The daughter of Sp. Tarpeius, the governor of the Roman citadel on the Saturnian hill, afterwards called the Capitoline, was tempted by the gold on the Sabine bracelets and collars to open a gate of the fortress to T. Tatius and his Sabines. As they entered, they threw upon her their shields, and thus crushed her to death. She was buried on the hill, and her memory was preserved by the name of the Tarpeian rock, which was given to a part of the Capitoline.

Niebuhr relates that a legend still exists at Rome which relates that the fair Tarpeia ever sits in the heart of the hill, covered with gold and jewels, and bound by a spell.1 Varro2 describes her as a Vestal Virgin; but Plutarch relates3 that Tarpeia was the name of one of the four Vestals, who were first appointed by Numa.



  1. Niebuhr, B.G. (1845). History of Rome. Vol. 1, p. 230.
  2. On the Latin Language v, 41 (ed. Müller).
  3. Numa, 10.


  • Livy. The History of Rome i, 11; comp. Dionysius, ii, 38, 40.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.