Gaius Mucius Scaevola

Gaius Mucius Scaevola was a noble and probably mythical Roman youth, famous for his bravery.

Mucius's story was told by the Roman historian Livy. When the Etruscan king Lars Porsenna held Rome under siege, Gaius Mucius famously sneaked into the Etruscan camp and attempted to murder Porsenna. His plot failed because he misidentified Porsenna and killed the wrong man. Mucius was captured. He famously declared to Porsenna: "I am Gaius Mucius, a citizen of Rome. I came here as an enemy to kill my enemy, and I am as ready to die as I am to kill. We Romans act bravely and, when adversity strikes, we suffer bravely." He also declared that he was one of three hundred other Romans willing to give their own life to kill Porsenna.

Porsenna, fearful and angry, ordered Mucius to be cast into the flames. Mucius stoically accepted this punishment, preempting Porsenna by thrusting his hand into that same fire and giving no sign of pain. Impressed by the youth's courage, Porsenna freed Mucius.
(via Wikipedia)

At least one version of the legend goes on with Porsenna being frightened and seeking peace with Rome, aborting the siege because of this episode.

It's a legend and most likely not accurate at all, but it's nevertheless an interesting story.

The opposing leader assassination aspect (fashionable in a few countries nowadays) including the (quite realistic) 'collateral damage' and failure, the bluff that was well-aimed at the will of the enemy's leader and the quite incredible display of resolution all work together to form a very interesting tale.

More than two millennia later, some shrewd German wrote some book drafts and theorized about how warfare is really about breaking the enemy's will to resist your demands.


1 comment:

  1. I think Alexender is a viable real world example of this.

    Him and his best (the worlds best even) soldiers hammered straight for the opposing general, who either ran, taking his army with him, or died, taking his army with him.

    The Army just had to take few casualties, which is exactly what Hoplite Phalanx was supposed to do.