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A minute enquiry by whom the greatest valour has ever been exhibited, would lead to an endless discussion, more especially if all the fables of the poets are to be taken for granted. Q. Ennius admired T. Cæcilius Denter1 and his brother to such a degree, that on their account he added a sixteenth book to his Annals. L. Siccius Dentatus, who was tribune of the people in the consulship of Spurius Tarpeius and A. Aterius,2 not long after the expulsion of the kings, has also very numerous testimonies in his favour. This hero fought one hundred and twenty battles, was eight times victorious in single combat, and was graced with forty-five wounds in the front of the body, without one on the back. The same man also carried off thirty-four spoils,3 was eighteen times presented with the victor's spear,4 and received twenty-five pendants,5 eighty-three torcs,6 one hundred and sixty bracelets,7 twenty-six crowns, (of which fourteen were civic, eight golden, three mural, and one obsidional), a fisc8 of money, ten prisoners, and twenty oxen altogether.9 He followed in the triumphal processions of nine generals, who mainly owed their victories to his exertions; besides all which, a thing that I look upon as the most important of all his services, he denounced to the people T. Romilius,10 one of the generals of the army, at the end of his consulship, and had him convicted of having made an improper use of his authority.11

The military honours of Manlius Capitolinus would have been no less splendid than his, if they had not been all effaced at the close of his life. Before his seventeenth year, he had gained two spoils, and was the first of equestrian rank who received a mural crown; he also gained six civic crowns, thirty seven donations, and had twenty-three scars on the fore-part of his body. He saved the life of P. Servilius, the master of the horse, receiving wounds on the same occasion in the shoulders and the thigh. Besides all this, unaided, he saved the Capitol, when it was attacked by the Gauls, and through that, the state itself; a thing that would have been the most glorious act of all, if he had not so saved it, in order that he might, as its king, become its master.12 But in all matters of this nature, although valour may effect much, fortune does still more.

No person living, in my opinion at least, ever excelled M. Sergius,13 although his great-grandson, Catiline, tarnished the honours of his name. In his second campaign he lost his right hand; and in two campaigns he was wounded three and twenty times; so much so, that he could scarcely use either his hands or his feet; still, attended by a single slave, he afterwards served in many campaigns, though but an invalided soldier. He was twice taken prisoner by Hannibal, (for it was with no ordinary enemy that he would engage,) and twice did he escape from his captivity, after having been kept, without a single day's intermission, in chains and fetters for twenty months. On four occasions he fought with his left hand alone, two horses being slain under him. He had a right hand made of iron, and attached to the stump, after which he fought a battle, and raised the siege of Cremona, defended Placentia, and took twelve of the enemy's camps in Gaul. All this we learn from an oration of his, which he delivered when, in his prætorship, his colleagues attempted to exclude him from the sacred rites, on the ground of his infirmities.14 What heaps upon heaps of crowns would he have piled up, if he had only had other enemies! For, in matters of this nature, it is of the first importance to consider upon what times in especial the valour of each man has fallen. What civic crowns did Trebia, what did the Ticinus, what did Lake Thrasymenus afford? What crown was there to be gained at Cannæ, where it was deemed the greatest effort of valour to have escaped15 from the enemy? Other persons have been conquerors of men, no doubt, but Sergius16 conquered even Fortune herself.17

1 There has been considerable difficulty in ascertaining who was the individual here referred to; the subject is discussed at some length by Hardouin, who shows that it is probable, that it was Lucius Cæcilius, who was slain in a battle with the Gauls, A.U.C. 470, and in the consulship of Dolabella and Domitius.—B.

2 The name of this consul has been the subject of much discussion among the commentators. Livy, B. iii. c. 31, has been referred to, as calling him Atermius; but in some of the best editions, he is named Aterius. The tribunate of Dentatus took place A.U.C. 299, fifty-five years after the expulsion of the kings.—B.

3 When a Roman overcame an enemy with whom he had been personally engaged, he took possession of some part of his armour and dress, which might bear testimony to the victory; this was termed the "spolium." —B.

4 "Hasta pura;" these words, according to Hardouin, signify a lance without an iron head. We are told that it was given to him who gained the first victory in a battle; it was also regarded as an emblem of supreme power, and as a mark of the authority which one nation claimed over another.—B.

5 "Phaleris." These were bosses, discs or crescents of metal, sometimes gold, They were mostly used in pairs, and as ornaments for the helmet; but we more commonly read of them as attached to the harness of horses, and worn as pendants from the head, so as to produce a terrific effect when shaken by the rapid movements of the horse.

6 The "torques" was an ornament of gold, twisted spirally and bent into a circular form, and worn among the upper classes of the Persians, the Gauls, and other Asiatic and northern nations. They are often found both in France and Ireland, as well as in this country, but varying greatly in size and weight.

7 Golden "armillæ," or bracelets, were worn by the Gauls on the arms and the legs. The Sabines also wore them on the left arm, at the time of the foundation of Rome.

8 The word "fiscus" signifies a wicker basket or pannier, probably of peculiar construction, in which the Romans were accustomed to keep and carry about large sums of money. In process of time the word came to signify a treasure or money-chest.

9 We have nearly the same detail of the honours bestowed on Dentatus by Val. Maximus, B. iii. c. 2. Pliny again speaks of Dentatus, and the honours bestowed upon him, B. xxii. c. 5; and especially notices the "corona graminea," the grass or obsidional crown, as the highest of his honours. The different kinds of honorary crowns are very fully described in B. xvi. c. 3, 4, and 5; in B. xxii. c. 4, we have a particular account of the "corona graminea;" in c. 5, mention is made of its having been given to Dentatus, and, in the next, other individuals are enumerated to whom it had been presented.—B.

10 T. Romilius Rocus Vaticanus was consul B.C. 455. Having defeated the Æqui, and gained immense booty, instead of distributing it among the soldiers, he and his colleague sold it, on account of the poverty of the treasury. They were, in consequence, brought to trial, and Veturius was sentenced to pay 10,000 asses. He was, however, elected augur in 453, as some compensation for the ill-treatment he had experienced.

11 Livy, B. iii. c. 31, gives an account of the conviction of Romilius, but says, that it was effected by C. Claudius Cicero, the tribune of the people. To obviate the discordance in the names, some commentators have proposed to substitute the words "Lucio Siccio" for "Claudio Cicerone."—B.

12 We have an account of the victories, honours, and unfortunate fate of Manlius in Livy, B. vi. c. 14—20. In enumerating the honours conferred upon him, the numbers are given somewhat differently in c. 20; thirty spoils of enemies slain, forty donations from the generals, two mural and eight civic crowns.—B.

13 M. Sergius Silus. He was one of the city prætors B.C. 197.

14 Among the Jews and other nations of antiquity, it was considered an essential point for the priests to be without blemish, perfect and free from disease.—B.

15 In allusion to the compliment paid by the senate to the consul, M. Terentius Varro, by whose rashness the battle of Cannæ was lost. On his escape and safe return to Rome, instead of visiting him with censure, he received the thanks of the senate, "that he had not despaired of the republic."

16 It appears somewhat remarkable, considering the extraordinary acts of valour here enumerated, as performed by Sergius, that we hear so little of him from other sources.—B.

17 Hardouin takes the meaning to be, that though ill fortune overtook the Romans in their wars with Hannibal, nevertheless Sergius defeated Fortune herself, in dying before his country was overwhelmed by those calamities.

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