Tiberius Coruncanius (died 241 BC) was a consul of the Roman Republic in 280 BC. As a military commander in that year and the following, he was known for the battles against Pyrrhus of Epirus that led to the expression "Pyrrhic victory". He was the first plebeian Pontifex Maximus, and possibly the first teacher of Roman law to offer public instruction.
Coruncanius, of plebeian descent, is believed to have hailed from Tusculum.
He was first elected consul in 280 BC with Publius Valerius Laevinus, and led an expedition into Etruria against the Etruscan cities. When Pyrrhus of Epirus invaded Italia, and defeated the Roman legions of Laevinus at the Battle of Heraclea, Tiberius' legions were recalled to Rome to bolster the defense of Roman territory.
In 254 BC or 253 BC, he was the first plebeian elected Pontifex Maximus, or chief priest of the Roman Republic, which position had been previously monopolized by patricians. He died in 241 BC and was succeeded by Lucius Caecilius Metellus, another plebeian.
He was the first who publicly professed law (publice professus est), known to be both eloquent and full of knowledge.Like Socrates, he left no writings.
His public legal instruction had the effect of creating a class of legally skilled non-priests (jurisprudentes), a sort of consultancy. After Coruncanius' death, instruction gradually became more formal, with the introduction of books on law beyond the then scant official Roman legal texts.
It is possible that as the first plebeian Pontifex Maximus, Coruncanius allowed members of the public and students of the law of Ancient Rome to attend his consultations tasked with giving legal advice to citizens. These consultations were probably held outside the College of Pontiffs, and thus accessible to all those interested. As such, he became the first teacher of Roman law (how students of law learned their material earlier is unknown).
The Roman Republic was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public representation of the Roman people. Beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire, Rome's control rapidly expanded during this period—from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world.
During the 290s BC, Hellenistic civilization begins its emergence throughout the successor states of the former Argead Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great, resulting in the diffusion of Greek culture throughout the Levant and advances in science, mathematics, philosophy, etc. Meanwhile, the Roman Republic is embroiled in war against the Samnites, the Mauryan Empire continues to thrive in Ancient India, and the Kingdom of Qin in Ancient China, the one which in the future will conquer its adversaries and unite China, begins to emerge as a significant power during the Warring States period.
This article concerns the period 289 BC – 280 BC.
Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus was a Popularis Roman politician best known for his agrarian reform law entailing the transfer of land from the Roman state and wealthy landowners to poorer citizens. Against stiff opposition in the aristocratic Senate, this legislation was carried through during his term as tribune of the plebs in 133 BC. Fears of Tiberius's populist programme, as well as his uncompromising behavior, led to him being killed, along with many supporters, in a riot instigated by his senatorial enemies. A decade later his younger brother Gaius attempted similar legislation and suffered a similar fate.
Year 280 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Laevinus and Coruncanius. The denomination 280 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
The pontifex maximus was the chief high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post. Although in fact the most powerful office in the Roman priesthood, the pontifex maximus was officially ranked fifth in the ranking of the highest Roman priests, behind the rex sacrorum and the flamines maiores.
Pyrrhus was a Greek king and statesman of the Hellenistic period. He was king of the Greek tribe of Molossians, of the royal Aeacid house, and later he became king of Epirus. He was one of the strongest opponents of early Rome, and regarded as one of the greatest generals of antiquity. Several of his victorious battles caused him unacceptably heavy losses, from which the term "Pyrrhic victory" was coined.
Publius Valerius Laevinus was commander of the Roman forces at the Battle of Heraclea in 280 BC, in which he was defeated by Pyrrhus of Epirus. In his Life of Pyrrhus, Plutarch wrote that Gaius Fabricius Luscinus said of this battle that it was not the Epirots who had beaten the Romans, but only Pyrrhus who had beaten Laevinus.
The Battle of Heraclea took place in 280 BC between the Romans under the command of consul Publius Valerius Laevinus, and the combined forces of Greeks from Epirus, Tarentum, Thurii, Metapontum, and Heraclea under the command of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus. Although the battle was a victory for the Greeks and their casualties were lower than the Romans, they had lost many veteran soldiers that would be hard to replace on foreign soil.
Gaius Lutatius Catulus was a Roman statesman and naval commander in the First Punic War. He was born a member of the plebeian gens Lutatius. His cognomen "Catulus" means "puppy". There are no historical records of his life prior to consulship, but his career probably followed the standard cursus honorum, beginning with service in the cavalry and continuing with the positions of military tribune and quaestor.
The Pyrrhic War was largely fought between the Roman Republic and Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, who had been asked by the people of the Greek city of Tarentum in southern Italy to help them in their war against the Romans.
Quintus Mucius Scaevola "Pontifex" was a politician of the Roman Republic and an important early authority on Roman law. He is credited with founding the study of law as a systematic discipline. He was elected Pontifex Maximus, as had been his father and uncle before him. He was the first Roman Pontifex Maximus to be murdered publicly, in Rome in the very Temple of the Vestal Virgins, signifying a breakdown of historical norms and religious taboos in the Republic.
Publius Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus was the natural son of Publius Mucius Scaevola and Licinia, and brother of Publius Mucius Scaevola. He was adopted at an unknown date by Publius Licinius Crassus, his mother's brother, or by a son of the consul of 205 BC, Publius Licinus Crassus Dives.
Publius Mucius Scaevola was a prominent Roman politician and jurist who was consul in 133 BC. In his earlier political career he served as tribune of the plebs in 141 BC and praetor in 136 BC. He also held the position of pontifex maximus for sixteen years after his consulship. He died around 115 BC.
Marcus Valerius Laevinus was a Roman consul and commander who rose to prominence during the Second Punic War and corresponding First Macedonian War. A member of the gens Valeria, an old patrician family believed to have migrated to Rome under the Sabine king T. Tatius, Laevinus played an integral role in the containment of the Macedonian threat.
Publius Licinius Crassus Dives was consul in 205 BC with Scipio Africanus; he was also Pontifex Maximus since 213 or 212 BC, and held several other important positions. Licinius Crassus is mentioned several times in Livy's Histories. He is first mentioned in connection with his surprising election as Pontifex Maximus, and then several times since in various other capacities.
The gens Decia was a plebeian family of high antiquity, which became illustrious in Roman history by the example of its members sacrificing themselves for the preservation of their country. The first of the family known to history was Marcus Decius, chosen as a representative of the plebeians during the secession of 495 BC.
The curio maximus was an obscure priesthood in ancient Rome that had oversight of the curiae, groups of citizens loosely affiliated within what was originally a tribe. Each curia was led by a curio, who was admitted only after the age of 50 and held his office for life. The curiones were required to be in good health and without physical defect, and could not hold any other civil or military office; the pool of willing candidates was thus neither large nor eager. In the early Republic, the curio maximus was always a patrician, and officiated as the senior interrex. The earliest curio maximus identified as such is Servius Sulpicius, who held the office in 463. The first plebeian to hold the office was elected in 209 BC.