Painful Paradoxes: Unresolved Cultural Tensions and the Response to Human Suffering in The Rape of Lucretia
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMyths are cultural repositories that reveal a society’s most intimate values, as well as its flaws. The rape of Lucretia is the myth of the founding of the Roman Republic, which is inspired by the rape of the Roman wife Lucretia by the Etruscan Prince Sextus Tarquinius, and her subsequent suicide. This myth has been revisited and reinterpreted many times since its creation, partly because it continues to present a paradox that defies interpretation: "If [Lucretia] is adulterous, why praise her? If chaste, why slay her?" (St. Augustine 29). The various reinterpretations of the myth made changes, whether subtle or dramatic, that sought to translate the story, rendering it understandable to a Christian audience. Each reinterpretation of the myth has also tried to either reconcile or emphasize this paradox, reflecting both the author’s interpretation and the contemporaneous cultural values, but most importantly hinting at the problematic response to personal suffering by individuals and societies.
Degree ProgramHonors College