Camillus

Marcus Furius Camillus

A great Roman statesman and general of the 4th century BC.  His first great act was to conquer the Etruscan town of Veii while dictator.  He did so supposedly by tunneling under the walls of the city and into the temple of Juno on the citadel (a highly dubious story).  The army was quickly routed, the city plundered and all citizens sold into slavery.  A great deal of wealth flooded Rome, a tenth of which was used to for a large golden basin for Apollo sent to Delphi.  To make up for the damage done to Juno's temple, the sacred objects were moved to Rome and a new temple built for her upon the Capitoline hill.

The next town that Camillus conquered was Falerii.  An even stranger story accompanies how he captured this town.  During the siege, a schoolteacher led his students out to the Roman camp and proposed that the boys be used as hostages in order to force their surrender.  Camillus had the traitor stripped and his hands bound behind him.  He then gave each of the boys a lash and told them to escort him back to town.  When the townsmen heard of Camillus' remarkable actions, they decided to surrender.

Soon after, however, Camillus was prosecuted for mishandling the spoils from Veii and sent into exile.  During his exile, a Gallic army appeared.  The Roman army was scattered and the invaders sacked Rome.  Camillus, however, was made dictator and led the remnants of the army back to save what was left of the city.

After the sack, Camillus supervised the reconstruction of the city and the reorganization of the army into a far more efficient fighting force.

Source(s):

  1. Livy Ab Urbe Condita.