But in Hannibal, Marcellus had finally met his equal as a warrior. After a few skirmishes in southern Italy, Hannibal trapped Marcellus in a fatal ambush. According to Plutarch, when Marcellus was found dead, Hannibal “ordered the body to be honorably robed, suitably adorned, and burned, then he collected the remains in a silver urn, placed a golden wreath upon it, and sent it back to his son.”
History is usually too senseless to teach us anything — though it should be learned anyway, if only for learning’s sake. For all his bravery and sacrifice, Marcellus was just an imperialist aggressor who ended up gored by the most bullish imperialist of all in Hannibal.
But it seems wholly appropriate that a shale formation that has caused so much political polarization would be named after a bitterly tenacious Roman general. Marcellus, after all, had plenty of stories to tell about implacable foes and intractable conflicts.
JUSTIN VERNOLD is a copy editor at The Daily Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.