Severitate

Jean-Simon Berthélemy, Manlius Torquatus condamnant son fils à mort, 1785
Jean-Simon Berthélemy, Manlius Torquatus condamnant son fils à mort (1785)

T. autem Manlius Torquatus, propter egregia multa rarae dignitatis, iuris quoque civilis et sacrorum pontificalium peritissimus, in consimili facto ne consilio quidem necessariorum indigere se credidit: nam cum ad senatum Macedonia de filio eius D. Silano, qui eam provinciam obtinuerat, querellas per legatos detulisset, a patribus conscriptis petiit ne quid ante de ea re statuerent quam ipse Macedonum filiique sui causam inspexisset. summo deinde cum amplissimi ordinis tum etiam eorum, qui questum venerant, consensu cognitione suscepta domi consedit solusque utrique parti per totum biduum vacavit, ac tertio plenissime diligentissimeque auditis testibus ita pronuntiavit: ‘cum Silanum filium meum pecunias a sociis accepisse probatum mihi sit, et re publica eum et domo mea indignum iudico protinusque e conspectu meo abire iubeo’. tam tristi patris sententia perculsus Silanus lucem ulterius intueri non sustinuit suspendioque se proxima nocte consumpsit. peregerat iam Torquatus severi et religiosi iudicis partis, satis factum erat rei publicae, habebat ultionem Macedonia, potuit tam verecundo fili obitu patris inflecti rigor: at ille neque exsequiis adulescentis interfuit et, cum maxime funus eius duceretur, consulere se volentibus vacuas aures accommodavit: videbat enim se in eo atrio consedisse, in quo imperiosi illius Torquati severitate conspicua imago posita erat, prudentissimoque viro succurrebat effigies maiorum cum titulis suis idcirco in prima parte aedium poni solere, ut eorum virtutes posteri non solum legerent, sed etiam imitarentur.
(Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia 5.8.3)

In a similar action, T. Manlius Torquatus, a man of rare prestige founded on many outstanding merits, also a great expert on civil law and pontifical rituals, did not think he needed even a council of relatives and friends. When Macedonia presented to the senate through envoys complaints against his son D. Silanus, who had been governor of the province, he requested the Conscript Fathers not to come to any decision on the matter until he himself had examined the case of the Macedonians and his son. Then he started his enquiry with the full approval both of the most honourable order and of those who had come to complain. Sitting in his house and alone, he listened to both sides through two entire days and on the third, after the most ample and thorough hearing of witnesses, he pronounced as follows: “It having been proved to my satisfaction that my son Silanus took bribes from our allies, I judge him unworthy of the commonwealth and of my house and order him to leave my sight immediately.” Smitten by his father’s terrible sentence, Silanus could not bear to look any longer on the light and hanged himself the following night. Torquatus had now fulfilled the role of a stern and scrupulous judge, the public interest had been satisfied, Macedonia had its revenge; the father’s rigour might have been softened by his son’s remorseful end. But he did not take part in the young man’s obsequies and at the very time of the funeral he gave his attention to persons wishing to consult him. For he saw that within the hall where he sat was placed the mask of Torquatus the Imperious, conspicuous in its severity, and as a very wise man he bethought himself that the effigies of a man’s ancestors with their labels are placed in the first part of the house in order that their descendants should not only read of their virtues but imitate them. (tr. David Roy Shackleton-Bailey)

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