15 December 2009

Verginia and Appius Claudius

Appius Claudius, one of the decemvirs assigned the task of codifying Roman law in the 5th century BC, declared a freeborn young Roman woman called Verginia to be legally a slave of one of his clients in order to be able to rape her with impunity. Seeing no other way of keeping her out of Appius Claudius's clutches her father stabbed her to death. You can read Livy's version of the story here on Perseus (click the right pointing arrow to continue) and Dionysius of Halicarnassus's version here on LacusCurtius.

In the 1470s Filippino Lippi painted a picture of the story of Verginia, which is now in Paris's Louvre, while in 1498 Botticelli painted the above picture which is now in Bergamo's Accademia Carrara. (public domain image from wikicommons)

Francesco de Mura painted his "Death of Verginia" around 1760. It is now in the Manchester Art Gallery. Henry Tresham also painted a Death of Verginia in 1797, which is now in London's Royal Academy of Arts.


Winchester whisperer said...

Happy New Year!

RWMG said...

Thank you, WW. The same to you, and to my other readers too.