Titus Herminius Aquilinus

Last updated

Following the expulsion of the king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus from Rome in 509 BC, Lars Porsena, the King of Clusium, resolved to conquer Rome, either to restore the Etruscan monarchy, or possibly for himself. The following year he went to war with Rome, and advanced with his army upon the city. After successfully capturing those parts of the city on the Etruscan side of the Tiber, including the Janiculum, the Clusian army approached the Pons Sublicius, a wooden bridge leading into the city proper. The Roman forces withdrew to the eastern side of the river, as engineers began the work of destroying the bridge's supports. Three Romans remained on the bridge to fend off the Etruscans: Publius Horatius Cocles, Spurius Larcius, and Herminius. [4] [5]

Niebuhr suggests a symbolic importance to these three men: each represented one of the three ancient tribes making up the Roman populace: the Ramnes, or Latins, represented by Horatius; the Titienses, or Sabines, represented by Herminius, and the Luceres, or Etruscans, represented by Lartius. [6]

The bridge was too narrow for more than a few of the approaching army to advance upon its defenders at once, and according to the legend, they held their ground until the bridge was about to collapse. Horatius then urged his colleagues to retreat to safety, leaving him alone on the bridge. There he remained, fighting off one attacker after another, until the bridge at last gave way and plunged into the river. Horatius then jumped into the river. Accounts vary as to whether Horatius survived and swam to shore, or was drowned in the Tiber; in most accounts he survived, but according to Polybius, he defended the bridge alone, and perished in the river. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

Lartius and Herminius appear again in the war with Clusium, commanding troops as part of a trap devised by the consul Publius Valerius Publicola to capture Etruscan raiding parties. [12]


Herminius was elected consul in 506 BC, the fourth year of the Republic, with Spurius Lartius, his companion on the bridge, as his colleague. No significant events occurred during their year of office, and Niebuhr suggests that their names may have been inserted in the consular fasti to fill the gap of one year (perhaps due to Lars Porsena holding the city). Their successors sent a delegation to meet with the envoys of Porsena, and established a treaty, by which the Etruscan King gave up his claims to Rome. [13] [14]

Battle of Lake Regillus

Lake Regillus, where Herminius slew Octavius Mamilius, and was slain in turn. Lake regillus.jpg
Lake Regillus, where Herminius slew Octavius Mamilius, and was slain in turn.

In 498/496 BC, war erupted between Rome and the Latins. Many of the Latin towns had been allies of Rome during the final days of the Roman monarchy; some continued this alliance, while others sided with the Tarquins, who sought to regain the throne. The Latin league was led by Octavius Mamilius, a prince of Tusculum, and the son-in-law of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last King of Rome. To meet the Latin army, the Romans appointed a dictator, Aulus Postumius Albus, and his magister equitum , Titus Aebutius Elva. Herminius was a general officer in the Roman expeditionary force, which encountered the army near Lake Regillus.

During the course of the battle, Aebutius, the magister equitum, spotted Mamilius and engaged him on horseback. The two men met with great fury, and each suffered serious injuries. Aebutius was forced to retire from the battle, and direct his cavalry from a distance, while Mamilius was taken to the rear. The Latin commander returned to the fray in order to save a company of Roman exiles, who were about to be cut off by Postumius, and in so doing he was recognized by Herminius.

In the ensuing charge, described by the historian Livy as occurring with even greater ferocity than the clash with Aebutius, Herminius killed the Latin dictator with a single thrust through the body. He then stooped to strip the armour from the fallen prince, but was mortally wounded by a javelin. He was carried living to the rear, but he died as his wounds were being dressed. [15]

In literature

The stand of Herminius and his companions against Lars Porsena at the Sublician Bridge in 508 BC is celebrated in Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome , the most famous of which is Horatius. [16] [17]

