1. Q. Fabius
Maximus, M. F. N. N., with the agnomen RULLIANUS or RULLUS, was the son of M. Fabius Ambustus, consul B. C. 360. (Liv. 8.33
He was curule aedile in B. C. 331, when, through the information of a female slave, he discovered that the mortality prevailing at Rome arose from poison administered by women to their husbands. (Liv. 8.18
; V. Max. 2.5.3
; Oros. 3.10
.) Fabius was master of the equites to L. Papirius Cursor in B. C. 325, whose anger he incurred by giving battle to the Samnites near the Imbrivian or Simbrivian hills during the dictator's absence, and contrary to his orders. Victory availed Fabius nothing in exculpation.
The rods and axes were ready for his execution, and a hasty flight to Rome, where the senate, the people, and his aged father interceded for him with Papirius, barely rescued his life, but could not avert his degradation from office. (Liv. 8.29
; Dio Cass. Fr.
Mai; V. Max. 2.7.8
; Frontin. Strat.
4.1.39; Aurel. Vict. Vir. Ill.
31, 32; Eutrop. 2.8
.) In B. C. 322 Fabius obtained his first consulate, probably at an early age. (Cic. Phil. v.
17; comp. V. Max. 8.15.5
It was the second year of the second Samnite war, and Fabius was the most eminent of the Roman generals in that long and arduous struggle for the empire of Italy.
He was, as Dr. Arnold remarks, "the Talbot of the fifth century of Rome, and his personal prowess, even in age, was no less celebrated than his skill as a general." Yet nearly all authentic traces are lost of the seat and circumstances of his numerous campaigns. His defeats have been suppressed or extenuated; the achievements of others ascribed to him alone; and a moderation in seeking and refusing honours imputed to him equally foreign to his age, his nation, and character. Where so much has been studiously falsified (Liv. 8.40
), probably in the first instance by chroniclers of the Fabian house--a house unusually rich in annalists--and where our only guides, the Fasti, Livy, and Diodorus, are not only irreconcileable with one another, but often inconsistent with themselves, a bare outline of his military and political life is alone desirable.
In his first consulate, B. C. 322, Fabius was stationed in Apulia, where he defeated the Samnites, and triumphed “de Samnitibus et Apuleis.
” (Liv. 8.38
; comp. Zonar. 7.26
; Aurel. Vict. Vir. Ill.
32 ; Appian, Samn. Fr.
In the following year, after the disaster at the Caudine Forks, he was interrex (Liv. 9.17
), and in 315 dictator, and was completely defeated by the Samnites at Lautulae, a narrow pass between the sea and the mountains east of Terracina. (Diod. 19.72
; Liv. 9.22
.) To this or the next year belongs probably an anecdote preserved by Valerius Maximus (8.1.9). A. Atilius Calatinus [ATILIUS CALATINUS, No. 3], son-in-law of Fabius, was accused of betraying Sora to the enemy. His condemnation was arrested by Fabius declaring that had lie believed Calatinus guilty, he would have exercised his paternal power, and taken his daughter from him. In B. C. 310 Fabius was consul for the second time. (Liv. 9.33
; Diod. 20.27
; Fasti.) Of this, as of his former consulate, the accounts are conflicting. Unable to relieve Sutrium, which the Etruscans were besieging, Fabius struck through the Ciminian wood till he reached the western frontier of Umbria.
He there formed an alliance with the people of Camerinum or Camerta, and by his ravages in northern Etruria effected a diversion favourable to Rome, and compelled Arretium, Cortona, and Perusia, to conclude a truce for thirty years with the republic. His victories at Perusia, the Lake Vadimon, and Sutrium, may be placed in the same catalogue with the apocryphal perils of the Ciminian forest.
The senate meanwhile, alarmed at the withdrawal of the army from Sutrium, sent to prohibit Fabius marching into Etruria.
He met the deputation on his return when his success had justified his disobedience.
The war south of the Tiber, however, required a dictator, and Fabius was directed to appoint his old enemy, Papirius Cursor.
He heard the mandate of the senate in moody silence, obeyed it in the solitude of midnight, and when, next morning, the envoys thanked him for preferring the public good to his private enmity, he dismissed them without reply.
