Once the last dying Niobid fell to the ground, mortally wounded, “all, reclaim’d by this example, show’d / A due regard for each peculiar God: / Both men, and women their devoirs express’d, / And great Latona’s awful pow’r confess’d”. With these words Ovid, in Book the Sixth of his “Metamorphoses”, ends the story of how Niobe’s seven sons and seven daughters were killed by Phoebus and Diana by order of their mother, Latona. Niobe had offended her by boasting of her fourteen children, and Latona sent her own two to take her revenge.
The dying Niobid represents one of Niobe’s seven daughters, struck by the gods’ fatal arrows, as she attempts to remove the dart from her back. It is an original Greek statue, likely dating back to the 5th century and brought to Rome under Augustus. It was found in 1906, near the Horti Sallustiani – the extensive gardens built by historian Sallust in the 1st century, in the area between the Pincian and Quirinal Hills.
It is currently at the National Museum of Rome in Palazzo Massimo.