After the capture of the Caeninensians, while the rest of the Sabines were still busy with their preparations, the people of Fidenae, Crustumerium, and Antemnae banded together against the Romans,1
and in a battle which ensued, they were likewise defeated, and surrendered to Romulus their cities to be seized, their territory to be divided, and themselves to be transported to Rome. Romulus distributed among the citizens all the territory thus acquired, excepting that which belonged to the parents of the ravished maidens; this he suffered its owners to keep for themselves.
At this the rest of the Sabines were enraged, and after appointing Tatius their general, marched upon Rome. The city was difficult of access, having as its fortress the present Capitol, on which a guard had been stationed, with Tarpeius as its captain,— not Tarpeia, a maiden, as some say, thereby making Romulus a simpleton. But Tarpeia, a daughter of the commander, betrayed the citadel to the Sabines, having set her heart on the golden armlets which she saw them wearing, and she asked as payment for her treachery that which they wore on their left arms.
Tatius agreed to this, whereupon she opened one of the gates by night and let the Sabines in. Antigonus was not alone, then, in saying that he loved men who offered to betray, but hated those who had betrayed; nor yet Caesar, in saying of the Thracian Rhoemetalces, that he loved treachery but hated a traitor; but this is a very general feeling towards the base on the part of those who need their services, just as they need certain wild creatures for their venom and gall; for while they feel the need of them, they put up with them, but abhor their vileness when they have obtained from them what they want.
This, too, was the feeling which Tatius then had towards Tarpeia, when he ordered his Sabines, mindful of their agreement, not to begrudge the girl anything they wore on their left arms. And he was first to take from his arm not only his armlet, but at the same time his shield, and cast them upon her. All his men followed his example, and the girl was smitten by the gold and buried under the shields, and died from the number and weight of them.
And Tarpeius also was convicted of treason when prosecuted by Romulus, as, according to Juba, Sulpicius Galba relates. Of those who write differently about Tarpeia, they are worthy of no belief at all who say that she was a daughter of Tatius, the leader of the Sabines, and was living with Romulus under compulsion, and acted and suffered as she did, at her father's behest; of these, Antigonus is one. And Simylus the poet is altogether absurd in supposing that Tarpeia betrayed the Capitol, not to the Sabines, but to the Gauls, because she had fallen in love with their king. These are his words:—
And Tarpeia, who dwelt hard by the Capitolian steep,
Became the destroyer of the walls of Rome;
She longed to be the wedded wife of the Gallic chieftain,
And betrayed the homes of her fathers.
And a little after, speaking of her death:—
Her the Boni and the myriad tribes of Gauls
Did not, exulting, cast amid the currents of the Po;
But hurled the shields from their belligerent arms
Upon the hateful maid, and made their ornament her doom.