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Denarius of Lucius Manlius Torquatus, 113-112 BC. The obverse depicts the head of Roma within a torque, the emblem of the Manlii Torquati. The reverse depicts a warrior charging into battle on horseback, beneath the letter 'Q', signifying Torquatus' quaestorship.
The gens Manlia was one of the oldest and noblest patrician houses at Rome, from the earliest days of the Republic until imperial times. The first of the gens to obtain the consulship was Gnaeus Manlius Cincinnatus, consul in 480 BC, and for nearly five centuries its members frequently held the most important magistracies. Many of them were distinguished statesmen and generals, and a number of prominent individuals under the Empire claimed the illustrious Manlii among their ancestors.
The Manlii were said to hail from the ancient Latin city of Tusculum. The nomenManlia may be a patronymic surname, based on the praenomenManius, presumably the name of an ancestor of the gens. The gens Manilia was derived from the same name, and its members are frequently confused with the Manlii, as are the Mallii. However, Manius was not used by any of the Manlii in historical times. The Manlii were probably numbered amongst the gentes maiores, the greatest of the patrician families. As with many patrician gentes, the Manlii seem to have acquired plebeian branches as well, and one of the family was tribune of the plebs in the time of Cicero. The plebeian Manlii were probably descended from freedmen of the patricians, from members who had gone over to the plebeians, or from unrelated persons who acquired the nomen after obtaining the franchise from one of the Manlii.
A well-known story relates that after Marcus Manlius Capitolinus was condemned for treason, the Roman Senate decreed that henceforth none of the gens should bear the praenomen Marcus. However, this legend may have originated as a way to explain the scarcity of the name amongst the Manlii, as the name was rarely used in later generations.
The earliest cognomen found amongst the Manlii is Cincinnatus, better known from the Quinctia gens. This name originally referred to a person with fine, curly hair. The descendants of Gnaeus Manlius Cincinnatus bore the surname Vulso, meaning "plucked", perhaps chosen for its contrast to Cincinnatus.Münzer, noting that the cognomen Cincinnatus is missing from the older historians, supposed that it might be a mistake, and that Vulso was the original surname of the Manlian gens. The Manlii Vulsones flourished for over three hundred years.
The Manlii Capitolini were descended from the Vulsones, and first appear in the second half of the fifth century BC. The surname Capitolinus probably indicates that the family lived on the Capitoline Hill, although the role of Marcus Manlius in saving the Capitol from the Gauls during the sack of Rome in 390 BC is also credited with establishing the name in his family. The surname was relatively short-lived amongst the Manlii, being replaced by that of Torquatus. This surname was first acquired by Titus Manlius Imperiosus, who defeated a giant Gaul during a battle in 361 BC, and took his torque as a trophy, placing it around his own neck. The descendants of Torquatus remained prominent until the final decades of the Republic, and adopted the torque as an emblem upon their coins. Imperiosus, a cognomen borne by Torquatus and his father, was bestowed on account of their imperious manner. The Manlii Torquati were firmly aligned with the aristocratic party toward the end of the Republic, siding first with Sulla, then with Pompeius and the Liberatores. In later times, Torquatus was borne by the Junii Silani, who were descended from the Manlii.
The Manlii Acidini rose to prominence during the Second Punic War, but achieved only one consulship, in 179, before fading into relative obscurity. They still flourished in the time of Cicero, who praises their nobility.
From coins of the Manlii featuring the inscriptions SER and SERGIA, Münzer concluded that one stirps of this gens bore the cognomen Sergianus, indicating descent from the Sergia gens. However, this probably referred to the tribus Sergia; a plebeian branch of the Manlii used the name of their tribe to distinguish themselves from the patrician Manlii, a practice also found among the Memmii.
Towards the end of the Republic, several early Manlii appear without cognomina, such as Quintus and Gnaeus Manlius, tribunes of the plebs in 69 and 58 BC.
Lucius Manlius Cn. f. L. n. Vulso, praetor in 197 BC, received Sicilia as his province. He was also legate to his brother Gnaeus, the consul of 189, during his campaign in Asia. In 188, he demanded from Antiochus III his oath to uphold the Treaty of Apamea.
Publius Manlius Vulso, praetor in 195 BC, was later again praetor in 182 BC.
Aulus Manlius Cn. f. L. n. Vulso, one of the triumvirs appointed to establish a colony in the territory of Thurii and Frentinum from 194 to 192 BC. He was praetor suffectus in 189, and consul in 178. He was assigned the province of Cisalpine Gaul, whence he attacked and conquered Istria.
Lucius Manlius A. f. A. n. Capitolinus Imperiosus, dictator in 363 BC, and father of Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus. He was prosecuted in 362 by the tribune Marcus Pomponius for having stayed in power for more than six months, and for his cruelty toward some citizens and his own son, the future Torquatus, who nonetheless forced Pomponius to drop the charges against his father.
Titus Manlius L. f. A. n. Imperiosus Torquatus, dictator in 353, 349, and 320; and consul in 347, 344, and 340 BC, was a celebrated general, and won the name Torquatus for defeating a Gaulish champion in single combat, and taking his torque as a trophy. He is equally remembered for the severe discipline that he imposed upon his eldest son during his final consulship.
