Lucius Postumius Megellus (Consul 305 BC)

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Lucius Postumius Megellus came from the Roman noble family of Postumier and was three times consul (305, 294 and 291 BC).

First consulate (305 BC)

Lucius Postumius Megellus, son of Lucius Postumius and grandson of Spurius Postumius , was first born in 305 BC. Elected consul together with Tiberius Minucius Augurinus . Both consuls were put in charge of the fighting in Samnium . According to the description of the Sicilian historian Diodorus , the Samnites had attacked the Falernergau beforehand . The consuls were able to achieve a victory and take over 2000 prisoners, then conquer a city called Bola , defeat the 6000-strong army of the Samnite leader Gellius Gaius and take the enemy general himself prisoner. In the end they managed to recapture three cities of their allies, especially Sora .

According to the Roman annalist Titus Livius , the Samnites attacked Ager Stellas in Campania , which borders the Falernergau . The consuls proceeded separately, with Postumius launching an offensive against Tifernum and Minucius one against Bovianum . In his further report, Livy used two sources which often did not agree. According to both, Postumius initially fought the enemy alone in a battle, but according to one source he achieved a great success with 24,000 prisoners, according to the other only a draw. Subsequently, both consuls fought together and won brilliantly over the Samnite leader Statius Gellius , who fell into the hands of the Romans with many of his people. According to the report used by Livius, both consuls are said to have conquered Bovianum and celebrated a triumph soon afterwards , while after the other Minucius was wounded in battle and died, so that Marcus Fulvius was chosen as suffect consul , who then conquered Bovianum alone. As with Diodorus, the recovery of Sora and two other cities (Arpinum and Cesennia) from the Samnites marks the end of the war report for the first consulate of Postumius.

The Fasti Capitolini confirm that a suffect consul, Marcus Fulvius, was elected, who, according to the Acts of Triumph, triumphed over the Samnites, but not the other two consuls, as the one report of Livy claimed. The exact course of this war year cannot be reconstructed from the contradicting sources; it can only be said that the consuls achieved significant successes after initial setbacks and thereby voted the Samnites to be willing to peace. Obviously, Postumius was not allowed to hold a triumph either.

According to the historian Friedrich Münzer , Postumius could have become a curular aedile either before his first consulate or in a year between his first and second consulate . In this position he began construction work for a temple of the goddess of victory Victoria on the Palatine Hill , which was financed by fines and and in 294 BC. When Postumius held his second consulate, it was consecrated.

Second Consulate (294 BC)

In the tradition, Postumius does not appear again until 295 BC. When he and Gnaeus Fulvius Maximus Centumalus, with the rank of propaetors, were in command of two armies that were supposed to protect Rome from attack. This was necessary because the two consuls were staying far from the capital to fight the decisive battle in the Third Samnite War against a coalition of hostile tribes. Postumius and his colleague received the order from the consuls to devastate the territory of the Etruscans by marching on Clusium and thus to lure this tribe away from union with the other Roman enemies at Sentinum . Since Fulvius was closer to Clusium, he apparently carried out the order alone.

Together with Marcus Atilius Regulus, Postumius dressed in the next year, 294 BC. BC, the consulate for the second time; both received Samnium as a province. According to Livius, the sources for the warlike events of that year were extremely unsatisfactory, as the individual sources diverged widely. Livy chose a detailed, younger annalist as the main source and, following this war report, brings short, deviating messages from Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius and the oldest and probably most reliable Roman historian Quintus Fabius Pictor . The latter states that both consuls fought in Samnium and Luceria and then moved the theater of war to Etruria . Since this procession to Etruria was carried out by only one consul according to the main source of Livy and according to Claudius , Livy believed that Fabius also accepted this, but this need not be true. Fabius also reports that both sides suffered heavy losses in Luceria and that during these battles a temple for Iuppiter Stator was praised. After the Triumphal Acts, Postumius celebrated a triumph over the Samnites and Etruscans, and Atilius celebrated a triumph over Volsinii and Samnites the next day . This source therefore assumes that both consuls were deployed on both battlefields and therefore essentially agrees with Fabius. Even after Claudius, both consuls fought together in Samnium, but then separated, according to this author, with Postumius unhappy in Apulia , Atilius however victorious in Etruria.

