Aulus Atilius Calatinus

Aulus Atilius Calatinus (dead by 216 BC) was a politician and general in Ancient Rome. His expedition to Sicily made him the first Roman dictator to lead an army outside Italy, then understood as the Italian mainland. He was consul in 258 BC and again in 254, a praetor and triumphator in 257, and finally a censor in 247. Calatinus must have died by 216, because Marcus Fabius Buteo (censor in 241) was named the oldest living ex-censor; Calatinus would have been senior to him in terms of the date of censorship and their respective ages.


Elected consul in 258 with Gaius Sulpicius Paterculus, Atilius was given Sicily as his province.[1] During his first consulship, he had several successes, taking many Sicilian towns, but fell into an ambush from which he and his army were saved by a tribune, Marcus Calpurnius Flamma. He conquered more towns after his narrow escape from the Carthaginians, and was granted a triumph on his return. He was elected or appointed praetor in 257 in the year of his triumph.

Atilius was reelected consul in 254 with Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Asina, and the two co-consuls rebuilt the Roman fleet with 220 ships, after the earlier fleet had been lost in a storm off Cape Pachynum. Both consuls sailed to Sicily, where they captured Panormus the same year. However, only Asina was granted the triumph (possibly because Calatinus had already triumphed three years before).[2]

In 249, following the disastrous naval losses of Publius Claudius Pulcher and Lucius Junius Pullus, Pulcher was fined 120,000 asses and his colleague committed suicide. Both consuls were now unfit for command or deceased; the dictator Marcus Claudius Glicia, appointed by Pulcher, was removed on the grounds that he was Pulcher's freedman, and thus not even a senator, let alone a senator of some status. Atilius was therefore elected dictator and led an army into Sicily, becoming the first dictator to lead a Roman army outside Italy. He had no great military successes, or at least none noted by Roman historians or in Smith.

Atilius was elected censor in 247.[citation needed] Several years later, in 241, he was chosen as mediator between the proconsul C. Lutatius Catulus and the praetor Q. Valerius, to decide which of the two had the right to claim a triumph, and he decided in favour of the proconsul.[3]

According to Smith, Atilius dedicated temples to Spes (the personification of hope and safety of the young) in the Forum Holitorium and Fides (the personification of good faith whose symbol is a pair of covered hands symbolizing an agreement) on the Capitol.[4]


Atilius was the son of Aulus Atilius Calatinus, who had been accused of betraying the city of Sora in the Samnite Wars. Standing in disgrace of his imminent condemnation, the elder Atilius was saved by a few timely words from the great Fabius Maximus Rullianus (the first Maximus and at that time (306 BC) the thrice consul and acting praetor), his father-in-law. Fabius asserted that he would have never continued his relationship (as Patron) had he believed Atilius was guilty of such a crime. The Plebeian Atilii were therefore clients of the aristocratic Fabii, and also related to them by marriage. Thus, our present Atilius was the grandson, on his mother's side, of Fabius Rullianus.

The Atilius Calatinii were cousins of the other famous Atilii, the Atilii Reguli. Calatinus is clearly a congomen referring to Calatia, six miles southwest of Capua. This region had been conquered during the consulship of the first named Atilius, Marcus Atilius Regulus Calenus, in 335 BC. Since his colleague, the patrician Valerius, actually conquered Cales, it is likely that Atilius actually came from there. Pottery from the region indicates the name K. and N. Atilius are from the region near Capua. The forenames Caeso and Numerius, Atilii names, were unusual among the patricians, but favored by the Fabii. The Atilii were the leading family of Campania at the time of their gaining citizenship and the surname Regulus might refer to their regal position in that society. Fabii ownership of large land holding in Falernia probably resulted from the treaty of 340 in which Capuan lands north of the Volturnus were ceded to Rome.[5][full citation needed]


  1. ^ Polybius i. 24, as cited in Smith.
  2. ^ The triumph is not mentioned in Smith's entry on Calatinus. See Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, v. 1, page 560
  3. ^ Valerius Maximus ii. 8. § 2., as cited in Smith)
  4. ^ Smith provides the bare facts: "Beyond the fact that he built a temple of Spes nothing further is known about him. (Cic. Ue Ley. ii. 11, De Nat. Deor., ii. 23; Tacit. Ann." Are the details from Munzer?
  5. ^ Munzer


  •   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). "Calatinus, A. Atilius". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. p. 560.
Political offices
Preceded by
Lucius Cornelius Scipio
Gaius Aquillius Florus
Consul of the Roman Republic
258 BC
With: Gaius Sulpicius Paterculus
Succeeded by
Gaius Atilius Regulus
Gaius Sempronius Blaesus
Preceded by
Marcus Aemilius Paullus
Servius Fulvius Paetinus Nobilior
Consul of the Roman Republic
254 BC
With: Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Asina
Succeeded by
Gnaeus Servilius Caepio
Gaius Sempronius Blaesus
Preceded by
Manius Valerius Maximus Corvinus Messalla
Publius Sempronius Sophus
Censor of the Roman Republic
247 BC
With: Aulus Manlius Torquatus
Succeeded by
Marcus Fabius Buteo
Gaius Aurelius Cotta