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Gaius Mucius Scaevola – hero of Romans


Mucius Scaevola in the Presence of Lars Porsenna by Matthias Stom

Gaius Mucius Scaevola was a hero of the Romans, who became famous for his courage. Probably this story, which comes from the work of Livy, is just a legend.

The story begins in the year 508 BCE, when Rome was in the war with the Etruscans – more specifically the city of Clusium – whose king was Lars Porsenna. The Etruscan ruler invaded Rome, trying to restore the fallen king of the Romans Tarquinius Superbus.

According to the accounts, in some point in the Roman camp was born the idea of ​​a treacherous killing of king Porsenna. The task was to be carried out by young Gaius Mucius, who received approval from the Senate. Slipping into the enemy camp, he accidentally killed a person similarly dressed to the king, who turned out to be a royal scribe.

Immediately captured Gaius Mucius announced: “I am Gaius Mucius, a citizen of Rome. I came here as an enemy to kill my enemy, and I am as ready to die as I am to kill. We Romans act bravely and, when adversity strikes, we suffer bravely”. The youth further added that he was the first of three hundred other Romans willing to kill the king, at the expense of their lives.

Then, in order to prove to Etruscans how not important is his body to him, he put his right hand in the sacrificial fire and held it without showing pain and suffering. The king was shocked by the words and behavior of the Roman and sent him back to Rome, claiming that he would do more damage to himself than to him. At the same time, Porsenna sent an emissary to Rome with a proposal for peace.

Mucius, once returned to the city, received the nickname Scaevola – “left-handed”. From the state, for his merits he received land on the right bank of the Tiber, which in the future was called Mucia Prata.

Sources

  • Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, 2.12-13

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