Gaius Carinnas (d.82 BC)

Gaius Carinnas (d.82 BC) was a senior commander on the Marian side during Sulla's Second Civil War, but he was defeated in all of his recorded battles, and was executed after the battle of the Colline Gate.

Soon after Sulla landed in southern Italy the young Pompey began to raise an army in Picenum, on the Adriatic coast to the north-east of Rome. The consuls sent three armies to deal with this new threat, under Carinnas, Cloelius and Junius Brutus. Pompey attacked and defeated Brutus and all three armies then retreated.

At the start of the campaign of 82 BC the consul Gnaeus Papirius Carbo moved north to deal with Sulla's allies Metellus Pius and Pompey. Carinnas was part of this force, possibly commanding the advance guard. He was defeated in a battle that lasted from early morning to noon by Metellus (and probably Pompey) on the River Aesis, the northern boundary of Picenum, on the Adriatic Coast, and lost part of his cavalry. Carbo then arrived, and Metellus was forced to retreat and was besieged at an unknown location north of Ariminum.

Carbo was soon forced to lift this siege after news arrived that his fellow consul, Marius the Younger, had been defeated by Sulla at Sacriportus, and besieged in Praeneste, south of Rome. Carbo moved back to Ariminum, with Pompey harassing his movements, and then further south towards Rome.

Carinnas retreated south with Carbo, probably on a parallel road. Carbo ended up at Clusium, while Carinnas moved towards Spoletium, on the Via Flaminia, forty miles to the east/ south-east. Pompey and Crassus followed him, and defeated Carinnas on the plains outside Spoletium. Carinnas suffered 3,000 casualties in the fighting. Carinnas retreated into the city, where he was besieged. Carbo sent an army to try and lift the siege, but this was ambushed by Sulla. Despite this setback Carinnas was able to escape under cover of darkness and a rainstorm. 

After Carbo fled into exile, Carinnas, Brutus Damasippus and Marcius made a fourth attempt to lift the siege of Praeneste, but this also failed. The Samnite leader Pontius Telesinus then decided to risk an attack on Rome. Carinnas and Marcius took part in this attack, which was defeated after some hard fighting just outside the city walls (battle of the Colline Gate, 1 November 82 BC).

Carinnas escaped from the battle, but he was captured on the day afterwards (along with Marcius), and both men were beheaded. Their heads were then sent to Praeneste and displayed outside the walls to prove that they had been defeated in battle. This helped to convince the defenders of Praeneste to surrender.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 March 2018), Gaius Carinnas (d.82 BC) ,

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