Gaius Mucius Scaevola
Scaevola, Gaius Mucius
in ancient Rome, a legendary hero of the Roman struggle against the Etruscans in the late sixth and early fifth centuries B.C.
According to legend, the youth Gaius Mucius was assigned to infiltrate the Etruscan camp and kill the king Porsena. He was seized, however. Threatening him with torture, Porsena demanded that he betray his coconspirators. To prove his indifference to pain and death, Gaius Mucius put his right hand into the fire and stood silently as his hand burned. The legend may have arisen to explain the cognomen Scaevola (literally, “the lefthanded”), which became linked with one branch of the Mucius family.