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A. Postumius Albus Regillensis (496 BCE)

The Hero of Lake Regillus
 
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Magister equitum: T. Aebutius Helva

Caussa: [rei gerundae]

Consuls: T. Aebutius Helva, C. Veturius Geminus Cicurinus (if 499); A. Postumius Albus Regillensis, T. Verginius Tricostus Caeiomontanus° (if 496, per Livy 2.21). Per the alternate tradition in Livy, A. Postumius resigned consulship because the loyalty of T. Verginius was in question, upon which dictator was appointed either by the suspect T. Verginius or by some other means.

Circumstances: Military threat from Latins. Mandate actions: Enemy defeated. Other actions: Convened senate afterward to discuss peace terms.

Nomination: Dionysius: “all men” had concluded that a single magistrate, unimpeded and unanswerable, was called for (6.2.3). Postumius was the sitting junior consul, and was appointed by his colleague Verginius (6.2.3). The commanders of the four wings of the army were: dictator himself, Verginius, mag.eq. (thus not restricted to cavalry even at the inception), and A. Sempronius (6.2.3, Livy 2.19.7). Livy: Postumius, already dictator, leads the army; it no longer being possible to postpone the Latin war, suggesting that once embarked upon, dictator was necessary (2.19.2-3).

Exit: Triumphed for his victory over Latins (AT); Livy has dictator and mag.eq. triumphing together, but this is probably compression (2.20.13); cf. Dionysius having Postumius triumphing alone (6.17.2). Remained as dictator for the settlement (6.21.1).

Notes: Dionysius gives him a speech encouraging the Romans and scorning Latins (6.6-6.9). Postumius fought at the fore per both. Ordered any Roman seen running away was an enemy (Livy 2.20.5). Vowed (Livy 2.20.12) or was inspired by theophany (Dion. Hal. 6.13, Cic. Nat. D. 2.6, 3.11, Val. Max. 1.8.1, Plut. Cor. 3, Auct. Vir. 16) to dedicate a temple to Castor and Pollux; per Frontinus, Postumius used the appearances to rally the troops (Str. 1.11.8; cf Flor. 1.5.2). Also dedicated temples to Ceres, Liber and Libera (Dion. Hal. 6.17.2), because of consultations of the Sibylline Books. Per Piso Frugi was the first to confer a gold crown, made from the spoils and given to the soldier whose valor was the main factor in victory (Plin. HN 33.12, citing Piso). Granted civic crown to Coriolanus (Plut. Cor. 3).

 

The year’s truce with the Latins expired; and great preparations for the war were made by both nations. … And since all men had come to the same conclusion, that the situation once more called for a single magistrate free to deal with all matters according to his own judgment and subject to no accounting for his actions, Aulus Postumius, the younger of the consuls, was appointed dictator by his colleague Verginius, and following the example of the former dictator, chose his own Master of the Horse, naming Titus Aebutius Elva. And having in a short time enlisted all the Romans who were of military age, he divided his army into four parts, one of which he himself commanded, while he gave another to his colleague Verginius, the third to Aebutius, the Master of the Horse, and left the command of the fourth to Aulus Sempronius, whom he appointed to guard the city.

Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 6.2.1, 3

 

Postumius was in the front rank encouraging his men and forming them, when Tarquinius Superbus, though now burdened with years and broken in strength, rode full-tilt against him. But the old man received a thrust in the side, and his followers rushed in and rescued him.

Livy 2.19.6

 

Hence both in our own nation and among all others reverence for the gods and respect for religion grow continually stronger and more profound. Nor is this unaccountable or accidental; it is the result, firstly, of the fact that the gods often manifest their power in bodily presence. For instance in the Latin War, at the critical battle of Lake Regillus between the dictator Aulus Postumius and Octavius Mamilius of Tusculum, Castor and Pollux were seen fighting on horseback in our ranks.

Cic. Nat. D. 2.6

 

When two youths, mounted on horseback, appeared in the battle which Aulus Postumius fought with the Latins, Postumius roused the drooping spirits of his men by declaring that the strangers were Castor and Pollux. In this way he inspired them to fresh combat.

Front. Str. 1.11.8

 

But, a thing that is more surprising still, crowns of gold were given to the citizens as well. As to the person who was first presented with one, so far as I have enquired, I have not been able to ascertain his name; L. Piso says, however, that the Dictator A. Posthumius was the first who conferred one: on taking the camp of the Latins at Lake Regillus, he gave a crown of gold, made from the spoil, to the soldier whose valour had mainly contributed to this success.

Plin. HN 33.11

 

 

† = died in office;  ‡ = resigned;  § = suffect.  ° = appointing consul.