|The Tarpeian Rock, or Rupe Tarpea, suffered a mini landslide last year when chunks of the ancient cliff fell off.|
Long neglected, the legendary site lies overgrown and overlooked on the southern side of the Capitoline Hill.
The rock is named for Tarpeia, a Vestal virgin and daughter of a Roman commander. When Rome was under siege by the Sabines, the story goes, she offered to betray the city. Tarpeia was flung to her death from what would henceforth be known as the Tarpeian Rock. Later Romans would use the site to put to death their most notorious criminals, who would be thrown headfirst off the drop. The gruesome punishment was reserved for traitors, murderers and rebels to serve as a warning to others. |
'The Tarpeian Rock is close to the Capitol,' an old Roman saying went – in other words, even at the height of power, you're never far from a fall.