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

a Campanian, and commander of the Campanian legion which the Romans stationed at Rhegium in B. C. 281 for the protection of the place. Decius and his troops, envious of the happiness which the inhabitants of Rhegium enjoyed, and remembering the impunity with which the Mamertines had carried out their disgraceful scheme, formed a most diabolical plan. During the celebration of a festival, while all the citizens were feasting in public, Decius and his soldiers attacked them; the men were massacred and driven into exile, while the soldiers took the women to themselves. Decius put himself at the head of the city, acted as tyrannus perfectly independent of Rome, and formed connexions with the Mamertines in Sicily. He at first had endeavoured to palliate his crime by asserting that the Rhegines intended to betray the Roman garrison to Pyrrhus. During the war with Pyrrhus the Romans had no time to look after and punish the miscreants at Rhegium, and Decius for some years enjoyed the fruits of his crime unmolested. During that period he was seized by a disease of the eyes, and not venturing to trust a Rhegine physician, he sent for one to Messana. This physician was himself a natire of Rhegium, a fact which few persons knew, and he now took the opportunity to avenge on Decius the wrongs he had inflicted upon Rhegium. He gave him something which he was to apply to his eyes, and which, however painful it might be, he was to continue till the physician should return from Messana. The order was obeyed, but the pain became at last quite unbearable, and Decius in the end found that he was quite blind. After the death of Pyrrhus, in B. C. 271, Fabricius was sent out against Rhegium; he be sieged the place, and took it. All the survivors of the Campanian legion that fell into his hands, upreceive wards of three hundred men, were sent to Rome, where they were scourged and beheaded in the forum. The citizens of Rhegium who were yet alive were restored to their native place. Decius put an end to himself in his prison at Rome. (Appian, Samnit. Excerpt. 9.1-3; Diodor. Fragm. lib. xxii.; Liv. Epit. 12, 15; Plb. 1.7; V. Max. 7.7.15.)