(Marcus Claudius)

268–208 BC

Marcellus was one of the most important Roman generals during the Second Punic War. He was especially noted for keeping up a positive outlook in spite of many years of grinding difficulties and setbacks against the Carthaginians. He is most famous for his siege of Syracuse, which went over to the Carthaginian side in the middle of the war. During the siege he had to contend with many of Archimedes ingenious war machines, but in spite of these difficulties, he prevailed. When it was learned that Archimedes had accidentally been killed during the conflict, in spite of Marcellus's orders to spare him, he was aghast.

The siege of Syracuse was only one of many battles that Marcellus engaged in. As a young soldier he fought against Hamilcar in Sicily, in the first Punic War, and he was present at many of the early battles of the Second Punic War, including Cannae. He was a consul five times, and was engaged in many battles and skirmishes during the entire war. He was killed while on a reconnoitering expedition in southern Italy six years before the end of the war.

Key events during the life of Marcellus:

250 BC
Fought as a young soldier against Hamilcar in Sicily.
222 BC
First consulship—fought Insubrian Gauls and killed their king in single combat.
216 BC
Took command of the army after defeat at Cannae.
214 BC
Second consulship—fought with Fabius in southern Italy; Syracuse revolted.
212 BC
Third consulship—subdued Syracuse in spite of Archimedes ingenious weapons.
210 BC
Fourth consulship—retook Salapia in Apulia from Hannibal's garrison.
208 BC
Fifth consulship—killed on a reconnoitering expedition near Venusia.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Roman Undismayed  in  Tales of the Romans: The Children's Plutarch  by  F. J. Gould
Inventor Archimedes  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Marcellus  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Archimedes at the Siege of Syracuse  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris

Image Links

Hannibal and Marcellus
 in Tales of the Romans: The Children's Plutarch

Short Biography
Scipio Africanus Roman hero of second Punic War. Led armies in Spain and Africa. Defeated Hannibal at Zama.
Archimedes Eminent scientist and inventor. Held off Roman siege of Syracuse with clever defenses.
Hannibal Carthaginian general, invaded and laid waste to Italy for sixteen years.