A triumph de Etrusceis
recompensed this campaign. (Liv. 9.33
; Dio Cass. Fr.
According to the Fasti a year intervened between the second and third consulates of Fabius; but Livy (9.41
) and Diodorus (20.37
) make them immediately succeed one another. Fabius, as consul in B. C. 308, had Samnium for his province.
He quelled a revolt of the Marsians, the Pelignians, and Hernicans; recovered Nuceria Alfaterna in Campania, which seven years before had joined the Samnite league; and was able, before the expiration of his office, to leave his province and hasten into Umbria.
He is said to have defeated the Umbrians at Mevania, but no triumph followed either this Samnite or Umbrian campaign. llis command in Samnium, with the title of proconsul, was continued during B. C. 307, and he defeated the Samnites near Allifae.
This campaign also is liable to suspicion, since Fabius obtained no triumph. (Liv. 9.42
; Diod. 20.44
.) Ill B. C. 304 Fabius was censor. Upon Livy's brief and uninstructive words (9.46) a pile of hypothesis has been raised by modern and recent scholars. We can only refer to Niebuhr Hist. of Rome,
vol. iii. pp. 320-350), Zumpt (Die Centurien,
Berlin, 1836), Huschke (Staatsverfass. Serv. Tull.
Breslau. 1838), and Walther (Geschicht. Röm. Recht,
vol. i. p. 136). Fabius seems to have cancelled the changes introduced by Appius the Blind in his censorship, B. C. 312 [APP. CLAUDIUS, No. 10
], by confining the libertini to the four city tribes: he also probably increased the political importance of the equites. (Liv. 9.46
; V. Max. 2.2.9
; Aurel. Vict. Vir. Ill.
32; Plin. Nat. 15.4
; comp. Dionys. A. R. 6.13
.) Fabius does not appear again till B. C. 297, when he was consul for the fifth time, according to Livy (10.13
), against his own wishes; but the annalist of the Fabian house whom Livy copied probably veiled or suppressed in this year a strong opposition to his re-election by the Appian party. (Liv. 10.15
.) Samnium was again his province, but the result of his campaign is doubtful.
In the following year Fabius was consul for the sixth time, and conmmanded at the great battle of Sentinum, when the combined armies of the Samnites, Gauls, Etruscans, and Umbrians, attacked the Romans and their allies.
At the beginning of the year a dispute with P. Decius Mus, who had been thrice before Fabius' colleague in the consulship, and once in the censorship, and the withdrawal of Appius Claudius from the seat of war, and his appointment to the city praetorship, are probably tokens of strong party-struggles at Rome. (Liv. 10.21
.) For his victory at Sentinum Fabius triumphed on the 4th of September in the same year. (Fast.; Liv. ib. 25, 26, 27,
28, 29, 30.) For the remainder of the year he was employed in Etruria. In 292 he acted as legatus to his son [MAXIMUS FABIUS, No. 2], and rode beside his triumphal chariot, delighting in the honours of his son, whom lie had rescued from disgrace and degradation and crowned with victory. (Liv. Epit.
xi.; Dio Cass. Fr. Peirese.
xxxvi.; Oros. 3.22
; Plut. Fab. Max.
24; V. Max. 2.2.4
; Zonar. 8.1
.) Fabius succeeded his father, Ambustus, in the honourable post of Princeps Senatus. ( Plin. Nat. 7.41
.) On his death, which happened soon after, the people subscribed largely for the expences of his funeral; but as the Fabian house was wealthy, his son Fabius Gurges employed the money in giving a public entertainment (epulum
), and in a distribution of provisions (visceratio
) to the citizens of Rome. (Aurel. Vict. Vir. Ill.
The cause of his obtaining the cognomen Maximus is uncertain. Livy (9.46
) says that his political services in the censorship of B. C. 304 were the cause.
But he makes a doubt (30.26) whether the cognomen were not originally conferred on his great grand son, Q. Fabius, the dictator in the second Punic war [No. 4]; and Polybius (3.87
) says that the latter Fabius was the first of the Fabian house who was denominated Maximus.