Marcus Atilius Regulus (consul 267 BC)

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Marcus Atilius Regulus
Regulus Returning to Carthage (1791)
by Andries Cornelis Lens
OfficeConsul (267, 256 BC)
ChildrenMarcus and Gaius
Military service
Battles/warsFirst Punic War
Battle of Cape Ecnomus
Siege of Aspis
Battle of Adys
Battle of Tunis

Marcus Atilius Regulus (probably lived between 307 BC – 250 BC) was a Roman statesman and general who was a consul of the Roman Republic in 267 BC and 256 BC.[1]


Regulus first became consul in 267 BC, when he fought the Messapians. Elected as a consul again in 256 BC, he served as a general in the First Punic War (256 BC), where he defeated the Carthaginians in a naval battle at Cape Ecnomus near Sicily and invaded North Africa, winning victories at Aspis and Adys, until he was defeated and captured at Tunis in 255 BC. After he was released on parole to negotiate a peace, he urged the Roman Senate to refuse the proposals. Then, ignoring the protestations of his own people, he fulfilled the terms of his parole instead of breaking his word by returning to Carthage, where according to Roman tradition and other ancient sources such as the historian Livy, he was tortured to death. In Tertullian's "To the Martyrs" (Chapter 4) and Augustine of Hippo's The City of God (I.15), it is said the Carthaginians "packed him into a tight wooden box, spiked with sharp nails on all sides so that he could not lean in any direction without being pierced."[2] However, Polybius does not mention it, while Diodorus (a writer hostile to the Carthaginians) implies he died from natural causes.[3] He was posthumously seen by the Romans as a model of civic virtue.[1]


Atilius Regulus, the son of the eponymous consul of 294 BC, descended from an ancient Calabrian family. According to later Roman historians, he married one Marcia, who tortured several Carthaginian prisoners to death on hearing of her husband's death. He had at least two sons and one daughter by Livy's account; both sons became consuls: Marcus in 227 BC and Gaius in 225 BC (killed in battle against the Gauls).[citation needed]

A cousin, Gaius Atilius Regulus, served as consul in 257 BC and in 250 BC.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Marcus Atilius Regulus". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  2. ^ Translation by Gerald G. Walsh, S.J., Demetrius B. Zema, S.J., Grace Monahan, O.S.U., and Daniel J. Honan.
  3. ^ Carthage and the Carthaginians, R. Bosworth Smith.


Preceded by Roman consul
267 BC
with Lucius Julius Libo
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Quintus Caedicius
Roman consul II
256 BC (suffect)
with Lucius Manlius Vulso Longus
Succeeded by