Marcus Furius Camillus

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Marcus Furius Camillus (* around 446 BC; † 365 BC ) was a politician and general of the Roman Republic , who is also called the "second founder of Rome ". However, numerous details of his life have been embellished by later tradition. Camillus was 403 BC. Chr. Censor and in the years 401, 398, 394, 386, 384 and 381 v. Chr. Consular Tribune . It is also said to have existed between 396 and 367 BC. Be dictator five times in total . According to tradition, he died in 365 BC. BC as one of the most respected citizens of the young republic from an epidemic.


Consular tribunates

In total, Camillus was consular tribune six times ( tribunus militum consulari potestate , i.e. member of a college of senior officials, which took the place of consuls several times from about the middle of the 5th century to the middle of the 4th century BC ), which was achieved through several ancient times Sources is proven.

In his first consular tribunate (401 BC) he fought successfully against the city of Falerii and in his second consular tribunate (398 BC) against the Etruscans .

In order to prevent unrest in the city and a division and relocation to Veji , Camillus again went to war against the Faliskians in his third consular tribunate (394 BC) . During this war, a Falisker teacher wanted to hand over the boys of the city to the Romans as hostages, but Camillus did not accept this as ungodly behavior, whereupon the Faliskers surrendered and concluded a friendship treaty with the Romans.

In Camillus' fourth consular tribunate, which was handed down exclusively to Titus Livius , he fought successfully against the Volscians , who, together with the Hernics and Latins, made a revolt. In the course of this war he also recaptured the cities of Sutrium and Nepete from the Etruscans.

During Camillus' fifth consular tribunate, Marcus Manlius Capitolinus , who incited the people and wanted to become the sole ruler after Plutarch, was tried by Camillus in front of the city and sentenced to death.

In his sixth and last consular tribunate (381 BC) Camillus waged war against the Prenestines and Volscians and defeated them after his counterpart Lucius Furius had suffered a defeat. Together with this he then defeated the Tusculans , who later fell away.


Camillus' triumphal procession after the victory against Veji on a modern fresco by Francesco Salviati in the Sala dell'Udienza, Palazzo Vecchio , Florence

During his first dictatorship, Camillus conquered in 396 BC. The Etruscan city of Veji . This victory earned him a triumphal procession in Rome. On this train he was probably the first to be allowed to wear the full regalia of Jupiter Capitolinus . His alleged sentencing to a fine and exile to Ardea in 391 BC is historically rather doubtful . BC because of embezzlement and unjust distribution of booty from Veji, which is believed to explain the absence of Camillus during the invasion of Rome by the Gauls.

The depictions of the role of Camillus as dictator in 390 or 387 BC When the Gauls invaded are strongly influenced by legends. After the Gallic general Brennus had defeated the Romans on the Allia and then captured and sacked Rome, except for the Capitol, which was defended by Marcus Manlius Capitolinus, Camillus is said to have gathered an army and with it expelled the Gauls from the city and paid them the ransom that Brennus was supposed to get for the promise to withdraw his troops from Rome. The ancient sources present this episode very differently, depending on the lifetime of the historian.

Camillus' third election as dictator came when the Aequer , Volscians, and Latins invaded the still-reconstructed Roman land and the Etruscans oppressed the allied Saturians. With his horseman Gaius Servilius Ahala he destroyed the camp of the Volscians and Latins with incendiary arrows and the city of the Aequer. Then he recaptured Saturia from the Etruscans.

The Senate elected Camillus to the temporary office of dictator , mainly to appease internal turmoil ( seditionis sedandae causa ) when the people, incited by Gaius Licinius Stolo , rose against the Senate to ensure that at least one of the two stood for election Consuls should be plebeians . Camillus, however, resigned immediately from this post either because of a formal defect or because of illness and did not oppose the plebs.

The fifth and final election of Camillus as dictator (367 BC) took place when the Gauls again moved to Italy. Because of his experience, he won the war quickly and with superior tactics. The dispute over the consular elections was postponed by this war and Camillus later settled it through a compromise by granting the plebeians a consul from the plebs and the plebeians a praetor for the patricians .


Camillus is said to have been interrex twice . The first time was before his exile to Ardea, when the consuls had fallen ill and it was decided to renew the auspices . The second interregnum was held by Camillus after the destruction of Rome by the Gauls. However, only Livy reports on the interregna and in more recent research no importance is attached to them.


Because of his many successes, which are attributed to him, the historians Titus Livius and Plutarch celebrate Camillus as the second founder of Rome. The many wars against the Faliskians , however, make even Livius doubt that Camillus actually wiped out their army so often. The armies could not have recovered so quickly. Camillus organized the Roman army in such a way that Rome's supremacy in central Italy could be achieved.

The salvation of Rome's honor in the war against the Gauls is likely to be a later construction, since here one ascribed the victory to the greatest man of his time, because otherwise one had no more suitable name with which one could associate this. Camillus' protest against the Romans moving to Veji after the city was devastated in the war against the Gauls is also historically very questionable.

Although a patrician, Camillus saw the need for concessions to the plebeians and made a decisive contribution to the leges Liciniae Sextiae .

When analyzing the figure of Marcus Furius Camillus, one must not forget that the Romans wrote less political history than personal history , and therefore always tried to combine political and military successes with one person, which in this case was those in the first half 4th century BC BC popular personality was Camillus. Hence, it can be assumed that many of the successes ascribed to Camillus were invented or arbitrarily assigned by the ancient historians. According to the current state of research, only the victory against Veji is assumed to be historically certain, the remaining dictatorships are rather doubtful.



Web links


  1. Erich Burck: The figure of Camillus . In the S. (Ed.): Ways to Livy . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 2nd ed. 1977, pp. 310–328, here p. 311.