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Mourning woman and Trajan

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Mourning woman before Trajan
Mourning woman before Trajan

Trajan was one of the most respected Roman emperors. Over the centuries, it was believed that the conqueror-emperor showed extraordinary rule of law, and he made decisions based on the opinion of his closest council of advisers. Until our times, the probably imaginary, although widespread and popular in the Middle Ages story about the meeting of the emperor with a mourning woman has survived.

This story is described by Dante Alighieri in his work “Divine Comedy”. Namely, the emperor was preparing for war, and while he was mounting his horse, a woman suddenly fell at his feet, begging him for justice, because her son had died unjustly. Trajan was to reply that he would deal with the matter when he returned. The woman began to question whether she would see the emperor’s return at all. Trajan was to say that in that case, his deputy would take care of the matter; to this, the woman pointed out that by what right a stranger is to take into his own hands a task that lies in the hands of the emperor. Moreover, if the person delegated by the emperor copes with the task, all glory will come to him and not to Trajan; such a matter should be the responsibility of the emperor. The arguments were so effective that they touched Trajan, and he decided to deal with the presented matter immediately.

  • Nicholas Jackson, Trajan: Rome's Last Conqueror

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