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)

Inviolatam

Nicolas Poussin, La continence de Scipion, 1640
Nicolas Poussin, La continence de Scipion (1640)

Quartum et vicesimum annum agens Scipio, cum in Hispania Carthagine oppressa maioris Carthaginis capiendae sumpsisset auspicia, multosque obsides, quos in ea urbe Poeni clausos habuerant, in suam potestatem redegisset, eximiae inter eos formae virginem aetatis adultae, et iuvenis et caelebs et victor, postquam comperit illustri loco inter Celtiberos natam, nobilissimoque gentis eius Indibili desponsam, arcessitis parentibus et sponso inviolatam tradidit. aurum quoque, quod pro redemptione puellae allatum erat, summae dotis adiecit. qua continentia ac munificentia Indibilis obligatus Celtiberorum animos Romanis applicando meritis eius debitam gratiam rettulit.
(Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia 4.3.1)

When Scipio was in his twenty-fourth year he had caputred Carthage in Spain and so taken auspices for the capture of the greater Carthage. He had brought many hostages into his power, whom the Carthaginians had kept shut up in the former city, among them a girl of adult age and exceptional beauty. Learning that she was born in an exalted station among the Celtiberi and betrothed to Indibilis, the noblest of that nation, Scipio, a young man, unmarried, and a victor, summoned her parents and fiancé and handed her over inviolate. He even added the gold which had been brought for the girl’s ransom to the amount of her dowry. Bound by such continence and generosity, Indibilis attached the hearts of the Celtiberi to Rome and so made due repayment to his benefactor. (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)

Crepundiis

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Caduca nimirum et fragilia puerilibusque consentanea crepundiis sunt ista quae vires atque opes humanae vocantur. adfluunt subito, repente dilabuntur, nullo in loco, nulla in persona stabilibus nixa radicibus consistunt, sed incertissimo flatu Fortunae huc atque illuc acta quos sublime extulerunt improviso recursu destitutos profundo cladium miserabiliter immergunt. itaque neque existimari neque dici debent bona quae, ut inflictorum malorum amaritudine desiderium sui duplicent, <…>
(Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia 6.9 ext. 7)

Frail and fragile surely and like children’s toys are the so-called power and wealth of humankind. Suddenly they stream in, abruptly they fall apart, in no place or person do they stand on fixed or stable roots, but driven hither and thither by Fortune’s fickle breeze they forsake those they have raised aloft in unexpected withdrawal and lamentably plunge them into an abyss of disaster. Therefore they should neither be thought nor called good things that in order to double the bitterness of inflicted evils by craving for their return * * * (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)

Osculum

Giuseppe Crespi - Brutus Kissing the Earth (1725)
Giuseppe Crespi, Brutus Kissing the Earth (1725)

Quo in genere acuminis in primis Iunius Brutus referendus est: nam cum a rege Tarquinio, avunculo suo, omnem nobilitatis indolem excerpi, interque ceteros etiam fratrem suum, quod vegetioris ingenii erat, interfectum animadverteret, obtunsi se cordis esse simulavit, eaque fallacia maximas virtutes suas texit. profectus etiam Delphos cum Tarquinii filiis, quos is ad Apollinem Pythium muneribus et sacrificiis honorandum miserat, aurum deo nomine doni clam cavato baculo inclusum tulit, quia timebat ne sibi caeleste numen aperta liberalitate venerari tutum non esset. peractis deinde mandatis patris, Apollinem iuvenes consuluerunt quisnam ex ipsis Romae regnaturus videretur. at is penes eum summam urbis nostrae potestatem futuram respondit qui ante omnes matri osculum dedisset. tum Brutus, perinde atque casu prolapsus, de industria se abiecit, terramque, communem omnium matrem existimans, osculatus est. quod tam vafre Telluri impressum osculum urbi libertatem, Bruto primum in fastis locum tribuit.
(Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia 7.3.2)

In this sort of sharpness Junius Brutus deserves particular mention. He noticed that his uncle king Tarquin was picking out all men of promise among the nobility and that among others his own brother had been put to death because of his lively intelligence. He therefore pretended to be dull of intellect and veiled his great abilities by that deception. Leaving too for Delphi with Tarquin’s sons, whom the king had sent to honour Pythian Apollo with gifts and sacrifices, he took some gold for the god as a gift secretly hidden in a hollow stick, fearing that it would not be safe for him to venerate the heavenly deity with an open donation. After attending to their father’s commissions, the young men consulted Apollo as to which among them seemed likely to be king in Rome. The god replied that supreme power in our city would lie with him who was the first to give his mother a kiss. Then Brutus purposely threw himself on the ground as though by an accidental stumble and kissed it, reckoning it to be the common mother of all kings. That kiss so craftily impressed on Earth gave freedom to the city and the first place in the Fasti to Brutus. (tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey)