Rubens is a singer of love of life in its most primordial, deepest manifestation, not recognizing the framework, conventions and stupid rules imposed on man by society. Paradoxically, he also examines the plot of “Roman love of the Roman woman” through the prism of his perception of the world.
... The father of the young Perot was imprisoned for a crime which, over the past years, can no longer be called. Since he was a man of high class, he was not fed to animals and hanged, but decided to give him a “silent death” from hunger, and his daughters were allowed to go after him - to wash, change the straw on which he slept, entertain him with conversation. Grieved by the fate of her father, she, who had just recently given birth to a son, began to breastfeed the old man; for her it was the only way to support his strength.
When after a few months the judges inquired about the fate of Kiron, they were told that the old man was still alive. Having ordered to follow Perot (they thought that she was somehow hiding food, taking it to the cell), the judges were puzzled by the report. On the one hand, according to the canons of Roman law, breastfeeding of an adult was recognized as an act akin to incest, and therefore subject to capital punishment.
On the other hand, the judges were also human, and the dedication of a young girl who put her life at risk for her father’s life touched them. After long meetings, they made a decision: Kiron, together with her daughter, was released.
It's amazing how simple Rubens shows the climax of the legend. The old man is chained to the wall, lies on a straw. A girl, full-blooded, young, with a businesslike and thoughtful face, feeds him, as she fed, must have her own little son.
Around them is the dusk of the prison cell, but there is no hopelessness in the scene, nor fear for life. On the contrary, life triumphs, the girl’s face is illuminated by the light that comes from nowhere, and what is happening does not seem either a sin or an unnatural abomination, therefore it comes from the noblest of feelings - mercy.
Bar In Foley Berger