Camillus, Pericles, Fabius Maximus


Camillus was five times chosen dictator, triumphed four times, and was styled a second founder of Rome, yet never was so much as once consul.

During his censorship one very good act of his is recorded, that, whereas the wars had made many widows, he obliged such as had no wives, some by fair persuasion, others by threatening to set fines on their heads, to take them in marriage; another necessary one, in causing orphans to be rated, who before were exempted from taxes, the frequent wars requiring more than ordinary expenses to maintain them.

He got himself banished from Rome for being too powerful. These Romans and Greeks were interesting people. Anytime someone appeared to have so much power, they banished him from the state. I wish we could do this now.

Pericles is a man who was beyond corruption. He, for reasons unknown to us, led to the death of many Athenians in the Peloponnesian war by failing to ratify the peace treaty that the  Lacedaemonians had offered could satisfy him.

Most of his laws are not extant today, or rather, were not extant in the time of Plutarch.

He adorned Athens with grand buildings. And when the citizens complained that he had drawn a lot of money from the public treasury, he asked that the buildings to be charged to his account and have the inscriptions in his name. The citizens on hearing this pleaded with him to draw from the public account and do as he pleased either to bring down or to build whatever monument or building he thought good for the public good.

He was frugal. There is a report that his household was not amused at his exactness with regards to spending. He even had an “accountant” whose duty was to ensure there was no waste in the family.

Of his head, a poem is written thus

And here by way of summary, now we’ve done,

Behold, in brief, the heads of all in one.

I know you know that great speech by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, Pericles paying tribute to those who had lost their lives in war said

For, we do not see them themselves, but only by the honors we pay them, and by the benefits they do us, attribute to them immortality; and the like attributes belong also to those that die in the service of their country.

His greatest failure, if we can call it that, was to let personal difference between him and Cimon and Thucydides use his power to have them ostracized.

After the loss of his legitimate sons, he asked that a law that stated only lawfully begotten children could be considered citizens be repealed so

so the name and race of his family might not, for absolute want of a lawful name and race of his family might not, for absolute want of a lawful heir to succeed, be wholly lost and extinguished.

A request the people granted arguing his suffering deserved their pity and even indignation, and his request was such as became a man to ask, and men to grant.

Fabius we are told was the son of Hercules and nymph.

He was five times consul, and in his first consulship had the honor of a triumph for the victory he gained over the Ligurians, whom he defeated in a set battle, and drove them to take shelter in the Alps, from whence they never after made any inroad nor depredation upon their neighbors.

During his reign, Hannibal attacked Italy and for a long time he tried to avoid direct combat with him arguing that with time Hannibal would be forced to retire and return to Carthage. Many of the Romans thought this strategy was because of a lack of courage on his part.

As testament to his honour and wisdom, we have Minucius, a young general who had been given as much power as Fabius address his troops in this manner

To conduct great matters and never commit a fault is above the force of human nature; but to learn and improve by the faults we have committed, is that which becomes a good and sensible man.  Some reasons I may have to accuse fortune, but I have many more to thank her;for in a few hours she hath cured a long mistake, and taught me that I am not the man who should command others, but have need of another to command me; and that we are not to contend for victory over those to whom it is our advantage to yield.  Therefore in everything else henceforth the dictator must be your commander; only in showing gratitude towards him I will still be your leader, and always be the first to obey his orders.

We find ambition and rivalry made him oppose the campaign of Scipio to Carthage, a campaign that in the end saw the defeat of Hannibal and Carthage come under Rome, a victory Fabius did not live to see for he died shortly after Hannibal left Italy for Carthage after being recalled to attend to matters at home.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

9 thoughts on “Camillus, Pericles, Fabius Maximus

  1. A very interesting history. Thank you. I never knew any of this before.

    Like

  2. john zande says:

    Fascinating stuff. I know so little detail of the Classical era and the personalities that drove it. I’m a lesser person for this.

    Like

  3. lexborgia says:

    Never heard of Camillus; he sounds more like a celebrity apprentice. Now Fabius Aetius, he was the soldier’s soldier and indeed, Hannibal’s foil, the life support that kept Rome going just a little bit longer.

    Like

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