Event Described in Torquatus

  • Does anyone know what event is described here in Torquatus sections 34 & 35? There is described some altercation and involvement with a necklet. Seems interesting as a story at the beginning of his argument.

    yet you neither perverted me by eulogising my ancestors nor made me less vigorous in my reply. Now I ask, what interpretation do you put upon the actions of these men? Do you believe that they attacked the armed foe, or practised such cruelty towards their own children and their own esh and blood, absolutely without giving a thought to their own interest or their own advantage? Why, even the beasts do not act so as to produce such a tumult and confusion that we cannot see the purpose of their movements and attacks; do you believe that men so exceptional achieved such great exploits from no motive whatever?

    [35] What the motive was, I shall examine presently; meanwhile I shall maintain this, that if they performed those actions, which are beyond question noble, from some motive, their motive was not virtue apart from all else. He stripped the foe of his necklet. Yes, and he donned it himself to save his own life. But he faced a grave danger. Yes, with the whole army looking on. What did he gain by it? Applause and affection, which are the strongest guarantees for passing life in freedom from fear. He punished his son with death. If purposelessly, I should be sorry to be descended from one so abominable and so cruel; but if he did it to enforce by his self-inicted pain the law of military command, and by fear of punishment to control the army in the midst of a most critical war, then he had in view the preservation of his fellow-countrymen, which he knew to involve his own.

  • It refers to this story:


    As a young military tribune, he defeated a giant Gaul in single combat in one of the most famous duels of the Republic, which earned him the cognomen Torquatus after the torc he took from the Gaul's body....

    In 361 BC, Titus Manlius fought in the army of Titus Quinctius Poenus Capitolinus Crispinus against the Gauls during the Battle of the Anio River. When a Gaul of enormous size and strength challenged the Romans to single combat, Manlius accepted the challenge with the approval of Poenus after the rest of the army had held back from responding for a long period of time. Despite being physically inferior, he killed the Gaul with blows to the belly and groin, after which he stripped the corpse of a torc and placed it around his own neck. From this, he gained the agnomen Torquatus, a title that was passed down also to his descendants.

    A torc/torque is a heavy necklace worn by the Celtic tribes. Torque -- hence Torquatus.

    Torc - Wikipedia


    Because (Titus Manlius) always wore (the torque he took from the Gaul), he received the nickname Torquatus (the one who wears a torc),[23] and it was adopted by his family.