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Disobedient son – Titus Manlius Torquatus

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman commander
Roman commander

Livy states that during the war with Latins, Volsci and Campania in 340 BCE, Titus Manlius Torquatus, the son of consul Aulus Manlius Torquatus broke father’s order. At this time, Rome fought with tribes which used the same weapon, had the same customs and language and tactics.

In order to prevent misunderstandings and have an advantage over the opponent, Aulus Manlius Torquatus and his companion consul Decius found that strict discipline must be an indispensable element of Roman tactics. They introduced an edict that forbade acting on his own and the obligation to obey orders.

During one of the patrols, the consul’s son, Titus Manlius Torquatus, came along with several friends to a small squad of enemies. The commander of the enemy unit was so called Geminus Maecius, who, seeing that he encountered the son of the Roman commander himself, challenged him to a duel. Titus, having forgotten father’s edict, accepted the challenge and defeated the opponent. Titus, returning to the camp, informed his father about the duel. On hearing this, the consul ordered all soldiers to be called. He told everyone that even though he loves his son, he can not let the binding orders be broken and sentenced him to death. Titus died, being killed with a club to death in front of soldiers. From this event comes the statement: “Manlius’ discipline”.

  • Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, VIII, 5-10

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