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Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus


Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus

The Triumph of Aemilius Paulus (detail) by Carle Vernet, 1789.

Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus (c. 229 BC – 160 BC) was a two-time consul of the Roman Republic and a noted general who conquered Macedon putting an end to the Antigonid dynasty. Velleius Paterculus reported the general praise that he was both "the author and admirer of liberal studies" and "competent in both war and studies".[1]


  • Family 1
  • Early career 2
  • Paullus and Macedonia 3
  • Family life and descendants 4
    • Paullus's immediate surviving descendants 4.1
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8


His father was Lucius Aemilius Paullus, the consul defeated and killed in the battle of Cannae. Lucius Aemilius was, in his time, the head of his branch of the Aemilii Paulii, an old and aristocratic patrician family. Their influence was immense, particularly due to their fortune and alliance with the Cornelii Scipiones. He was father to Scipio Aemilianus Africanus.

Early career

After the fulfilment of his military service, and being elected military tribune, Paullus was elected curule aedile in 193 BC. The next step of his cursus honorum was the election as praetor in 191 BC. At the term of this office he went to the Hispania provinces, where he campaigned against the Lusitanians between 191 and 189 BC. However, he failed to be elected consul for several years. Paullus was elected consul for the first time in 182 BC, with Gnaeus Baebius Tamphilus as junior partner. His next military command, with proconsular imperium, was in the next year, against the Ingauni of Liguria.

Paullus and Macedonia

The Third Macedonian War broke out in 171 BC, when king Perseus of Macedon defeated a Roman army led by the consul Publius Licinius Crassus in the battle of Callinicus. After two years of results indecisive for either side, Paullus was elected consul again in 168 BC (with Gaius Licinius Crassus as colleague). As consul, he was appointed by the senate to deal with the Macedonian war. Shortly afterwards, on June 22, he won the decisive battle of Pydna. Perseus of Macedonia was made prisoner and the Third Macedonian War ended.

To set an example, Paullus ordered the killing of 500 prominent Macedonians known for their opposition to Rome. He also exiled many more to Italy and confiscated their belongings in the name of Rome but, according to Plutarch, kept too much to himself. Other sources report that he kept for himself only the extensive royal library,[2] in which act he set an example for later Roman generals, such as Lucullus. On setting out on the return to Rome in 167 BC, his legions were displeased with their share of the plunder. To keep them happy, Paullus decided on a stop in Epirus, a kingdom suspected of sympathizing with the Macedonian cause. The region had been already pacified, but Paullus ordered the sacking of seventy of its towns. 150,000 people were enslaved and the region was left to bankruptcy.

Paullus' return to Rome was glorious. With the immense plunder collected in Macedonia and Epirus, he celebrated a spectacular triumph, featuring no less than the captured king of Macedonia himself, and his sons, putting an end to the dynasty. As a gesture of acknowledgment, the senate awarded him the surname (cognomen) Macedonicus. This was the peak of his career. In 164 BC he was elected censor. He fell ill, appeared to be recovering, but relapsed within three days and died during his term of office in 160 BC.

Family life and descendants

His father Lucius Aemilius Paullus died in battle in 216 BC in the Battle of Cannae, when Aemilius Paullus was still a boy. The Aemilii Paulli were connected by marriage and political interests to the Scipios, but their role in his subsequent upbringing is not clear.

He had been married first to Papiria Masonis (or Papiria Masonia), daughter of the consul Gaius Papirius Maso (consul in 231 BC), whom he divorced, according to Plutarch, for no particular reason. From this marriage, four children were born: two sons and two daughters, the elder Aemilia Paulla Prima apparently married[3] to the son of Marcus Porcius Cato, and the younger Aemilia Paulla Secunda to Quintus Aelius Tubero, a rich man of a plebeian family. He divorced his wife while his younger son was still a baby, according to Roman historians; thus the divorce probably took place around 183 BC-182 BC. Nevertheless, he was elected consul in 182 BC.

