Daughter breastfeeds prisoned father and gets immortalised!

11:55 pm | | Comments 8

This is the Memmelocke Statue at Botermarkt 17 in Ghent, Belgium. A classical sculpture on the top of a building which was once the entrance to the city prison and also the wardens house. This building is located between the Belfry and the Lakenhelle. In the crypt of the Lakenhelle the city jail was housed for almost 150 years from 1742 to 1902.

Memmelocke Statue1

This sculpture depicts a scene from a Roman legend that tells how a prisoner was condemned to death by starvation and thirst. The man was thrown into a dungeon by the Roman prefect in Ghent. Only his daughter was allowed to visit her. But she was not allowed to take any food or drink to her father. Daughter was an adult. The father remained alive still after six months. Apparently the daughter had just become a mother. In attempt to save her father’s life she breastfed him daily with her milk. It is said that prefect was so moved by the incident that he released the man free. The story became a legend. This statue was built in 1741, an year before the city prison was shifted here. Statue was designed by David’t KIndt.

Memmelocke Statue2

Interestingly there are many similar legends. Roman charity is the story of a woman Pero who secretly breastfeeds her father Cimon after he is incarcerated and sentenced to death by starvation. This story is recorded in Nine Books of Memorable Acts and Sayings of the Ancient Romans, by ancient Roman historian Valerius Maximus, Among the Romans the theme had mythological echoes in Juno’s breastfeeding of the adult Hercules. This story of Cimon is predated by another similar story of a jailed plebeian woman who was nursed by her daughter. This particular legend has been a subject of many known painters and sculptors for past five centuries or more.

Intersting! Isn’t it!!


  1. A great story on daughter and father!

    1. swamiupendra says:

      Yes indeed. Thanks!

  2. Ami Bhat says:

    Very interesting indeed. Had not heard of this legend before. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. swamiupendra says:

      True. I too came to know of it only when I reached outside that building in Ghent.

  3. David Bensley says:

    What a legendary story!

    1. swamiupendra says:

      That’s true David.

  4. Ajay Swarup says:

    There’s a similar sculpture in the Prado Museum, Madrid. And it’s at eye level.

    1. swamiupendra says:

      Very interesting. This one is at the top of the entrance of the building and is quite high from the eye-level.

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