Biographies from Ancient History

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
Allectus, d. 296 CE

Roman imperial usurper and official

Allectus was the cognomen of a Roman official who was operating in Britain by the end of the 280s CE. Nothing is known about his origins or previous life, but by c. 290 Allectus had risen high under the administration of Carausius. Originally sent to Britannia to rescue the province from Germanic pirates, Caurasius had been outlawed by the Tetrarchy after he was accused of rebellion and fiscal irresponsibility. Carausius thus became the rule of a de facto 'British Empire' that existed between 287 and 296, and included southern Britannia as well as parts of northern Gaul. Allectus followed Carausius into this rebellion, and rose high. By 293, his title was rationalis summae rei, and he was evidently considered Carausius' heir.

Despite some early successes, Carausius' breakaway state suffered several defeats in 293, when it lost its Gaulish possessions to Constantius Chlorus. During this low point, Allectus murdered Carausius, and usurped his place as the effective ruler of Roman Britain. His actual intentions are lost to history. Like Carausius, he does not seem to have considered himself a challenger for imperial power on the mainland; rather, he was a warlord who intended to hold Britain as his own private domain.

The rule of Allectus was even shorter than that of his murdered liege. In 296, Constantius and his Praetorian prefect, Asclepiodotus, launched a two-pronged invasion of Britannia. Both armies converged on Londinium, while Allectus and his own army confronted that of Asclepiodotus. During the ensuing pitched battle, Allectus himself was killed. In the following days, his scattered army was destroyed in detail, and his 'capital' at Londinium was captured by Constantius. The defeat and death of Allectus snuffed out the final legacy of his more famous predecessor, Carausius.

Sources:

Bowder, Diana - Who was Who in Ancient Rome
Roman Emperors - DIR--De Imperatoribus Romanis Roman History Roman Roman Empire Imperator Basileus De Imperatoribus Romanis Encyclopedia Byzantine
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
Gaius Flaminius Nepos, d. 217 BCE

Roman consul, general, and politician

Flaminius, as history has remembered him, was born at some point early in the 3rd Century BCE, into a plebian Roman family. Like other famous Romans (the orator Cicero, for instance), Flaminius entered into politics as a novus homo - literally, a "new man". This attracted the hostility of the Senate and patrician class, and set the stage for Flaminius' entire political career. A charismatic and well-loved man, Flaminius became something of a rabble-rouser. He could well have been the most turbulent Roman politician before the time of the Gracchi. Little is known about his family life, but he did have at least one adult son who carried on his name.

Controversy first enveloped Flaminius in 232 BCE, when, while serving as a tribune, he enthusiastically supported a land-bill. This bill distributed unoccupied land around the city of Ariminum (Rimini) to poorer Roman citizens, many of them destitute veterans of the First Punic War. Flaminius' interest in this bill established him as a man of the people, loved by the masses and loathed by the Senate. In 225, the Senate tried to demonize Flaminius and his supporters, claiming that these settlements provoked the invasion of the Cisalpine Gauls in this year. Nonetheless, the Gauls were beaten back at the Battle of Telamon, where it is likely that Flaminius would have served as a legionary commander.

Flaminius became consul for 223 BCE, and he prosecuted a successful offensive against the Cisalpine Gauls, thus solidifying his place as one of the foremost proponents of Roman expansion into northernmost Italy. His military victories also secured for him a reputation for being one of Roman's greatest living generals. During his campaign across the Po, Flaminius faced a chieftain of the Boii named Gargenus, possibly in single combat, and killed him. Such heroics, even amongst generals, were not uncommon in ancient Roman warfare. Late in the year, the Senate grudgingly afforded him a triumphalia, to celebrate his victories over the Gauls. For Flaminius, this taste of glory would prove tragically short-lived.

In the years between his Gaulish campaign and the Second Punic War, Flaminius served as a censor, and by 218 was a member of the Senate - much to the chagrin of his traditional enemies. He also built the Circus Flaminius in Rome, further establishing him as a beloved popular leader, and a road named in his honor, stretching from Rome to Ariminum. His personal and political influence was vast, and spanned from the newly conquered Cisalpine region, to Sicily (which he had governed briefly, circa 227 BCE).

Fortune would finally betray this Roman hero in 217 BCE. He was easily elected to a second consulate in this year, and raised four legions to meet the invasion of Hannibal. Again, Flaminius would face an army strong in unruly Gaulish warriors, but this time, they were led not by a petty chieftain, but by one of the great military minds of the ancient world. Flaminius led his hapless army into an enormous ambush at Lake Trasimene, where they were slaughtered by the Carthaginian army. Flaminius himself died fighting - according to Livy, he was defeated and beheaded by a Gaulish chieftain named Ducarius. Flaminius had largely built his reputation on a heap of Gaulish corpses - perhaps this had made him a figure of special attention on this battlefield. Regardless, a Roman consul was dead, and a Roman military hero's reputation was forever tarnished.

Sources:

Bowder, Diana - Who was Who in Ancient Rome
Ellis, Peter B. - The Celtic Empire
Livy - Histories


The death of Consul Gaius Flaminius Nepos at the Battle of Lake Trasimene, 217 BCE
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
Apuleius, c. 125 - 180 CE

Roman novelist, lawyer, orator, and amateur philosopher

The full name of Apuleius is lost to history, though it is believed that he was born in either 124 or 125 CE, at Madauros (now known as Mdaurusch) in the African province of Numidia. Whether Apuleius' family was descended from Romanized Africans, or Italian settlers in Africa, is likewise unknown. His father was one of the two magistrates who governed the city, and was apparently a very wealthy man. As a well-educated youth born into a prosperous provincial family, Apuleius was destined to become a living example of the Pax Romana at its finest.

