Although it may seem strange and unacceptable, “breastfeeding the father” is a phenomenon that influenced the painting of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and is recognized as the deepest definition of the relationship between the daughter and the parents.

The terrible image was first projected in the writings of Valeriu Maximus, “Facta et dictta memorabilia”, in the year 30 AD. The Roman author relates the story of Mycona, an old prisoner and sentenced to die of starvation, and his daughter, Perus , which uses a radical method to save his father.

The young woman asks the guard’s permission to visit her father daily. Inexplicably, although Perus entered the cell with empty hands, the convict resisted hunger. The woman was tracked and so the guards learned that Perus was breastfeeding her father. The young woman’s deeds were seen as a supreme sacrifice from her daughter’s love, and Mycona was released.

The father’s breastfeeding became a symbol. Maximus’s fable influenced mankind, and the image of the daughter with the father at the breast was immortalized on clay objects and medallions worn with pride. The art of painting, was strongly influenced. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, over 30 painters tried to immortalize on the canvas the perfect image defining the paternal-filial relationships.

One of the first paintings belongs to the painter Pedro Pablo Rubens, a painting painted in 1612 and which today is housed in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

The history itself, mentions that a painting with the same theme, found in a house in the city of Pompeii, presumably was used for educational purposes, to teach children about the power of sacrifice and the importance of parents in their lives.

The Roman symbol of the supreme sacrifice: Breastfeeding of the father