Fabius

Fabius (fāˈbēəs) [key], ancient Roman gens. The family was most distinguished from the 5th cent. B.C. onward. However, little is known of the early members. Quintus Fabius Vibulanus, fl. 450 B.C., was consul three times (467, 465, 459) and a member of the decemvirate. Although he had served Rome well in battle, he was exiled with the other decemvirs. His descendant, Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus or Rullus, d. c.291 B.C., was consul five times (322, 310, 308, 297, 295) and dictator (315). He attacked the Samnites in 325 and was victorious, but his disobedience of orders brought his condemnation by Lucius Papirius Cursor, who was dictator at the time. Rullianus was renowned as a general, especially for his victory over the Etruscans, the Samnites, and their allies at Sentinum (295). His descendant, Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, d. 203 B.C., the opponent of Hannibal, was called Cunctator [Lat., = delayer] because of his tactics, from which the term Fabian, referring to a waiting policy, is derived. He was consul five times (233, 228, 215, 214, 209) and dictator (217). Fabius kept his army always near Hannibal's but never attacked, harassing Hannibal continually, but never joining battle. The Romans tired of Fabius' policy, and he was supplanted (216); the rout at Cannae was the result. In his last consulship Fabius took Tarentum (now Taranto) from Hannibal, a signal victory. Another branch of the family was represented by Caius Fabius Pictor [Lat., = the painter], fl. 302 B.C., who painted the temple of Salus at Rome, the first recorded Roman painting. His grandson was Quintus Fabius Pictor, fl. 225 B.C., the first Roman annalist; his history covered Rome from Aeneas to the Second Punic War. His work is lost. Quintus Fabius Labeo, fl. 180 B.C., praetor (189), was commander of the fleet in an eastern campaign. He seems to have used his power largely for his own aggrandizement. An adoptive member of the gens was Quintus Fabius Maximus, fl. 121 B.C., consul (121), called Allobrogicus, because of his victory over the Allobroges in Gaul.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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