Manlius Torquatus

Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus was a famous politician and general of the Roman Republic. He had an outstanding career; being consul three times in 347, 344 and 340 BC, and dictator three times 353, 349 and 320 BC. He was one of the early heroes of the Republic, alongside Cincinnatus, Cornelius Cossus, Furius Camillus, or Valerius Corvus. 

Young Manlius being put to death by Jean-Simon Berthélemy, 1785.

Fight to the Death

In 361 BC, Rome was fighting aginst the Gauls. During a lull in battle, a huge Gaul proposed that the war should be settled by single combat between him and one of the Romans. A brave Roman called Titus Manlius volunteered and killed the huge Gaul, taking the gold torque from around his neck. This earned him the cognomen Torquatus.

Manlius’ duel against the Gaul by Ludwig Refinger, mid-16th century.

Manlian Discipline

Twenty years later, the Romans were fighting against the Latins and Manlius Torquatus’ son was in the army that his father commanded as consul. The general ordered his troops not to engage with the enemy without being given orders.

However, his son was provoked by the Latins and challeneged one of them to single combat. The younger Manlius won the duel and brought the spoils back to his father. But because he had disobeyed not only his father but the consul and commander of the army, Torquatus ordered his son be arrested and put to death.

The death of Young Manlius by Ferdinand Bol, 1661–64.