Have you ever felt pressured to lie (or even to swear falsely) just to please someone in a much higher position? This situation, which may sound very modern, is probably as old as time itself: even our Mulier Clara of the day, in fact, found herself in such a spot!

Sempronia was a Roman noblewoman who was born into a very notable family: his grandfather was Scipio Africanus, the hero of the second Punic War, while her mother Cornelia famously gave birth to her brothers, the Gracchi. Sempronia herself eventually married Scipio Aemilianus, the general who finally destroyed Carthago in the Third Punic War.

After the death of her husband and brothers, Sempronia found herself in the midst of a legal battle as a man called Equitius declared to be the illegitimate son of one of the Gracchi, Tiberius, thus claiming the property that had been confiscated by the Senate upon his death. Being forced to testify, and despite the pressure put by the Tribunes so that she would acknowledge him as her nephew, Sempronia was adamant in rejecting his claims. For this reason, Boccaccio praises her unyielding personality despite all pressures and threats.


"Sempronia", illumination from the manuscript “Des cleres et nobles femmes”, ms. Spencer Collection 033, f. 46r, ca. 1450, The New York Public Library.

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