He was according to Cicero (ad Fam. ix. 21) the father of the Carbo of the same name, who was thrice consul, whereas this latter is called by Velleius Paterculus (II 26) a brother of Gaius Papirius Carbo Arvina. This difficulty may be solved by supposing that the word frater in Velleius is equivalent to frater patruelis or cousin. (Perizon., Animadv. Hist. p. 96.)
During his consulship, he was ordered by the Senate to take legions to defend the Alps from the migration of the Cimbri. There, he shadowed the Germanic tribe and ambushed them near Noreia. At the ensuing Battle of Noreia, although Carbo held the advantage in terrain and surprise, his forces were overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of Cimbrian warriors, and disastrously defeated. The Cimbri, while smashing the Roman army, did not advance into Italy, seemingly looking for some place to settle.
He was afterwards accused by Marcus Antonius for provoking and then losing the Battle of Noreia. Securing a conviction, Carbo committed suicide rather than depart for exile, taking a solution of vitriol (atramentum sutorium, Cic., ad Fam. IX 21; Liv., Epit. 63.).
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "Carbo (3)". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. p. 611.