Larino is a town and comune of 8,100 inhabitants in Molise, province of Campobasso, southern Italy. It is located in the fertile valley of the Biferno River; the old town, seen from the mountains, is shaped like a bird's wing. The new town, called Piano San Leonardo, is built on a mountainside; the city of Larino has been continuously inhabited for millennia. Settled by the Samnite and Frentani tribes of Southern Italy, the city came under the control of the Oscan civilization. In 217 BC, the Romans defeated Hannibal here, it was incorporated into the Roman Empire, where it was classified as a municipium, added to the Secunda Regio; when Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great fought for the power in Rome, the latter is said to have joined two of his legions who were encamped at Larinum. Earlier the consul Claudius marched through Larinum on his way to attack the Carthaginian Hasdrubal; the city's name appears in the works of the ancient historians Pliny. An important senatus consultum restricting public performances by members of the Roman upper classes was found nearby.
The modern city was built in the 14th century, after the old one, about 1.5 km away, was destroyed in an earthquake after having been sacked by the Saracens. The old Roman city of Larinum was situated along the main road to the South-East, which started on the coast in Histonium, ran from Larinum eastward to Sipontum; the main road branched off at Larinum into a secondary road to Bovianum Vetus. In 1656, a plague nearly wiped out the city; the 373 survivors were prepared to abandon the settlement, but through the vigorous efforts of Bishop Giuseppe Catalano, they were convinced to stay, the city grew and thrived once again. During World War II the radio reported that Larino had been destroyed in a bombardment. While it was true that the Allies and the Germans were in the vicinity of the town, hostility was avoided and the town was preserved; the city faced a large exodus during the 1950–60s, due to the extreme poverty of the Molise region, there is a large community of Larinesi living abroad, as well as their first- and second-generation descendants.
The elliptical amphitheater was built in the 1st century AD by a prominent citizen of Larino who had made his fortune in far away Rome. The arena could comfortably seat 12,000 spectators; the structure was built into a natural declivity in the terrain. The Fontana Nuova, now in disrepair, the Duomo, made a minor basilica in 1928 by Pius XI, considered by some to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Italy, it was built in the 10th and 11th centuries and inaugurated in 1319. It was restored and renovated many times, with the addition of a Gothic arch in 1451, a belltower in 1523 and interior renovations in the 18th century, it was built, in part, by architects and engineers brought in from the Angevine rulers of Naples. At that time there was a tradition of using "spoila", remnants of classical buildings, it is that the structure used cut stone from the classical city which existed in the area of what is now called Piano San Leonardo. One of the church's main elements is the portal, with columns included in a blind protyrus, examples of medieval decoration including lions, gryphons and a lunette with the Crucifixion.
The Galuppi Tower, across from the Cathedral, has been strengthened by large square metallic plates. The tower, part of the old town's defenses, was the bell tower of a now abandoned convent; the entire structure was built on the command of Pope Clement V at the beginning of the 14th century. Robert Gardner in his studies, noted an earlier, but less grand cathedral mirrored the design of the present gothic structure; the twin edifices were designed by Francesco Petrini at the beginning of the 14th century. These churches, like those at Lucera, Manfredonia, Ortona, for example, were built by the Angevin rulers in the "French style; some features set the Cathedral in Larino apart. For one thing, it is built on the location of an earlier church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. For while it follows the structural guidelines common to many churches built at this time in Southern Italy, it is irregular and asymmetrical; the façade of the church is canted at an angle and the rows of internal columns do not match.
There are fewer on one side of the structure than the other. During work on the vaults in the Bishop’s Palace to the side of the Cathedral the vaulted ceilings were revealed. In some instances they are built of regular Roman brick. In some other cases they are structured, in the same manner, with rubble; the cathedral in Larino is exceptional in the sophistication of its structure and the consistency of the craftsmanship. The rather primitive wall paintings in the cathedral were a part of the approach to ecclesiastical decoration favoured by the French kings. In Apulia external decoration was more elaborate than elsewhere featuring elaborate portals; this is true of Larino. According to scholars the decorative excellence of churches at Atri, L’Aquila, Penne and Ortona were fashioned by local schools of craftsmen in some isolation from other influences; however the templates which were available were used over and over again without much evolution of the form. One explanation for this is that an "imported form", not natural to the culture of the new place in which it is implemented becomes "frozen in time".
