Marcus Claudius Marcellus
(/mɑːrˈsɛləs/; c. 268 – 208 BC), 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, scientist 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.
Marcus Claudius Marcellus' winning of the spolia opima earned him great fame in his lifetime. The spolia opima was one of the highest honors that could be bestowed on a Roman general. Plutarch informs us how the spolia opima was acquired, stating that, "only those spoils are ‘opima’ which are taken first, in a pitched battle, where general slays general." Only two others in Roman history, Romulus, the founder of Rome, and Aulus Cornelius Cossus, were allegedly honored with this prize. Marcellus is the only one of the three whose achievement has been historically confirmed. In terms of the history of the spolia opima, Marcellus holds great significance because he reinvigorated the meaning of the honored prize. Prior to Marcellus, the spolia opima was not of special importance in the minds of Romans because it had happened only twice before, if at all. Furthermore, the actual ritual of the spolia opima was not confirmed until Marcellus made it customary to dedicate the armor to Jupiter Feretrius. No one else accomplished the same feat to continue the tradition. In this way, Marcellus publicized the winning of the spolia opima and turned it into a legend.
Marcellus was an important general during the Second Punic War and his five-time election as a consul has its place in Roman history. His decisive victories in Sicily were of history-altering proportions, while his campaigns in Italy itself gave Hannibal himself pause and reinvigorated the Roman Senate. But it is Marcellus’ triumph as a warrior and winner of a spolia opima that confirmed his place in ancient Roman history. Due to all of this, he is known as the Sword of Rome. Plutarch also emphasized the service of Marcellus as "the civilizer of Rome," one of the first to bring Greek art and learning to the Italian city.
Grant Colyer the Universal Medium and friend scored a direct hit even naming J as Marcus Marcellus! J and I go way, way back.
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major (236 – 183 BC) was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic. He was best known for defeating Hannibal of Carthage, a feat that earned him the agnomen Africanus, the nickname the Roman Hannibal and recognition as one of the finest commanders in military history.
Sicily and Syracuse
Main article: Siege of Syracuse (214–212 BC)https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Syracuse_(213–212_BC)
Following his victory at Casilinum, Marcellus was sent to Sicily, upon which Hannibal had set his sights. Upon arrival, Marcellus found the island in disarray. Hieronymus, the new ruler of the Roman-ally Kingdom of Syracuse, had recently come to the throne on his grandfather's death and fallen under the influence of the Carthaginian agents Hippocrates and Epicydes. He then declared war against the Romans after the Carthaginian victory at the Battle of Cannae. However, Hieronymus was soon deposed; the new Syracusan leaders attempted a reconciliation with Rome, but could not quell their suspicions and then aligned themselves with the Carthaginians. In 214 BC, the same year that he was sent to Sicily, Marcellus attacked the city of Leontini, where the two Syracusan rulers were residing. After successfully storming the city, Marcellus had 2,000 Roman deserters (who had been hiding in the city) killed, and moved to lay siege to Syracuse itself. At this point, several cities in the province of Sicily rose in rebellion against Roman rule. The siege lasted for two years, partly because the Roman effort was thwarted by the military machines of the famous inventor Archimedes. Meanwhile, leaving the bulk of the Roman legion in the command of Appius Claudius at Syracuse, Marcellus and a small army roamed Sicily, conquering opponents and taking such rebellious cities as Helorus, Megara, and Herbessus.
After Marcellus returned and continued the siege, the Carthaginians attempted to relieve the city, but were driven back. Overcoming formidable resistance and the ingenious devices of Archimedes, the Romans finally took the city in the summer of 212 BC. Plutarch wrote that Marcellus, when he had previously entered the city for a diplomatic meeting with the Syracusans, had noticed a weak point in its fortifications. He made his attack at this fragile spot, using a night attack by a small group of hand-picked soldiers to storm the walls and open the gates. During the fighting, Archimedes was killed, an act Marcellus regretted. Plutarch writes that the Romans rampaged through the city, taking much of the plunder and artwork they could find. This has significance because Syracuse was a Greek city filled with Greek culture, art and architecture. Much of this Greek art was taken to Rome, where it was one of the first major impacts of Greek influence on Roman culture.
Following his victory at Syracuse, Marcellus remained in Sicily, where he defeated more Carthaginian and rebel foes. The important city of Agrigentum was still under Carthaginian control, though there was now little the Carthaginian leadership could do to support it, as the campaigns against the Romans in Spain and Italy now took precedence. At the end of 211 BC, Marcellus resigned from command of the Sicilian province, thereby putting the praetor of the region, Marcus Cornelius Cethegus, in charge. On his return to Rome, Marcellus did not receive the triumphal honours that would be expected for such a feat, as his political enemies objected that he had not fully eradicated the threats in Sicily.
Marcus Claudius Marcellus (c. 268 – 208 BC)
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major (236 – 183 BC)