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Faithful Roman wives

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman tombstone of a married couple
Roman tombstone of a married couple

Beautiful and devout love also appeared in the world of ancient Romans. Two stories about women ready to sacrifice their lives together with the chosen ones have survived to our times.

The first of the accounts mentions Arria the Elder and her husband – senator Caecina Paetus. He was arrested for rebellion against Tiberius and transported to Rome. The wife begged soldiers to guard her husband to let her accompany her beloved. When they did not agree, she decided to rent a boat and follow Paetus. When it turned out that the husband received a conviction, the wife decided to share his fate. Regardless of the family’s requests, she went to prison and stuck the dagger in her chest. Then she wrested him from the wound and gave it to her husband saying: “It doesn’t hurt, Paetus!”

Another story is about the rule of Nero. The mad ruler sentenced his teacher and mentor Seneca the Younger to death, through suicide. The sage did not protest and began to make appropriate preparations. To his surprise, his young wife Pompeia Paulina decided to die with him. They both opened their veins. However, the blood from Seneca’s old body leaked slowly. Therefore, he ordered to cut his veins on his feet. When it did not help, he ordered to go to the bathhouse, where he died in a hot steam. Nero, on the news that his wife decided to give her life with her husband, he was so touchedthat he told the soldiers to save the girl.

  • Koper Sławomir, Życie prywatne i erotyczne w starożytnej Grecji i Rzymie, Warszawa 1998

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