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In Roman mythology, Tarpeia was a Roman maiden who betrayed the city of Rome to the Sabines in exchange for what she thought would be a reward of jewellery. She was instead crushed to death and her body cast from the Tarpeian Rock which now bears her name.


The legend tells that while Rome was besieged by the Sabine king Titus Tatius, Tarpeia, daughter of the commander of the citadel, Spurius Tarpeius, approached the Sabine camp and offered them entry to the city in exchange for "what they bore on their left arms". Greedy for gold, she had meant their bracelets, but instead the Sabines threw their shields—carried on the left arm—upon her and she was crushed and ran to the cliff. From there, the Sabines kicked her off the cliff, and being its first victim, the cliff was named after her. It became known as the place of execution for Rome's most notorious traitors. The Sabines were however unable to conquer the Forum, its gates miraculously protected by boiling jets of water created by Janus.

The legend was depicted on a silver denarius of the Emperor Augustus in approximately 20 BC.

See also

Rape of the Sabine Women



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