1. C. Flaminius
, according to the Capitoline fasti, the son of one C. Flaminius, who is otherwise unknown, was tribune of the people in B. C. 323; and, notwithstanding the most violent opposition of the senate and the optimates, he carried an agrarian law, ordaining that the Ager Gullicus Picenus,
which had recently been conquered, should be distributed viritim
among all the plebeians.
According to Cicero (de Senect.
4) the tribuneship of Flaminius and his agrarian law belong to the consulship of Sp. Carvilius and Q. Fabius Maximus, i.e. B. C. 228, or four years later than the time stated by Polybius. (2.21.) But Cicero's statement is improbable, for we know that in B. C. 227 C. Flaminius was praetor; and the aristocratic party, which he had irreconcilably offended by his agrarian law, would surely never have suffered him to be elected praetor the very year after his tribuneship. Cicero therefore is either mistaken, or we must have recoure to the supposition that Flaminius brought forward his bill in 232, and that it was not carried till four years later; but even this supposition does not remove the difficulties.
There is an anecdote relating to the proceedings about his agrarian law which is worthy of remark, as it shows that, although Flaminius may have been rather violent and sanguine, he was yet of a very amiable disposition.
The senatorial party not only abused him in every possible way, but threatened to declare him a public enemy, and to march an army against him, if he continued agitating the people; but lie persevered. On one occasions, however, while he was haranguing the people, his father called him from the rostra, begging him to desist, and the son yielded to his father. (V. Max. 5.4.5
.) In B. C. 227, the year in which, for the first time, four praetors were appointed, C. Flaminius was one of them, and received Sicily for his province.
He performed the duties of his administration to the greatest satisfaction of the provincials; and upwards of thirty years later, when his son was curule aedile, the Sicilians attested their gratitude towards him by sending an ample supply of corn to Rome. (Liv. 33.42
In B. C. 225, the war with the Cisalpine Gauls broke out, of which, in the opinion of Polybius (l.c.
), the agrarian law of Flaminius was the cause and origin; for the Gauls in the north of Italy, he says, had become convinced that it was the object of the Romans to expel them from their scats, or to annihilate them.
In the third year of ths war, B. C. 223, C. Flaminius was consul with P. Furius Philus, and both consuls marched to the north of Italy. No sooner had they set out than the aristocratic party at Rome devised a means for depriving Flaminius of his office: they declared that the consular election was not valid on account of some fault in the auspices; and a letter was forthwith sent to the camp of the consuls, with orders to return to Rome.
But as all preparations had been made for a great battle against the Insubrians on the Addua, the letter was left unopened until the battle was gained. Furius obeyed the command of the senate; but C. Flaminius, elated by his victory, continued the campaign. When he afterwards returned to Rome, the senate called him to account for his disobedience; but the people granted him a triumph for his victory; and after its celebration, he laid down his office, either because the time had expired, or, as Plutarch (Plut. Marc. 4
) says, being compelled by the people to abdicate.
It seems to have been in B. C. 221 that C. Flaminius was magister equitum to the dictator M. Minucius Rufus; but both were obliged to resign immediately after their appointment, on account of the squeaking of a mouse, which had been heard immediately after the election. (Plut. Marc. 5
; V. Max. 1.1.5
, who erroneously calls the dictator Fabius Maximus.)
The year after this event, 220, Flaminius and L. Aemilius Papus were invested with the censorship, which is renowned in history for two great works, which were executed by Flaminius, and bore his name, viz. the Circus Flaminius
and the Via Flaminia,
a road which ran from Rome through Etiuria and Umbria, as far as Ariminum. From a strange story in Pluhtarch (Quaest. Rom.
63), we may perhaps infer that Flaminius raised the money required for these undertakings by the sale of newly-conquered lands.
In B. C. 218, the tribune, Q. Claudius, brought. forward a bill to prevent Roman senators from engaging in mercantile pursuit; and C. Flaminius, although himself a member of the senate, supported the bill.
The optimates, who had be fore hated him, now abominated him; but his popularity with the people increased in the same proportion, in consequence of which he was elected consul a second time for B. C. 217, with Cn. Carvilius Geminus. Now it is said, that instead of undergoing the solemn installation in the Capitol, Flaminius, with his reinforcements, set out forthwith to Ariminum, to undertake the command of the army of his predecessor, Tib. Sempronius Longus, and there entered upon his office in the usual form, with vows and sacrifices.
This act was, of course, interpreted by his enemies as a contempt for religious observances; in addition to which they said he ought to have remained at Rome for the purpose of celebrating the feriae Latinae.
But there are two reasons, either of which would be sufficient to justify his conduct : in the first place, he had reason to fear, that, unless he set out at once, his enemies would act as they had done in his first consulship; and in the second place, he may have seen that no time was to be lost, for as it was it seems that Hannibal, who surely would not have waited for the Latin holidays, had already commenced his march towards Etruria, before Flaminius undertook the command of the army of his predecessor, so that no time was to be lost. Our accounts, however, of the movements of Hannibal and Flaminius differ.
According to Zonaras (8.25
), Flaminius had reached Ariminum, when Hannibal began his march, whereas Livy (22.2
) makes Flaminius proceed from Ariminum to Arretium, before Hannibal had begun to move; and Polybius (3.77
) says that Flaminius marched from Rome directly to Arretitmn, and makes no mention of his going to Ariminum.
But however this may be, Hannibal had advanced further south than Flaminius, who was at Arretium, and thence set out in pursuit of the enemy, perhaps more rashly than wisely. On the border of lake Trasimenus Hannibal compelled him to fight the fatal battle, on the 23d of June, 217, in which he perished, with the greater part of his army. (Ov. Fast. 6.765
This catastrophe of a man like Flaminius was easily accounted for by his hypocritical enemies : he had at all times disregarded the warnings of religion, and he had broken up from Arretium, they said, although the signs had been against him. That Livy judges unfavourably of Flaminius cannot be a matter of surprise, on account of the spirit which runs through his whole history; but from Polybins we might have expected a more impartial judgment.
There is, however, little doubt that Polybius was biassed by his friend Scipio, who abhorred Flaminius, and probably saw in him only a precursor of the Gracchi.
, &c.; Plb. 2.32
, &c., 3.75, 77, &c.; 80, &c.; Dionys. A. R. 2.26
; Solin. 11
; Oros. 4.13
; Flor. 2.4
; Sil. Ital. 4.704
, &c.; 5.107, &c., 653, &c.; Zonar. 8.24
, &c., Appian, Hannib.
8, &c.; Plut. Fub. Max.
2, 3; Nep. Hannib.
4; Eutrop. 3.9
; Plut. TG 21
; Cic. Brut. 14
2.5, de Invent.
2.17, de Licin.
1.35, 2.8, 31, de Nat. Deor.
2.3, de Leg.
3.9; V. Max. 1.6.7
; Niebuhr, Lectur. on the Hist. of Rome,
vol. i. p. 180, &c., ed. L. Schmitz.