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Nabis's Wife

When he had by these means put the greater number of them out of the way, he next had constructed a kind of machine, if machine it may be called, which was the figure of a woman, clothed in costly garments, and made to resemble with extraordinary fidelity the wife of Nabis. Whenever then he summoned one of the citizens with a view of getting some money from him, he used first to employ a number of arguments politely expressed, pointing out the danger in which the city stood from the threatening attitude of the Achaeans, and explaining what a number of mercenaries he had to support for their security, and the expenses which fell upon him for the maintenance of the national religion and the needs of the State. If the listeners gave in he was satisfied; but if they ever refused to comply with his demand, he would say, "Perhaps I cannot persuade you, but I think this lady Apéga will succeed in doing so." Apéga was the name of his wife. Immediately on his saying these words, the figure I have described was brought in. As soon as the man offered his hand to the supposed lady to raise her from her seat, the figure threw its arms round him and began drawing him by degrees towards its breasts. Now its arms, hands, and breasts were full of iron spikes under its clothes. When the tyrant pressed his hands on the back of the figure, and then by means of the works dragged the man by degrees closer and closer to its breasts, he forced him under this torture to say anything. A good number of men who refused his demands he destroyed in this way.1

1 The text of these last sentences is so corrupt that it is impossible to be sure of having rightly represented the meaning of Polybius.

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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 31-32, commentary, 32.38
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 31-32, commentary, 32.40
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CRUX
    • Smith's Bio, Nabis
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