Lucretia 6th Century B.C.E.


Lucretia by Raphael - Pen and brown ink over black chalk 39.7 x 29.2 cm, post 1508  Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lucretia by Raphael - Pen and brown ink over black chalk 39.7 x 29.2 cm, post 1508 Metropolitan Museum of Art

 The pious and chaste 6th c. BCE Roman noblewoman Lucretia had been such a model of feminine virtue that she enflamed the lust of Sextus Tarquinius, son of the king, to the point that he arranged to accost her in private. When she resisted his pleas, he threatened to place her naked, dead body beside that of a male slave so that it would look like adultery. The threat worked and Lucretia permitted the violation. Following the rape, Lucretia told her male relatives and elicited a promise for revenge. As early Romans considered the rape of a woman a property crime against the husband, Lucretia chose suicide - via knife or dagger - rather than dishonor her family and taint her posterity. Thus she stabbed herself in the heart and died. First Livy, then Shakespeare, penned the tale of the tragic heroine.
 

Lucretia by Lucas Cranach the Elder - oil on beechwood,1533                                                 
Gemaldegalerie, Berlin, Germany

Lucretia by Lucas Cranach the Elder - oil on beechwood,1533
Gemaldegalerie, Berlin, Germany

 


Other References:

Richard Hooker, “Rome: the Rape of Lucretia, Livy, Book 1.57-60”:http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/ROME/RAPE.HTM © 1996

Carlos Parada, Greek Mythology Link, “Lucretia 2”: http://www.maicar.com/GML/Lucretia2.html © 1993

Unknown name, "Etruscan Sexuality: Livy on Lucretia": http://www.mysteriousetruscans.com/theopompus/, unknown date

 

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