The Life of Decius Mus series depicts Decius Mus and Titus Manilus leading the Roman Armies against the Ltins at Capua (340-338 BC). Both consuls had a dream in which a giant predicted that the leader of the one people and the army of the other would be sacrificed to the underworld. Consequently, one of the two leaders had to be prepared to die should the army of the adversary suffer defeat. The story was portrayed as an example of patriotism. The set usually consisted of about eight panels, although series exist with as many as fourteen tapestries, though some clearly not designed by the same hand.
The set was first commissioned by Franco Cattaneo for a group of Geonese nobleman on 9 November 1616 from the studio of Jan Raes the elder (d.1631) and Frans Sweerts. The contract stated that Rubens was to make the patterns, but also to judge the qulity of the weaving which would have an effect on the price of the tapestries. (D. Heinz, Europaïsche Tapisseriekunst des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, vienna, 1995, pp. 40-42, and G. Delmarcel et.al Rubenstextiel, ex. cat., Antwerp, 1997, p. 39-47.
Jacob II Geubel, from a weaver dynasty that was established circa 1550, is first mentioned in 1621 and last in 1629 while his wife is listed as a widow by 1633. Jacob II, as well as his father, Jacob I and his wife, often collaborated with the workshop of Jan II and III Raes.
A set of eight tapestries from this series with nearly identical borders, woven by Jan II Raes and Jacob II Geubels remains in the Spanish Royal Collection (P. Junquera de Vega and C. Diaz Gallegos, Catologo de Tapices de Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1986, vol II, cat. 52, pp. 89-97, this subject woven by Raes on p. 96), while another in the same collectionis woven by Katherine van den Eynde (d. 1620), widow of Jacob I Geubels (d.1605) and is illustrated in Vega, op.cit, cat. 53, pp. 98-103.