Lucius Papirius Cursor

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Lucius Papirius, as depicted in the Nuremberg Chronicles.

Lucius Papirius Cursor was a Roman general who was five times Roman consul and twice dictator.

In 325 BC he was appointed dictator to carry on the second Samnite War. His quarrel with Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus, his magister equitum, is well known. The latter had engaged the enemy against the orders of Cursor, by whom he was condemned to death, and only the intercession of his father, the senate, and the people saved his life.

His cognomen, Cursor, means "The Runner", as he was able to walk over 50 Roman miles a day in full marching order and demanded the same from his soldiers. Legend says that when cavalry veterans came to him asking for some privileges, he gave them but one privilege:

That you may not say I never excuse you anything, I excuse you from rubbing your horses' backs when you dismount.[1]

Such harshness to his soldiers allowed them to be defeated initially. But later he had regained their good-will by more lenient treatment and lavish promises of booty; they fought with enthusiasm and gained a complete victory.

After the disaster of the Caudine Forks, Cursor to some extent wiped out the disgrace by compelling Lucera (which had revolted) to surrender. He delivered the Roman hostages who were held in captivity in the town, recovered the standards lost at Caudium, and made 7000 of the enemy pass under the yoke.

In 309 BC, when the Samnites again rose, Cursor was appointed dictator for the second time, and gained a decisive victory at Longula, in honour of which he celebrated a magnificent triumph. Cursor's strictness was proverbial; he was a man of immense bodily strength, while his bravery was beyond dispute. He was surnamed Cursor from his swiftness of foot.

His son of the same name, also a distinguished general, completed the subjection of Samnium (272 BC). He set up a sundial, the first of its kind in Rome, in the temple of Quirinus.

In opera[edit]

Named Lucio Papirio or Lucio Papirio dittatore, he is the subject of several Baroque operas.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Livy, 9.16

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 


Preceded by
Lucius Cornelius Lentulus and Quintus Publilius Philo
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Gaius Poetelius Libo Visolus
326 BC
Succeeded by
Lucius Furius Camillus and Decimus Iunius Brutus Scaeva
Preceded by
Lucius Furius Camillus and Decimus Iunius Brutus Scaeva
Dictator of the Roman Republic
324 BC
Succeeded by
Gaius Sulpicius Longus and Quintus Aulius Cerretanus
Preceded by
Titus Veturius Calvinus and Spurius Postumius Albinus
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Quintus Publilius Philo
320 BC
Succeeded by
Lucius Papirius Cursor and Quintus Aulius Cerretanus
Preceded by
Lucius Papirius Cursor and Quintus Publilius Philo
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Quintus Aulius Cerretanus
319 BC
Succeeded by
Lucius Plautius Venox and Marcus Foslius Flaccinator
Preceded by
Spurius Nautius Rutilus and Marcus Popillius Laenas
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Quintus Publilius Philo
315 BC
Succeeded by
Marcus Poetelius Libo and Gaius Sulpicius Longus
Preceded by
Marcus Poetelius Libo and Gaius Sulpicius Longus
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Gaius Iunius Bubulcus Brutus
313 BC
Succeeded by
Marcus Valerius Maximus Corrinus and Publius Decius Mus
Preceded by
Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus and Gaius Marcius Rutilus Censorinus
Dictator of the Roman Republic
with Gaius Iunius Bubulcus Brutus
309 BC
Succeeded by
Publius Decius Mus and Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus