2. L. Aemilius
Barbula, Q. F. Q. N., son of No. 1, was consul in B. C. 281. The Tarentines had rejected with the vilest insult the terms of peace which had been offered by Postumius, the Roman ambassador; but as the republic had both the Etruscans and Samnites to contend with, it was unwilling to come to a rupture with the Tarentines, and accordingly sent the consul Barbula towards Tarentum with instructions to offer the same terms of peace as Postumius had, but if they were again rejected to make war against the city. The Tarentines, however, adhered to their iormer resolution; but as they were unable to deiend themselves against the Romans, they invited Pyrrhus to their assistance.
As soon as Barbula became acquainted with their determination, he prosecuted the war with the utmost vigour, beat the Tarentines in the open field, and took several of their towns. Alarmed at his progress, and trusting to his clemency, as he had treated the peisoners kindly and dismissed some without ransom, the Tarentines appointed Agis, a friend of the Romans, general with unlimited powers.
But the arrival of Cincas, the chief minister of Pyrrhus, almost immediately afterwards, caused this appointment to be annulled; and as soon as Milo landed with part of the king's forces, he marched against Barbula and attacked the army as it was passing along a narrow road by the sea-coast.
By the side of the road were precipitous mountains, and the Tarentine fleet lay at anchor ready to discharge missiles at the Roman army as it marched by.
The army would probably have been destroyed, had not Barbula covered his troops by placing the Tarentine prisoners in such a manner that they would have become the first object of the enemy's artillery. Barbula thus led his army by in safety, as the Tarentines would not injure their own countrymen.
Barbula continued in southern Italy after the expiration of his consulship as proconsul.
He gained victories over the Samnites and Sallentines, as we learn from the Fasti, which record his triumph over these people, as well as over the Etruscans, in Quinctilis of 280. (Zonar. 8.2
; Ores. iv. I; Appian, Samn.
p. 58, &c., ed. Schw.; Dionys. Exe.
p. 2342, &c., ed. Reiske; Frontin. Strat.
1.4.1, where Aemilius Paullus
is a mistake.)