See also


  1. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology , William Smith, Editor.
  2. Valerius Maximus, De Praenominibus, 15.
  3. Barthold Georg Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. i, p. 542.
  4. Livy, Ab Urbe Condita , ii. 10.
  5. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romaike Archaiologia, v. 24, 25.
  6. Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. i, p. 542.
  7. Livy, ii. 10.
  8. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, v. 24, 25.
  9. Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac Dictorum Memorabilium libri IX, iii. 2. § 1.
  10. Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans , Poplicola, 16.
  11. Polybius, The Histories , vi. 55.
  12. Livy, ii. 11.
  13. Livy, ii. 15.
  14. Niebuhr, History of Rome, vol. i, p. 536.
  15. Livy, ii. 19, 20.
  16. Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lays of Ancient Rome , Horatius.
  17. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology , William Smith, Editor.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Smith, William, ed. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology .{{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

Titus Herminius Aquilinus
Lays of ancient Rome, with Ivry, and The Armada; (1904) (14784998215).jpg
Lars Porsena (in chariot), flanked by Octavius Mamilius, surveys Rome before the Battle of the Sublician Bridge (508 BC), at which Herminius won everlasting fame. Herminius would slay Mamilius at the Battle of Lake Regillus (498/496 BC). Illustration by John Reinhard Weguelin for Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome .
Consul of the Roman Republic
In office
506 BC 505 BC
Servingwith Spurius Larcius
Political offices
Preceded by Roman consul
with Spurius Larcius
506 BC
Succeeded by

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lucius Tarquinius Superbus</span> Seventh and last King of Rome

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was the legendary seventh and final king of Rome, reigning 25 years until the popular uprising that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, from his cognomen Superbus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Horatius Cocles</span> Roman soldier who prevented an Etruscan army from crossing the bridge over the Tiber

Publius Horatius Cocles was an officer in the army of the early Roman Republic who famously defended the Pons Sublicius from the invading army of Etruscan King Lars Porsena of Clusium in the late 6th century BC, during the war between Rome and Clusium. By defending the narrow end of the bridge, he and his companions were able to hold off the attacking army long enough to allow other Romans to destroy the bridge behind him, blocking the Etruscans' advance and saving the city.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lucius Junius Brutus</span> Semi-legendary 6th-century BC founder of Roman Republic

Lucius Junius Brutus was the semi-legendary founder of the Roman Republic, and traditionally one of its first consuls in 509 BC. He was reputedly responsible for the expulsion of his uncle the Roman king Tarquinius Superbus after the suicide of Lucretia, which led to the overthrow of the Roman monarchy. He was involved in the abdication of fellow consul Tarquinius Collatinus, and executed two of his sons for plotting the restoration of the Tarquins.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mamilia gens</span> Ancient Roman family

The gens Mamilia was a plebeian family at ancient Rome during the period of the Republic. The gens was originally one of the most distinguished families of Tusculum, and indeed in the whole of Latium. It is first mentioned in the time of the Tarquins; and it was to a member of this family, Octavius Mamilius, that Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last King of Rome, betrothed his daughter. The gens obtained Roman citizenship in the 5th century BC, and some of its members must subsequently have settled at Rome, where Lucius Mamilius Vitulus became the first of the family to hold the consulship in 265 BC, the year before the First Punic War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Lake Regillus</span> Legendary Roman victory over the Latin League and as part of a wider Latin War (c. 496 BC)

The Battle of Lake Regillus was a legendary Roman victory over the Latin League shortly after the establishment of the Roman Republic and as part of a wider Latin War. The Latins were led by an elderly Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last King of Rome, who had been expelled in 509 BC, and his son-in-law, Octavius Mamilius, the dictator of Tusculum. The battle marked the final attempt of the Tarquins to reclaim their throne. According to legend, Castor and Pollux fought on the side of the Romans.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lars Porsena</span> Etruscan king of Clusium involved in wars against Rome

Lars Porsena was an Etruscan king (lar) known for his war against the city of Rome. He ruled over the city of Clusium. There are no established dates for his rule, but Roman sources often place the war at around 508 BC.

Titus Larcius was a Roman general and statesman during the early Republic, who served twice as consul and became the first Roman dictator.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Publius Valerius Poplicola</span> Roman aristocrat who helped overthrow monarchy (died 503 BC)

Publius Valerius Poplicola or Publicola was one of four Roman aristocrats who led the overthrow of the monarchy, and became a Roman consul, the colleague of Lucius Junius Brutus in 509 BC, traditionally considered the first year of the Roman Republic.

