Claudia Quinta

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Claudia Quinta legend on a Roman altar relief (1st century)
Late medieval depiction of the legend of Claudia Quinta

Claudia Quinta was a noble Roman woman , probably the daughter of Publius Claudius Pulcher . Exact dates of life are not known.

Tradition has it that she was unjustly reputed to be unchastity and may have been accused of adultery. She is said to have refuted these accusations with the help of the goddess Cybele through the following miracle: When in 204 BC Chr. The ship that the sacred stone of Cybele (also Magna Mater , dt. 'Great mother' called) of Pergamon brought to Rome in the mouth of the Tiber ran aground, Claudia Quinta asked the goddess to give her the strength to free the ship to prove her innocence. In fact, after her prayer, she was able to take the chastity test and pull the ship behind her all by herself, which was taken as evidence of her innocence.

The incident was often mentioned in the literature as an exemplary incident and also appears as a motif in the fine arts. Tacitus reports that during two city ​​fires on the Caelius only the statue of Claudia Quinta was spared the violence of the fire, whereupon "the ancestors" (the Senate) consecrated this statue to the temple of the Mother of Gods.

In ancient studies, Claudia Quinta is sometimes wrongly referred to as a vestal virgin , but this is evident from the main sources in Titus Livius ( ab urbe condita XXIX 14.12), Ovid ( fasti IV 305-344 and ex Ponto I 2.141f.), Suetonius ( Tiberius 2,3) and Lactantius ( institutiones II 7,12) does not emerge. This error probably arose from a misunderstanding of the Latin term castitas (German 'chastity', 'chaste way of life'), which was erroneously related to the virginity of the Vestal Virgins. Since Claudia Quinta appears in the ancient texts among the group of matronae , the 'wives', the castitas demonstrated by the miracle does not denote a general 'chastity' in the sense of sexual abstinence, but a 'chaste lifestyle' in the sense of loyalty Wife to her husband.


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  1. evenisse id olim Claudiae Quintae, eiusque statuam vim ignium to elapsam maiores apud aedem matris deum consecravisse. (Tacitus, Annals 4, 64, 3).