In the 1290s, not long before the construction o
The Roman Republic was the era of classical Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BC, ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire. It was during this period that Rome's control expanded from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world. Roman society under the Republic was a cultural mix of Latin and Greek elements, visible in the Roman Pantheon, its political organisation was influenced by the Greek city states of Magna Graecia, with collective and annual magistracies, overseen by a senate. The top magistrates were the two consuls, who had an extensive range of executive, judicial and religious powers. Whilst there were elections each year, the Republic was not a democracy, but an oligarchy, as a small number of large families monopolised the main magistracies. Roman institutions underwent considerable changes throughout the Republic to adapt to the difficulties it faced, such as the creation of promagistracies to rule its conquered provinces, or the composition of the senate.
Unlike the Pax Romana of the Roman Empire, the Republic was in a state of quasi-perpetual war throughout its existence. Its first enemies were its Latin and Etruscan neighbours as well as the Gauls, who sacked the city in 387 BC; the Republic nonetheless demonstrated extreme resilience and always managed to overcome its losses, however catastrophic. After the Gallic Sack, Rome indeed conquered the whole Italian peninsula in a century, which turned the Republic into a major power in the Mediterranean; the Republic's greatest enemy was doubtless Carthage, against. The Punic general Hannibal famously invaded Italy by crossing the Alps and inflicted on Rome two devastating defeats at the Lake Trasimene and Cannae, but the Republic once again recovered and won the war thanks to Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. With Carthage defeated, Rome became the dominant power of the ancient Mediterranean world, it embarked in a long series of difficult conquests, after having notably defeated Philip V and Perseus of Macedon, Antiochus III of the Seleucid Empire, the Lusitanian Viriathis, the Numidian Jugurtha, the great Pontic king Mithridates VI, the Gaul Vercingetorix, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
At home, the Republic experienced a long streak of social and political crises, which ended in several violent civil wars. At first, the Conflict of the Orders opposed the patricians, the closed oligarchic elite, to the far more numerous plebs, who achieved political equality in several steps during the 4th century BC; the vast conquests of the Republic disrupted its society, as the immense influx of slaves they brought enriched the aristocracy, but ruined the peasantry and urban workers. In order to solve this issue, several social reformers, known as the Populares, tried to pass agrarian laws, but the Gracchi brothers, Saturninus, or Clodius Pulcher were all murdered by their opponents, the Optimates, keepers of the traditional aristocratic order. Mass slavery caused three Servile Wars. In this context, the last decades of the Republic were marked by the rise of great generals, who exploited their military conquests and the factional situation in Rome to gain control of the political system.
Marius Sulla dominated in turn the Republic. These multiple tensions lead to a series of civil wars. Despite his victory and appointment as dictator for life, Caesar was murdered in 44 BC. Caesar's heir Octavian and lieutenant Mark Antony defeated Caesar's assassins Brutus and Cassius in 42 BC, but turned against each other; the final defeat of Mark Antony and his ally Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, the Senate's grant of extraordinary powers to Octavian as Augustus in 27 BC – which made him the first Roman emperor – thus ended the Republic. Since the foundation of Rome, its rulers had been monarchs, elected for life by the patrician noblemen who made up the Roman Senate; the last Roman king was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. In the traditional histories, Tarquin was expelled in 509 because his son Sextus Tarquinius had raped the noblewoman Lucretia, who afterwards took her own life. Lucretia's father, her husband Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, Tarquin's nephew Lucius Junius Brutus mustered support from the Senate and army, forced Tarquin into exile in Etruria.
