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592704

Abduction of the Sabine Women

592704.

L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus. 89 BC. AR Denarius (20mm, 3.86 g, 5h). Rome mint. Bareheaded and bearded head of King Tatius right; SABIN downward to left, (TA) monogram to right / Abduction of the Sabine Women: two soldiers, facing each other, each carrying off a Sabine woman in his arms; [L • TI]TVRI in exergue. Crawford 344/1a; Sydenham 698; Tituria 1; RBW –. Iridescent tone. EF. Exceptional strike, showing facial details of reverse figures.


Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 78 (26 May 2014), lot 619.

The tale of the “Rape of the Sabine Women” (”rape” in the sense of an abduction, rather than a sexual assault), as related by Livy, dates from the early history of Rome. Romulus and his male followers, having founded Rome, found themselves in desperate need of females to take to wife and grow their community. According to Livy, Romulus attempted to negotiate with his neighbors for their daughters to supply the Roman men with brides, but having failed, he devised a plan to abduct the women instead. He held a large festival and invited the neighboring tribes to attend; at a given signal the Roman men grabbed the Sabine girls and carried them off to their homes. The women were offered proper marriage and property rights, which all of them accepted. The Sabines went to war to get their daughters back, lead by King Tatius (depicted on the obverse of this issue), but at a critical point in the conflict, the Sabine women appeared and threw themselves between the combatants, imploring fathers and husbands alike to cease fighting. The men relented and agreed to unite the Roman and Sabine people, with Tatius and Romulus ruling jointly. The tale had special relevance to the moneyer, whose name indicates his Sabine lineage, and to the political context of 89 BC, with Rome just emerging from the Social Wars, which the moneyer conflates with the struggle between Rome and the Sabines, ultimately resulting in unification.