Ancient Men of Power: The Roman Republic's Most Influential Leaders

Lars Porsena surveying Rome before battle at Sublician bridge. Wikimedia

Titus Herminius Aquilinus

Titus Herminius Aquilinus (died 498 BC) was one of the early Roman Republic’s heroes who participated in the major conflicts attending the founding and securing of the new republic, rose to high office, and was elected consul in 506 BC. His greatest achievement for which he was most lauded was a heroic stand at a bridge in the face of an invading army.

After his ouster in 509 BC, Rome’s last monarch sought the aid of Lars Porsena, king of nearby Clusium, who marched on Rome at the head of a mixed army of Clusians and Roman royalist exiles. In 508 BC, the invaders routed the infant republic’s forces opposite Rome, and sent them fleeing across the Sublician bridge into Rome, which lay defenseless.

Lars Porsena’s forces were halted at the narrow Sublician bridge by three courageous Romans: Herminius, Horatius, and a Spurius Lartius, who held off the enemy long enough for the bridge to be destroyed behind them. When the bridge was about to collapse, Herminius and Lartius were urged by Horatius to retreat, while he fought on alone until the bridge fell.

Herminius and Lartius were elected consuls in 506 BC. In 498 BC, war broke out with Rome’s Latin neighbors, and Herminius was one of the generals in the army that marched out to deal with them. When the forces met at the Battle of Lake Regillus in 498 BC, Herminius slew the enemy’s leader in single combat. However, while stripping the corpse of its armor, Herminius was mortally wounded by a javelin.