The Senate agreed to abolish kingship. Most of the king's former functions were transferred to two consuls, who were elected to office for a term of one year; each consul had the capacity to act as a check on his colleague, if necessary through the same power of veto that the kings had held. If a consul abused his powers in office, he could be prosecuted. Brutus and Collatinus became Republican Rome's first consuls. Despite Collatinus' role in the creation of the Republic, he belonged to the same family as the former king, was forced to abdicate his office and leave Rome, he was replaced as co-consul by Publius Valerius Publicola. Most modern scholarship describes these events as the quasi-mythological detailing of an aristocratic coup within Tarquin's own family, not a popular revolution, they fit a narrative of a personal vengeance against a tyrant leading to his overthrow, common among Greek cities and theorised by Aristotle
Marcus Valerius Laevinus
Marcus Valerius Laevinus was a Roman consul and commander who rose to prominence during the Second Punic War and corresponding First Macedonian War. A member of the gens Valeria, an old patrician family believed to have migrated to Rome under the Sabine king T. Tatius, Laevinus played an integral role in the containment of the Macedonian threat. Laevinus was the son of P. Valerius Laevinus, grandson of P. Valerius Laevinus; the latter may have been the consul of 280 BC. Praetor of Sicily in 227. M. Laevinus was first elected consul in 220, his consulship, was annulled due to accusations of a faulty election. In 215, during the Second Punic War, Laevinus was elected praetor peregrinus with command of the Roman forces in Apulia. Stationed in Brundisium, Laevinus was appointed to act as a deterrent to any potential advance from the Macedonian king, Philip V, who had allied his forces with the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca who had invaded Italy. Valerius was thereby tasked with monitoring activities on the Adriatic Sea, through which he assumed command over the bulk of the Roman fleet.
As praetor peregrinus, Laevinus commanded the Roman fleet off the Adriatic coast during the First Macedonian War, which occurred contemporaneously with the Second Punic War against Carthage. Rome's preoccupation with war against Carthage provided an opportunity for Philip V of Macedon to extend his power westward. Following the Carthaginian victory over Rome at Cannae in 216, Philip sent ambassadors to Hannibal's camp in Italy to negotiate an alliance against Rome. On their journey back to Macedon, the emissaries were captured by P. Valerius Flaccus, commander of the Roman fleet patrolling the southern Apulian coast. A letter from Hannibal to Philip, as well as the terms of their agreement, was discovered, much to Rome’s dismay. Laevinus, stationed at Brundisium, was given command of two legions and a fleet of fifty-five ships. With these, he was tasked with guarding the Italian Adriatic coast and monitoring Philip’s movements. If they were hostile, Laevinus was to cross the Adriatic and keep Philip confined to Macedon, so as to prevent him from providing any assistance to Hannibal in Italy.
Throughout 214, Laevinus’ forces provided aid to several Roman allies under Macedonian threat. He recaptured Oricum from the Macedonians by conducting an attack at night, thereby ambushing Philip’s army. According to Livy, the Macedonians feared him so much they burned their boats to avoid facing his ships again. Laevinus relieved the siege of Apollonia and saved Tarentum. Preoccupied by the ongoing conflict with Hannibal and the Carthaginians, Rome was unable to send a force large enough to deal with the Macedonian threat. Instead, they decided to form an alliance with one of Macedonia’s long-term enemies in Greece, the Aetolians. In 212 BC, Laevinus was sent to begin negotiations with the both the Aetolian League and Attalus I of Pergamum, which concluded in the autumn of 211; the provisions of the treaty were generous to the Aetolians, but they were expected to do the bulk of the fighting, with Rome supplying naval support. Following the agreement, Laevinus wasted no time in capturing Zakynthos, the Arcananian cities of Oeniadae and Nasos before wintering at Corcyra.
In late 211, Laevinus was sent to Sicily as governor in place of M. Claudius Marcellus. At the time, Mutines, a Carthaginian general, had been replaced as commander of the Numidian cavalry and betrayed Agrigentum to the Romans in revenge for the demotion. According to Livy, Laevinus treated the city’s leading citizens brutally to make an example of them. Shortly after, he received voluntary surrenders from forty Sicilian towns, captured another twenty-six by betrayal or force, thus ending the war in Sicily; the following spring, whilst besieging Anticyra in the Gulf of Corinth, Laevinus received news that he had been elected consul in absentia, with M. Claudius Marcellus as his colleague. P. Sulpicius took over his duties in the east, Laevinus withdrew to Rome. Livy describes both Laevinus and Marcellus as "fond of war... over-enterprising and impetuous", states that they would have most allowed the war against Carthage and Macedonia to continue—which, they did. Their election was plagued with controversy, as Marcellus was accused by Syracusans of committing acts of brutality in Sicily.
