Regulus, Marcus Atilius (?–250 B.C.?), a Roman general and consul admired for his strength of character. He commanded Roman forces against Carthage in North Africa in the first Punic War. In 256 he defeated the Carthaginian fleet in the Battle of Ecnomus, and only his harsh terms kept Carthage from surrendering to him.
Regulus was taken prisoner by Carthage in 255. According to Roman writers, he was permitted to go to Rome in 250 with a peace mission from Carthage, having sworn to return if peace was not arranged. Instead of urging peace, he persuaded Rome to continue the war, but kept his pledge and returned to Carthage, where he was tortured to death. His family, in turn, killed Carthaginian prisoners in Rome. Some historians believe that this account of Regulus' death was invented to justify Roman cruelty to Carthaginians.