Marcellus märsĕlˈəs [key], principal plebeian family of the ancient Roman gens Claudia. Marcus Claudius Marcellus, c.268–208 b.c., was consul five times. In his first consulship he fought (222) against the Insubrian Gauls and killed their king in single combat. In his third consulship he was a colleague of Fabius Maximus, and he went (214) into S Italy and Sicily to prosecute the Second Punic War. He besieged Syracuse and took (212) the city, in spite of the ingenious defenses made by Archimedes. In his fifth consulship he fell in a skirmish with Hannibal's men near Venusia. Plutarch wrote a biography of him. Marcus Claudius Marcellus, d. 45 b.c., was a friend of Cicero and subject of the Ciceronian oration, Pro Marcello. He held the posts of curule aedile (56 b.c.) and consul (51 b.c.). As a senatorial partisan Marcellus defended Milo against Clodius and joined the opponents of Julius Caesar in the civil war. Caesar pardoned him after Pharsalus. Marcus Claudius Marcellus, 42 b.c.–23 b.c., was son of Octavia, sister of Augustus, who greatly favored him. Marcellus was considered to be Augustus' intended heir; he was adopted as son of the emperor, married to Julia, the emperor's daughter, and made pontifex. He died at Baiae, and Augustus named a theater for him.

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