Although he was found not guilty, the Senate swapped the commands of the consuls, sending Marcellus to fight Hannibal and placing Laevinus in charge of Sicily. Whilst Laevinus was in Rome, he was confronted with a lack of public funds and the distressing state of the public treasury after years of war. In response to this, the consuls demanded that the citizens supply funds to the treasury to finance the conscription of oarsmen; the citizens, stood vehemently against this, since the same measures had been implemented in 214 with little success, the Senate withdrew the plan. Due to the severity of the situation, Livy records that Laevinus instead proposed to the senators that they themselves should be the ones to shoulder these costs; the senators agreed, donating many of their precious metals. The equites imitated their example, raised enough funds for the oarsmen, the consuls sailed to their respective provinces. After his consulship, Laevinus proposed that senators be refunded for this donation in three stages.
Only the first two, were repaid as the third instalment came at another time of economic instability. As it was necessary for at least one consul to preside over the election of their successors, Laevinus returned from Sicily to Rome to conduct the consular elections for 209; the Senate sent for him instead of Marcellus as he had conquered Sicil
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War referred to as The Hannibalic War and by the Romans the War Against Hannibal, was the second of three wars between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of Greek polities and Numidian and Iberian forces on both sides. It was one of the deadliest human conflicts of ancient times. Fought across the entire Western Mediterranean region for 17 years and regarded by ancient historians as the greatest war in history, it was waged with unparalleled resources and hatred, it saw hundreds of thousands killed, some of the most lethal battles in military history, the destruction of cities, massacres and enslavements of civilian populations and prisoners of war by both sides. The war began with the Carthaginian general Hannibal's conquest of the pro-Roman Iberian city of Saguntum in 219 BC, prompting a Roman declaration of war on Carthage in the spring of 218. Hannibal surprised the Romans by marching his army overland from Iberia to cross the Alps and invade Roman Italy, followed by his reinforcement by Gallic allies and crushing victories over Roman armies at Trebia in 218 and on the shores of Lake Trasimene in 217.
Moving to southern Italy in 216, Hannibal at Cannae annihilated the largest army the Romans had assembled. After the death or imprisonment of 130,000 Roman troops in two years, 40% of Rome's Italian allies defected to Carthage, giving her control over most of southern Italy. Macedon and Syracuse joined the Carthaginian side after Cannae and the conflict spread to Greece and Sicily. From 215–210 the Carthaginian army and navy launched repeated amphibious assaults to capture Roman Sicily and Sardinia but were repulsed. Against Hannibal's skill on the battlefield, the Romans adopted the Fabian strategy – the avoidance of battle against Hannibal and defeating his allies and the other Carthaginian generals instead. Roman armies recaptured all of the great cities that had joined Carthage and defeated a Carthaginian attempt to reinforce Hannibal at Metaurus in 207. Southern Italy was devastated by the combatants, with hundreds of thousands of civilians killed or enslaved. In Iberia, which served as a major source of silver and manpower for the Carthaginian army, a Roman expeditionary force under Publius Cornelius Scipio captured Carthago Nova, Carthage's capital city in Iberia, in 209.
