Gaius Papius Mutilus

Gaius Papius Mutilus was a Samnite noble who is best known for being the leader of the southern rebels who fought against the army of Rome in the Social War of 91-88 BC (also known as the Italic War); was member of the clan Variani/Varriano.[1]

The Southern Forces Under Gaius Papius

The Samnite army, consisting of southern rebels, was very similar to that of the Romans. Two men were elected consuls while another twelve were granted the position of praetor. The consuls were the leaders of their respective armies and are referred to as “commanders in chief". Papius became the consul for the southern rebel forces, known as the Samnites, in 90 BC. His fellow consul was Quintus Poppaedius Silo; the leader of a centrally located army, staffed mainly by members of Italic tribe of Marsi. Both of these men held the position of consul into the year 89 BC due to their success during the campaigning season of the following year.[2]

Success in Battle

Papius achieved great success as the leader of the Samnite army during his advance into Roman territory. One of the more famous battles fought by the southern rebels occurred at the city of Nola. The Samnite army captured the city with 2,000 Roman soldiers remaining inside. The soldiers did not accept Papius' offer to serve under him and were therefore starved to death.

Following his victory at Nola, Papius took the cities of Stabiae, Minervium, and Salernum while conquering the country around Nuceria. The citizens of these cities and those surrounding feared the wrath of Papius. He gathered the prisoners and slaves from each city while also being given infantry and cavalry out of fear (these troops amounted to over 10,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry).[3] Papius continued to destroy the Romans while continuing to have success in the city of Campania and the regions surrounding it. During his leadership of the Samnite army, Papius only lost two notable battles. These were to consul Lucius Julius Caesar in 90 BC and to Cornelius Sulla Felix in 89 BC. Following his loss to Sulla, Papius is said to have been granted Roman citizenship. Shortly after, he was proscribed and committed suicide.[4]


  1. Hornblower, Simon; Antony Spawforth [1996]. The Oxford classical dictionary, 3rd, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 922.
  2. Salmon, E.T. (1958). Notes on the Social War. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 89: 159-184
  3. White, Horace (1913). "The Histories of Appian". Loeb Classical Library. pp. 83, Book 1. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
  4. Hornblower, Simon; Antony Spawforth [1996]. The Oxford classical dictionary, 3rd, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 922.
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