Paullus Macedonicus then married a second time (this wife's name is unknown) and had two more sons, the elder born around 181 BC and the younger born around 176 BC. He also apparently had another daughter (Aemilia Tertia), who was a small girl when her father was chosen consul for the second time.[4]

Since four boys were too many for a father to support through the cursus honorum, Paullus decided to give the oldest two boys up for adoption, probably between 175 BC and 170 BC. The elder was taken by a Quintus Fabius Maximus and became Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus, thus joining his fortunes to the house of a national hero. The younger, possibly named Lucius, was adopted by his own cousin[5] Publius Cornelius Scipio, elder son and heir of Scipio Africanus, and became Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, thus falling heir to the legacy of Rome's most influential political dynasty.

With the eldest sons safely adopted by two of the most powerful patrician houses, Paullus Macedonicus counted on the two younger ones to continue his own name. This was not to happen. Both of them died young, one shortly after the other, at the same time that Paullus celebrated his triumph. The elder of the two remaining sons was 14 and the younger 9, according to Polybius. Their names are unknown to us. The successes of his political and military career were thus not accompanied by a happy family life.

At his death, his sons Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus and Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Aemilianus received his property by his will, even though they were legally no longer Aemilii Paulli; Scipio gave his share to his older brother who was less wealthy. Paullus's second wife (whose name is unknown to us) received her dowry back from the sale of some of her late husband's property. (Livy and Polybius both claim that Paullus died relatively poor, and that he had kept little for himself from the successful Macedonian campaign). His married daughters had presumably received dowries from their father; Aemilia Paulla Prima is known to have married in or around 164 BC.

With the death of Macedonicus, the Aemilii Paulli became extinct, even though he had two living sons. His elder surviving son Fabius Aemilianus eventually became consul and fathered at least one son, who in turn became consul as Fabius Allobrigicus in 121 BC. This man, in turn, may have been the ancestor of later Fabii who tied their fortunes to Julius Caesar and Augustus.[6] The younger surviving son was more famous as Scipio Aemilianus but died leaving no known issue. Of the daughters, the elder was ancestor of at least two consuls of no particular distinction. The younger was mother of a consul Quintus Aelius Tubero.

His first and former wife Papiria Masonia survived her ex-husband and lived to enjoy her former sister-in-law's property presented to her by her younger son (per Polybius). At her death, her property was divided between her sons, but Scipio gave it to his sisters.

Paullus's immediate surviving descendants

  1. Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus, apparently father of
  2. Quintus Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus, consul 121 BC
  3. Quintus Fabius Maximus, who was allegedly deprived of his inheritance by a Roman magistrate
  4. Fabia, Chief Vestal[7] (fl. 50 BC), who married (div) Publius Cornelius Dolabella (c. 70 BC or earlier[8]-43 BC), consul in 44 BC, as his first wife, and had a son (see below). Dolabella then was adopted (illegally, without the consent of the Pontifex Maximus, i.e. Caesar) into the plebeian ranks, and then married 50 BC Tullia, only daughter of Cicero).[9][10][11] According to some sources, Fabia was the elder half-sister of Tullia's mother Terentia.[12]
  5. Publius Cornelius Dolabella, consul in AD 10 with C. Junius Silanus.[13]
  6. Publius Cornelius Dolabella was proconsul of Africa in the reign of Tiberius, AD 23-24. Smith reports: "In the course of the administration of his province he gained a complete victory over the Numidian Tacfarinas ; but although he had formerly been a very great flatterer of Tiberius, yet he did not obtain the ornaments of a triumph, in order that his predecessor in the province of Africa, Junius Blaesius, an uncle of Sejanus, might not be thrown into the shade. In AD 27, he joined Domitius Afer in the accusation against his own relative, Quintilius Varus, (Tacitus Annales iii. 47, 68; iv. 23, etc., 66.)"[13]
  7. another son, mentioned occasionally in sources, possibly the same as Allobrogicus, who was quaestor to his better-known blood uncle (below) in Spain.
  8. Scipio Aemilianus (died 129 BC)
  9. Aemilia Paulla Prima, mother of
  10. Gaius Porcius Cato
  11. Aemilia Paulla Secunda, mother of
  12. Quintus Aelius Tubero, consul 117 BC
  13. See also


