The Rape of the Sabine Women
The Rape of the Sabine Women is an episode in the legendary history of Rome
History of Rome
The history of Rome spans 2,800 years of the existence of a city that grew from a small Italian village in the 9th century BC into the centre of a vast civilisation that dominated the Mediterranean region for centuries. Its political power was eventually replaced by that of peoples of mostly...

 in which the first generation of Roman men acquired wives for themselves from the neighboring Sabine
The Sabines were an Italic tribe that lived in the central Appennines of ancient Italy, also inhabiting Latium north of the Anio before the founding of Rome...

 families. The English word "rape" is a conventional translation of Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

Raptio is a Latin term referring to the abduction of women, either for marriage or enslavement . In Roman Catholic canon law, raptio refers to the legal prohibition of matrimony if the bride was abducted forcibly...

, which in this context means "abduction"
Bride kidnapping
Bride kidnapping, also known as marriage by abduction or marriage by capture, is a practice throughout history and around the world in which a man abducts the woman he wishes to marry...

 rather than its prevalent modern meaning of sexual violation
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

. Recounted by Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

 and Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 (Parallel Lives
Parallel Lives
Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly called Parallel Lives or Plutarch's Lives, is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings, written in the late 1st century...

II, 15 and 19), it provided a subject for Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and post-Renaissance works of art that combined a suitably inspiring example of the hardihood and courage of ancient Romans with the opportunity to depict multiple figures, including heroically semi-nude figures
Art nude
An art nude is a work of art that takes the naked human form as its dominant subject. The term is used for painting, sculpture, photography, and mixed media.-Western tradition:...

, in intensely passionate struggle.