Heroine of Conjugal Affection
40 – 78 A.D.
Her husband was Julius Sabinus. He pretended to be a descendant of Julius Cæsar and laid claim to the throne when several others were seeking the same prize. He was defeated and a large reward was offered for his capture. He declared his intention of committing suicide by burning his own house and perishing in the flames. The house was burned and his friends and enemies supposed him dead.
Under his house there was a cavern to which he betook himself instead of dying, and the secret was communicated to but one friend, Martial.
Eponina, who was absent at the time, heard of his death and was so overcome with grief that for many days she would eat nothing, and was in danger of sacrificing her own life. Martial at last communicated to her the fact that Sabinus was not dead, but hidden in the cave under the ruins of their villa.
She was conducted to his hiding place by night, but returned before morning. She was advised by Martial to keep up the appearance of grief for some months, which she did.
For nine years the husband lived in this cave, visited as often as possible by his devoted wife.
Suspicions were at last aroused and Sabinus was discovered and brought before the emperor and said: “Learn, Vespasian, that I have enjoyed more happiness in the performance of my duties and in the prolonging of life of your victim, though but in the rude recesses of an obscure cavern, than you will henceforth ever enjoy amidst the splendors that surround your throne.”
The sympathies of the Roman people were with Eponina, and her heroic fidelity was a theme upon which they dwelt with pride.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.