LUCRETIA

Lucretia was
a matron in Roman history
and mythology, who had an important role in the shaping of the Roman Kingdom
into the Roman Republic.
Although contemporary sources to certify Lucretia as
a historical person do not exist, later historians agreed that in fact there
was such a woman. The husband of Lucretia was
Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, one of the leaders of the revolution that erupted
as a result of his wife’s death.
Lucius
Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome, was involved in a war against
Ardea, so he sent his son Sextus Tarquinius to Collatia on a military mission.
There, he was warmly welcomed by the governor, Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus
and Lucretia.
During a feast, Lucius and Sextus started talking about the virtues of wives,
and Lucius proposed that he checked on his wife. He went home and found Lucretia weaving
with his maids, thus winning the debate. That night, Sextus sneaked into Lucretia’s
bedroom and woke her up. He told her she would have two choices; she could have
sex with him and become his wife or he would kill her along with her slave and
then say he caught them in bed together.
The
following day, Lucretia went
to her father’s house, who was the chief magistrate of Rome, and took the
supplicant’s position. She then asked to summon witnesses, and proceeded to
describe in tears how she was raped by Sextus. She eventually asked for vengeance;
while the people were discussing on how to deal with this matter, Lucretia took
out a dagger and stabbed herself in the heart, dying in her father’s arms. The
death of Lucretia caused
an outrage among those who were present and all vowed they’d rather die than
give up their liberties to the king and his son.
According
to a different version, Lucretia did
not go to her father’s house, but instead asked that her father and her husband
should visit her and bring one friend each. The two people who joined were
Publius Valerius Publicola and Lucius Junius Brutus. When they all went
to Lucretia’s
room, she explained to them what had happened; she then made them swear an oath
of vengeance. In the end, while they were talking about the incident, Lucretia drew
the dagger and killed herself. The death of Lucretia spurred
a revolution in the Roman Kingdom
that eventually overthrew the king and his son and resulted in the institution
of the Roman Republic.

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