1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Flaminius, Gaius

FLAMINIUS, GAIUS, Roman statesman and general, of plebeian family. During his tribuneship (232 B.C.), in spite of the determined opposition of the senate and his own father, he carried a measure for distributing among the plebeians the ager Gallicus Picenus, an extensive tract of newly-acquired territory to the south of Ariminum (Cicero, De senectute, 4, Brutus, 14). As praetor in 227, he gained the lasting gratitude of the people of his province (Sicily) by his excellent administration. In 223, when consul with P. Furius Philus, he took the field against the Gauls, who were said to have been roused to war by his agrarian law. Having crossed the Po to punish the Insubrians, he at first met with a severe check and was forced to capitulate. Reinforced by the Cenomani, he gained a decisive victory on the banks of the Addua. He had previously been recalled by the optimates, but ignored the order. The victory seems to have been due mainly to the admirable discipline and fighting qualities of the soldiers, and he obtained the honour of a triumph only after the decree of the senate against it had been overborne by popular clamour. During his censorship (220) he strictly limited the freedmen to the four city tribes (see Comitia). His name is further associated with two great works. He erected the Circus Flaminius on the Campus Martius, for the accommodation of the plebeians, and continued the military road from Rome to Ariminum, which had hitherto only reached as far as Spoletium (see Flaminia, Via). He probably also instituted the “plebeian” games. In 218, as a leader of the democratic opposition, Flaminius was one of the chief promoters of the measure brought in by the tribune Quintus Claudius, which prohibited senators and senators’ sons from possessing sea-going vessels, except for the transport of the produce of their own estates, and generally debarred them from all commercial speculation (Livy xxi. 63). His effective support of this measure vastly increased the popularity of Flaminius with his own order, and secured his second election as consul in the following year (217), shortly after the defeat of T. Sempronius Longus at the Trebia. He hastened at once to Arretium, the termination of the western high road to the north, to protect the passes of the Apennines, but was defeated and killed at the battle of the Trasimene lake (see Punic Wars).

The testimony of Livy (xxi., xxii.) and Polybius (ii., iii.)—no friendly critics—shows that Flaminius was a man of ability, energy and probity. A popular and successful democratic leader, he cannot, however, be ranked among the great statesmen of the republic. As a general he was headstrong and self-sufficient and seems to have owed his victories chiefly to personal boldness favoured by good fortune.

His son, Gaius Flaminius, was quaestor under P. Scipio Africanus the elder in Spain in 210, and took part in the capture of New Carthage. Fourteen years later, when curule aedile, he distributed large quantities of grain among the citizens at a very low price. In 193, as praetor, he carried on a successful war against the insubordinate populations of his recently constituted province of Hispania Citerior. In 187 he was consul with M. Aemilius Lepidus, and subjugated the warlike Ligurian tribes. In the same year the branch of the Via Aemilia connecting Bononia with Arretium was constructed by him. In 181 he founded the colony of Aquileia. The chief authority for his life is the portion of Livy dealing with the history of the period.