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Children's LiteratureCloelia was among the two hundred Roman hostages delivered to the Etruscans in a deal made between the two nations. Most of the hostages accepted their role in the treaty that placed them on foreign soil away from their families. Cloelia was not so placid, however. She climbed a tree to study the lay of the land and the habits of the guards. The next day she spread the word among the girls that she had planned an escape. The forty girls in the encampment joined her in the dark of the moon, followed her to the river, and swam to safety with their own people. The King of the Etruscans was so impressed with this girl's cleverness and bravery that he ordered her to appear before him. The men of her family proudly accompanied her. King Larth Porsena invited them to a feast and allowed Cloelia to choose forty more hostages to take home. She chose all the young boys. Eventually, peace came between the two nations. Based on an actual episode from ancient Roman history, this little-known tale celebrates the ingenuity and resourcefulness of a young girl in a time far removed from the present. The characteristics exhibited by Cloelia continue to be valued today. 2004, The J Paul Getty Museum, Ages 9 to 12.
—Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.