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[13arg] A passage from the history of Claudius Quadrigarius, in which he pictured the combat of Manlius Torquatus, a young noble, with a hostile Gaul, who challenged the whole Roman army.

TITUS MANLIUS was a man of the highest birth and of exalted rank. This Manlius was given the surname Torquatus. The reason for the surname, we are told, was that he wore as a decoration a golden neck-chain, a trophy taken from an enemy whom he had slain. But who the enemy was, and what his nationality, how formidable his huge size, how insolent his challenge, and how the battle was fought all this Quintus Claudius has described in the first book of his Annals with words of the utmost purity and clearness, and with the simple and unaffected charm of the old-time style. When the philosopher Favorinus read this passage from that work, he used to say that his mind was stirred and affected by no less emotion and excitement than if he were himself an eye-witness of their contest.

I have added the words of Quintus Claudius in which that battle is pictured: “In the meantime a Gaul came forward, who was naked except for a shield and two swords and the ornament of a neck-chain and bracelets; in strength and size, in youthful vigour and in courage as well, he excelled all the rest. In the very height of the battle, when the two armies were fighting with the utmost ardour, he began to make signs with his hand to both sides, to cease fighting. The combat ceased. As soon as silence was secured, he called out in a mighty voice that if anyone wished to engage him in single combat, [p. 197] he should come forward. This no one dared do, because of his great size and savage aspect. Then the Gaul began to laugh at them and to stick out his tongue. This at once roused the great indignation of one Titus Manlius, a youth of the highest birth, that such an insult should be offered his country, and that no one from so great an army should accept the challenge. He, as I say, stepped forth, and would not suffer Roman valour to be shamefully tarnished by a Gaul. Armed with a foot-soldier's shield and a Spanish sword, he confronted the Gaul. Their meeting took place on the very bridge, in the presence of both armies, amid great apprehension. Thus they confronted each other, as I said before: the Gaul, according to his method of fighting, with shield advanced and awaiting an attack; Manlius, relying on courage rather than skill, struck shield against shield, and threw the Gaul off his balance. While the Gaul was trying to regain the same position, Manlius again struck shield against shield, and again forced the man to change his ground. In this fashion he slipped in under the Gaul's sword and stabbed him in the breast with his Spanish blade. Then at once with the same mode of attack he struck his adversary's right shoulder, and he did not give ground at all until he overthrew him, without giving the Gaul a chance to strike a blow. After he had overthrown him, he cut off his head, tore off his neck-chain, and put it, covered with blood as it was, around his own neck. Because of this act, he himself and his descendants had the surname Torquatus.” 1

From this Titus Manlius, whose battle Quadrigarius described above, all harsh and cruel commands are [p. 199] called “Manlian;” for at a later time, when he was consul in a war against the Latins, Manlius caused his own son to be beheaded, because he had been sent by his father on a scouting expedition with orders not to fight, 2 and disregarding the command, had killed one of the enemy who had challenged him.

1 Fr. 10b, Peter2.

2 There is a lacuna in the text, but this seems to express the general sense.

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load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
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  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), GLA´DIUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PU´GIO
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TORQUES
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
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