Excelsior, Titus Pullo

May 31, 2024  
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Categories: Learnin'

One-Half of Rome’s Epic Duo

Illustration of Titus Pullo (left) in less complicated soldier garb and Lucius Vorenus (right) with a shield, sword and armor.

Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus from Roman Warriors: The Paintings of Graham Sumner

Titus Pullo was a centurion in the Legio XI Claudia Pia Fidelis (Pious and Faithful to Claudius), a.k.a. Claudius’ 11th Legion, commanded by Gaius Julius Caesar. Later, Pullo goes to Legio XXIV Victrix Rapax (Greedy Victor’s 24th Legion), headed by Mark Antony’s brother Gaius Antonius. Caesar describes Titus and Lucius Vorenus in Commentarii de Bello Gallico, “Erant in ea legione fortissimi viri Centuriones qui iam primis ordinibus appropinquarent T Pulfio et L Varenus…”

Translation from Latin: “There were in that legion the most valiant men, who were approaching the first ranks T [Pullo] and L [Vorenus]…”

A line of soldiers carrying shields and wearing traditional Roman battle armor.

Reenactors of Legio XI Claudia Pia Fidelis

In fact, Pullo and Vorenus are the only non-officers mentioned by name in the entire work. Caesar praises the bravery of Pullo and Vorenus, showing how much they impressed him. During a battle with the Nervii, Pullo bursts out of the fortifications to attack the nearest adversary, saying, “virtutis tuae spectas hic dies hic dies de nostris controversiis judicabit….”

This article originally ran in May of 2023, shortly after the untimely passing of actor Ray Stevenson. 

An ancient stone carving depicting a Roman Legionary.

Legionary from Legio XI Claudia

Translation from Latin: “You look at your valor this day; this day will judge our disputes.”

Then, Vorenus follows after him, leading to a contest of bravery. Pullo and Vorenus’ rivalry resulted in aiding each other in battle and becoming rivals and friends. However, Vorenus shortly disappears from history, and the rest of his story is unknown. At this point, Pullo joined XXI Victrix Rapax and pledged his allegiance to Pompey. However, despite uniting with the opposing forces, his bravery is still recorded in history as exceptional.

Pullo Fiction: Titus in Pop Culture

The most famous iteration of Titus Pullo is Ray Stevenson’s portrayal in HBO’s Rome. Unlike the real Pullo serving Caesar, he’s depicted as a shameless Roman soldier who serves his foil, Vorenus.

Stevenson says, “These names actually walked the earth … It made you think, ‘My God, you are going to carry somebody’s name. Let’s flesh him out. Let’s see what he is!”’ (Today, 2005).

The character Titus Pullo looking off to the side in a screencap from the series.

Ray Stevenson as Titus Pullo in the Rome tv series.

Titus first appears in episode one of Rome, “The Stolen Eagle”. But episode two, “How Titus Pullo Brought Down the Republic,” is a major moment for the centurion where one bar fight results in Caesar being declared an enemy of Rome.

Stevenson does an excellent job exemplifying the qualities of the ordinary person Caesar praised Pullo for in his Commetarii de Bello Gallico. “It’s a wonderful device…to show the huge events in history this way,” says Ray Stevenson. “Sometimes it is the man in the street who drops the stone that causes the ripple, which upsets the empire. I’m sure it’s happening today as we speak.” I believe his words still hold true today, even over a decade later.

Excelsior, Ray Stevenson.

Screenshot of the easter egg from Rome II

Rome II Easter Egg: “Thirteenth!!!!!!!!!!!”

Titus Trivia

  • In Total War: Rome II, Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus can be unlocked as retainers.
  • In “Caesar”, the fifth book in Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series, they are shown as Centurions, serving under Quintus Cicero, commander of the Ninth Legion (Legio IX Hispana).
  • Pullo and Vorenus are hireable praetorians in Expeditions: Rome.
  • Michael Nardone, who plays Mascius in Rome, also voices Caesar in Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

Want to check my sources or want to learn more?

Images and Sources

Images

Fromagon. “Rome II Easter Egg: Titus Pullo.” Reddit, 9 Sept. 2014, reddit.com/r/totalwar/comments/2fxiqi/rome_ii_easter_egg_titus_pullo_rome_tv_series_hbo/. Accessed 24 May 2023. 

Petroni, Stefano. “Reenactors of Legio XI Claudia Pia Fidelis.” World History, 11 Oct. 2021, https://www.worldhistory.org/image/14706/legio-xi-claudia/. Accessed 24 May 2023. 

Raddato, Carole. “Legionary from Legio XI Claudia.” Flickr, 12 May 2018, flickr.com/photos/carolemage/40251377410/in/photostream/. Accessed 24 May 2023. 

Sumner, Graham, and Simon Elliot. “Centurions Fighting in Caesar’s Civil Wars.” Roman Warriors: The Paintings of Graham Sumner, Greenhill Books, London, England, 2022, pp. 40–41.

Sources

Caesar, Gaius Iulius. “44.” Commentarii de Bello Gallico, vol. 5, Quelle & Meyer, 1828, pp. 170–171. 

Friend, Tad. “Power Play.” The New Yorker, 8 Jan. 2007. 

Godfrey, J. T., and Christopher V. Trinacty. “Friends, Barbarians, Future Countrymen: Clientela and Caesar’s De Bello Gallico.” Oberlin College, Oberlin College, 2020, pp. 1–69. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center, http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=oberlin158980165011195. Accessed 24 May 2023. 

Heller, Bruno. “How Titus Pullo Brought Down the Republic.” Rome, season 1, episode 2, HBO, 4 Sept. 2005, https://www.hbo.com/rome/season-1/2-how-titus-pullo-brought-down-the-republic. Accessed 26 May 2023. 

Heller, Bruno. “The Stolen Eagle.” Rome, season 1, episode 1, HBO, 28 Aug. 2005, https://www.hbo.com/rome/season-1/1-the-stolen-eagle. Accessed 26 May 2023.

Press, Associated. “HBO’s ‘Rome’ Wasn’t Built in a Day.” Today, 22 Aug. 2005, https://www.today.com/popculture/hbo-s-rome-wasn-t-built-day-wbna9044681. Accessed 24 May 2023.

Additional Reading

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Morgan Jensen

Morgan Jensen

About the Author

Morgan Jensen is a writer and artist based in the Central US. When she isn't collecting shiny rocks, she can be found organizing data into pretty charts for Breach Bang Clear. Follow her misadventures by visiting her website or check out her Artstation.

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