There was for a long time silence among the young Roman nobility, as they were both ashamed to decline the contest, and unwilling to claim the principal post of danger.
Then Titus Manlius, son of Lucius, the same who had freed his father from the vexatious persecution of the tribune, proceeds from his station to the dictator: “Without your commands, general, I would never fight out of the ordinary course, not though I should see certain victory before me.
If you permit me, I wish to show that brute, who insolently makes such a parade before the enemy's line, that I am sprung from that family which dislodged a body of Gauls from the Tarpeian rock.” Then the dictator says, “Titus Manlius, may you prosper for your valour and dutiful affection to your father and your country.
Go on, and make good the invincibility of the Roman name with the aid of the gods.” His companions then arm the youth; he takes a footman's shield, girds himself with a Spanish sword, fit for a close fight.
When armed and equipped, they lead him out against the Gaul, who exhibited stolid exultation, and (for the ancients thought that also worthy of mention) thrust out his tongue in derision.
They then retire to their station; and the two being armed, are left in the middle space, lore after the manner of a spectacle, than according to the law of combat, by no means well matched, according to those who judged by sight and appearance.
The one had a body enormous in size, glittering in a vest of various colours, and in armour painted and inlaid with gold; the other had a middle stature, as is seen among soldiers, and a mien unostentatious, in arms fit [p. 458]
for ready use rather than adapted for show. He had no song, no capering, nor idle flourishing of arms, but his breast, teeming with courage and silent rage, had reserved all its ferocity for the decision of the contest.
When they took their stand between the two armies, the minds of so many individuals around them suspended between hope and
fear, the Gaul, like a huge mass threatening to fall on that which was beneath it, stretching forward his shield with his left hand, discharged an ineffectual cut of his sword with a great noise on the armour of his foe as he advanced towards him.
The Roman, raising the point of his sword, after he had pushed aside the lower part of the enemy's shield with his own, and closing on him so as to be exempt from the danger of a wound, insinuated himself with his entire body between the body and arms of the foe, with one and immediately with another thrust pierced his belly and groin, and stretched his enemy now prostrate over a vast extent of ground.
Without offering the body of the prostrate foe any other indignity, he despoiled it of one chain; which, though smeared with blood, he threw around his neck.
Dismay with astonishment now held the Gauls motionless. The Romans, elated with joy, advancing from their post to meet their champion, with congratulations and praises conduct him to the dictator.
Among them uttering some uncouth jests in military fashion somewhat resembling verses, the name of Torquatus was heard: this name, being kept up, became afterwards an honour to the descendants even of the family.
The dictator added a present of a golden crown, and before a public assembly extolled that action with the highest praises.