Scipio's destruction of a Carthaginian army at Ilipa in 206 permanently ended Carthaginian rule in Iberia. He invaded Carthaginian Africa in 204, inflicting two severe defeats on Carthage and her allies at Utica and the Great Plains that compelled the Carthaginian senate to recall Hannibal's army from Italy; the final engagement between Scipio and Hannibal took place at Zama in Africa in 202 and resulted in Hannibal's defeat and the imposition of harsh peace conditions on Carthage, which ceased to be a great power and became a Roman client state until its final destruction by the Romans in 146 BC during the Third Punic War. The Second Punic War overthrew the established balance of power of the ancient world and Rome rose to become the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin for the next 600 years. Carthage's defeat in the First Punic War meant the loss of Carthaginian Sicily to Rome under the terms of the Roman-dictated 241 BC Treaty of Lutatius. Rome exploited Carthage's distraction during the Truceless War against rebellious mercenaries and Libyan subjects to break the peace treaty and annex Carthaginian Sardinia and Corsica to Rome in 238 BC.
Under the leadership of Hamilcar Barca and his family, Carthage defeated the rebels and began the Barcid conquest of Hispania from 237 BC onward. Control over Spain gave Carthage the silver mines, agricultural wealth, military facilities such as shipyards and territorial depth to stand up to future Roman demands with confidence; the Second Punic War was ignited by the dispute over the hegemony of Saguntum, a Hellenized Iberian coastal city with diplomatic contacts with Rome. After great tension within the city government, culminating in the assassination of the supporters of Carthage, Hannibal laid siege to the city of Saguntum in 219 BC; the city called for Roman aid. Following a prolonged siege of eight months and a bloody struggle, in which Hannibal himself was wounded, the Carthaginians took control of the city. Many of the Saguntians chose to commit suicide rather than face subjugation by the Carthaginians; the loss of Saguntum as a potential base of operations in Carthaginian Iberia was a serious setback to the main Roman strategic objective in Spain: the eviction of the Carthaginians from the peninsula.
The Roman Senate sent an embassy to the Carthaginian Senate that declared war on Carthage in early 218 BC over the attack on Rome's Saguntine ally. Before the war and Hasdrubal the Fair had made a treaty. Livy reports that it was agreed that the Iber should be the boundary between the two empires and that the liberty of the Saguntines should be preserved; the highest priority in Carthaginian strategy was to keep the war away from Carthage's agricultural heartland in Africa and protect the property of the wealthy Carthaginian landowners who controlled Carthaginian politics. Spanish mines and sources of manpower comprised the second pillar of the Carthaginian power base and their protection was essential to maintaining Carthage's status as an independent continental great power. Hannibal's invasion of Italy forced the Romans to abandon their intended invasion of Africa and de-prioritize the reinforcement of Roman armies in Spain. Most Roman troops during the war fought in Italy, which became the main theater of the war as a result of Hannibal's offensive.
Africa remained undisturbed by a Roman invasion army until 204 BC and the Roman military presence in Spain was confined to its northeastern corn
Carthage was a Phoenician state that included, during the 7th–3rd centuries BC, its wider sphere of influence known as the Carthaginian Empire. The empire extended over much of the coast of Northwest Africa as well as encompassing substantial parts of coastal Iberia and the islands of the western Mediterranean Sea. Phoenicians founded Carthage in 814 BC. A dependency of the Phoenician state of Tyre, Carthage gained independence around 650 BC and established its political hegemony over other Phoenician settlements throughout the western Mediterranean, this lasting until the end of the 3rd century BC. At the height of the city's prominence, it served as a major hub of trade, with trading stations extending throughout the region. For much of its history, Carthage was on hostile terms with the Greeks in Sicily and with the Roman Republic; the city had to deal with hostile Berbers, the indigenous inhabitants of the area where Carthage was built. In 146 BC, after the third and final Punic War, Roman forces destroyed Carthage redesigned and occupied the site of the city.
Nearly all of the other Phoenician city-states and former Carthaginian dependencies subsequently fell into Roman hands. According to Roman sources, Phoenician colonists from modern-day Lebanon, led by Dido, founded Carthage circa 814 BC. Queen Elissa was an exiled princess of the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. At its peak, the metropolis she founded, came to be called the "shining city", ruling 300 other cities around the western Mediterranean Sea and leading the Phoenician world. Elissa's brother, Pygmalion of Tyre, had murdered the high priest. Elissa escaped the tyranny of her own country, founding the "new city" of Carthage and subsequently its dominions. Details of her life are sketchy and confusing, but the following can be deduced from various sources. According to Justin, Princess Elissa was the daughter of King Belus II of Tyre; when he died, the throne was jointly bequeathed to her brother and her. She married her uncle Acerbas known as Sychaeus, the High Priest of Melqart, a man with both authority and wealth comparable to the king.