Clusium was an ancient city in Italy, one of several found at the site. The current municipality of Chiusi (Tuscany) partly overlaps this Roman walled city. The Roman city remodeled an earlier Etruscan city, Clevsin, found in the territory of a prehistoric culture, possibly also Etruscan or proto-Etruscan. The site is located in northern central Italy on the west side of the Apennines.

The Pons Sublicius is the earliest known bridge of ancient Rome, spanning the Tiber River near the Forum Boarium downstream from the Tiber Island, near the foot of the Aventine Hill. According to tradition, its construction was ordered by Ancus Marcius around 642 BC, but this date is approximate because there is no ancient record of its construction. Marcius wished to connect the newly fortified Janiculum Hill on the Etruscan side to the rest of Rome, augmenting the ferry that was there. The bridge was part of public works projects that included building a port at Ostia, at the time the location of worked salt deposits.

<i>Lays of Ancient Rome</i> 1842 poetry collection by Thomas Macaulay

Lays of Ancient Rome is an 1842 collection of narrative poems, or lays, by Thomas Babington Macaulay. Four of these recount heroic episodes from early Roman history with strong dramatic and tragic themes, giving the collection its name. Macaulay also included two poems inspired by recent history: Ivry (1824) and The Armada (1832).

Titus Aebutius Helva was a Roman senator and general from the early Republic, who held the consulship in 499 BC. He was magister equitum under Aulus Postumius Albus at the Battle of Lake Regillus. He was the father of Lucius Aebutius Helva, consul in 463 BC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus</span> Semi-legendary figure in Roman history

Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus is a semi-legendary figure in early Roman history. He was the first Suffect Consul of Rome and was also the father of Lucretia, whose rape by Sextus Tarquinius, followed by her suicide, resulted in the dethronement of King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, therefore directly precipitating the founding of the Roman Republic. It is believed that Lucretius and his accomplishments are at least partly mythical and most ancient references to him were penned by Livy and Plutarch.

The Roman–Etruscan Wars were a series of wars fought between ancient Rome and the Etruscans. Information about many of the wars is limited, particularly those in the early parts of Rome's history, and in large part is known from ancient texts alone. The conquest of Etruria was completed in 265–264 BC.

Octavius Mamilius was princeps of Tusculum, an ancient city of Latium. He was the son-in-law of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last king of Rome. According to tradition, the gens Mamilia was descended from Mamilia, reputedly a granddaughter of Ulysses (Odysseus) and Circe. Titus Livius described Octavius as head of one of the most distinguished families of Latium, and thus an important ally of Tarquinius.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Postumia gens</span> Ancient Roman family

The gens Postumia was a noble patrician family at ancient Rome. Throughout the history of the Republic, the Postumii frequently occupied the chief magistracies of the Roman state, beginning with Publius Postumius Tubertus, consul in 505 BC, the fifth year of the Republic. Although like much of the old Roman aristocracy, the Postumii faded for a time into obscurity under the Empire, individuals bearing the name of Postumius again filled a number of important offices from the second century AD to the end of the Western Empire.

Spurius Larcius was one of the leading men of the early Roman Republic, of which he was twice consul. However, his greatest fame was won as one of the defenders of the Sublician bridge against the army of Lars Porsena, the King of Clusium.

The gens Herminia was an ancient patrician house at Rome. Members of the gens appear during the first war between the Roman Republic and the Etruscans, circa 508 BC, and from then to 448 BC. Two members of the family held the consulship, Titus Herminius Aquilinus in 506 BC, and Lars Herminius Aquilinus in 448.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lucretia gens</span> Ancient Roman family

The gens Lucretia was a prominent family of the Roman Republic. Originally patrician, the gens later included a number of plebeian families. The Lucretii were one of the most ancient gentes, and the second wife of Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome, was named Lucretia. The first of the Lucretii to obtain the consulship was Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus in 509 BC, the first year of the Republic.

The war between Clusium and Aricia was a military conflict in central Italy that took place around 508 BC.