesitated to make open opposition for fear of the people, he renounced the office of himself. And when Hannibal came swiftly to their aid against him, and challenged him to a pitched battle, Marcellus declined an engagement; but as soon as his adversary had set the greater part of his army to plundering and was no longer expecting a battle, he led his forces out against him.

But what was most important, on the third day after the battle, more than three hundred horsemen, composed of Spaniards and Numidians, deserted from them. These deserters, then, remained entirely faithful both to Marcellus himself, and to the generals who succeeded him.

Marcus Claudius Marcellus (Julio-Claudian Dynasty)

For Hannibal's successes in the war had encouraged the Carthaginians to attempt anew the conquest of the island, especially now that Syracuse was in confusion after the death of the tyrant Hieronymus. For this reason the Romans also had previously sent a force thither under the command of Appius.

Of those who had been drawn up against Hannibal at Cannae, some had fled, and others had been taken alive, and in such numbers that it was thought the Romans had not even men enough left to defend the walls of their city. Marcellus, therefore, taking pity on them, wrote to the senate asking permission to fill up the deficiencies in his army from time to time with these men. This decree vexed Marcellus, and when he came back to Rome after the war in Sicily, he upbraided the senate for not permitting him, in return for his many great services, to redeem so many citizens from misfortune.

He did no harm, however, to its citizens, but all the deserters whom he took he ordered to be beaten with rods and put to death. Upon this, Marcellus set out with his whole army and came to Syracuse. Moreover, he had erected an engine of artillery on a huge platform supported by eight galleys fastened together, 23 and with this sailed up to the city wall, confidently relying on the extent and splendour of his equipment and his own great fame.

But all this proved to be of no account in the eyes of Archimedes and in comparison with the engines of Archimedes. For instance, in solving the problem of finding two mean proportional lines, a necessary requisite for many geometrical figures, both mathematicians had recourse to mechanical arrangements, adapting to their purposes certain intermediate portions of curved lines and sections.


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For this reason mechanics was made entirely distinct from geometry, and being for a long time ignored by philosophers, came to be regarded as one of the military arts. Archimedes therefore fixed upon a three-masted merchantman of the royal fleet, which had been dragged ashore by the great labours of many men, and after putting on board many passengers and the customary freight, he seated himself at a distance from her, and without any great effort, but quietly setting in motion with his hand a system of compound pulleys, drew her towards him smoothly and evenly, as though she were gliding through the water.

These he had never used himself, because he spent the greater part of his life in freedom from war and amid the festal rites of peace; but at the present time his apparatus stood the Syracusans in good stead, and, with the apparatus, its fabricator. But Archimedes began to ply his engines, and shot against the land forces of the assailants all sorts of missiles and immense masses of stones, which came down with incredible din and speed; nothing whatever could ward off their weight, but they knocked down in heaps those who stood in their way, and threw their ranks into confusion.

Archimedes, however, as it seemed, had long before prepared for such an emergency engines with a range adapted to any interval and missiles of short flight, and through many small and contiguous openings in the wall short-range engines called scorpions could be brought to bear on objects close at hand without being seen by the enemy.