The main report of Livius initially only lets Atilius move to Samnium, where the enemies almost conquered the Roman camp. Postumius had to stay in Rome because of illness, but decided to leave after receiving the news about the unfortunate warfare of his colleague. Before that he consecrated the Victoria Temple and then joined Atilius with his army. The consuls soon parted and Postumius conquered Milionia with some difficulty and was then able to take some of the villages abandoned by the inhabitants without a fight. This conquest of several cities in Samnium also occurred in Claudius' report, though probably as conquered jointly by both consuls. According to his main source, Livius now reports that Atilius moved to Luceria after separating from his colleague, initially fought in a draw against the Samnites and that his troops would almost have been routed in the battle that took place the next day, had Atilius not had the Iuppiter stator praised a temple (this detail also occurred with Fabius, see above) and as a result still won. In any case, the consul suffered heavy losses, but was then able to achieve another success against the enemy at the Roman colony of Interamna . Postumius, on the other hand, who had moved to Etruria, fought much more successfully there than his colleague, for example against the inhabitants of Volsinii, so that the three most important Etrurian cities found themselves ready for a peace with Rome. In contrast to this main report by Livy, Postumius suffered a heavy defeat in Apulia, according to Claudius Quadrigarius, was injured and pushed back to Luceria, while Atilius fought victoriously in Etruria.

The distribution of the awards among the two consuls also differed among the annalists. According to the Livian main source, Atilius was refused the triumph he wanted because of insufficient performance. The Senate also rejected Postumius' request for a triumph, despite having fought such successful battles in Samnium and Etruria. The consul did not want to comply with this decision and was now negotiating before the people. Three tribunes supported Postumius, and with their help he managed to hold a triumph against the opposition of the remaining seven tribunes and the Senate. With this main report of Livius, Claudius is again in sharpest contradiction, who ascribed the victories in Etruria to Atilius and therefore also celebrated the triumph. Atilius received this honor after the acts of triumph for victories over the Volsinii (located in Etruria) and over the Samnites, but Postumius was also allowed to triumph according to these acts. Münzer believes that Livy chose an annalist who was not very credible - in contrast to Fabius Pictor - as the main source, and who unmistakably preferred the patrician Postumius to the plebeian consul.

The Zonara's brief account of the events begins with the invasion of Samnium and the conquest of some cities by the two consuls, who then parted. Zonaras does not name them, but only says that one of them won against the Samnites and triumphed, while the other fought successfully against the Etruscans. The Byzantine historian gives a report that does not correspond entirely to the main source of Livy, but is quite similar.

So if the actual course of the war during Postumius' second consulate is not exactly recognizable because of the differing reports of the Annalists, it is that the Romans had to fight hard battles with great losses even after the Battle of Sentinum (295 BC).

Third Consulate (291 BC)

At the end of the report on the wars of 293 BC BC Livy tells that Postumius evaded a process brought on by the tribune Marcus Scantius by accepting a legacy from the popular plebeian consul Spurius Carvilius Maximus . Livius doubts this statement, but Münzer considers it credible, since Postumius' legacy is not mentioned in the (unreliable) war report itself and his intended accusation with the dispute about the holding of his triumph in 294 BC. Could be related.

291 BC Postumius came to the consulate for the third time. The representation of Livy is lost, since the second decade of his history (which began in 292 BC) has not been preserved and is only available today in a short epitome. In a later comment, however, he mentions that Postumius led the elections as Interrex and was elected consul alongside Gaius Iunius Brutus Bubulcus . This unusual process, which speaks for the self-confidence of Postumius, was probably part of an agreement, because both the patrician consul of 292 BC. BC, Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges , as well as Postumius as consul of the next year each had a Junius Brutus as a plebeian colleague. After his year in office, Fabius Gurges continued the fighting, so that presumably the second consul Iunius Brutus in Rome was supposed to lead the elections, but was prevented from doing so by the patricians. The compromise was probably that a relative of the plebeian consul should be his successor if Interrex Postumius was allowed to appoint himself the other consul.

About the third consulate of Postumius there is only information from the epitome of Livius and excerpts from Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Cassius Dio . In any case, Postumius had to resolve disputes on several fronts because of his high-handed administration. So he tried to push his colleague Junius Brutus back as much as possible so that he could act alone. The plebeian consul complained to the Senate several times about this, but finally had to accept that his patrician colleague alone led the war against the Samnites. According to Dionysius, Postumius treated his soldiers arrogantly because in 2000 he had them cut down a little wood on his own fields. This wood was probably even a sacred grove, since, according to Cassius Dio, the soldiers then fell ill with the Samnites on the way to the battle fort and attributed this to their clearing work. Then Postumius would have violated religious regulations. His predecessor Fabius Gurges besieged the city of Cominium , because the Senate had granted him an extended empire . However, Postumius did not want to accept this and forced Fabius Gurges to resign from the command despite intervention by the Senate. He informed the Senate embassy that he, as consul, was not the recipient of the Senate's orders, but that the reverse principle applied. Livy is already relocating this proud replica to the second consulate of Postumius, who presented it on the occasion of his dispute with the Senate about holding a triumph. Obviously, in later generations, when Roman historiography began, only the striking saying of the consul was remembered, but the context on which it was uttered had been forgotten, so that the individual authors put it in different epochs of the biography of Postumius could incorporate. The same applies to the triumph which, according to Dionysius, Postumius celebrated himself against the will of the Senate at the end of his third consulate, while Livy, as mentioned, tells the same thing about his second consulate.

