According to legend Romulus founded Rome in 753 BC. Since there were few women in the settlement, he was concerned about the future growth and greatness of Rome, so he invited the neighbouring Sabine women. They were careful to choose unmarried women, for the intention was to unite with their neighbours by the greatest and surest bounds; only one married woman was mistakenly chosen. The Rape of the Sabine Women was treated by numerous sculptors and painters, such as Giambologna (Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence) and Pietro da Cortona.

Romulus refused to let the women return, so their dishonoured fathers and brothers marched against Rome. During the battle, the women came running out with miserable cries and lamentations, like creatures possessed, in the midst of the army and among the dead bodies, to come at their husbands and their fathers, some with their young children in their arms, others with their hair loose about their ears, but all calling, now upon the Sabines, now upon the Romans, in the most tender and endearing words.

Both armies melted with compassion and the women ended the fight by pleading with both sides to unite.

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