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The Rape of the Sabine Women and subsequent wars between the Romans and native Latins is a key moment in Roman mythology. The "rape" in this case was actually an abduction (rather than a sexual assault), deriving from the original meaning of the Latin word "raptio".

Background

When Rome was first founded by Romulus and his male followers, they unsuccessfully negotiated intermarriages with the surrounding tribes, such as the Sabines, Crustumini, Antemnates and Caeninenses. Romulus organised a festival for Neptune and invited many of the tribes to celebrate with the Romans.

During the festival, Romulus gave a signal to the Roman men, who seized Sabine brides and fought off the Sabine men. The Sabine women were offered civic and property rights, free choice among the Romans and citizenship for their sons.

Reprisal