We would often see her images and, perhaps just as often, forget her name. In paintings, she is a beautiful tragic figure, looking up helplessly towards a Roman soldier standing over her. However, in 16th century Europe, there was no other ancient name that fuels an artist’s imagination like “Lucretia”.
In the battle against the Samnites in 296 BCE, general Appius Claudius uttered a prayer, “Bellona, if you grant us victory today, I promise to build you a temple.” his prayer was proven to be effective as the Romans proceeded to capture and plundered the Samnite camp, giving a massive amount of booty to their own sodiers.
if she ended up being a wife of a low-ranking official or a well-off merchant, Julia would have been perfectly content. But she wasn’t. Being the daughter of the first emperor of Rome meant that it was her destiny to be a part of the political maneuverings of the empire whether she wanted to or not.
A modern research shows that while many people do lack information on their family heritage these days, it also shows that they want to and are willing to take the steps to learn more about where they came from. In fact, 84 percent agree that it is important to know about their heritage. Being aware of your history is important for many reasons like creating a sense of connection, a greater emotional well-being and even providing means to develop a sense of personal identity. Now imagine if this was taken away…
Rome would stand “as long as the pontifex climbs the Capitoline beside the silent Virgin,” the poet Horace said. The “silent Virgin” was a Vestal virgin, a priestess of Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth and home. She was an embodiment of the city and citizenry, and her well-being was fundamental to the well-being and security of Rome. A vestal is a woman of the city. Beloved and closely watched by the people. But what usually happens to the woman who is “watched by the people”?
Virgil, in his Aeneid, describes Deiphobe, better known as the Sibyl of Cumae, as coming from “a hundred perforations in the rock, a hundred mouths from which the many utterances rush”. But she was not the only Sibyl. There were others. Many of these women rubbed shoulders with the greatest warriors and leaders of their ages, shaping the future instead of merely foretelling it.
Empress Euphemia’s rose from a freed slave to the most powerful woman in Rome in her time through her marriage to Justin I (450-527 CE). Historia Arcana (“Secret History”) by Procopius of Caesarea (c. 500 – c. 554) introduced the Empress Euphemia as Lupicina – a slave and a barbarian concubine of her owner.