Titus Manlius Torquatus (235 BC)

Titus Manlius Torquatus, son of Titus (or Titus Manlius T.f. Torquatus), was Roman Republican consul 235 BC and 224 BC, censor 231 BC, and dictator 208 BC.

Family background

The Manlii were one of the oldest and most distinguished patrician gens in the Roman Republic. One Gnaeus Manlius Cincinnatus had been chosen consul in 480 BC, four years after the first Fabius had become consul. Prominent consuls in the family included the early 4th century consul Marcus Manlius T.f. Capitolinus (whose career was marked by his "gens" banning the use of the "praenomen" "Marcus" thereafter), and the 4th century consul Titus Manlius L.f. Imperiosus Torquatus. Titus was descended from this last consul, notable not only for his military successes but also for executing his own son for an impetuous breach of military discipline. It is not clear if the consul Aulus Manlius Titus f. Torquatus Atticus was Titus's elder brother.

Political career

In his first consulship in 235 BC, with Gaius Atilius A.f. Bulbus as his co-consul, he subjugated Sardinia, recently acquired from the Carthaginians. After this war, the temple of Janus was shut for the second time in Roman history (Livy ~. 9), meaning that Rome was at peace, not war. He was then elected censor with Quintus Fulvius Flaccus in 231 BC, and apparently did not complete the "lustrum" (ritual cleansing of the Roman state), because new censors were elected in 230 BC. (Torquatus might have fallen out with his colleage and resigned, or the omens might have been considered inauspicious, forcing both censors to resign). In 224 BC, he was elected consul again, this time with his censorial colleague Flaccus.

In 216 BC, as one of the most senior senators then living, he successfully opposed the ransoming of the Romans taken prisoners at the Battle of Cannae, on the grounds that they had made no effort to break out of the Carthaginian lines.

In 215 BC he was sent to Sardinia, after the illness of Quintus Mucius Scaevola and defeated a Carthaginian attempt to regain possession of the island.

However, he also suffered a number of reverses. In 212 BC, he and Flaccus contested for the position of Pontifex Maximus (chief priest of Rome), and lost to a younger and less distinguished man Publius Licinius Crassus. It is unclear from Livy's account if Licinius Crassus benefited from the inevitable division of votes between the two ex-censors, or whether he was always ahead.

In 210 BC, he was the oldest living patrician senator who had been censor earliest, but he was not chosen Princeps Senatus. The censor Publius Sempronius Tuditanus preferred that the honor go to the most distinguished senior senator, who was in his view, Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucoses Cunctator, a man who had been first consul in 233 BC and censor in 230 BC. The other senator Marcus Cornelius Cethegus preferred to go by the "mos maiorum"

It is not clear when Torquatus died, but he was probably not living in 202 BC when Scipio defeated Hannibal at Zama.

Torquatus's speech on the Roman prisoners

Livy reproduces the gist of Torquatus's powerful speech in Book 22: 60, of which only the first part is reproduced here:

:"Titus Manlius Torquatus, a man of primitive, and, as some considered, over-rigorous severity, being asked his opinion, is reported thus to have spoken: "Had the deputies confined themselves to making a request, in behalf of those who are in the hands of the enemy, that they might be ransomed, I should have briefly given my opinion, without inveighing against any one. For what else would have been necessary but to admonish you, that you ought to adhere to the custom handed down from your ancestors, a precedent indispensable to military discipline. But now, since they have almost boasted of having surrendered themselves to the enemy, and have claimed to be preferred, not only to those who were captured by the enemy in the field, but to those also who came to Venusia and Canusium, and even to the consul Terentius himself; I will not suffer you to remain in ignorance of things which were done there. And I could wish that what I am about to bring before you, were stated at Canusium, before the army itself, the best witness of every man's cowardice or valour; or at least that one person, Publius Sempronius, were here, whom had they followed as their leader, they would this day have been soldiers in the Roman camp, and not prisoners in the power of the enemy...."

The speech powerfully influenced the Senate, and convinced the political elite not to ransom Roman soldiers who had not had the courage to break out unlike Tuditanus

Livy xxiu. 60; Livy xxiii. 34; Polybius ii. 31; Valerius Maximus 5.8.3.


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