« A.U.C. 499 = 255 B.C. »

Polybius 1.31.4 notes that at the end of the previous consular year the suffect consul M. Atilius Regulus was anxious to negotiate a Carthaginian surrender or to defeat them before his term of office expired. After the negotiations, he was himself devastatingly defeated by an army newly and rapidly trained and led by the Spartan mercenary Xanthippus, who had entered Carthaginian service in the interim. Since it must have taken Xanthippus a few weeks to train the Carthaginian army, this battle cannot have occurred much before April. Polybius 1.36.5 notes that the (new) consuls for this year, Ser. Fulvius Paetinus Nobilior and M. Aemilius Paullus, then led a fleet to rescue the remnants of the Roman army trapped in Clupea in early summer, i.e. around mid May. Polybius 1.37.4 states that this fleet was then wrecked before the rising of Sirius, i.e. mid July.

In this voyage, according to Dio Cassius 11.14, the fleet garrisoned Sicily and Cossura, defeated a Carthaginian fleet, rescued the forces trapped in Clupea, and launched several land raids. It has been argued that these events could not have been completed in two months, and that the dates of the triumphs Nobilior and Paullus were awarded for their exploits -- a.d. XIII and XII Kal. Feb. A.U.C. 500 -- support the view that Polybius' and Dio's account of the voyage collapses events into one year that actually took place over the course of two. But M. G. Morgan, Chiron 7 (1977) 89 at 100, shows that it is not hard to fit the recorded events into about two (fairly busy) months, and notes that that if the wreck of the fleet is delayed by a year it requires the survivors at Clupea also to hold out for a year. He also notes that there is no indication that the consuls were absent from Rome when the elections for A.U.C. 500 were held, and that the delay till their triumphs can readily be explained by their continued involvement in the war over the next year.

Combining these two indications, the start of the consular term was most likely in late April.

The following table gives the dates for Kal. Mai. in this year, for 22-28 intercalations between this year and A.U.C. 564 = 190, the most recent year whose dates are certain:

Number of Intercalations   Number of intercalated days     Kal. Mai. A.U.C. 499
     A.U.C. 499-564                                                           

              22                              484-506                11 June - 3 July 255
              23                              506-529                19 May - 11 June 255
              24                              528-552                26 Apr. - 20 May 255
              25                              550-575                3-28 Apr. 255
              26                              572-598                11 Mar. - 6 Apr. 255
              27                              594-621                16 Feb. - 15 Mar. 255
              28                              616-644                 24 Jan. - 21 Feb 255

The best match is given by 25 intercalations between this year and A.U.C. 564 = 190. One fewer intercalation is possible if the lengths of intercalations were more likely to be 23 days than 22. Any fewer drives the launch of the fleet too far towards the end of May 255 to be acceptable. One more intercalation drives the end of Regulus' consulate into March, which seems clearly unacceptable. The date ranges compatible with the data are highlighted in blue.   The preferred solution is bolded.

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