Legend has it that, shortly after Rome was founded by Romulus, the Romans entered negotiations with the neighbouring Sabines, to try to secure themselves wives. The negotiations were unsuccessful, as the Sabines feared the emergence of a rival society. The Romans thus resolved to abduct the Sabine women by force instead. Romulus devised a festival, to which all the neighbouring communities were invited. At the festival, Romulus gave a signal, at which the Romans grabbed the Sabine women and fought off the Sabine men. According to ancient accounts, the women were enraged at first, but soon acquiesced. Romulus spoke to each woman in person, and promised them they would live in honourable wedlock, and share all their property and civil rights, and would be the mothers of free men.
The Sabine men, however, were not so easily persuaded. They returned to the city to wage war on the Romans. The women, however, intervened, running among the warring soldiers and appealing to their fathers and husbands not to shed one another’s blood. Their pleas had the desired effect – the Sabines agreed to form one nation with the Romans and the Sabine king, Titus Tatius, went on to rule Rome jointly with Romulus.