PIETAS, in Roman mythology, the personification of the sense of duty towards God and man and the fatherland. According to a well-known story, a young woman in humble circumstances, whose father (or mother) was lying in prison under sentence of death, without food, managed to gain admittance, and fed her parent with milk from her breast. To commemorate her filial affection a temple was dedicated (181 B.C.) by Manius Acilius Glabrio to Pietas in the Forum Holitorium at Rome, on the spot where the young woman had formerly lived. The temple was probably originally vowed by the elder Glabrio out of gratitude for the pietas shown during the engagement by his son, who may have saved his life, as the elder Africanus that of his father at the battle of Ticinus (Livy xxi. 46); the legend of the young woman (borrowed from the Greek story of Mycon and Pero, Val. Max. v. 4, ext. i) was then connected with the temple by the identification of its site with that of the prison. There was another temple of Pietas near the Circus Flaminius, which is connected by Amatucci (Rivista di storia antica, 1903) with the story of the pietas of C. Flaminius (Val. Max. v. 4, 5), and regarded by him as the real seat of the cult of the goddess, the Pietas of the sanctuary dedicated by Glabrio being a Greek goddess. Pietas is represented on coins as a matron throwing incense on an altar, her attribute being a stork. Typical examples of " piety " are Aeneas and Antoninus Pius, who founded games called Eusebeia at Puteoli in honour of Hadrian.
See Val. Max. v. 4, 7; Pliny, Nat. hist. vii. 121; Livy xl. 34; Festus, s.v. ; G. Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Romer (1902); F. Kuntze, " Die Legende von der guten Tochter," in Jahrbucher fur das klassische Altertum (1904), xiii. 280.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)