According to the Roman historian Livy the story begins in 509 BC during the Roman siege of Ardea, when the principal men of the army met in the tent of Sextus Tarquinius, son of the tyrant Lucius Tarquinius the Proud, and began talking about the virtues of their wives. They all then set out for Rome, intending to surprise their wives and, thus, test what they had been saying. Only Collatinus found his wife, Lucretia, spinning quietly at home with her maids. The other ladies were found dancing and reveling. The men then gave Collatinus the victory and returned to camp.
A few days later, Sextus Tarquinius, inflamed with desire by Lucretia\'s virtue returned to Rome, where he was welcomed by Lucretia by reason of his friendship with her husband. When she was alone, Sextus went to her bedchamber and threatened to kill her if she did not yield to him. She resisted, but he threatened to kill both her and a male slave and place their naked bodies together so it would appear that she had been caught in adultery. Fearing this form of disgrace, she yielded to him and afterwards took her own life, revealing of the misdeed in a letter.
Outraged by this injustice, Lucretia\'s brother Lucius Junius Brutus incited the people of Rome against the royal family by displaying her body, which resulted in overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the Roman republic.