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The Death of Tarpeia

290, Lot: 315. Estimate $150.
Sold for $320. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus. 89 BC. AR Denarius (16mm, 3.88 g, 10h). Rome mint. Bareheaded, bearded head of King Tatius right; [palm frond] below chin / Tarpeia facing, buried to her waist in shields, with raised hands she tries to thrust off two soldiers who are about to cast their shields at her; star in crescent above. Crawford 344/2b; Sydenham 699; Tituria 4. Good VF, toned, edge smoothed and rounded, probably for jewelry.

Ex Irving Goodman Collection (Superior, 2 June 1996), lot 1726.

As a subplot of the myth of the abduction of the Sabine women, Tarpeia was a Vestal Virgin who betrayed the city of Rome to the Sabines when they were attempting to rescue their wives and daughters. The price for her betrayal was what the Sabine soldiers wore on their left arms, meaning their gold bracelets. The Sabines were offended by Tarpeia's reprehensible greed and treason, and took her price literally. She met her death under the crushing weight of the soldiers’ shields.