Gnaeus Fulvius Maximus Centumalus

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Gnaeus Fulvius Maximus Centumalus (c. 340 BC – c. 260 BC) was a military commander and politician from the middle period of the Roman Republic, who became Consul in 298 BC. He was also appointed Dictator in 263 BC.


A member of the Plebeian gens Fulvia,[1] Centumalus is first mentioned in 302 BC as serving as a legatus under the dictator Marcus Valerius Corvus in the war against the Etruscans.[2] Elected consul in 298 BC, he and his colleague Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus were soon dispatched to deal with the outbreak of the Third Samnite War. The accounts of this year’s fighting, however, are contradictory. According to Livy,[3] while Scipio was dispatched northward to battle the Etruscans, Fulvius was sent south to fight on the Samnite front. He defeated a Samnite army outside of Bovianum, from which he advanced to the town and captured it after a short siege. Centumalus followed this up with the capture of the town of Aufidena. Returning to Rome, the Senate awarded him a triumph.[4] However, the Fasti Triumphales have him awarded triumphs for victories in both Samnium and Etruria, while Frontinus states he was fighting at Lucania. To complicate matters further, his colleague Scipio’s epitaph states that it was Scipio who won victories in Samnium, most likely during this year.[5] According to the historian S. P. Oakley, Livy was probably confused about the theatre of war, and in fact Centumalus won his victories against the Sabines.[6]

In 295 BC, with the war still raging, Centumalus was one of a number of former consuls who was appointed Propraetor, occupying the position as a privatus, and placed in charge of various armies.[7] Centumalus and his legion were stationed on Faliscan territory, with orders to defend the passage along the Tiber River, and to keep communication lines open between the offensive armies and the capital.[8][9] Problems in the field caused the consuls to issue orders to Centumalus, to march with Lucius Postumius Megellus on Clusium, as a tactic to force the Etruscans to withdraw their forces away from Sentinum.[10][11] While Megellus was sent back to Rome, Centumalus invaded Etruria, and proceeded to ravage the land. When the towns of Clusium and Perusia sent out an army to put a stop to his destructive tactics, he swiftly defeated their combined forces.[12] After this, and Roman victory at the decisive Battle of Sentinum, Centumalus was also recalled to Rome where his army was disbanded.[13]

The final mention of Centumalus was his appointment as Dictator in 263 BC, just after the outbreak of the First Punic War. The purpose of his appointment was for clavi figendi causa, "for the purpose of driving the nail," a ritual. His task was to mobilise the resources of the state to bring about the creation of a navy, which the Romans would need to successfully take the war to Carthage.[14][15]

Political offices
Preceded by
Marcus Fulvius Paetinus and Titus Manlius Torquatus
(Suffect: Marcus Valerius Corvus)
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus
298 BC
Succeeded by
Fabius Maximus Rullianus and Publius Decius Mus
Preceded by
Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus (280 BC)
Dictator of the Roman Republic
263 BC
Succeeded by
Quintus Ogulnius Gallus (257 BC)




  • Oakley, S. P., A Commentary on Livy, Books 6-10 Vol. IV (2007)
  • Broughton, T. Robert S., The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, Vol I (1951)
  • Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, Vol I (1867).
  • Arnold, Thomas, History of Rome (1840)


  1. ^ Smith, pg. 667
  2. ^ Broughton, pg. 170
  3. ^ Livy, X:12
  4. ^ Arnold, pg. 326
  5. ^ Broughton, pg. 174
  6. ^ Oakley, pg. 32
  7. ^ Oakley, pg. 282
  8. ^ Oakley, pg. 274
  9. ^ Arnold, pgs. 337-338
  10. ^ Oakley, pg. 292
  11. ^ Broughton, pg. 178
  12. ^ Arnold, pg. 345
  13. ^ Arnold, pg. 346
  14. ^ Broughton, pg. 204
  15. ^ Arnold, pgs. 571-572