2. M. Valerius
Laevinus, grandson probably of the preceding, was praetor peregrinus in B. C. 215.
But at that crisis of the second Punic war--the year following the defeat at Cannae-all the civil magistrates were employed in military commands; and Laevinus, with the legions lately returned from Sicily, was stationed in Apulia, and a fleet of twenty-five gallies was attached to his land-forces, that he might watch the coast of Italy from Brundisium to Tarentum. While he lay encamped near Luceria, his outposts brought in the ambassadors of Philip IV. of Macedonia, whom they had intercepted on their way to Hannibal's quarters. Laevinus, however, deceived as to the purpose of their mission by Xenophanes, the chief of the legation, furnished them with guides and an escort to Rome. [XENOPHANES.] During the autumn of the same year he retook three towns of the Hirpinians, which, after the defeat at Cannae, had revolted to Hannibal. Having placed garrisons in Tarentum and Rhegium, Laevinus with one legion wintered at Brundisium, from whence he watched the eastern coast of Italy, where a Macedonian invasion was expected. Envoys from Oricum, in Epeirus, came to his winter-quarters, announcing the capture of their own city by Philip, and the imminent danger of Apollonia. Laevinus immediately crossed the Adriatic, recovered Oricum, and by a detachment under Q. Naevius Crista, one of his lieutenants, raised the siege of Apollonia, took Philip's camp, and concluded a league between the Aetolians and Rome.
The terms of the league may be gathered from Polybius (9.28
, &c.). Laevinus was four times re-appointed pro-praetor, B. C. 214, 213, 212, 211.
In the first of these years he wintered at Oricum; inc the second, and in 212, 211, he watched the movements of Philip in Aetolia and Achaia.
At the comitia in B. C. 211, on account of his services in Northern Greece, he was elected consul without solicitation, in his absence.
In the latter part of B. C. 211 he drove the Macedonians from the island of Zacynthus, and from Oeniadae and Nasus in Acarnania.
He wintered at Corcyra, and in the following spring took Anticyra, when the news of his election to the consulship reached him. Sickness, however, prevented Laevinus from returning to Rome till the beginning of summer. On landing in Italy, he was met by envoys from Capua, charged with complaints against the pro-consul, Q. Fulvius Flaccus [FULVIUS FLACCUS, No. 2]; and by Sicilians, charged with similar complaints against M. Claudius Marcellus, and he entered Rome with a numerous attendance of these appellants, and of delegates from the Aetolian league. Having reported to the senate his three years' administration in Greece, Laevinus was allotted the province of Italy and the war with Hannibal, which, however, he presently exchanged, by mutual consent, with his colleague Marcellus for Sicily, as the Syracusans deprecated the appointment of Marcellus to the government of that island.
The debate on the petition of the Syracusans closed with the senate's recommending their interests to Laevinus.
An edict, brought forward by the consuls for raising supplies for the fleet, having excited great alarm and indignation among the Roman commonalty and the Italian allies, already overburdened with taxes for the war in Italy, Laevinus proposed that all who had borne curule magistracies, and all members of the senate, should bring voluntarily to the treasury all their gold, silver, and brass, whether coined, wrought, or bullion, except what was required for family sacrifices, or did not consist of the rings of the equites, the bullae of male children, or certain articles of female ornament. His proposal was cheerfully complied with, and quieted the public discontent, and Laevinus departed for Sicily.
By the end of autumn Laevinus reported to the senate the complete expulsion of the Carthaginians from the island.
The gates of Agrigentum were opened to him by Mutines, a discontented Numidian chief; and of sixty-six other towns, six were stormed by him, twenty were betrayed, and forty voluntarily surrendered to him. Laevinus encouraged or compelled the Sicilians to resume the pursuit of agriculture, that the island might again become one of the granaries of Rome; and finding at Agathyrna a mixed multitude of criminals, deserters, and fugitive slaves, whose presence was dangerous to the public peace, he exported them to Rhegium, where they did the republic good service as a predatory force against Hannibal in Bruttium.
The senate then ordered Laevinus to return to Rome, to hold the consular comitia for B. C. 209.
But presently after his arrival he was remanded to his province, which was threatened with a fresh invasion from Africa.
He was directed to nominate a dictator, to preside at the elections.
But on this point Laevinus and the senate were at variance; and this is probably the cause why, notwithstanding his long services, his name does not appear on the triumphal Fasti. Laevinus, indeed, did not refuse to nominate a dictator, but, that he might protract his own term of office, insisted upon making the nomination after his return to Sicily.
This, however, was contrary to usage, which required the nomination to be made within the limits of Italy.
A tribune of the plebs, therefore, brought in a bill, with the concurrence of the senate, to compel Laevinus's obedience to its orders.
But he left Rome abruptly, and the nomination was at length made by his colleague Marcellus. Laevinus continued in Sicily as pro-consul throughout B. C. 209. His army consisted of the remains of Varro's and Cn. Fulvius Flaccus's legions, which, for their respective defeats by Hannibal at Cannae in B. C. 216, and at Herdonea in 212, were sentenced to remain abroad while the war lasted. To these he added a numerous force of Sicilians and Numidians, and a fleet of seventy gallies. His government was vigilant and prosperous; the island was exempt from invasion, and, by the revival of its agriculture, he was enabled to form magazines at Catana, and to supply Rome with corn. In B. C. 208 Laevinus, still pro-consul, crossed over with a hundred gallies to Africa, ravaged the neighbourhood of Clupea, and, after repulsing a Punic fleet, returned with his booty to Lilybaeum.
In the following year he repeated the expedition with equal success. His foragers swept round the walls of Utica, and he again defeated a squadron sent to cut off his retreat. In 206 he conducted the armament back to Italy, and on the arrival of Mago in Liguria in the following year was stationed with the two city legions at Arretium in Etruria. Soon afterwards he was sent, with four other commissioners, to Delphi, and to the court of Attalus I. at Pergamus, to fetch the Idaean mother to Italy. [FALTO, VALERIUS, No. 3.1 In 204 he moved in the senate the repayment of the voluntary loan to the treasury made in his consulate six years before. In 203, in the debate on the terms to be granted to Carthage, Laevinus moved that the envoys be dismissed unheard, and the war be prosecuted. His counsel was followed; and it marks Laevinus as belonging to the section of the aristocracy of which the Scipios were the leaders.
At the commencement of the first Macedonian war in 201-200, Laevinus was once more sent as propraetor, with a fleet and army, to Northern Greece, and his report of Philip's preparations gave a new impulse to the exertions of the republic.
He died in B. C. 200, and his sons Publius and Marcus honoured his memory with funeral games and gladiatorial combats, exhibited during four successive days in the forum. (Plb. 8.3.6
. 2, 22.12.11; Liv. 23.24
; Flor. 2.7
; Just. 29.4
; Eutrop. 3.12
; Claud. de Bel. Get.