August 15, 2022

Philotis is a figure from Roman mythology also known as Tutula. She is a slave (ancilla) whose action leads to an important victory of the Romans over the Latins at the end of the 4th century BC. J.-C.

Traditional story

Weakened by the sack of Rome in 390 BC. BC, the Romans suffered a heavy defeat against the Fidenates who asked them for their wives and virgin daughters as hostages to secure peace. In his work Life of Camillus, Plutarch recounts that Philotis proposed that she and other female slaves disguise themselves as free women and Roman maidens and go to the Fidenates. After her plan gained the approval of the Roman Senate, Philotis and the other women dressed as elegant Romans adorned with their jewels and went to the enemy camp. There, they seduced the Latins into rejoicing and intoxication. When the Latins were asleep, Philotis and the other slaves stole the swords of the enemies. Philotis climbed a wild fig tree, half veiling the light of a torch with his cloak, and then brandished it as a signal to the Romans. The Romans invaded the camp and killed the Latins in their sleep. Women were rewarded with freedom and an annuity from public funds was allocated to them. This intervention of the "false matrons" is a feminine ruse. We note that the situation of the Romans reverses that of the Sabines. But while the marriage of the Sabines, which has been the subject of prior discussions, is ratified by them, the demands of the besiegers are exactions. Within the framework of the stabilized "heroic society", they have no meaning for the Romans.[irrelevant]

Posterity: the Caprotine nuns

Festivities called Nones Caprotines or Nonae Caprotinae commemorating this victory were then organized annually during the month of July. On this occasion, slaves and free women celebrated together near the site of the wild fig tree.

Contemporary Art

Philotis is one of 1,038 women referenced in Judy Chicago's contemporary artwork The Dinner Party (1979). Her name is associated with Hypatia.

Notes and References

(en) This article is partly or entirely taken from the Wikipedia article in English entitled “Philotis_(mythology)” (see the list of authors).P. Drossart in RHR 185-2, 1974, pp. 139-139 presented this story in relation to the maintenance of (lunar) light, parallel to other exploits of Camillus, favorite of the Auroras, commented on by G. Dumézil.[ref. improper] Roman mythology portal