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HomeHistoryThe Tragic Rape of Lucretia: A Story of Power, Revenge, and Revolution

The Tragic Rape of Lucretia: A Story of Power, Revenge, and Revolution

The Tragic Rape of Lucretia is a legendary tale from ancient Rome. It tells the story of a noblewoman named Lucretia who was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, the son of the king. Lucretia’s death sparked a revolt that led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the founding of the Roman Republic.

Sextus Tarquinius, son of the Etruscan king of Rome, was seized with desire for her, not only with her beauty, but also for her chastity. Several days later, Tarquin took a male slave as an attendant and went to Lucretia’s home without Collatinus’ knowledge. As his kinsman, Tarquin was courteously received as a guest. That night after dinner, he entered Lucretia’s bed chamber armed with a knife. William Shakespeare1tells the story of what happened in his epic poem The Rape of Lucrece:

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (c 1488-1576), Italian. Tarquin and Lucretia, c 1571. Oil on canvas, 189 × 145
cm. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk).

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (c 1488-1576), Italian. Tarquin and Lucretia, c 1571. Oil on canvas, 189 × 145 cm. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk).

Imagine her as one in dead of night/ . . . That thinks she has beheld some ghastly sprite/ . . . What terror ‘tis! . . . From sleep disturbed, heedfully doth view/The sight that makes supposed terror true.

William Shakespeare

The Story of Lucretia

Lucretia was a beautiful and virtuous woman who was married to Collatinus, a Roman nobleman. One day, Lucretia’s husband and his friends were away from home, and she was visited by Sextus Tarquinius, the son of the king. Sextus Tarquinius was a violent and licentious man, and he was immediately attracted to Lucretia. He tried to seduce her, but she refused.

Sextus Tarquinius then threatened to kill Lucretia and her household if she did not submit to him. Lucretia was horrified, but she knew that she had no choice but to obey. She was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, and then she sent for her husband and his friends.

Tintoretto's (1518-1594), Italian. Tarquin and Lucretia, 1580/90. Oil on canvas, 175 x 152 cm. Art Institute (http://www.artic.edu), Chicago, Illinois. Photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York.

Tintoretto’s (1518-1594), Italian. Tarquin and Lucretia, 1580/90. Oil on canvas, 175 x 152 cm. Art Institute (http://www.artic.edu), Chicago, Illinois. Photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York.

When Lucretia’s husband and his friends arrived, she told them what had happened. She then stabbed herself to death. The death of Lucretia was a turning point in Roman history. It sparked a revolt against the monarchy, and the Tarquins were eventually expelled from Rome.

The Legacy of Lucretia

The story of Lucretia is a powerful one. It is a story of the power of women, the evils of tyranny, and the importance of freedom. Lucretia’s death is a reminder that even the most powerful people can be brought down by the actions of a single individual. It is also a reminder that the fight for freedom is never easy, but it is always worth fighting for.

The Relevance of Lucretia’s Story Today

The story of Lucretia is still relevant today. It is a story about the power of women, the evils of tyranny, and the importance of freedom. It is a story that can inspire us to fight for what we believe in, even when it is difficult.

“The death of Lucretia was the beginning of a new era for Rome. It was the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the Republic. It was a time of great change and upheaval, but it was also a time of great hope. The story of Lucretia is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope for a better future.”

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In the 21st century, we are still fighting for the same things that Lucretia fought for: freedom, equality, and justice. We are still fighting against tyranny and oppression. The story of Lucretia can give us hope that we will eventually succeed in our fight.