Among those who ravished away the maidens at that time, it chanced, they say, that certain men of meaner sort were dragging along a damsel who far surpassed the rest in beauty and stature; and when some men of superior rank met them and tried to rob them of their prize, they cried out that they were conducting the girl to Talasius, a young man, but one of excellent repute.
The other party, then, on hearing this, shouted and clapped their hands in approval, and some of them actually turned back and accompanied them, out of good will and favour to Talasius, shouting his name as they went along. Hence, indeed, down to the present time, Talasius is the nuptial cry of the Romans, as Hymenaeus is of the Greeks; for they say that Talasius was fortunate in his wife.
But Sextius Sulla, the Carthaginian, a man who lacks neither learning nor charm, told me that Talasius was the word which Romulus gave as a watchword for the rape.
All those, therefore, who took the maidens away, shouted
‘Talasius !’ and on this account the custom now prevails at marriages. But most writers are of the opinion—and Juba is one of them—that the cry is an exhortation and incitement to industry and
‘talasia,’ as the Greeks call spinning
, Italian words having not yet at that time entirely submerged the Greek. Now if this is right, and the Romans did at that time use the word
‘talasia’ for spinning
, as we do, then a more credible reason for the custom might be conjectured as follows.
When the Sabines, after their war against the Romans, were reconciled with them, it was agreed that their women should perform no other tasks for their husbands than those which were connected with spinning. It was customary, therefore, at subsequent marriages, for those who gave the bride away, or escorted her to her new home, or simply looked on, to cry
‘Talasius!’ merrily, in testimony that the woman was led home for no other task than that of spinning.
And it continues to be a custom down to the present time that the bride shall not of herself cross the threshold into her new home, but be lifted up and carried in, because the Sabine women were carried in by force, and did not go in of their own accord. And some say also that the custom of parting the bride's hair with the head of a spear is a reminder that the first marriage was attended with war and fighting; on which topic I have spoken more fully in my
Leaving such matters aside, the rape was committed on the eighteenth day of the month once called Sextilis, but now, August, on which day the festival of the Consualia2