Zonaras 7.11 Part III: The Rape of Lucretia

Sextus Tarquinius’ violation of Lucretia hastens the expulsion of the tyrants:

“This Brutus put down the Tarquins, alleging as his cause both the rape of Lucretia, and that otherwise the Tarquins were hated because of their tyranny and violence. Lucretia was the daughter of Lucretius Spurius, a man of the senate, and she had married Collatinus Tarquinius; she was famed for both her beauty and her wise modesty. Sextus, the son of Tarquinius Superbus, formed a desire to violate her, being not so much desirous of her beauty as he was eager for her chaste reputation. Waiting for Collatinus to be away from the house, he came to her at night and dismissed her guards as though she were his wife. First he attempted to sleep with her by using words, and then he employed violence. When he failed to achieve his purpose, he threatened to cut her down. When it was clear that she cared naught for death, he threatened to lay a slave beside her and kill both; he would then tell the tale that he had found them sleeping together and slain them. This threat terrified Lucretia, and she feared that she might be believed to have done such a thing, so she consented. After being violated, she placed a dagger under her pillow, and sent for both her husband and father; Brutus and Publius Valerius followed them. Through tears and wailing, she related the whole affair. Then she added, “I will now do what is proper for me; if you are men, you will avenge me, free yourselves from servitude, and show those tyrants what a sort of wife, and what sort of men they abused.” As she said all this, she immediately drew out the dagger and killed herself.”

Οὗτος ὁ Βροῦτος τοὺς Ταρκυνίους κατέλυσεν, αἰτίαν τὸ περὶ τὴν Λουκρητίαν συμβεβηκὸς προστησάμενος, καὶ ἄλλως μισουμένους παρὰ πάντων διὰ τὸ τυραννικόν τε καὶ βίαιον. ἡ δὲ Λουκρητία θυγάτηρ μὲν ἦν Λουκρητίου Σπουρίου, ἀνδρὸς τῶν τῆς συγκλήτου ἑνός, γαμετὴ δὲ Κολλατίνου Ταρκυνίου τῶν ἐπιφανῶν, ἐπί τε κάλλει καὶ σωφροσύνῃ τυγχάνουσα περιβόητος. ταύτην Σέξτος ὁ τοῦ Ταρκυνίου υἱὸς αἰσχῦναι σπούδασμα ἔθετο, οὐχ οὕτω τοῦ κάλλους αὐτῆς ἐρασθεὶς ὅσον τῇ ἐπὶ τῷ σώφρονι δόξῃ ἐπιβουλεύων αὐτῆς. τηρήσας οὖν τὸν Κολλατῖνον τῆς οἰκίας ἀποδημοῦντα, νυκτὸς ἐλθὼν πρὸς αὐτὴν ὡς πρὸς γαμετὴν συγγενοῦς κατέλυσε παρ’ αὐτῇ. καὶ πρῶτον μὲν λόγοις ἐπείρα συγγενέσθαι αὐτῇ, εἶτα καὶ βίαν προσῆγεν· ὡς δ’ οὐδὲν ἐπέραινεν, ἀποσφάξειν ἠπείλησεν· ὡς δὲ καὶ τοῦ θανάτου κατωλιγώρει, δοῦλον παρακατακλινεῖν αὐτῇ ἐπηπείλησε καὶ ἄμφω κτανεῖν καὶ λόγον διαδώσειν ὡς εὑρὼν αὐτοὺς συγκαθεύδοντας ἔκτεινε. τοῦτο τὴν Λουκρητίαν ἐτάραξε, καὶ φοβηθεῖσα μὴ πιστευθείη ταῦθ’ οὕτω γενέσθαι, ἐνέδωκε. καὶ μοιχευθεῖσα ξιφίδιον ὑπὸ τὸ προσκεφάλαιον ἔθετο, καὶ μεταπεμψαμένη τόν τε ἄνδρα καὶ τὸν πατέρα, συνεπομένων αὐτοῖς τοῦ τε Βρούτου καὶ Ποπλίου Οὐαλερίου, κατεδάκρυσε καὶ στενάξασα τὸ δρᾶμα πᾶν διηγήσατο· εἶτα ἐπήγαγε “καὶ ἐγὼ μὲν τὰ πρέποντα ἐμαυτῇ ποιήσω, ὑμεῖς δὲ εἴπερ ἄνδρες ἐστέ, τιμωρήσατε μὲν ἐμοί, ἐλευθερώθητε δὲ αὐτοί, καὶ δείξατε τοῖς τυράννοις οἵων ὑμῶν ὄντων οἵαν γυναῖκα ὕβρισαν.” τοιαῦτα εἰποῦσα εὐθὺς τὸ ξιφίδιον φελκύσασα κατέκτεινεν ἑαυτήν.

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