Manius Curius Dentatus

Manius Curius Dentatus
Curius Dentatus refusing wealth in favour of a turnip, as depicted by Jacopo Amigoni

Manius Curius Dentatus (died 270 BC), son of Manius, was a three-time consul and a plebeian hero of the Roman Republic, noted for ending the Samnite War. According to Pliny, he was born with teeth, thus earning the cognomen Dentatus, "Toothy."[1]

Dentatus was a tribune of the plebs sometime between 298 and 291 BC. As tribune, he foiled efforts by the interrex Appius Claudius Caecus to keep plebeian candidates out of the consular elections. If his tribunate is dated to 291, his actions advanced his own candidacy, but since Appius served three times as interrex, the earliest date accords better with the timeline of Dentatus's own career.[2]

Dentatus served his first term as consul in 290 BC, during which time he defeated both the Samnites and Sabines and celebrated two triumphs.[3] Returning home he took on a massive public works project, partly draining Lake Velinus.

In 283, Dentatus filled the praetorship (or possibly the consulship) of L. Caecilius Metellus Denter after the latter was killed in the Battle of Arretium. Polybius says Dentatus drove the Gauls from their territory, clearing the way for the establishment of a colony at Sena.

As consul again in 275 BC, Dentatus fought Pyrrhus in the inconclusive Battle of Beneventum which nevertheless forced Pyrrhus out of Italy. As a result, he held a consecutive consulship, defeating the Lucani in the following year and earning an ovation. He was censor in 272, and in 270 he was elected as one of two commissioners[4] to oversee construction of the Anio Vetus, Rome's second aqueduct, for which he used his personal share of the booty from his recent victories.[5] He died during the project, which was completed under his fellow commissioner M. Fulvius Flaccus.[6]

Dentatus is supposed to have been incorruptible and frugal; the story was that when the Samnites sent ambassadors with expensive gifts in an attempt to influence him in their favor, they found him sitting by the hearth roasting turnips. He refused the gifts, saying that he preferred ruling the possessors of gold over possessing it himself.[7] Although the truth of this story is unclear — it may have been an invention of Cato — it was the inspiration for a number of paintings by Jacopo Amigoni, Govert Flinck, and others.

His praenomen is sometimes given erroneously as Marcus because the standard abbreviation of Manius (M'.) is confused with the M. that abbreviates Marcus.

The Dutch Study Association 'S.V.T.B. Curius' at Delft University of Technology is named after him.[8]



  1. ^ Pliny, Natural History 7.68, LacusCurtius edition.
  2. ^ Cicero, Brutus 55; T.R.S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (American Philological Association, 1951, reprinted 1986), vol. 1, pp. 174–175; other dates and offices for Dentatus pp. 183–184, 188, 195, 196, 198; vol. 2, p. 558.
  3. ^ Cicero, De senectute 55; Livy, Periocha 11; Columella, book 1, preface 14; Valerius Maximus 4.3.5; Frontinus, Stratagems 1.8.4; Florus 1.10.2–3; Apuleius, Apologia 17; Cassius Dio frg. 36.33; Eutropius 2.9.3; Orosius 3.22.1.
  4. ^ Duumviri aquae perducendae.
  5. ^ Pliny, Natural History 16.185.
  6. ^ Frontinus, Aq. 1.6.
  7. ^ Valerius Maximus 4.3.5 has Dentatus telling the Samnites to "report and remember that I can not even be defeated in battle nor even be corrupted with money" (refertote et memento me nec acie vinci nec pecunia corrumpi posse).
  8. ^ S.V.T.B. Curius

Preceded by
Lucius Postumius Megellus and Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Publius Cornelius Rufinus
290 BC
Succeeded by
Marcus Valerius Maximus Corvinus and Quintus Caedicius Noctua
Preceded by
Gaius Servilius Tucca and Lucius Caecilius Metellus Denter
Consul (Suffect) of the Roman Republic
with Gaius Servilius Tucca
284 BC
Succeeded by
Publius Cornelius Dolabella and Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus Maximus
Preceded by
Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges and Gaius Genucius Clepsina
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Lucius Cornelius Lentulus
275 BC
Succeeded by
Manius Curius Dentatus and Servius Cornelius Merenda
Preceded by
Manius Curius Dentatus and Lucius Cornelius Lentulus
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Servius Cornelius Merenda
274 BC
Succeeded by
Gaius Fabius Dorso Licinus and Gaius Claudius Canina

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  • Manius Curius Dentatus — (ainsi surnommé car il était né avec des dents) fut consul romain quatre fois. En 290 av. J. C., puis élu suffect en 284 av. J. C., et enfin en 275 et 274 av. J. C. Romain célèbre par sa frugalité et son désintéressement (tenant en cela un rôle… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Manius Curius Dentatus — († 270 v. Chr.) war ein römischer Konsul und Heerführer. Er ist insbesondere bekannt durch seine Rolle bei der Beendigung des Pyrrhischen Krieges. Dentatus stammte aus einem plebejischen Geschlecht und vertrat als Volkstribun erfolgreich die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Curius Dentatus — Manius Curius Dentatus Manius Curius Dentatus fut consul romain quatre fois. En 290 av. J. C., puis élu suffect en 284 av. J. C., et enfin en 275 et 274 av. J. C. Romain célèbre par sa frugalité et son désintéressement, il vainquit les Samnites… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Curius Dentatus — Manius Curius Dentatus (d. 270 BC), son of Manius, was a plebeian hero of ancient Rome, notable for ending the Samnite War.According to Pliny he was born with teeth, thus the cognomen Dentatus . [ ...cum dentibus nasci, sicut M. Curium, qui ob id …   Wikipedia

  • Curius Dentatus — Curius Dentatus,   Manius, römischer Heerführer und Staatsmann des frühen 3. Jahrhunderts v. Chr., aus plebejischem Geschlecht, beendete als Konsul 290 v. Chr. den dritten Samnitenkrieg und kämpfte während seines zweiten Konsulats 275 erfolgreich …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Curĭus Dentātus — Curĭus Dentātus, Manius, berühmter Römer, aus plebejischem Geschlecht, schlug 290 v. Chr. als Konsul die Samniten und Sabiner und machte dadurch dem dritten Samnitischen Krieg ein Ende. In seinem zweiten Konsulat 275 besiegte er den König Pyrrhus …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Curius Dentatus — Curĭus Dentātus, Manius, röm. Feldherr, besiegte 290 v. Chr. die Samniter und begründete die röm. Herrschaft in Mittelitalien, kämpfte 275 glücklich gegen König Pyrrhus bei Benevent; gest. 270 …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Dentatus, Manius Curius — ▪ Roman general died 270 BC       Roman general, conqueror of the Samnites and victor against Pyrrhus, king of Epirus.       Dentatus was born into a plebeian family that was possibly Sabine in origin. As consul in 290 BC, he gained a decisive… …   Universalium

  • Manius — ist ein antiker römischer Vorname (praenomen). Er bedeutete im Lateinischen laut Marcus Terentius Varro[1] „der am Morgen geborene“ und wurde auf Inschriften mit einem M.’ abgekürzt. Bekannte Namensträger Manius Acilius Glabrio (Konsul 191 v. Chr …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Manius — (abbreviated M ) is a Roman praenomen. It was probably derived from Latin word māne morning [1] and meant born in the morning . This praenomen wasn t commonly used. Some notable Romans using this praenomen include: Manius Acilius Glabrio (consul… …   Wikipedia

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