Manlia (gens)

For other uses, see Manlius (disambiguation).

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. The family was probably numbered amongst the gentes maiores, the most important of the patrician families.[1]

Origin of the gens

The Manlii were said to hail from the ancient Latin city of Tusculum. The nomen Manlia may be a patronymic surname, based on the praenomen Manius, presumably the name of an ancestor of the gens. The gens Manilia was derived from the same name. However, Manius was not used by any of the Manlii in historical times.[1]

Praenomina used by the gens

The Manlii used the praenomina Publius, Gnaeus, Aulus, Lucius, and Marcus. The Manlii Torquati also favored the name Titus, using primarily that, Aulus, and Lucius.[1]

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 occasionally used in later generations.[1]

Branches and cognomina of the gens

The earliest cognomen found amongst the Manlii is Cincinnatus, better known as a cognomen of the Quinctii. This name, probably referring to a person with fine, curly hair, may have been a personal surname, as it does not seem to have been used by later generations. The cognomen Vulso appeared shortly thereafter, and this family flourished for over three hundred years. Several other early Manlii appear without cognomina.[1]

The family of the Capitolini was descended from the Vulsones, and appears at the beginning of the 4th 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. Imperiosus was a cognomen belonging to some of the Capitolini and Torquati, bestowed on account of their imperious manner.[1]

The Torquati were descended from the Capitolini, and obtained their surname from 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.[1]

The Manlii Acidini rose to prominence during the Second Punic War, and like the Torquati, held the highest offices of the state from then until the end of the Republic.[1]

Members of the gens

Early Manlii

Manlii Vulsones

Manlii Capitolini

Manlii Torquati

Manlii Acidini


See also



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 

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