Decius Mus, Publius

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Publius Decius Mus (dē´shəs mŭs), name of three Romans, father, son, and grandson, who, according to legend, sacrificed themselves for their country. As a tribune, the father fought (343 BC) 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 BC) in the belief that the enemy would thereby be destroyed by the gods. His son, when consul for the fourth time (295 BC), 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 BC), according to Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.