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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

1341 By this epithet of natural


was a woman of servile or plebeian extraction, the sole and faithful companion of a Roman citizen, who continued in a state of celibacy. Her modest station, below the honors of a wife, above the infamy of a prostitute, was acknowledged and approved by the laws: from the age of Augustus to the tenth century, the use of this secondary marriage prevailed both in the West and East; and the humble virtues of a concubine were often preferred to the pomp and insolence of a noble matron. In this connection, the two Antonines, the best of princes and of men, enjoyed the comforts of domestic love: the example was imitated by many citizens impatient of celibacy, but regardful of their families. If at any time they desired to legitimate their natural children, the conversion was instantly performed by the celebration of their nuptials with a partner whose faithfulness and fidelity they had already tried. [1341] By this epithet of natural, the offspring of the concubine were distinguished from the spurious brood of adultery, prostitution, and incest, to whom Justinian reluctantly grants the necessary aliments of life; and these natural children alone were capable of succeeding to a sixth part of the inheritance of their reputed father. According to the rigor of law, bastards were entitled only to the name and condition of their mother, from whom they might derive the character of a slave, a stranger, or a citizen. The outcasts of every family were adopted without reproach as the children of the state. [135] [1351]

[Footnote 132: The principles of the Roman jurisprudence are exposed by Justinian, (Institut. t. i. tit. x.;) and the laws and manners of the different nations of antiquity concerning forbidden degrees, &c., are copiously explained by Dr. Taylor in his Elements of Civil Law, (p. 108, 314--339,) a work of amusing, though various reading; but which cannot be praised for philosophical precision.]

[Footnote 1321: According to the earlier law, (Gaii Instit. p. 27,) a man might marry his niece on the brother's, not on the sister's, side. The emperor Claudius set the example of the former. In the Institutes, this distinction was abolished and both declared illegal.--M.]

[Footnote 133: When her father Agrippa died, (A.D. 44,) Berenice was sixteen years of age, (Joseph. tom. i. Antiquit. Judaic. l. xix. c. 9, p. 952, edit. Havercamp.) She was therefore above fifty years old when Titus (A.D. 79) invitus invitam invisit. This date would not have adorned the tragedy or pastoral of the tender Racine.]

[Footnote 134: The Aegyptia conjux of Virgil (Aeneid, viii. 688) seems to be numbered among the monsters who warred with Mark Antony against Augustus, the senate, and the gods of Italy.]

[Footnote 1341: The Edict of Constantine first conferred this right; for Augustus had prohibited the taking as a concubine a woman who might be taken as a wife; and if marriage took place afterwards, this marriage made no change in the rights of the children born before it; recourse was then had to adoption, properly called arrogation.--G.]

[Footnote 135: The humble but legal rights of concubines and natural children are stated in the Institutes, (l. i. tit. x.,) the Pandects, (l. i. tit. vii.,) the Code, (l. v. tit. xxv.,) and the Novels, (lxxiv. lxxxix.) The researches of Heineccius and Giannone, (ad Legem Juliam et Papiam-Poppaeam, c. iv. p. 164-175. Opere Posthume, p. 108--158) illustrate this interesting and domestic subject.]


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