This led to increased rivalry between the monarchy. Pygmalion was a tyrant, lover of both gold and intrigue, who desired the authority and fortune enjoyed by Acerbas. Pygmalion assassinated Acerbas in the temple and kept the misdeed concealed from his sister for a long time, deceiving her with lies about her husband's death. At the same time, the people of Tyre called for a single sovereign. In the Roman epic of Virgil, the Aeneid, Queen Dido, the Greek name for Elissa, is first introduced as a esteemed character. In just seven years, since their exodus from Tyre, the Carthaginians have rebuilt a successful kingdom under her rule, her subjects present her with a festival of praise. Her character is perceived by Virgil as more noble when she offers asylum to Aeneas and his men, who had escaped from Troy. A spirit in the form of the messenger god, sent by Jupiter, reminds Aeneas that his mission is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, but to sail to Italy to found Rome. Virgil ends his legend of Dido with the story that, when Aeneas tells Dido, her heart broken, she orders a pyre to be built where she falls upon Aeneas' sword.
As she lay dying, she predicted eternal strife between Aeneas' people and her own: "rise up from my bones, avenging spirit" she says, an invocation of Hannibal. Aeneas goes on to found the Roman Kingdom; the details of Virgil's story do not, form part of the original legend and are significant as an indication of Rome's attitude towards the city she had founded, exemplified by Cato the Elder's much-repeated utterance, "Carthago delenda est", "Carthage must be destroyed". The Phoenicians established numerous colonial cities along the coasts of the Mediterranean to provide safe harbors for their merchant fleets, to maintain a Phoenician monopoly on an area's natural resources, to conduct trade free of outside interference, they were motivated to found these cities by a desire to satisfy the demand for trade goods or to escape the necessity of paying tribute to the succession of empires that ruled Tyre and Byblos, by fear of complete Greek colonization of that part of the Mediterranean suitable for commerce.
The Phoenicians lacked the population or necessity to establish large self-sustaining cities abroad, most of their colonial cities had fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, but Carthage and a few others developed larger populations. Although Strabo's claim that the Tyrians founded three hundred colonies along the west African coast is exaggerated, colonies were established in Tunisia, Algeria, to a much lesser extent, on the arid coast of Libya; the Phoenicians were active in Cyprus, Corsica, the Balearic Islands and Sicily, as well as on the European mainland at present-day Genoa in Italy and Marseille in present-day France. The settlements at Crete and Sicily were in perpetual conflict with the Greeks, but the Phoenicians managed to control all of Sicily for a limited time; the entire area came under the leadership and protection of Carthage, which in turn dispatched its own colonists to found new cities or to reinforce those that declined with the loss of primacy of Tyre and Sidon. The first colonies were settled on the two paths to Iberia's mineral wealth — along the Northwest African coast and on Sicily and the Ba
Marcus Claudius Marcellus
Marcus Claudius Marcellus, five times elected as consul of the Roman Republic, was an important Roman military leader during the Gallic War of 225 BC and the Second Punic War. Marcellus gained the most prestigious award a Roman general could earn, the spolia opima, for killing the Gallic military leader and king Viridomarus in hand-to-hand combat in 222 BC at the Battle of Clastidium. Furthermore, he is noted for having conquered the fortified city of Syracuse in a protracted siege during which Archimedes, the famous mathematician and inventor, was killed. Marcus Claudius Marcellus died in battle in 208 BC, leaving behind a legacy of military conquests and a reinvigorated Roman legend of the spolia opima. Little is known of Marcus Claudius Marcellus’ early years since the majority of biographical information pertains to his military expeditions; the fullest account of Marcellus’ life was written by Plutarch, a Greek biographer in the time of the Roman Empire. Plutarch’s biography, the "Life of Marcellus," in Parallel Lives focuses on Marcellus’ military campaigns and political life, skips over his earlier life before 225, although Plutarch supplies some general information about Marcellus’ youth.
