Marcus Atilius Regulus (consul 267 BC)

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This is about the Roman general and consul. for other Romans of that name, see Marcus Atilius Regulus (disambiguation).
Marcus Atilius Regulus
Lens, Cornelis - Regulus Returning to Carthage - 1791.jpg
Regulus Returning to Carthage (1791)
by Andries Cornelis Lens
Consul of the Roman Republic
In office
267 BC – 267 BC
Preceded byPublius Sempronius Sophus and Appius Claudius Russus
Succeeded byDecimus Junius Pera and Numerius Fabius Pictor
Consul of the Roman Republic
In office
256 BC – 256 BC
Preceded byLucius Manlius Vulso Longus and Quintus Caedicius
Succeeded byMarcus Aemilius Paullus and Servius Fulvius Paetinus Nobilior
Personal details
BornBefore 307 BC
Roman Republic
Died250 BC
Military service
AllegianceRoman Military banner.svg Roman Republic
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 is supposed to have urged the Roman Senate to refuse the proposals and then, over the protests of his own people, to have fulfilled the terms of his parole rather than break his word by returning to Carthage, where, according to Roman tradition and 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]

He is mentioned in Historiae Animalium by Conrad Gessner:

"Dragons are certain great beasts, and there are none greater upon the earth.

Neither is it to be thought incredible, that the soldiers of Attilius Regulus did kill a Dragon which was a hundred and twenty foot long..."[4]


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).

A cousin, Gaius Atilius Regulus, served as consul in 257 BC and in 250 BC.

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.
  4. ^ Topsell, Edward; Gessner, Conrad; Moffett, Thomas; Rowland, John (1658). The history of four-footed beasts and serpents. Duke University Libraries. London, Printed by E. Cotes, for G. Sawbridge [etc.]


External links[edit]

Media related to Marcus Atilius Regulus at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Publius Sempronius Sophus and Appius Claudius Russus
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Lucius Julius Libo
267 BC
Succeeded by
Decimus Iunius Pera and Numerius Fabius Pictor
Preceded by
Lucius Manlius Vulso Longus and Quintus Caedicius
Consul (Suffect) of the Roman Republic
with Lucius Manlius Vulso Longus
256 BC
Succeeded by
Marcus Aemilius Paullus and Servius Fulvius Paetinus Nobilior