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.