FLACCUS, a cognomen in the plebeian gens Fulvia, one of the most illustrious in ancient Rome. Cicero and Pliny state that the family came from Tusculum, where some were still living in the middle of the 1st century B.C. Of the Fulvii Flacci the most important were the following:
Quintus Fulvius Flaccus, son of the first of the family, Marcus, who was consul with Appius Claudius Caudex in 264. He especially distinguished himself during the second Punic War. He was consul four times (237, 224, 212, 209), censor (231) pontifex maximus (216), praetor urbanus (215). During his first consulships he did good service against the Ligurians, Gauls and Insubrians. In 212 he defeated Hanno near Beneventum, and with his colleague Appius Claudius Pulcher began the siege of Capua. The capture of this place was considered so important that their imperium was prolonged, but on condition that they should not leave Capua until it had been taken. Hannibal's unexpected diversion against Rome interfered with the operations for the moment, but his equally unexpected retirement enabled Flaccus, who had been summoned to Rome to protect the city, to return, and bring the siege to a successful conclusion. He punished the inhabitants with great severity, alleging in excuse that they had shown themselves bitterly hostile to Rome. He was nominated dictator to hold the consular elections at which he was himself elected (209). He was appointed to the command of the army in Lucania and Bruttium, where he crushed all further attempts at rebellion. Nothing further is known of him. The chief authority for his life is the part of Livy dealing with the period (see Punic Wars).
His brother Gnaeus was convicted of gross cowardice against Hannibal near Herdoniae in 210, and went into voluntary exile at Tarquinii. His son, Quintus, waged war with signal success against the Celtiberians in 182-181, and the Ligurians in 179. Having vowed to build a temple to Fortuna Equestris, he dismantled the temple of Juno Lacinia in Bruttium of its marble slabs. This theft became known and he was compelled to restore them, though they were never put back in their places. Subsequently he lost his reason and hanged himself.
Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, grandnephew of the first Quintus, lived in the times of the Gracchi, of whom he was a strong supporter. After the death of Tiberius Gracchus (133 B.C.) he was appointed in his place one of the commission of three for the distribution of the land. He was suspected of having had a hand in the sudden death of the younger Scipio (129), but there was no direct evidence against him. When consul in 125, he proposed to confer the Roman citizenship on all the allies, and to allow even those who had not acquired it the right of appeal to the popular assembly against penal judgments. This proposal, though for the time successfully opposed by the senate, eventually led to the Social War. The attack made upon the Massilians (who were allies of Rome) by the Salluvii (Salyes) afforded a convenient excuse for sending Flaccus out of Rome. After his return in triumph, he was again sent away (122), this time with Gaius Gracchus to Carthage to found a colony, but did not remain absent long. In 121 the disputes between the optimates and the party of Gracchus culminated in open hostilities, during which Flaccus was killed, together with Gracchus and a number of his supporters. It is generally agreed that Flaccus was perfectly honest in his support of the Gracchan reforms, but his hot-headedness did more harm than good to the cause. Cicero (Brutus, 28) speaks of him as an orator of moderate powers, but a diligent student.
See Livy, Epit. 59-61; Val. Max. ix. 5. 1; Vell. Pat. ii. 6; Appian, Bell. Civ. i. 18, 21, 24-26; Plutarch, C. Gracchus, 10. 13; also A.H.J. Greenidge, Hist. of Rome (1904), and authorities quoted under Gracchus.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)