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conducted her to his home * This detail, however, by no means completes the catalogue of wrongs to which women were subject in Greece and Italy. According to the grave and deliberate sentence of Cato Major, if a husband detected the adultery of his wife, he might secretly put her to death without subjecting himself to the hazard of punishment; but the wife was to respect the adulterous husband too much to disclose, even by the slightest intimation, the contumacy and the desertion of which she had reason to complain t. Or, if she were permitted to detail the evidences of his guilt,' her accusation was to be confined within a narrow circle. She herself was liable to the charge and the penalty of adultery, for every act of incontinence; but her husband, indulged with ample and profligate, liberty, might safely and freely associate with the most corrupt of the sex; and, in the age of cour- , tezans, an intercourse with a married woman alone rendered him an adulterer, and exposed him to a divorce I
# Plutarch. In Vit. Alcibiad. t« In adulterio uxorem tuam si deprehendisses, sine indice impune necares; illa, si adulteraris, digito non auderet contingere." Aul. Gell. lib. X. C. 13.
# This was one of the laws of Solon. By many of the Greek and Latin writers, the libertinism allowed by the laws is not merely, tolerated but praised. The censor Cato speaks of it with high approbation, as a privilege sanctioned by necessity and utility:
Quidam notus homo, cum exiret fornice, macte
Hor. Sat. lib. i. Sat. ii. 31.
The husband, therefore, had little to apprehend from any appeal of his wife to the protection and justice of the laws. But it was not enough to countenance and justify his domestie despotism by law, and to enable him to transfer his wife, as he pleased, to the temporary possession of a friend. He was also to be endowed with an authority extending beyond the grave. She who had lived in subjection to him during his life, was to be obedient to whatever disposition he might make of her person by his will. The expiring husband might supply a successor to his connubial rights by the capricious or arbitrary election of his last moments; and even a slave might be thus legally selected to occupy the bed, as well as to enjoy the property, of his departed master*
The law of divorce, though of little avail to the wife, served only to afford a libertine licence to the husband. There was here no limit but will to his power, The most innocent was as liable as the most guilty wife, to the shame and misery of a sudden dismissal. In a moment the whole fabric of domestic felicity might be dashed down. The endearment of one
Cicero affirms that this licence, instead of being offensive to morals, was perfectly consistent with the ancient customs and constitutions of the state. “ Quando enim hoc factum non est ? Quando reprehensum? Quando non permissum ? Quando denique fuit, ut quod licet non liceret.” Orat. Pro Cæl. c. 29.
Husbands at Athens associated so rarely with their wives, that it became necessary, in the opinion of the legislator, to prescribe the attentions which domestic duty required.
• The father of Demosthenes bequeathed his wife to a future husband; and Demosthenes himself justifies the will by which the slave Phormio was put in possession of the property and wife of his deceased master. Orat. In Aphob.
hour might be succeeded by the alienation of another, and alienation might indulge its caprice without limitation or reserve. A new smile exciting a new passion, a contemptible whim, a fancied offence, might be fatal to the peace of an entire household; and the tranquillity of families, built upon a foundation of sand, was every moment in danger of being overthrown. This facility of divorce extended itself from the highest to the lowest stations, and influences all the morals and manners of life. We are perpetually disgusted with the authenticated details of vile and wanton, or cruel and remorseless repudiation. We see Cicero, the author of the most moral treatise of antiquity, dismissing his wife Terentia, without a crime, after he had lived with her for thirty years.
We see Marcus Brutus, the stoic, separating himself from Claudia without remorse, though her fidelity was not to be impeachedt. We see the Patrician Dolobella parting with one
* He had an apology. She did not, in his opinion, grieve sufficiently for the death of her daughter Tullia; and hence, though she entreated, in the most submissive manner, to be permitted to see him, he sent her a divorce. Cicer. Epist. ad Attic. epist. 13, 32, 34, 47. But he did not remain long unmarried. The young Publilia soon-supplied the place of the more aged Terentia. Epist. Familiar. epist. 4, 14. Nor does Terentia appear much to have lamented her loss. She lived to the age of one hundred and three years; and Cicero was succeeded by three husbands, whose blandishments may have consoled her for the cruelty of the orator. The last of her husbands was consul in the reign of Tiberius ; and it was his boast, that he possessed two things which had belonged to the greatest men of the age before him-Cicero's wife and Cæsar's chair. Valer. Max. 8, 13. Plin. Hist. Nat. 7, 48. Dion. Cass.
+ Brutus fell in love with Portia. That was enough. Cicer. Lett. ad Attic. 13, 9, &c.
wife that he might take another, who had liberated herself from her second husband by divorce, probably for the purpose of this new marriage * And the catalogue may be aptly closed with Pompey, the boast at one time of his country, who divorced himself from his wife Antistia, under circumstances of the vilest ingratitude, that he might consult his interest or his passion by marrying a woman who was then living with her husband t. Of these enormities of practice, sanctioned by this conveniency of law, the details might be easily enlarged; but enough has appeared to prove with what facility men of the first rank, and sometimes of the highest character, availed themselves of the powers of divorce; and how little the cruel indifference was condemned with which the most innocent wife was dismissed by him in whom she should have found the love, the protection, and the guardianship of a husband.
Under laws so vile and so corrupt, marriage became, not a union of felicity, but an institution to be violated at will by caprice or crime; and it was soon found that the tolerated vices of one sex were, at length, abundantly to provoke the vices of another. The tales told by the historian, of the infamies which derived their aliment from such a system, and pervaded society, are scarcely credible. The most sensual of the passions was indulged with a profligacy which openly laughed at purity of manners, and with a fury which no shame could modify or limit. Marriage was regarded by both sexes with undisguised aversion; and, however it might be contracted from interest or from convenience, was seldom considered as a restraint * Women learned to vie with men in their applications for divorce, and there were some who computed their years of womanhood, not by the number of consuls, but of husbands t. The Epigram of Martial, and the Satire of Juvenal, were pointed against this spreading plague, with a just and ardent indignation ; but the arrow was sped in vain † The hardihood of vice was obdurate and invulnerable. The slightest disgust, the least obstruction to her passions or follies, the wantonness of change, the levity and libertinism of a moment, were quite sufficient to avert the wife from the husband, and to induce her to recur to the easy remedy of repudiation. Accordingly, there
* Cicer. Epist. Famil. 2, 15. Ad Attic. 6, 7. + The father of Antistia was put to death on account of his attachment to Pompey. The mother, shocked by the disgrace of her daughter, destroyed herself. Plut. In Pomp. Middleton, Life of Cicero, vol. ii. 45. The lady who was to be honoured by this new espousal was Livia, the daughter of Cicero.
* Valer. Max. lib. vi. c. 3. + Non consulum numero, sed maritorum annos suos computant. Sen. de Benefic. lib. iii. c. 16. # Julia lex populis, ex quo, Faustine, renata est;
Atque intrare domos jussa pudicitia est :
Et nubit decimo jam Thelesina viro.
Mart. Epigram. lib. vi. 7. Juvenal is more indignant:
Jamque eadem summis pariter minimisque libido,
Sat. vi. line 348. The whole Satire is a fierce but most indecent invective on the reigning vices of the sex. The poet suffers his language to be tainted by the impurity of his subject.
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