1. C. Fabricius
Luscinus, C. F. C. N., one of the most popular heroes in the Roman annals, who, like Cincinnatus and Curius, is the representative of the poverty and honesty of the good old times.
He is first mentioned in B. C. 285 or 284, when he was sent as ambassador to the Tarentines and other allied states, to dissuade them from making war against Rome, but he was apprehended by them, while they sent embassies to the Etruscans, Umbrians, and Gauls, for the purpose of forming a general coalition against Rome. (Dio Cass. Frag.
144, ed. Reimar.)
He must, however, have been released soon afterwards, for he was consul in B. C. 282 with Q. Aemillus Papus.
In his consulship he had to carry on war in Southern Italy against the Samnites, Lucanians, and Bruttii.
He marched first to the relief of the town of Thurii, to which the Lucanians and Bruttii had laid siege, under the command of Statilius; but on leading out his army against the enemy, his soldiers lost courage at seeing that their forces were much smaller than those of the foe, when suddenly a youth of gigantic stature appeared at their front, carrying a scaling ladder, with which he began to mount the ramparts of the enemy.
The youth was discovered to be Mars the Father; and Niebuhr remarks, that this narrative is the last episode in Roman history that belongs to poetry.
A great victory, however, was gained by the Romans; the town of Thurii was relieved, and the grateful inhabitants erected a statue to the victorious consul. Fabricius followed up his success by gaining various other victories over the Lucanians, Bruttians, and Sannites, and taking several of their towns; and he obtained so much booty, that, after giving up a large portion to the soldiers, and returning to the citizens the tribute which they had paid the year before, he brought into the treasury after his triumph more than 400 talents. (V. Max. 1.8.6
, Plin. Nat. 34.6
, s. 15; Dionys. Exc. Leg.
pp. 2344, 2355, ed. Reiske; Liv. Epit. 12
; Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. iii. p. 437.)
In B. C. 281 Pyrrhus landed at Tarentum, and in the following year, B. C. 280, the consul P. Valerins Laevinus was sent against him. Fabricius probably served under him as legate, and was thus present at the unfortunate battle of Heracleia, on the Siris, where the Romans were defeated by Pyrrhus.
The subsequent history of the campaign belongs to the life of Pyrrhus [PYRRHUS]; and it is only necessary to state here, that after the king of Epeirus had advanced almost up to the gates of Rome, he found it necessary to retreat, and eventually took up his winter-quarters at Tarentum. While stopping in this city, the Romans sent to him an embassy, with Fabricius at its head, to negotiate a ransom or exchange of prisoners.
The conduct of Fabricius on this occasion formed one of the most celebrated stories in Roman history, and subsequent poets and historians delighted to embellish the account in every possible way. So much, however, seems certain-that Pyrrhus received the ambassadors in the most distinguished manner, and attempted particularly to gain the favour of Fabricius; that he offered the ambassador the most splendid presents, and endeavoured to persuade him to enter into his service, and accompany him to Greece; but that the sturdy Roman was proof against all his seductions, and rejected all his offers.
The result of the embassy is differently stated by the ancient writers. [PYRRHUS.]
The war was renewed in the following year, B. C. 279, when Fabricius again served as legate, and shared in the defeat at the battle of Asculum, in which he is said to have received a wound. (Oros. 4.1
; Flor. 1.18
, where he is erroneously called consul.) Next year, B. C. 278, he was elected consul a second time with Q. Aemilius Papus.
The victories which Pyrrhus had previously gained were purchased so dearly, that he was unwilling to risk another battle against the Romans, especially when commanded by Fabricius; the Romans too, who were anxious to recover their dominion over their allies who had revolted, were no less eager for a conclusion of the war.
The generosity with which Fabricius and his colleague sent back to the king the traitor who had offered to poison him, afforded a fair pretext for opening a negotiation ; and so opportunely did this event occur, that Niebuhr conjectures that it was a preconcerted plan. Cineas was sent to Rome, a truce was concluded, and Pyrrhus sailed to Sicily, leaving his Italian allies to the vengeance of the Romans. [PYRRHUS.] Fabricius was employed during the remainder of the year in reducing Southern Italy to subjection, and on his return to Rome he celebrated a triumph for his victories over the Lucanians, Bruttians, Tarentines, and Samnites. (Fasti Triumph.; Eutrop. 2.14
; Liv. Epit. 13
He exerted himself to obtain the election of P. Cornelius Rufinus to the consulship for the following year, on account of his military abilities, although he was an avaricious man. (Cic. de Orat. 2.66
Fabricius is stated in the Fasti to have been consul suffectus in B. C. 27 3, but this appears to be a mistake, arising from a confusion of his name with that of C. Fabius Licinus. (Pigh. Annal.
He was censor, B. C. 275, with Q. Aemilius Papus, his former colleague in the consulship, and distinguished himself by the severity with which he attempted to repress the growing taste for luxury. His censorship is particularly celebrated, from his expelling from the senate the P. Cornelius Rufinus mentioned above, on account of his possessing ten pounds' weight of silver plate. (Liv. Epit. 14
; Zonar. 8.6
; Gel. 17.21
The love of luxury and the degeneracy of morals, which had already commenced, brought out still more prominently the simplicity of life and the integrity of character which distinguished Fabricius as well as his contemporary Curius Dentatus; and ancient writers love to tell of the frugal way in which they lived on their hereditary farms, and how they refused the rich presents which the Samnite ambassadors offered them. Fabricius died as poor as he had lived; he left no dowry for his daughters, which the senate, however, furnished; and in order to pay the greatest possible respect to his memory, the state interred him within the pomaerium, although this was forbidden by an enactment of the Twelve Tables. (V. Max. 4.3.7
; Gel. 1.14
; Appul. Apol.
p. 265, ed. Alt.; Cic. de Leg.