"Insouciant with those around her, the Vestal Virgin of Rome opened the city gate to allow the Sabines to attack Rome, in exchange for gold."
Daughter of the Roman commander Spurius Tarpeius, Tarpeia was a mythological Vestal Virgin of Rome, a position that called for dedication to the care and well-being of the city (a role taken from their patron goddess, Vesta, who protected homes). Due to their devotion to the preservation of Rome, Vestal Virgins were held in the highest regard among the Roman women, even after they retired from this religious order.
Soon after the city of Rome was founded, in order to procure wives for themselves and begin populating the settlement, the Romans invited the nearby tribe of the Sabines to their new city. Under the guise of hosting a festival, the Romans kidnapped all of the unmarried Sabine women and forced them into marriage (this event became known as the Rape of the Sabine Women). The enraged Sabine tribe declared war on the city in retaliation.
Betraying her duty as a Vestal, the greed-driven Tarpeia snuck to the Sabine camp and offered to open the city gates, allowing the Sabines to attack Rome in exchange for "what was worn around their left arm". She meant for them to give her their jewelry: golden bracelets on their arms. The Sabines instead crushed her with what they traditionally carried on their left arm: their heavy shields.
Tarpeia became an infamous symbol in Rome for greed and treachery.
"I only left the city walls to seek water for my sacred rights."
"The Sabine men are besieging the city..."
"The centurions raped the Sabine women. They want revenge."
"The Sabine camp is close outside the city wall..."
"I will unlock the city gate and let you in, Only if you give me what i want..."
"Give me what you wear on your left arms..."
"Those gold bracelets and rings will be my reward..."
"My father is the guard of Rome's outer gate."
"I know where father keeps the keys..."
"Where is my reward? Where is my reward for letting you through the gate?"
"Lower your shields! Do not strike me!"
"No! You're crushing me!"
"Im a vestal virgin, blessed and pure!"
"My duty is to protect the well-being of the city."
"You are my comfort, my salvation!"
- According to Roman legend, Tarpeia was buried within the Tarpeian Rock, a steep cliff on the southern summit of the Capitoline Hill overlooking the forum. The cliff was used as a site where murderers, traitors, perjurers and larcenous slaves were hurled to their deaths.