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Livy (59—17 bc) Roman historian

John Webster (c. 1580—1625) poet and playwright

Thomas Heywood (c. 1574—1641) playwright and poet

John Dennis (1657—1734) literary critic

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A daughter of the centurion Lucius Virginius. Appius Claudius, the decemvir, became enamoured of her and sought to get possession of her. For this purpose she was claimed by one of his favourites as daughter of a slave, and Appius in the capacity of a judge gave sentence in his favour and delivered her into the hands of his friend. Virginius, informed of these proceedings, arrived from the camp, and plunged a dagger into his daughter's breast to save her from the tyrant. He then rushed to the camp with the bloody knife in his hand. The soldiers, incensed against Appius Claudius, marched to Rome and seized him. But he destroyed himself in prison. The story (in Livy, 3. 44 et seq.) is the basis of two plays called Appius and Virginia, one by Webster and/or Heywood, one by Dennis (1709); of Knowles's tragedy Virginius; and of Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome'.

Subjects: Literature.

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