Marcus Claudius Marcellus: Difference between revisions

Tag: references removed
== Death in battle ==
The final period of Marcus Claudius Marcellus’ life began with his fourth election to Roman consul in 210 BC. Marcellus’ election to office sparked much controversy and resentment towards Marcellus because of accusations by political opponents that his actions in Sicily were excessively brutal.<ref name=Smith/> Representatives of Sicilian cities presented themselves before the senate to complain about Marcellus' past actions. The complaints prevailed and Marcellus was forced to switch control of provinces with his colleague, so that Marcellus was not the consul in control of Sicily. On switching provinces, Marcellus took command of the Roman army in [[Apulia]],<ref name=Smith/> leading it to many decisive victories against the Carthaginians. First, Marcellus took the city of Salapia and then continued along his way by conquering two cities in the region of [[Samnium]]. Next, when the army of Gnaeus Fulvius, another Roman general, was completely dismantled by Hannibal, Marcellus and his army stepped in to check the progress of the Carthaginian leader. Then Marcellus and Hannibal fought a battle at [[Muro Lucano|Numistro]], where a clear victory could not be decided, although Rome claimed a victory. Following this battle, Marcellus continued to keep Hannibal in check, yet the two armies never met in a decisive battle. This can be seen as the result of a deliberate strategy of [[attrition warfare]] on Marcellus' part, as when Livy reports him describing the Carthaginians as "the men whom you wore down in skirmishes...whose tracks you have dogged".<ref>D Hoyos, ''Livy: Hannibal's War'' (Oxford 2009) p. 396, and c.f. p. 677</ref>
In 209 BC, Marcellus was named as a proconsul and retained control of his army. During that year, the [[Roman Army]] under Marcellus faced Hannibal's forces in a series of skirmishes and raids, without being drawn into open battle - Marcellus' particular strategy.<ref>D Hoyos, ''Livy: Hannibal's War'' (Oxford 2009) p. xxi</ref> Marcellus defended his actions and tactics in front of the senate and he was named a consul for the fifth time for the year 208 BC. After entering his fifth consulship Marcellus re-entered the field and took command of the army at [[Venusia]]. While on a reconnaissance mission with his colleague, Titus Quinctius Crispinus, and a small band of 220 horsemen, the group was ambushed and nearly completely slaughtered by a much larger Carthaginian force of Numidian horsemen.<ref name=Plutarch/><ref name=Smith/> Marcellus was impaled by a spear and died on the field.<ref name=Smith/> In the following days, Crispinus died of his wounds.
When Hannibal heard of Marcellus' death he travelled to see the body, allowed Marcellus a proper funeral, and even sent the ashes back to Marcellus’ son in a silver urn with a golden wreath. According to [[Cornelius Nepos]] and [[Valerius Maximus]] the ashes never made it to his son but Augustus Caesar states that the urn was delivered.<ref name=Plutarch/> The loss of both consuls was a major blow to Roman morale, as the Republic had lost its two senior military commanders in a single battle, while the formidable Carthaginian army was still at large in Italy.