Marcellus’ exact birth date is unknown, yet scholars are certain he was born prior to 268 BC because he had to be over 42 when elected consul for 222 and he was elected to a fifth consulship for 208 BC, after he was 60. Marcellus was said by Poseidonius to have been the first in his family to take on the cognomen of Marcellus. According to Plutarch, Marcellus was a skilled fighter in his youth and was raised with the purpose of entering military service. Marcellus’ general education may have been lacking. In his youth, Marcellus distinguished himself as an ambitious warrior, known for his skill in hand-to-hand combat, he is noted for having saved the life of his brother, when the two were surrounded by enemy soldiers in Italy. As a young man in the Roman army, Marcellus was praised by his superiors for his valor; as a result of his fine service, in 226 BC, he was elected to the position of curule aedile in the Roman Republic. The position of curule aedile was quite prestigious for a man like Marcellus.
An aedile was an enforcer of public order. This is the first position one might take in seeking a high political career. Around the same time that he became an aedile, Marcellus was awarded the position of augur, which Plutarch describes as being an interpreter of omens. By about the age of 40, Marcellus had become an acclaimed soldier and public official. Marcellus’ early career came to a close in 222 BC, at which time he achieved greater historical importance upon his election as consul of the Roman Republic—the highest political office and military position in ancient Rome. Following the end of the First Punic War, in which Marcellus fought as a soldier, the Gauls of northern Italy declared war on Rome in 225 BC. In the fourth and final year of the war, Marcellus was elected consul with Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus; the previous consuls had pushed the Insubrians, the primary Gallic tribe involved, all the way up to the Po River. Following such terrible defeats, the Insubrians surrendered, but Marcellus, not yet consul, persuaded the two acting consuls not to accept the terms of peace.
As Marcellus and his colleague were ushered into office as the new consuls, the Insubrians mustered 30,000 of their Gallic allies, the Gaesatae, to fight the Romans. Marcellus invaded Insubrian lands up to the Po River. From here, the Gauls sent 10,000 men across the Po and attacked Clastidium, a Roman stronghold, to divert the Roman attacks; this battlefield was the stage for Marcellus’ confrontation with the Gallic king, which cemented his place in history. The confrontation, as told by Plutarch, is so heavy in detail that one might question the veracity of his narration. Plutarch recounts that, prior to the battle, Viridomarus spotted Marcellus, who wore commander's insignia on his armor, rode out to meet him. Across the battlefield, Marcellus viewed the beautiful armor on the back of the enemy riding toward him. Marcellus concluded that this was the nicest armor, which he had prayed would be given by him to the gods; the two engaged in combat whereupon, Marcellus, “by a thrust of his spear which pierced his adversary's breastplate, by the impact of his horse in full career, threw him, still living, upon the ground, with a second and third blow, he promptly killed him.”
Marcellus extracted the armor upon which he pronounced it as the spolia opima. The spolia opima, meaning best spoils is known in Roman history as the most prestigious and honorable prize that a general can earn. Only a general who kills the leader of the opposing army in single combat may be considered to have gained the spolia opima. After he had slain the formidable warrior, whom he learned was the king, Marcellus dedicated the armor, or spolia opima, to Jupiter Feretrius, as he had promised before the battle. Herein lies a wrinkle in Plutarch’s retelling of the event; when Marcellus first saw the finely dressed warrior, he did not recognize him as a king, but a man with the nicest armor. But following the battle, Marcellus prayed to Jupiter Feretrius, saying that he had killed a king or ruler; this inconsistency indicates that Plutarch’s story may have been exaggerated for dramatic effect, causing discrepancies. Furthermore, Plutarch had written the account to glorify Marcellus as a hero of Rome, instead of as a record of history.
