(Marcus Atilius)

300–250 BC

Marcus Atilius Regulus was a legendary martyr of Rome. He was elected consul during the first Punic War, even though his years of military service had passed, and he was at the time, living quietly on his modest farm. Instead of fighting mainly in Sicily and at sea, Regulus had the idea of sending an army to Africa and fighting the Carthaginians on their own turf. He continued with great success until the Carthaginians hired a Spartan mercenary, named Xanthippus to lead their army. He won a great victory over the Romans, and took Regulus captive. After several subsequent battles, the Carthaginians sent Regulus as an envoy to Rome to sue for peace, on terms favorable to Carthage. Instead of advocating the Carthaginian position, however, Regulus recommended to the Romans that they continue to prosecute the war. Although he had ample opportunity to escape, he returned voluntarily to Carthage, where he was treated as a traitor, tortured, and killed.

Key events during the life of Regulus:

267 BC
Elected consul, led the Roman army against Greek settlements in Brundisium.
  Retired to private life, working the land on his own farm.
264 BC
Start of First Punic War.
256 BC
Elected consul again, defeated Carthage at sea, then took war to Africa.
255 BC
Defeated in battle and taken prisoner by the Spartan Xanthippus.
250 BC
Sent to Rome to negotiate peace with Carthage—instead urges Rome to continue resistance.
Returned to Carthage, and died in captivity, after tortures.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
First Punic War  in  Hannibal  by  Jacob Abbott
Story of Regulus  in  Fifty Famous Stories Retold  by  James Baldwin
Martyr Patriot  in  Helmet and Spear  by  Alfred J. Church
Beginnings of Empire  in  Stories from Ancient Rome  by  Alfred J. Church
Regulus and the Snake  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Regulus  in  Famous Men of Rome  by  John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland
Battle of Ecnomus  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Fate of Regulus  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris

Image Links

Regulus returns to Rome
 in The Story of the Romans

Regulus departing for Carthage, Maccari
 in Famous Men of Rome

Short Biography
Hamilcar Carthage's most able general in first Punic War; father of Hannibal.
Xanthippus Spartan mercenary general in first Punic War; captured Regulus, led Carthage to victories.