Zonaras 7.3 Part III – The Rape of the Sabine Women

Zonaras relates the well-known story of Romulus’ plan to increase the Roman population:

There were now many men living in the city, of whom very few were wedded to wives. So, Romulus had the idea that they could unite women to themselves. For they were just a mob who had come from difficult and undistinguished circumstances, and they were despised in their marriage suits by all of the neighboring tribes. Romulus then planned for his citizens to take wives by means of forcible seizure, so he announced that there would be a sacrifice, some games, and a religious assembly on the pretext that a strange new altar of the gods had been discovered. Many people came together for this. Romulus himself, however, sat at the front among the nobles, outfitted in a purple robe. He gave as the sign that the undertaking should commence the sudden spreading and re-fastening of his robe. Once this sign was given, the men, grabbing their swords, set out and grabbed the maiden daughters of the Sabines – not, indeed, anyone’s wife.

Πολλῶν δὲ τῇ πόλει ἐνοικισθέντων, ὧν ὀλίγοι γυναιξὶ συνεζεύγνυντο, φροντὶς τῷ ῾Ρωμύλῳ ἐγένετο ἵνα κἀκεῖνοι γυναῖκας ἑαυτοῖς συνοικίσωσι. σύγκλυδες γὰρ καὶ ἐξ ἀπόρων ὄντες καὶ ἀφανῶν, ὑπερωρῶντο πρὸς κῆδος παρὰ τῶν γειτνιώντων ἐθνῶν. βουλεύεται τοίνυν ἐξ ἁρπαγῆς λαβεῖν γυναῖκας τοὺς πολίτας αὐτοῦ, καὶ κηρύσσει θυσίαν καὶ ἀγῶνα καὶ θέαν μέλλειν τελεῖν πανηγυρικήν, ὡς βωμοῦ εὑρημένου θεοῦ καινοῦ. καὶ πολλοὶ συνῆλθον. αὐτὸς δὲ προυκάθητο μετὰ τῶν ἀρίστων, ἁλουργίδι κεκοσμημένος· δέδωκε δὲ τῷ δήμῳ τῆς ἐπιχειρήσεως σύμβολον τὴν τῆς ἁλουργίδος διάπτυξιν καὶ αὖθις ταύτης περιβολήν. οὗ γενομένου σπασάμενοι τὰ ξίφη μετὰ βοῆς ὥρμησαν καὶ ἥρπαζον τὰς θυγατέρας τῶν Σαβίνων παρθένους, οὐ μέντοι γυναῖκάς τινων

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