Polyb. 2.34 does not
A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic, ancient Romans considered the consulship the highest level of the cursus honorum. Each year, the citizens of Rome elected two consuls to serve jointly for a one-year term; the consuls alternated in holding imperium each month, a consul's imperium extended over Rome and the provinces. However, after the establishment of the Empire, the consuls became mere symbolic representatives of Rome's republican heritage and held little power and authority, with the Emperor acting as the supreme authority. After the legendary expulsion of the last Etruscan King, Tarquin the Proud, a harsh ruler at the end of the Roman Kingdom, most of the powers and authority of the king were ostensibly given to the newly instituted consulship; this change in leadership came about when the king's son, Sextus Tarquinius, raped the wife and daughter of powerful Roman nobles. A group of nobles led by Lucius Junius Brutus, with the support of the Roman Army, expelled Tarquinius and his family from Rome in 509 BC.
Consuls were called praetors, referring to their duties as the chief military commanders. By at least 300 BC the title of Consul became used. Ancient writers derive the title consul from the Latin verb consulere, "to take counsel", but this is most a gloss of the term, which derives—in view of the joint nature of the office—from con- and sal-, "get together" or from con- and sell-/sedl-, "sit down together with" or "next to". In Greek, the title was rendered as στρατηγὸς ὕπατος, strategos hypatos, simply as ὕπατος; the consul was believed by the Romans to date back to the traditional establishment of the Republic in 509 BC, but the succession of consuls was not continuous in the 5th century BC. During the 440s, the office was quite replaced with the establishment of the Consular Tribunes, who were elected whenever the military needs of the state were significant enough to warrant the election of more than the two usual consuls; these remained in place until the office was abolished in 367/366 BC and the consulship was reintroduced.
Consuls had extensive powers in peacetime, in wartime held the highest military command. Additional religious duties included certain rites which, as a sign of their formal importance, could only be carried out by the highest state officials. Consuls read auguries, an essential step before leading armies into the field. Two consuls were elected each year, serving together, each with veto power over the other's actions, a normal principle for magistracies, it is thought that only patricians were eligible for the consulship. Consuls were elected by the Comitia Centuriata, which had an aristocratic bias in its voting structure which only increased over the years from its foundation. However, they formally assumed powers only after the ratification of their election in the older Comitia Curiata, which granted the consuls their imperium by enacting a law, the "lex curiata de imperio". If a consul died during his term or was removed from office, another would be elected by the Comitia Centuriata to serve the remainder of the term as consul suffectus.
A consul elected to start the year - called a consul ordinarius - held more prestige than a suffect consul because the year would be named for ordinary consuls. According to tradition, the consulship was reserved for patricians and only in 367 BC did plebeians win the right to stand for this supreme office, when the Lex Licinia Sextia provided that at least one consul each year should be plebeian; the first plebeian consul, Lucius Sextius, was elected the following year. The office remained in the hands of a few families as, according to Gelzer, only fifteen novi homines - "new men" with no consular background - were elected to the consulship until the election of Cicero in 63 BC. Modern historians have questioned the traditional account of plebeian emancipation during the early Republic, noting for instance that about thirty percent of the consuls prior to Sextius had plebeian, not patrician, names, it is possible that only the chronology has been distorted, but it seems that one of the first consuls, Lucius Junius Brutus, came from a plebeian family.
Another possible explanation is that during the 5th century social struggles, the office of consul was monopolized by a patrician elite. During times of war, the primary qualification for consul was military skill and reputation, but at all times the selection was politically charged. With the passage of time, the consulship became the normal endpoint of the cursus honorum, the sequence of offices pursued by the ambitious Roman who chose to pursue political power and influence; when Lucius Cornelius Sulla regulated the cursus by law, the minimum age of election to consul became, in effect, 41 years of age. Beginning in the late Republic, after finishing a consular year, a former consul would serve a lucrative term as a proconsul, the Roman Governor of one of the provinces; the most chosen province for the proconsulship was Cisalpine Gaul. Although throughout the early years of the Principate, the consuls were still formally elected by the Comitia Centuriata, they were in fact nominated by the princeps.
As the years progressed, the distinction between the Comitia Centuriata and the Comitia Tributa appears to have disappeared, so for the purposes of the consular