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Marcellus Clau'dius

15. M. Claudius Marcellus, C. F. C. N., son of the preceding and of Octavia, the daughter of C. Octavius and sister of Augustus. He must have been born in the year B. C. 43, and was a youth of promising talents and engaging manners, having been brought up with great care by his mother, a woman of superior understanding, as well as of the highest virtue. As early as B. C. 39 he was betrothed in marriage to the daughter of Sex. Pompey, as one of the conditions of the peace concluded in that year between Pompey and Octavian (D. C. 48.38); but the marriage never took place, as Pompey's death, in B. C. 35, removed the occasion for it.

In B. C. 29 Augustus, on his return from Egypt, distributed a congiarium, in the name of young Marcellus, to the boys of the Roman populace (id. 2.21); and in B. C. 25 we find him, together with Tiberius, presiding at the games and spec tacles exhibited by Augustus at the foundation of his new colony of Emerita in Spain. (Id. 53.26.) It was apparently in the same year that Augustus adopted him as his son, at the same time that he gave hin his daughter Julia in marriage (Plut. Ant. 87; Dio Cass. Dii. 27), and caused him to be admitted into the senate with praetorian rank, and with the privilege of suing for the consulship ten years before the legal period. Shortly after wards (in B. C. 24), the young Marcellus was elected curule aedile for the ensuing year, and dis tinguished his magistracy by the magnificence of the games which he exhibited, on occasion of which the whole forum was covered over with an awning, as well as the theatres themselves, which were hung with splendid tapestries. Augustus himself did every thing in his power to contribute to the effect of this display, in which Octavia also bore an importart part. (Dio Cass. Dii. 28, 31; Pro pert. 3.18. 13-20; Plin. H. N 19.1.) But Marcellus was not destined to survive the year of this his first office: in the autumn of B. C. 23, almost before the end of the games and shows, he was attacked by the disease, of which he died shortly after at Baiae, notwithstanding all the skill and care of the celebrated physician Antonius Musa. He was in the 20th year of his age (Propert. Ml.c.), and was thought to have given so much promise of future excellence, that his death was mourned as a public calamity; and the grief of Augustus, as well as that of his mother, Octavia, was for a time unbounded.

On the other hand, his untimely fate was so favourable to the views of Livia as to give rise to the suspicion, probably unfounded, that she had been the means of hastening it. (D. C. 53.33.) The rising favour of Marcellus with Augustus had led to the general expectation that he would name him his successor; and it is probable that he would have done so had the life of the young man been prolonged; but he evidently deemed him as yet unequal to the charge; and in a severe illness, which endangered his own life at the beginning of the year 23, Augustus had certainly destined Agrippa to succeed to the management of affairs in case of his death, a circumstance which gave rise to great jealousy between the two, and to the temporary removal of Agrippa from Rome, (Ibid. 31, 32.)

The obsequies of Marcellus were celebrated with the greatest magnificence by Augustus, who himself pronounced the funeral oration over his remains, after which they were deposited in the mausoleum lately erected for the Julian family. At a subsequent period (B. C. 14) Augustus dedicated in his name the magnificent theatre near the Forum Olitorium, of which the remains are still visible. But the most durable monument to the memory of Marcellus is to be found in the wellknown passage of Virgil, which must have been composed and recited to Augustus and Octavia before the end of the year 22. (D. C. 53.30-32, 54.26; Vell. 2.93; Plut. Marc. 30; Suet. Oct. 63; Tac. Ann. 1.3, 2.41, Hist. 1.15; Propert. 3.18; Verg. A. 6.860-886; Serv. ad Virg. l.c.; Donat. Vit. Virg.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 6.860
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 6.886
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.3
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.41
    • Plutarch, Antonius, 87
    • Plutarch, Marcellus, 30
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