A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

3. C.MarciusCensorinus, one of the leading men of the Marian party, is first mentioned as the accuser of Sulla on his return from Asia in B. C. 91. (Plut. Sull. 5.) He entered Rome together with Marius and Cinna in B. C. 87, and took a leading part in the massacres which then ensued. It was Censorinus who killed the consul Octavius, the first victim of the proscription; he cut off his head and carried it to Cinna, who commanded it to be hung up on the rostra. Censorinus shared in the vicissitudes of the Marian party, and took an active part in the great campaign of B. C. 82, which established the supremacy of Sulla. He had the command of one of the Marian armies, and is first mentioned as suffering a defeat from Pompey near Sena. He was afterwards sent with eight legions by the consul Carbo to relieve the younger Marius, who was kept besieged at Praeneste; but on his march thither, he was attacked from an ambush by Pompey, and was compelled after considerable loss to take refuge on a neighbouring hill. His men, believing him to be the cause of their defeat, deserted him in a body, with the exception of seven cohorts, with which miserable remnant he was compelled to return to Carbo. When Carbo shortly afterwards abandoned Italy in despair, Censorinus united his forces with those of Brutus Damasippus and Carrinas, and these three generals, after an ineffectual attempt to force the passes of Praeneste with the object of relieving the town, marched towards Rome, hoping to take the city as it was destitute of men and provisions. Sulla, however, hastened after them, and a dreadful battle was fought near the Colline gate, which ended in the total defeat of the Marian army. Censorinus and Carrinas took to flight, but were overtaken and brought back to Sulla, who commanded them to be put to death, and their heads to be cut off and carried round the walls of Praeneste to inform Marius of the fate of his friends. (Appian, App. BC 1.71, 88, 90, 92, 93.) Censorinus is spoken of by Cicero as one of the orators of his time, and as tolerably well versed in Greek literature. (Brut. 67, 90.)