Weakened by the Gallic sack of Rome in 390 BC, the Romans had suffered a stinging defeat by the Fidenates, who demanded that they hand over their wives and virgin daughters as hostages to secure a peace. Recounted in Plutarch's Life of Romulus (ca. AD 75), Philotis proposed that she and other slave girls pretend to be the wives and daughters of the Roman families and present themselves to the hostile Latins.
After the Roman senate agreed to the plan, the women dressed up elegantly, wearing golden jewelry, and visited the enemy camp. There they seduced the Latins into revelry and drinking. After they had fallen asleep, Philotis and the other slaves stole the enemy's swords. Philotis climbed a wild fig tree (caprificus), hiding a torch within her mantle, then brandished it to signal the Romans. The Romans then invaded the Latin camp and killed them in their sleep. The women were rewarded with freedom and a dowry at public expenses.