Marcus Atilius Regulus, a Roman general, died about 250 B. C. He was consul in 267, when he defeated the Sallentini, took Brun-dusium, and received a triumph. In 256, the ninth year of the first Punic war, he was a second time consul, and in conjunction with his colleague Manlius set out with a fleet of 330 vessels to invade Africa, defeated the Carthaginian fleet of 350 sail under Hanno and Hamilcar, landed at Clypea, and ravaged their territory. Toward the close of the year, by order of the senate, Manlius returned to Rome with his division of the forces. Regulus now defeated the three Carthaginian generals in a great battle in the mountains, and captured town after town, including Tunis. The Carthaginians sued for peace, but when the envoys protested against the extravagance of his demands, Regulus replied: "Men who are good for anything should either conquer or submit to their betters." The negotiations were broken off, and Xanthippus, a Spartan, was placed at the head of the Carthaginian army, who defeated the Romans and took Regulus prisoner. After five years' captivity he was sent in 250 to Rome along with an embassy, on condition that he would return if the negotiations were unsuccessful.

He persuaded the senate to refuse to make peace, and returned to Carthage. The story of his execution under the most barbarous tortures is now generally disbelieved.