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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Quae semel materfamilias quae saepius peperit


[Footnote

115: Dionys. Hal. l. ii. p. 92, 93. Plutarch, in Numa, p. 140-141.]

[Footnote 116: Among the winter frunenta, the triticum, or bearded wheat; the siligo, or the unbearded; the far, adorea, oryza, whose description perfectly tallies with the rice of Spain and Italy. I adopt this identity on the credit of M. Paucton in his useful and laborious Metrologie, (p. 517--529.)]

[Footnote 117: Aulus Gellius (Noctes Atticae, xviii. 6) gives a ridiculous definition of Aelius Melissus, Matrona, quae semel materfamilias quae saepius peperit, as porcetra and scropha in the sow kind. He then adds the genuine meaning, quae in matrimonium vel in manum convenerat.]

[Footnote 118: It was enough to have tasted wine, or to have stolen the key of the cellar, (Plin. Hist. Nat. xiv. 14.)]

[Footnote 119: Solon requires three payments per month. By the Misna, a daily debt was imposed on an idle, vigorous, young husband; twice a week on a citizen; once on a peasant; once in thirty days on a camel-driver; once in six months on a seaman. But the student or doctor was free from tribute; and no wife, if she received a weekly sustenance, could sue for a divorce; for one week a vow of abstinence was allowed. Polygamy divided, without multiplying, the duties of the husband, (Selden, Uxor Ebraica, l. iii. c 6, in his works, vol ii. p. 717--720.)]

After

the Punic triumphs, the matrons of Rome aspired to the common benefits of a free and opulent republic: their wishes were gratified by the indulgence of fathers and lovers, and their ambition was unsuccessfully resisted by the gravity of Cato the Censor. [120] They declined the solemnities of the old nuptiais; defeated the annual prescription by an absence of three days; and, without losing their name or independence, subscribed the liberal and definite terms of a marriage contract. Of their private fortunes, they communicated the use, and secured the property: the estates of a wife could neither be alienated nor mortgaged by a prodigal husband; their mutual gifts were prohibited by the jealousy of the laws; and the misconduct of either party might afford, under another name, a future subject for an action of theft. To this loose and voluntary compact, religious and civil rights were no longer essential; and, between persons of a similar rank, the apparent community of life was allowed as sufficient evidence of their nuptials. The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians, who derived all spiritual grace from the prayers of the faithful and the benediction of the priest or bishop. The origin, validity, and duties of the holy institution were regulated by the tradition of the synagogue, the precepts of the gospel, and the canons of general or provincial synods; [121] and the conscience of the Christians was awed by the decrees and censures of their ecclesiastical rulers. Yet the magistrates of Justinian were not subject to the authority of the church: the emperor consulted the unbelieving civilians of antiquity, and the choice of matrimonial laws in the Code and Pandects, is directed by the earthly motives of justice, policy, and the natural freedom of both sexes. [122]


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