Roberta Morosini

Lucretia: Heroine and not. Considerations on two recent studies on «onestade»

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Keywords: Suicide; Lucretia; Rape; Honestum; Virtue.

Lucretia's suicide because of her rape has had contradictory interpretations over the centuries, seen at times as the sublime "exemplum" of virtue and at others as the consequence of shame for having enjoyed being raped. The essay sees this alternating history to follow that of the notion of «onestade» as reconstructed in two recent studies by Paolo Cherchi. Lucretia was the emblem of "pudicitia" for the Romans and for the early Christians, but she was then condemned by St. Agustine for her suicide; later, courtly culture and Civic Humanism reinstated her in her exemplary position, and, finally, Machiavelli demystified the suicide gesture rejecting the idea that it was responsible for the birth of the Roman Republic.

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