Curtius Rufus

Curtius Rufus

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Curtius Rufus was a Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 politician mentioned by Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 for actions during the reigns of the emperors Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

 and Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

. In all probability he is to be equated with the first century Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus
Quintus Curtius Rufus
Quintus Curtius Rufus was a Roman historian, writing probably during the reign of the Emperor Claudius or Vespasian. His only surviving work, Historiae Alexandri Magni, is a biography of Alexander the Great in Latin in ten books, of which the first two are lost, and the remaining eight are...


Early life

Tacitus is cryptic in his discussion of the birth of Curtius Rufus, while revealing that some believed him to be son of a gladiator. It is worth repeating in full his words: "Of the birth of Curtius Rufus, whom some affirm to have been the son of a gladiator, I would not publish a falsehood, while I shrink from telling the truth."

On reaching adulthood Rufus attached himself to a quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

 allotted to the Roman province of Africa where
it is reported he witnessed an apparition that predicted he would one day return to the province as Proconsul
A proconsul was a governor of a province in the Roman Republic appointed for one year by the senate. In modern usage, the title has been used for a person from one country ruling another country or bluntly interfering in another country's internal affairs.-Ancient Rome:In the Roman Republic, a...

. Accordingly Rufus returned to Rome with high hopes for his future, subsequently attaining the offices of quaestor and then praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

 during the reign of Tiberius. During his election as Praetor, Tiberius had cast a veil over his origins by saying, "Curtius Rufus seems to me to be his own ancestor".

Military career

Rufus was awarded a triumph
Roman triumph
The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the military achievement of an army commander who had won great military successes, or originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war. In Republican...

 by Claudius in 47 for opening up silver mines in the territory of the Mattiaci
The Mattiaci were an ancient Germanic tribe. They were possibly a branch of the Chatti, their Germanic neighbors to the east. The Mattiaci were settled on border of the Roman Empire on the right side of the Rhine in the area of present-day Wiesbaden , the southern Taunus, and the Wetterau.Tacitus...

. This triumph, seemingly earned without military engagement, led to a sarcastic letter from the legions which begged Claudius to award triumphs immediately command of an army was conferred.

Later life

Tacitus notes that during a long old age of "surly sycophancy to those above him, of arrogance to those beneath him, and of moroseness among his equals", having attained the consulship
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

in 43 (suffect for Claudius) and his triumph in 47 , he received the province of Africa, where he eventually died, in accordance with the earlier prediction.

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