1. L. Postumius
Sp., L. F. N. MEGELLUS, who as curule aedile built, and in his second consulship dedicated, a temple to Victory with the produce of the fines levied by him for encroachments on the demesne-land.
The year of his aedileship is urknown Megellus was consul for the first time in B. C. 305, according to the Fasti, although some of the annalists placed this consulate two years earlier.
It was towards the close of the second Samnite war, and Megellus, after defeating the Samnites in the field, took Bovianum, one of their principal fortresses on the north side of the Matese. On their march homeward Megellus and his colleague Minucius recovered Sora and Arpinum in the valley of the Liris, and Cerennia or Censennia (Liv. 9.44
; Diod. 20.90
), whose site is unknown. For this campaign Livy ascribes a triumph to Megellus, which the Fasti do not confirm. Megellus was propraetor in B. C. 295, when Rome was awaiting a combined invasion of the Gauls and Samnites, the Etruscans and Umbrians. Megellus was stationed in the Vatican district, on the right bank of the Tiber, to cover the approaches to the city.
He probably remained there till after the great battle at Sentinum, when he was recalitd by the senate and his legions disbanded. In B. C. 294, Megellus was consul for the second time. Ill health detained him awhile at Rome, but a victory of the Samnites obliged him to take the field, and he signalised himself by taking in Samnium Milionia and Ferentinum, and Rusellae in Etruria, and by ravaging both territories.
The accounts of both these consulates of Megellus are very obscure and contradictory-some assign to him different fields of action, and defeats instead of victories.
It is, however, probable that some illegal or contemptuous conduct in his second consulship-for the temper of Megellus was obstinate and arbitrary in the extreme, and the Postumian gens notorious for its patrician pride-brought upon Megellus, at the expiration of his office, an impeachment by M. Scantius, tribune of the plebs, from which his services as the lieutenant of Sp. Carvilius in the campaign with Samnium, in B. C. 293, and the popularity of his general, rescued him.
The third consulship of Megellus (B. C. 291) is better known: his imperious, perhaps his insane, extravagances made it remarkable.
At the close of B. C. 292, Megellus was appointed interrex to hold the consular comitia.
He followed the example of Appius Claudius Caecus in B. C. 297 (Liv. 27.6
), and nominated himself. His administration was answerable to his assumption of office.
He refused to wait for the usual allotment of the consular provinces, and took Samnium for himself.
He employed his legionaries, not in quenching the embers of an expiring war, but in levelling the woods on his own demesne.
He violently, and in defiance of a deputation from the senate, expelled the proconsul Q. Fabius Gurges from his command at Cominium, and undertook the siege.
There his military talents once more displayed themselves; he took Cominium and several other places, and acquired the important post of Venusia, where he recommended the senate to establish a numerous colony. His counsel was followed (Vell. 1.14), but the name of Megellus was carefully excluded from the list of commissioners for establishing it.
In revenge he divided among his soldiers the whole of the booty he had taken without making any reserve for the treasury, and he disbanded his soldiers without awaiting the arrival of his successor.
The senate refused him a triumph. Megellus appealed to the people who faintly supported him, and, although only three tribunes favoured while seven opposed his claim, he triumphed in despite of the senate. For his many delinquencies Megellus, as soon as he went out of office, was prosecuted by two of the tribunes and condemned by all the three-and-thirty tribes.
He was fined the sum of 500,000 asses, the heaviest mulct to which any Roman had been hitherto sentenced. (Comp. Plut. Camill.
According to the Fasti, indeed, Megellus triumphed in his second consulship--March 24th, B. C. 294, "De Samnitibus et Etrusceis" and Livy refers his dispute with the senate to this period. (Liv. 9.44
, id. Epit.
xi; Dionys. A. R. 16.15
; Frontin. Strat.