romana

As you well know, here at Folia we are deeply in love with History. With the passing of the centuries, however, it is inevitable for even major details to go lost and be left to historians' interpretation or plain guesses. This was true even at the time of Boccaccio and his De Mulieribus Claris: our weekly protagonist this time is a girl from Ancient Rome whose name (but not her deeds!) went lost.

The Girl became famous thanks to the selfless and clever way with which she was able to save her mother's life. The older woman had been in fact incarcerated by the Tribunes and even sentenced to death; her guardian, however, felt pitiful for her and was unable to execute her directly, but rather decided to simply let her die of hunger. Day after day, however, the woman did not seem to lose much energy - despite the fact that her only visitor, her daughter, was regularly checked so that she did not bring any food for her mother. The guardian finally decided to spy on the two during one of the visits: what he saw was the girl, who had recently given birth, breastfeeding her mother to keep her alive. Struck by the compassion of the daughter towards her mother, the man brought the story to the Tribunes, who eventually decided to lift all sentences in honor of such a great act of familial love.


“Young Roman girl”, illumination from the manuscript “Livre des femmes nobles et renommees”, ms. Français 598, f. 99r, 1403, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Paris.

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