The Abduction of Verginia by Appius Claudius
Conflict of the Orders: Decemviri
While Verginius was away, Claudius tried to seduce Verginia, but she was engaged, and a chaste young woman. When she wouldn't succumb to his lust, Claudius had her captured on her way to school in the forum. One of his clients, Marcus Claudius, was to bring her before him while he served as magistrate. Marcus Claudius, using the speech he'd rehearsed with Appius Claudius, claimed Verginia was not Verginius' daughter, but the daughter of one of his slaves born in captivity; hence a slave herself. Verginia, he said, had been stolen in infancy and insinuated into Verginius' household. Verginia's grandfather and her fiance, Lucius Icilius, tried to plead her case, but it wasn't enough. Then Verginius returned, barely arriving before the judgment. Even he couldn't change Appius Claudius' mind. The verdict was that Verginia should be returned to the client.
Granted time to speak with his daughter, and in order to save her from disgrace, Verginia's father grabbed a knife and killed her.
After her father saved her honor in this way, Appius Claudius sent the lictors to arrest her fiance, Lucius Icilius. However, the plebeians, completely sympathetic with Verginius and Lucius Icilius, had had enough of the illegal shenanigans of the decemvir, and blocked the lictors. After a scuffle, the leaders of the plebeians commanded a speaking platform and deprives Appius Claudius of his power
Then another decemvir convened the senate which thought it best to humor the plebs and prevent Verginius from inciting his soldiers. Soon the second Decemvirate was dissolved.
Partly based on www.historyeuropeanwomen.com/article1016.html "The Heroines of Ancient Rome."
In Book III of his history, Livy tells the story of the abduction of Verginia (Virginia) and compares it with the story of the rape of Lucretia in that both events triggered a reaction against tyrannical Roman rulers. The Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli depicted the event in 6 scenes in his tempera painting of the abduction. He also painted the companion scenic story of the rape of Lucretia.