Only in the excerpt of Dionysius have some of Postumius' warlike achievements been preserved. After that he continued the siege of Cominium started by Fabius Gurges and was soon able to conquer the city. He then succeeded in taking Venusia , which had many inhabitants, and other cities, killing 10,000 enemies and surrendering more than 6000. The enormous number of 20,000 Latin settlers was transplanted to Venusia. That this could not be done by Postumius himself offended him, so that he distributed all the captured treasures among his soldiers and then released his troops before his successor arrived. Then, according to Dionysius, as mentioned, he celebrated the triumph without the permission of the Senate, but was indicted by two tribunes for all of his offenses committed in the third consulate and unanimously condemned by the tribute comitia to pay 50,000 As. Overall, because of the scant news, Postumius' actions in his third consulate are not well known, but he is likely to have become more and more self-confident in the exercise of power.

Legation to Taranto (282 BC)

End of 282 BC Because of his outstanding position in the Roman state and probably also because of his assumed knowledge of Greek, which was often to be found among representatives of his sex, Postumius was commissioned to head an embassy to Taranto to demand reparations for an attack on the Roman fleet . The ambassadors were treated dismissively and mockingly. For the Tarentines, who received the Romans in the theater, their strange clothing was a reason for the mockery, and also that, in their opinion, Postumius had too little knowledge of Greek. His robe was also tainted by a drunken clown named Philonides. According to Valerius Maximus , the three-time consul did his job with dignity, despite these insults, without being disturbed. Three sharply pointed statements made on this occasion are ascribed to him, but they may be based on old tradition. Among other things, he is said to have said: "Now you laugh, but you will have to cry for a long time!" After his return, he presented his tainted clothing to the Senate as evidence. Even the oldest preserved source, Polybius , emphasizes that the Romans declared war on the Tarentines because of the bad treatment of their envoys.

After this missionary activity, Postumius disappears from the sources. He was undoubtedly one of the most important Romans of his time.



  1. Fasti Capitolini ; Livy 9:44, 3; Diodor 20, 81, 1; among others
  2. Diodorus 20, 90, 3f.
  3. ^ Livy 9:44, 5-16
  4. F. Münzer (see Lit.), Col. 936
  5. Münzer, Col. 935.
  6. Livy 10:33 , 9; 29, 14, 13
  7. Livy 10:26 , 15; 10, 27, 5f .; 10, 30, 1f.
  8. Fasti Capitolini; Livy 10:32, 1f .; among others
  9. Claudius and Fabius in Livius 10, 37, 13ff.
  10. ^ Livy 10, 32, 3–10, 33, 7.
  11. Livy 10:32 , 3; 10, 33, 8ff.
  12. ^ Livy 10:34, 1-14
  13. ^ Livy 10, 35, 1-36, 18
  14. Livy 10:37, 1-5.
  15. ^ Livy 10:37, 13.
  16. Livy 10:36 , 19; 10, 37, 6-12.
  17. a b Münzer, Col. 938.
  18. Zonaras 8, 1
  19. Livy 10:46, 16.
  20. Cassiodorus , Chronicle ; among others
  21. Livy 27: 6, 8.
  22. Münzer, Col. 939.
  23. ^ Livius, periochae 11; Dionysius of Halicarnassus 17/18, 4, 2 - 5, 4; Cassius Dio , fragment 36, 32.
  24. Dionysios 17/18, 4, 2.
  25. Dionysios 17/18, 4, 3; Cassius Dio, fragment 36, 32; briefly also mentioned by Livius, periochae 11.
  26. Dionysios 17/18, 4, 4-6; Cassius Dio, fragment 36, 32.
  27. ^ Livy 10:37, 8.
  28. Dionysios 17/18, 5, 3
  29. Dionysios 17/18, 5, 1-4; short Livius, periochae 11.
  30. Dionysios 19, 5, 1-6, 1; Zonaras 8, 2; Cassius Dio, fragment 39, 5-9; Appian , Samnitica 7, 1f .; see. without name: Polybios 1, 6, 5 (whose description perhaps goes back through Fabius Pictor to Postumius' own report in the Senate); Livy, periochae 12; Valerius Maximus 2, 2, 5; Florus 1, 13, 5.