Decius Mus, Publius

Decius Mus, Publius mŭs [key], name of three Romans, father, son, and grandson, who, according to legend, sacrificed themselves for their country. As a tribune, the father fought (343 b.c.) in the war against the Samnites and, as consul with Manlius Torquatus, commanded in the war with the Latins. Near Mt. Vesuvius he “devoted” himself to the gods and then deliberately exposed himself to death (340 b.c.) in the belief that the enemy would thereby be destroyed by the gods. His son, when consul for the fourth time (295 b.c.), similarly sought death in the battle at Sentinum against the Gauls, Samnites, and Etruscans. His grandson, in the war with Pyrrhus, followed their example at Asculum (279 b.c.), according to Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Rome: Biographies