Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 48 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
MARCUS ATILIUS REGULUS, Roman general and consul (for the second time) in the ninth year of the First Punic War (256 B.C.). He was one of the commanders in the Punic naval expedition which shattered the Carthaginian fleet at Ecnomus, and landed an army on Carthaginian territory (see PUNIC WARS). The invaders were so successful that the other consul, L. Manlius Vulso, was recalled to Rome, Regulus being left behind to finish the war. After a severe defeat at Adys near Carthage, the Carthaginians were inclined for peace, but the terms proposed by Regulus were so harsh that they resolved to continue the war. In 255, Regulus was completely defeated and taken prisoner by the Spartan Xanthippus. There is no further trustworthy information about him. According to tradition, he remained in captivity until 250, when after the defeat of the Carthaginians at Panormus he was sent to Rome on parole to negotiate a peace or exchange of prisoners. On his arrival he strongly urged the senate to refuse both proposals, and returning to Carthage was tortured to death (Horace, Odes, iii. 5). This story made Regulus to the later Romans the type of heroic endurance; but most historians regard it as insufficiently attested, Polybius being silent. The tale was probably invented by the annalists to excuse the cruel treatment of the Carthaginian prisoners by the Romans. See Polybius i. 25-34; Florus ii. 2; Cicero, De Officiis, iii. 26; Livy, Epit. 18; Valerius Maximus ix. 2; Sil. Ital. vi. 299-$50; Appian, Punica, 4; Zonaras viii. 15; see also O. Jager, M. Atilius Regulus (1878).
ADA REHAN (186o- )

Additional information and Comments

It should be noted that Polybios wrote,by no means, a detailed account of the 1st Punic War, dealing with a 23 year long conflagration in half of one of his own books;that he says nothing of Regulus' fate after his defeat has no bearing on the veracity of the Roman legend of him.Thus, the basic truth of what both Horace and Livy attest to need not be so glibly doubted.After all, as a Roman "nobile", Regulus had a very limited choice in salvaging any "dignitas", having survived a lost battle and then being captured.How else could he behave in front of his peers?
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.