Spurius Maelius

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Spurius Maelius (died 439 BC) was a wealthy Roman plebeian who was slain because he was suspected of intending to make himself king.


During a severe famine, Spurius Maelius bought up a large amount of wheat and sold it at a low price to the people of Rome. According to Livy, Lucius Minucius Augurinus, the patrician praefectus annonae (president of the market), thereupon accused him of collecting arms in Maelius' house, and that he was holding secret meetings at which plans were being undoubtedly formed to establish a monarchy. The cry was taken up. Maelius, summoned before the aged Cincinnatus (specially appointed dictator), refused to appear, and was slain by the Master of the Horse Gaius Servilius Ahala; his house was razed to the ground, his wheat distributed amongst the people, and his property confiscated. The open space called Aequimaelium, on which his house had stood, preserved the memory of his death. Cicero calls Ahala's deed a glorious one, but, whether Maelius entertained any ambitious projects or not, his summary execution was an act of murder, since by the Leges Valeria Horatiae the dictator was bound to allow the right of appeal.[1]


  1. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 298.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Maelius, Spurius". Encyclopædia Britannica 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 298.  Endnotes:
    • Niebuhr's History of Rome, ii. 418 (Eng. trans., 1851);
    • G. Cornewall Lewis, Credibility of early Roman History, ii.;
    • Livy, iv. 13;
    • Ancient sources: Livy, iv.13; Cicero, De senectute 16, De amicitia 8, De republica, ii.49; Florus, i.26; Dionysius Halicarnassensis xii.I.