Marcus Furius Camillus (circa 446- 365 BC) was a Roman soldier and statesman of patrician descent. He was censor in 403 BC, triumphed four times, was five times dictator, and was honoured with the title of Second Founder of Rome.
When accused of having unfairly distributed the spoil taken at Veii, which was captured by him after a ten years' siege, he went into voluntary exile at Ardea. The real cause of complaint against him was no doubt his patrician haughtiness and his triumphal entry into Rome in a chariot drawn by white horses. Subsequently the Romans, when besieged in the Capitol by the Gauls after the Battle of the Allia, created him dictator; he completely defeated the enemy and drove them from Roman territory.
He dissuaded the Romans, disheartened by the devastation wrought by the Gauls, from migrating to Veii, and induced them to rebuild the city. He afterwards fought successfully against the Aequi, Volsci and Etruscans, and repelled a fresh invasion of the Gauls in 367 BC. Though patrician in sympathy, he saw the necessity of making concessions to the plebeians and was instrumental in passing the Licinian laws. He died of the plague in his eighty-first year (365).
The story of Camillus is no doubt largely traditional. To this element probably belongs the story of the schoolmaster who, when Camillus was attacking Falerii, attempted to betray the town by bringing into his camp the sons of some of the principal inhabitants of the place. Camillus, it is said, had him whipped back into the town by his pupils, and the Faliscans were so affected by this generosity that they at once surrendered.
- Livy v. 10, vi. 4
- Plutarch, Camillus
- For the Gallic retreat, see Polybius ii. 18; T. Mommsen, Römische Forschungen, ii. pp. 113-152 (1879).
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.