zaterdag 1 mei 2010

Types of Marriage

The first and most traditional type of marriage was called confarreatio. This was a marriage limited to patricians whose parents were also married with confarreatio. The wedding was an elaborate ceremony with the Flamen Dialis and Pontifex Maximus presiding, as well as ten witnesses present. The woman passed directly from the manus of her paterfamilias to that of her new husband. Divorce for confarreatio marriages, diffarreatio, was a difficult process and therefore rare.

Not much is known about how diffarreatio was carried out except that there was a special type of sacrifice that caused the dissolution of the relationship between the man and woman. She would then pass back into the manus of her paterfamilias.

The second and more common type of marriage with manus was called coemptio.
It represented a "bride purchase," as the groom paid nummus usus, a penny, and received the bride in exchange. While this purchase was not a real sale, it symbolized the traditional bride purchases of earlier societies. Only five witnesses were required and the wedding ceremony was much less formala than confarreatio, but the bride still passed to her husband's manus.

A third type of marriage is a bit more unusual and was obsolete by the end of the Republic. Usus was a practical marriage that did not require an actual wedding ceremony; it was a transfer to the manus of the husband by default after cohabitation. There was probably some honorable intention stated at the beginning of the cohabitation, an adfectus maritalis. The only requirement for an usus marriage was that the man and woman cohabitate for one full year. The woman would then pass into her husband's manus. There was one loophole, however. If, within that year, the woman was away for three consecutive nights, she would not pass into the manus of her husband.

There were also marital unions that did not require the women to pass into her husband's manus. One, for instance, was free marriage. The wife would retain her independence as filiafamilias to her paterfamilias. If the father was dead, and had so stipulated in his will, she would be suae iuris, responsible for herself. She, under suae iuris, could then manage her own property and even initiate a divorce. Concubinatus was another alternative to marriage. A concubine, or paelex, was a woman who had regular sexual relations with a married man. Often the man and his paelex would live together, but without the adfectus maritalis that characterized usus marriages. Children of this type of union were not legitimate, indicating that the relationship was not itself legitimate. If, however, the couple did have adfectus maritalis and there were no legal disqualifications to marriage, the relationship could become a matrimonium.

a. The Flamen Dialis and Pontifex Maximus, for instance, were not required at the wedding ceremony for coemptio marriages.

(Courtesy of Mrs. J.J.Goodall Powers.)

The Mausoleum of Augustus

Pour me a double measure, of Falernian, Callistus,
and you Alcimus, melt over it summer snows,
let my sleek hair be soaked with excess of perfume,
my brow be wearied beneath the sewn-on rose.
The Mausoleum tells us to live, that one nearby,
it teaches us that the gods themselves can die.

Martialis.Book V:64.

IMacrobius relates anecdotes concerning various people:

Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius was a Roman grammarian and neoplatonic philosopher during the reign of Honorius and Arcadius (395-423)

The most important of his works is the Saturnalia, containing an account of the discussions held at the house of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus (praetorian prefect from May 21 - Sept. 9, A.D. 384) during the holiday of the Saturnalia starting on December 17. It was written by the author for the benefit of his son Eustathius (or Eustachius)

1.Sulla’s son Faustus hearing that his sister was having an affair with two lovers at the same time, with Fulvius (a fuller’s son) and Pompeius surnamed Macula (a stain), declared: “I am surprised to find my sister with a stain, seeing that she has the services of a fuller.”

2.Servilius Geminus happened to be dining at the house of Lucius Mallius, who was held to be the best portrait painter in Rome and, noticing how misshapen his host’s sons were, observed: “Your modelling, Mallius, does not come up to your painting.” “Naturally,” replied Mallius, “for the modelling is done in the dark but the painting by daylight.”

3.Marcus Otacilius Pitholaus, on the occasion of the consulship of Caninius Revilus which lasted only one day remarked: “We used to have Priest of the Day but now we have consuls of a day.
(The point of the jest is the punning reference to the Priests of Jupiter (or Diespiter, i.e.”Father of the Day”; (see Aulus Gellius 5.12), who was known as the Flamen Dialis, and to the connection of the word Dialis with dies, “day.”)

4.Macrob. puts Symmachus the following verse by Plato in de mouth.
While with parted lips I was kissing my love and drawing his sweet fragrant breath from his open mouth, my poor, my lovesick, wounded soul rushed to my lips as it strove to find a way to pass between my open mouth and my love’s soft lips. Then, had the kiss been, even for a little while, prolonged, my soul, smitten with love’s fire, would have passed through and left me; and (a marvel this!) I should be dead- but alive within my love.

5.The lawyer Cascellius has a reputation for a remarkable outspoken wit, and here is one of his best-known quips. Vatinius had been stoned by the populace at a gladiatorial show which he was giving, and so he prevailed on the aediles to make a proclamation forbidding the throwing of anything but fruit into the arena. Now it so happened that Cascellius at that time was asked by a client to advise whether a fir cone was a fruit or not, and his reply was:” If you propose to throw one at Vatinius, it is.”

6.Then there is the story that, when a merchant asked him how to split a ship with a partner he replied:” If you split the ship, it will be neither yours nor your partner’s.”

7.A jest that went the rounds was one directed by Marcus Lollius at the distinguished speaker Galba, who (as I have already remarked) was hampered by a bodily deformity:” Galba’s intellectual ability is ill housed.”

8.To others who used to play at ball with him Gaius Caesar had made a gift of a hundred thousand sesterces, but Lucius Caecilius got only fifty thousand. “ What is the meaning of this?” said Caecilius, “ Do I play with only one hand?”

9.When Publius Clodius told Decimus Laberius that he was angry with him for refusing to produce a mime for him at his request, Laberius said:” What of it? All that you can do is to give me a return passage to Dyrrachium”
(– a mocking allusion to Cicero’s exile.)

VIII. THE STIFF UPPER LIP (To Lesbia, by Valerius Catullus

Poor Catullus! Cease your madness!
Realise that love is dead.
Once your days were gay with gladness
As you followed where she led.

Never will another lady
Know such great abiding love:
In those gardens, cool and shady,
With the bright blue sky above.

Did you voice your burning passion
As you whiled the hours away,
And your lady, in her fashion,
Lured you on, nor said you nay?

Now, her lovely self denying,
Cease to seek her, cease to mourn;
Turn your thought away from dying,
Slave of passion, all forlorn!

Be courageous in your sorrow.
Bear your loss with constant mind.
Haply you will meet to-morrow
Someone else as sweet and kind.

Farewell, Lady! Now your poet,
Strong once more, resumes his task.
He'll not seek you; now you know it,
Nor your languid favours ask!

Some day you'll be sad and lonely -
What remains in life for you?
None will think you lovely - only
Fear the things they know you do.

Who would take the love you offer?
No man's mistress will you be!
And, Catullus, though she proffer
Peace, stand firm in enmity!

English verse by
J.A.B. HARRISSON MBE DSC (1909-1983)