Titus Manlius T. f. L. n. Torquatus, while serving as prefect in 340 BC, he was put to death by his father, the consul, after disobeying orders to engage an enemy champion in single combat, hoping to replicate his father's feat.
Titus Manlius T. f. T. n. Torquatus, consul in 235 and 224, censor in 231, propraetor in Sardinia in 215, and dictator in 208 BC. He was awarded a triumph in 235 for his campaign in Sardinia. He was also a pontiff.
Titus Manlius T. f. T. n. Torquatus, possibly a praetor circa 69 BC. He studied under Apollonius Molon in Rhodes and was promised to the consulship, but died before he could be eligible.
Manlia T. f. T. n., married her cousin Aulus Manlius Torquatus, the praetor of 70 BC.
Publius Cornelius Lentulus Spinther, the natural son of the consul of 65 BC, he was adopted into the Manlii by Titus Manlius Torquatus after the death of his natural son. The adoption was just an artifice to make him eligible to the college of augurs, as it already counted a member of the gens Cornelia[iv] (Faustus Cornelius Sulla), but none of the Manlii. Spinther did not even make the pretext of changing his name.
Aulus Manlius A. f. T. n. Torquatus, praetor in 70, then propraetor of Africa in 69, and quaesitor in 52. He was also a legate of Pompeius in 67, tasked with the surveillance of the east of Spain and the Balearic Islands. He married his cousin, Manlia.[v]
Aureus of Aulus Manlius, 80 BC. Roma is portrayed on the obverse. The reverse depicts an equestrian statue of Sulla, which was placed in front of the Rostra. The head of Roma looks like the one on the denarii of his father.
Publius Manlius, epulo in 196, praetor in Hither Spain in 195. He was possibly expelled from the Senate by Cato the Censor for having kissed his wife in front of his daughter. Reintegrated as praetor in 182, he was sent to Farther Spain, where he stayed as promagistrate for two years. He died in 180 at his return from Spain.[ix]
Aulus Manlius Q. f., triumvir monetalis between 118 and 107 BC, and legate of Gaius Marius in 107, during the war against Jugurtha. He was one of the envoys sent to obtain Jugurtha's surrender. From the inscriptions on his coins, Münzer supposes that he bore the cognomen Sergianus.
Titus Manlius Mancinus, triumvir monetalis between 111 and 110 BC and tribune of the plebs in 107.
Aulus Manlius A. f. Q. n., quaestor in 80 BC. He minted gold coins during his magistracy, which shows he was a supporter of Sulla.
^Livy calls him Gaius, a name not otherwise used by the Manlii, but evidently a mistake for Gnaeus, given in the filiation of his grandson, Aulus Manlius Vulso Capitolinus, consular tribune in 405, 402, and 397. The two names were nearly always abbreviated, and frequently confounded. Diodorus calls him Marcus, and Dionysius Aulus. None of these explicitly identify the decemvir with the consul of 474, nor do Livy or Diodorus state that he had previously been consul, although Dionysius erroneously indicates that he had been consul the previous year. The chronological difficulty in identifying the decemvir with the consul of 474 arises from the decemvir's son serving as consular tribune three times from 405 to 397; unless he were the child of the decemvir's old age, he would have been rather elderly by the time he first achieved high office, if his father were consul nearly seventy years earlier.
^Called "Gaius" by Livy. His cognomen is uncertain; it could also be Capitolinus, or he may have borne both.
^Broughton and Mitchell place his quaestorship much later, circa 94 and 96, respectively. However, Crawford's dating of circa 112 fits better with the chronology, as Lucius' son also minted coins with Sulla in 82.
^It was forbidden to have two members of the same gens in the college of pontiffs.
^Broughton and Mitchell suppose that he was quaestor in 81, but Crawford attributes the coins inscribed "A. Manli A. f. Q[uaestor]" to another Manlius, who was not one of the Torquati.
^Mitchell guesses that his name was Aulus, because typical Roman practice was for an eldest son to be named after his father.
^According to Münzer, he was the son of Lucius Manlius Vulso, praetor peregrinus in 218 BC.
^Münzer and Brougton express doubt as to his filiation, based on the tradition respecting the intentional disuse of the praenomen Marcus following the death of Marcus Manlius Capitolinus in the fourth century BC. Münzer also doubts the existence of a collateral branch of the family, since the adoption of Fulvianus a generation earlier implies that the Acidini were on the verge of extinction.
^Münzer suggested that he was a Vulso, but Broughton disagrees, saying that he was succeeded as epulo by a plebeian, so he must have been a plebeian as well.
^ abcDictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. II, p. 920 ("Manlia Gens").
George Davis Chase, "The Origin of Roman Praenomina", in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, vol. VIII (1897).
Michael Grant, From Imperium to Auctoritas: a Historical Study of Aes Coinage in the Roman Empire, 49 BC-AD 14, Cambridge University Press (1946).
Lily Ross Taylor, "Augustan Editing in the Capitoline Fasti", in Classical Philology, vol. 46, No. 2, pp. 73-80 (April 1951); The Voting Districts of the Roman Republic, University of Michigan Press (1960).