    1. ^ inter arma ac studia versatus (Velleius Paterculus, i.13.3, quoted in Yun Lee Too, The Idea of the Library in the Ancient World, 2010: Introduction.
    2. ^ Elizabeth Rawson called it "the first great Greek library", preceding the library of Alexandria; at the very end of Antiquity Isidore of Seville's sources spurred him to assert Romam primus librorum copiam advexit Aemilius Paulus, "Aemilius Paullus was the first who brought a store of books to Rome" (Etymologiae vi.5.1).
    3. ^ There is some confusion about her name, because some sources claim that she was another Aemilia Tertia. However, she could not have been the Aemilia Tertia described as a small child or a little girl in 167 BC; she would have been too young to marry in 164 BC. Furthermore, it is known that the younger Cato was married to Scipio Aemilianus's full sister because Aemilianus gave his sisters his share of his mother's property.
    4. ^ Aemilia Tertia's fate is unknown. It is known that her older sisters married, and that her full brothers died in 167 BC. She may have died by 160 BC because Polybius makes no further reference to her. Nor do any Roman historians mention any other brother-in-law of Scipio Aemilianus.
    5. ^ Publius Cornelius Scipio the younger was a flamen dialis and later a praetor, whose ill-health prevented him from pursuing a military career. His mother was Aemilia Paulla or Aemilia Tertia, the sister of Paullus.
    6. ^ These would include the consul of 45 BC and the consuls Paullus Fabius Maximus and Africanus Fabius Maximus.
    7. ^ Leila Celestia Walker "The Women Who Influenced the Lives of Caesar, Cicero, and Virgil, unpublished BA Thesis, Department of Ancient Languages, University of South Carolina, 1935
    8. ^ Since he was consul in 44 BC after Caesar's assassination, it is more likely that he was born around 90 BC or earlier
    9. ^ Author not available, DOLABELLA., The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 2007
    10. ^ John H. Collins, "Tullia's Engagement and Marriage to Dolabella" The Classical Journal, Vol. 47, No. 5 (February 1952), pp. 164-168+186
    11. ^ Wiliam Smith (ed). "Tullia" and "Dolabella" Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, v. 1, page 1058-1060
    12. ^ David Noy. "Seminar 1: Terentia and Tullia" notes
    13. ^ a b [4] Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, v. 1, page 1060


    • Livy, History of Rome XLIV, 17 – XLVI, 41.
    • Plutarch, Aemilius Paulus. [5]
    • Polybius, Histories, XXXII, 8. [6]

    Further reading

    • Alberto Barzanò, "Biografia pagana come agiografia. Il caso della vita plutarchea di Lucio Emilio Paolo", RIL, 128 (1994), 403–424.
    • Lora Holland, "Plutarch’s Aemilius Paullus and the Model of the Philosopher Statesman", L. de Blois et al. (eds.): The Statesman in Plutarch’s Works. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference of the International Plutarch Society, vol. II: The Statesman in Plutarch’s Greek and Roman Lives, (Leiden, 2005), pp. 269–279.
    • William Reiter, Aemilius Paullus: Conqueror of Greece, London 1988.
    • Manuel Tröster, "¿Una especie de hagiografía? Plutarco y la tradición histórica en la Vida de Emilio Paulo", Gerión, 28 (2010), pp. 193–206.
    • Manuel Tröster, "Plutarch and Mos Maiorum in the Life of Aemilius Paullus", Ancient Society, 42 (2012), pp. 219-254.
    • Rosanna Vianoli, "Carattere e tendenza della tradizione su L. Emilio Paolo", M. Sordi (ed.): Contributi dell’Istituto di storia antica, vol. I (Milano, 1972), pp. 78–90.
    Political offices
    Preceded by
    Quintus Fabius Labeo and Marcus Claudius Marcellus
    Consul of the Roman Republic
    with Gnaeus Baebius Tamphilus
    182 BC
    Succeeded by
    Publius Cornelius Cethegus and Marcus Baebius Tamphilus
    Preceded by
    Quintus Marcius Philippus and Gnaeus Servilius Caepio
    Consul of the Roman Republic
    with Gaius Licinius Crassus
    168 BC
    Succeeded by
    Quintus Aelius Paetus and Marcus Junius Pennus
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