By Thomas North
Excerpt from Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans: With an creation through George Wyndam
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Additional resources for The lives of the noble Grecians and Romans
Being in this doubt, a servant-maid called Philotis (or, as some say, Tutola), advised them to do neither, but, by a stratagem, avoid both fighting and the giving up of such pledges. The stratagem was this, that they should send herself, with other well-looking servant-maids, to the enemy, in the dress of free-born virgins, and she should in the night light up a fire-signal, at which the Romans should come armed and surprise them asleep. The Latins were thus deceived, and accordingly Philotis set up a torch in a wild fig-tree, screening it behind with curtains and coverlets from the sight of the enemy, while visible to the Romans.
We were ravished away unjustly and violently by those whose now we are; that being done, we were so long neglected by our fathers, our brothers, and countrymen, that time, having now by the strictest bonds united us to those we once mortally hated, has made it impossible for us not to tremble at the danger and weep at the death of the very men who once used violence to us. You did not come to vindicate our honor, while we were virgins, against our assailants; but do come now to force away wives from their husbands and mothers from their children, a succor more grievous to its wretched objects than the former betrayal and neglect of them.
Or if again it is a sacrifice of gratitude to the wolf that nourished and preserved Romulus, there is good reason in killing a dog, as being an enemy to wolves. Unless indeed, after all, the creature is punished for hindering the Luperci in their running. They say, too, Romulus was the first that consecrated holy fire, and instituted holy virgins to keep it, called vestals; others ascribe it to Numa Pompilius; agreeing, however, that Romulus was otherwise eminently religious, and skilled in divination, and for that reason carried the lituus, a crooked rod with which soothsayers describe the quarters of the heavens, when they sit to observe the flights of birds.