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Death of Tarpeia (frieze of the Basilica Aemilia , 1st century)
Death of Tarpeia (on the lapel of a Republican denarius )

The vestal virgin Tarpeia ( Greek  Ταρπεία ) was in Roman mythology the daughter of Spurius Tarpeius , the commander of the Capitol in Rome.

The Tarpeia lore

According to legend, Tarpeia granted the Sabines access to the Capitol in the absence of her father when they attacked Rome under Titus Tatius . In return she should get what the Sabines wore on their left arm - she thought of the rich gold jewelry. The Sabines “rewarded” them by burying them under their shields , which they also wore on their left arm. In memory of their original treason, the rock of the Capitol, over which the traitors were later overthrown, was called the " Tarpeian Rock ".

There is a second version of the Tarpeiasage. This says that Tarpeia while drawing water - fetching water for ritual acts was one of the duties of the Vestal Virgins - met Titus Tatius , King of the Sabines. She instantly fell in love with the man and, out of sheer love, promised him that she would open the gates of the Capitol. As a result, the Sabines achieved victory in the battle against the Romans. Since Tarpeia had committed high treason, they condemned the Sabines to death, although she had helped them.

Tarpeia's story has u. a. the Roman historian Titus Livius reports.


Tarpeia was also depicted on a coin of the Emperor Augustus . There she stands in the middle of a pile of shields.



Web links

Commons : Tarpeia  - collection of images, videos and audio files