As a youth in the 140s, Apuleius traveled first to Carthage, then to Athens, and finally to Rome, using his father's fortune to gain the finest education available in the Roman world. In Rome itself, Apuleius worked for some time as a lawyer specializing in defense, but his health was broken by an unclear illness. Considering the mortality rates of Roman Antiquity, Apuleius was lucky to have survived. While recovering his strength at the town of Oea, he met a widow named Pudentilla, who was apparently the wealthy daughter of a patrician Roman family. Not long afterwards, Apuleius wooed and married her.

Sadly, Apuleius made enemies amongst his in-laws, perhaps due to his provincial origins. He was taken to court by his wife's family, and among the charges were accusations that he had used black magic to con her into marrying him. These were serious charges that could have ruined his promising career, but Apuleius drew upon his skill with words and oratory to defend himself. Apuleius proved his innocence, and later collected his speeches in his own defense in a book entitled Apologetica. History does not tell us anything else about Pudentilla, or about the effect the trial may have had on her marriage to Apuleius.

After departing Italy, Apuleius seems to have spent the rest of his life in Carthage, one of the great urban centers of the Empire. Here, he devoted himself entirely to writing. He dabbled in philosophy, writing works about Plato and Socrates, and also wrote at least one additional compilation of his own speeches. His most famous work, however, was the Golden Ass, considered one of history's first great novels. It follows the trail of the lovestruck, bumbling Lucius, whose misadventures include being turned into a donkey, only to be rescued from certain death by the goddess Isis. This work, which still survives today, was considered a light-hearted comedy at the time. It remains the primary reason that history has remembered Apuleius, and it includes allegorical references to his famous trial.

Nothing is known about the final years of Apuleius' life, but he seems to have died in or around 180 CE. Considering the timing of his death, it is within the realm of possibility that he was a victim of the terrible Antonine Plague.

Sources:

Apuleius - the Golden Ass (Penguin Classics edition)
Bowder, Diana - Who Was Who in the Roman World

 

EmperorTigerstar

Ad Honorem
Jun 2013
6,398
USA
Time for some Eastern biographies:

Qin Shi Huangdi
(Real personal name: Ying Zhang)
Pronounced: IPA [ʂi xuɑŋdi]

Born: February 7, 260 BC
Died: August 10, 210 BC

Notable for: Being ruler of the Qin state and unifying the Warring States to a single dynasty that ruled all of China, a first for any ruler at the time, which created the Qin Dynasty. He is also famed for building the first version of the Great Wall, which was largely a unification of ancient walls already created. He spent much of his life looking for an elixir of immortality, which was fruitless. Ironically he'd die at only the age of 50 (which isn't bad for Ancient standards) and as a result his successor wasn't able to keep control of the dynasty and it soon fell apart. His grave site contains the notable Terracotta Army.

 
Jan 2014
1,764
Portugal
Viriatus

This name make us going to 2nd century BC Iberia, during Roman expansion/occupation and consequent resistance by indigenous people (Iberians, Celtiberians, Lusitanians...). Is name is yet today target of controversy, and beside some still consider it a mythical figure, there are some historical sources supporting it’s role.

Viriatus was born on a unknown date, and is said to have fought Romans till is death. Very little things are known about him. He’s, following Levy, a sheppard that later in is life became a warrior. This is a reflection of Lusitianian economical life on the 2nd century, without a doubt reveling a character of nomadic and pastoral way of life. After the Roman massacre applied to Lusitinian in 148 BC, he became the pillar of the union of all Lusitinian tribes to fought Roman invaders, and according to Roman sources soon became clear that this was not like a common uprising. Viriatus was seen, like his fellow tribesmen, as a ferocious guerilla leader, that fought not only for survival but for military glory, showing to Romans that Western Iberia was a land hard to conquest. Is military fame served also internal-politcal purpose, being him in the middle of the Lusitanians (typical aristocratic society) the most indicated leader.

He’s first great move was after a major threat by Caius Vettilius, on Ronda’s cliff, he took part of a re-organization of Lusitanian troops and defeated the Roman commander, killing him on the way.
Some say he made prior campaigns on southern Iberia, and he definitely other Roman military, lead by Caius Plaucio, Nigidio and Fabius Maximus.
In the year of 140 BC, it’s army of 3000 man defeated Fabius Maximus that in exchange of his life promised self determination and independence to the Lusitanian tribes. But in Rome the news were not well received and war as destined to go on.

In 139 BC, this time with Servillius Caepio, the resistance remained the same, and Viriatus tried to a peace treaty with the Romans, sending 3 emissaries: Auda, Ditalco e Minuros.
The legend (and Appian) tell us that those 3 man were brided and were send back to the their camp to kill Viriatus will he was sleeping.
He’s death didn’t allowed Servillius to have he’s Triumph, being the Romans full of shame by not being able to defeat Viriatus in a “conventional” way.

War on Iberia continue long before it’s death, till the time of Augustus, and it’s legend continues to echoes till today. He’s seen somehow, as a father of Portuguese identity, and his resistance was glorified on the greatest Portuguese Epic, Os Lusíadas de Luís de Camões.

Sources:

Appian, Roman History
Eutropios, Breviarium ab urbe condita
Polybius, Histories

Moñoz, Maurício Pastor, Viriato, 2004 e 2006






The Death of Viriathus, King of Lusitania, by José de Madrazo
 
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