The First Blood
by Anthony Esolen
When I first encountered Roman history, I was puzzled by some of the cognomens of their heroes, such as Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. Was Scipio an African, or at least born in Africa? Was Tiberius's brother Germanicus born in the shadows of the Alps? It never occurred to me then that you would be given a name from some deed you had performed in battle, and that then it would become a family name, passed down to your children and your children's children. Imagine Douglas MacArthur Philippinus, or Theodore Roosevelt Mexicanus.
Sometimes your name came not from the place where you shed other people's blood to win glory for yourself, but from some peculiarity of the battle. So it was that the young Titus Manlius, in battle against the cisalpine Gauls who so often pressed against Rome and her allies, took up in single combat the challenge of a Gallic giant, slew him, and ripped the gold torque from his neck, to put it on his own. Hence he was called Torquatus, the man with the neck chain.
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
Anthony Esolen is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire. His many books include Sex in the Unreal City: The Demolition of the Western Mind, Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a regular contributor to Chronicles, Crisis Magazine, The Claremont Review, Inside the Vatican Things, The Catholic Thing, and American Greatness. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy. He is a Roman Catholic and lives with his wife in New Hampshire. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
more on music from the online archives
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives