Nicolas Poussin, The Abduction of the Sabine Women, 1634-35

This story (sometimes known as ‘The Rape of the Sabine Women’) is a famous incident from early Roman history (circa 750BC). Romulus was the city’s founding father and first king. In trying to establish families and settling down, a largely male Roman population suffered a severe shortage of women. They made their best efforts to court women in neighbouring towns of Sabine, Caenina, Antemnae, and Crustumerium, but the people there decided collectively not to marry their daughters off to these threatening newcomers. Romulus and his crew decided to kidnap the women instead at the festival of Neptune Equester in Sabine. According to Livy, the Romans fought off the Sabine men and grabbed up the women on Romulus’ signal.

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