Quintus Fulvius Flaccus (consul 179 BC)

Quintus Fulvius Flaccus (died 172 BC) was a plebeian consul of the Roman Republic in 179 BC. Because of his successes in Spain and Liguria, he celebrated two triumphs.[1] Although his political career was a success, he was plagued by controversy and suffered a mental breakdown that culminated in suicide.

According to his recorded filation "Q. f. M. n.", Fulvius was the son of Quintus Fulvius Flaccus four times consul beginning in 237 BC, and grandson of Marcus Fulvius Flaccus consul of 264 BC.[2]

Early career

As curule aedile in 184 BC, Fulvius Flaccus created a furor by actively campaigning for the praetorship vacated by C. Decimius Flaccus, who died early in his term. The holding of two magistracies in a single year was prohibited, and Fulvius further violated decorum by campaigning sine toga candida ("without a white toga"); as a magistrate, he was required to wear the toga praetexta and not the pure white garment of a candidate.[3] The senate was so opposed to Fulvius' holding another curule office that it refused to hold elections.

As praetor in Hispania Ulterior in 182, he waged war successfully against the Celtiberians, capturing Urbicua.[4] His imperium was extended for two years as propraetor. In 180, he requested but was denied permission to bring his army home. He won another victory against the Celtiberi and earned a triumph.[5]

Consul and censor

Fulvius was consul in 179; his colleague was L. Manlius Acidinus Fulvianus, his brother by birth. They were assigned the province of Liguria.[6] During this period, many Ligures were being forcibly moved from their land and relocated to central Italy; Fulvius effected the resettlement of Ligurians from the mountains. He also helped block immigrants from Transalpine Gaul from settling in northern Italy.[7] For these activities he was awarded a triumph.[8] He fulfilled a vow for his victories in Spain by building a temple and holding games.[9] His building of the temple was to prove fateful.

Fulvius was censor in 174 BC with A. Postumius Albinus Luscus. They expelled nine members from the senate, including Fulvius's own brother,[10] and downgraded the rank of several knights. They named M. Aemilius Lepidus princeps senatus.[11]

The censors also carried out an extensive building program in Rome. Fulvius undertook additional projects in Pisaurum, Fundi, Potentia, and Sinuessa.[12] The Augustan historian Livy says that when Fulvius built his temple to Fortuna Equestris ("Equestrian Luck"), he stripped the marble tiles for it from a temple of Juno Lacinia.[13] The Temple of Fortuna Equestris was dedicated in 173.[14]

A 'vile death'

In 180, Fulvius had been admitted to the College of Pontiffs, a lifetime appointment. Livy notes his priesthood in reporting the vile manner of his death (foeda morte).

In 172 BC, Fulvius had two sons serving in Illyricum; he received word that one had died and the other was suffering from a life-threatening illness. The next morning, the household slaves found him hanging by a noose in his bedroom. Although Romans regarded suicide as honorable in some circumstances, Fulvius's was seen as evidence of his mental instability: Livy says that "grief and fear overwhelmed his mind" (obruit animum luctus metusque); rumor had it that the wrath of Juno Lacinia had driven him mad.[15]

The senate, according to Valerius Maximus, then had the marble tiles returned to the original temple to undo the deed of an impius ("consciously irreligious") man.[16]

The Via Fulvia is attributed to him, but doubtfully. This Q. Fulvius Flaccus should not be identified with the man of the same name who was suffect consul in 180 BC.


Dates, offices, and citations of ancient sources by T.R.S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (American Philological Association, 1951, 1986), vol. 1, pp. 375, 377 (note 1), 382, 385, 387 (note 3), 389, 390, 391–392, 404; vol. 2 (1952), p. 568.


  1. Oxford Classical Dictionary, "Fulvius Flaccus (2), Quintus"
  2. E. Badian, "The Consuls, 179-49 BC", Chiron, 20 (1990), p. 374
  3. Livy 39.39.1–15, but Livy says Fulvius Flaccus was only aedile designate; see Broughton, MRR1, p. 377, note 1, for a summary of the constitutional intricacies, based on Theodor Mommsen's arguments.
  4. Livy 40.16.7–10.
  5. Livy 40.18.6, 40.30.1–33.9, 40.35.3–36.13, 40.40.15, 42.34.9, 43.4–7; Diodorus Siculus 29.28; Frontinus, Stratagems 2.5.8 (where Cimbrico is taken as an error for Celtiberico; Appian, Iberian Wars 42; Orosius 4.20.31.
  6. Livy 40.44.3.
  7. Livy 40.53.1–6; Florus 1.19.5.
  8. Livy 40.59.1–3.
  9. Livy 40.44.8–12 and 45.6.
  10. Livy 41.27.2; Valerius Maximus 2.7.5; Velleius Paterculus 1.10.6; Frontinus, Stratagems 4.1.32.
  11. Livy 41.27.1.
  12. Livy 41.27.1–2 and 5–13.
  13. Valerius Maximus (1.1.20) places this temple in Locri, Bruttium, but elsewhere correctly identifies its location as Croton, also in modern-day Calabria; see also Livy 42.3.1–11.
  14. Livy 42.10.5.
  15. Livy 42.28.10–12. Discussed at length by Hans-Friedrich Mueller, Roman religion in Valerius Maximus (Routledge, 2002), p. 35ff. online.
  16. Livy provides a practical detail: that the tiles were then left stacked within the temple precinct because there was no workman to restore them.
Political offices
Preceded by
A. Postumius Albinus Luscus and C. Calpurnius Piso with Q. Fulvius Flaccus (suff.)
Consul of the Roman Republic
with L. Manlius Acidinus Fulvianus
179 BC
Succeeded by
M. Iunius Brutus and A. Manlius Vulso
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