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The Deed of Caedicius and the 400 | Latin Retold

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Introduction

Three hun­dred. That was the num­ber of men who king Leonidas brought into bat­tle at Ther­mopy­lae. These Spar­tans have made peo­ple gasp at their brav­ery and audac­i­ty for cen­turies. How­ev­er, they were not the only ones with great courage and sta­mi­na who, few in num­bers, chal­lenged great pow­er. Today we will turn our atten­tion, not to three hun­dred but four hun­dred men.

Aulus Gel­lius, the col­lec­tor of inter­est­ing pas­sages, curi­ous texts, and all-around more or less use­ful notes, relates a sto­ry in his Noctes Atti­cae, lib III.VII, about Quin­tus Caedi­cius that he sup­pos­ed­ly found in Cato’s work Orig­ines (that we no longer pos­sess today). 

Cato tells of the hero­ic deed of Caedi­cius and 400 Roman soldiers.

Video in Latin

In this video, we will retell the sto­ry of Caedi­cius in Latin, but if you’re inter­est­ed in read­ing the orig­i­nal Latin as found in Aulus Gel­lius, you will find the text below. 

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Original Latin text (Gell. III. 7)

His­to­ria ex annal­ibus sump­ta de Q. Caedi­cio tri­buno mil­i­tum; ver­baque ex Orig­inibus M. Cato­nis apposi­ta, quibus Caedi­ci vir­tutem cum Spar­tano Leoni­da aequiperat.

PULCRUM, dii boni, fac­i­nus Grae­carumque facun­di­arum mag­nil­o­quen­tia condignum M. Cato lib­ris Orig­inum de Q. Caedi­cio tri­buno mil­i­tum scrip­tum reliquit.

[2] [3] [2.3] Id pro­fec­to est ad hanc ferme sen­ten­ti­am: Imper­a­tor Poenus in ter­ra Sicil­ia, bel­lo Carthaginien­si pri­mo, obvi­am Romano exerci­tu pro­gred­i­tur, colles locosque ido­neos pri­or occu­pat. Milites Romani, uti res nata est, [4] in locum insin­u­ant frau­di et per­ni­ciei obnox­i­um. [5] Tribu­lus ad con­sulem ven­it, osten­dit exi­tium de loci impor­tu­ni­tate et hostium cir­cum­stan­tia maturum.

[6] “Censeo,” inquit, “si rem ser­vare vis, faci­un­dum ut quadrin­gen­tos 1 aliqu­os milites ad ver­ru­cam illam,” sic enim Cato locum edi­tum aspe­rumque appel­lat, “ire iubeas, eamque uti occu­pent imperes hor­t­er­isque; hostes pro­fec­to ubi id viderint, for­tis­simus quisque et promp­tis­simus ad occur­san­dum pug­nan­dumque in eos praev­er­ten­tur unoque illo nego­tio sese alli­ga­bunt atque illi omnes quadrin­gen­ti procul dubio obtrun­cabun­tur. [7] Tunc interea, occu­patis in ea caede hostibus, tem­pus exerci­tus ex hoc loco educen­di habebis. [8] Alia nisi haec salutis via nul­la est.” Con­sul tri­buno respon­dit, con­sil­i­um qui­dem istud aeque prov­i­dens sibi viderier; “sed istos,” inquit, “milites quadrin­gen­tos ad eum locum in hostium cuneos quis­nam erit qui ducat?” [9] “Si ali­um,” inquit tri­bunus, “nem­inem reperis, me licet ad hoc per­icu­lum utare; ego hanc tibi et reipub­li­cae ani­mam do.” [10] Con­sul tri­buno gra­tias laudesque agit. [11] Tri­bunus et quadrin­gen­ti ad morien­dum profi­cis­cun­tur. [12] Hostes eorum auda­ci­am demi­ran­tur, quor­sum ire per­gant in expectan­do sunt. [13] Sed ubi apparuit ad eam 2 ver­ru­cam occu­pan­dam iter inten­dere, mit­tit adver­sum illos imper­a­tor Carthaginien­sis ped­i­ta­tum equi­tatumque quos in exerci­tu viros habuit strenuis­si­mos. [14] Romani milites cir­cum­ve­ni­un­tur, cir­cum­ven­ti repug­nant; [15] fit proeli­um diu anceps. [16] Tan­dem super­at multitudo.

Quadrin­gen­ti omnes cum tri­buno 3 per­fos­si glad­i­is aut mis­silibus oper­ti cadunt. [17] Con­sul inter­im, dum ibi pug­natur, se in locos tutos atque edi­tos subducit.

[18] Sed quod illi tri­buno, duci mil­i­tum quadrin­gen­to­rum, divini­tus in eo proe­lio usus ven­it, non iam nos­tris, sed ipsius Cato­nis ver­bis subiec­imus: [19] “Dii inmor­tales tri­buno mil­i­tum for­tu­nam ex vir­tute eius dedere. Nam ita evenit: cum saucius mul­ti­fari­am ibi fac­tus esset, tamen vul­nus capi­ti nul­lum evenit, eumque inter mor­tu­os, defeti­ga­tum vul­ner­ibus atque quod sanguen eius deflux­er­at, cog­no­vere. Eum sus­tulere, isque con­va­luit, saepeque post illa oper­am reipub­li­cae fortem atque stren­u­am per­hibuit illoque fac­to, quod illos milites sub­dux­it, exerci­tum ceterum ser­vav­it. Sed idem bene­fac­tum quo in loco ponas, nim­i­um inter­est. Leonides Laco, qui 4 sim­i­le apud Ther­mopy­las fecit, propter eius vir­tutes omnis Grae­cia glo­ri­am atque gra­ti­am prae­cipuam clar­i­tu­di­nis incli­tis­si­mae dec­o­ra­vere mon­u­men­tis: sig­nis, sta­tu­is, elogi­is, his­tori­is ali­isque rebus gratis­si­mum id eius fac­tum habuere; at tri­buno mil­i­tum par­va laus pro fac­tis relic­ta, qui idem fecer­at atque rem servaverat.”

[20] Hanc Q. Caedi­ci tri­buni vir­tutem M. Cato tali suo tes­ti­mo­nio dec­o­rav­it. [21] Claudius autem Quadri­gar­ius Annalis ter­tio non Caedi­cio nomen fuisse ait, sed Laberio.

Amelie Rosengren

Amelie Rosengren

Amelie Rosengren, M.A. and co-founder of Latinitium, is a published author, illustrator and historian. She specializes in daily life, has a soft spot for historic curiosities, and works as a museum educator at the world’s oldest open air museum, Skansen.
Written by Amelie Rosengren

Written by Amelie Rosengren

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