(‘sons of Mamers’, the Oscan form of Mars), a band of Campanian mercenaries who in 288 bc seized Messana, whence they dominated and plundered NE Sicily. Their power was checked temporarily by Pyrrhus and more seriously by Hieron 2 II of Syracuse. Against the threat of Hieron they appealed in rapid succession to the Carthaginians, who installed a garrison, and to Rome. Roman acceptance of their appeal led to the ejection by the Mamertines of the Carthaginian garrison, to the dispatch to Messana of Appius Claudius Caudex, and ultimately to the First Punic War.
Subjects: Classical Studies.