Wronging Sempronia

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2 Citations (Scopus)


In 133 BC, when Scipio Aemilianus heard of the violent death of his cousin and brother-in-law, Ti. Gracchus, he uttered a line from Homer: 'Thus perish all who attempt such.' In effect, this endorsed the lynching of Gracchus. At a deeper level, it cast Gracchus (in the Homeric context of that quotation) as the tyrant Aegisthus. It may also have suggested an image of moral turpitude, Aegisthus having debauched his cousin Agamemnon's wife. By analogy (if intended), that would have suggested an adulterous union between Gracchus and his sister Sempronia. It is further suggested that gossip arising from this extraordinary insinuation might have prompted a special reading of the claims circa 102 BC of L. Equitius to be the bastard son of Gracchus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-106
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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