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termed) for the dissolution of the marriage union; and the separation was effected, unaccompanied by other solemnities than a mere message, or letter, sent by a slave. This was termed a renunciation, because conveyed by a nuntius, or messenger.
At first, indeed, additional circumstances were observed. It was necessary to give a Bill containing the reasons of the separation, and the tender of all the woman's goods which had been brought in marriage, (called repudium mittere,) or it was preferred in her presence, before seven witnesses, and accompanied by tearing the writings, refunding the portion, and taking away the keys. The woman was then removed from the house. These witnesses were to be Roman citizens of the age of puberty, and the Bill of Divorce was to be after a certain carmen, or form of words; “Res tuas tibi habeto, &c. item hæc,” “ Tuas res tibi agito : in repudiis, id est, renunciatione comprobatâ, hæc sunt verba ;)" but in the event of one betrothed, as in the Jewish law also, an opportunity was given of breaking off the contract, and in that case the words varied : " In sponsalibus autem discutiendis placuit renunciationem intervenire oportere, in quâ re hæc verba probata sunt ;" “ Conditione tuâ non utor.”
To the period of Ruga many writers assign the origin of the Roman marriage contracts, introduced, as they who trace them thither state, for the purpose of securing the portions of the women as Divorces became more frequent.
Frequent they did, indeed, become, and for the slightest causes possible. The instances which immediately occur to the classical reader amply prove this.
C. Sulpitius Gallus repudiated his wife because he had seen her abroad with her head uncovered. Q. Austilius Vetus, because his wife conversed with women of low condition. P. Sempronius Sophus, because his wife had been seen at a public show. Cæsar dismissed his wife, and alleged, when inquiry was made into the cause of it, that he would not have the wife of Cæsar even suspected of such a crime. Nero dismissed Octavia for her sterility; and Augustus put away one of his wives because he did not like her temper. Sometimes they separated when they were tired of each other. This was called a Divorce boná gratiâ; a repudium sine ulla querela ; perhaps the Consul Æmilius is an instance of this ; he dismissed a handsome and fruitful wife, and would assign no reason for it. The women were equally prompt in availing themselves of the liberty. Seneca's reflection upon them is very severe. He declares, they calculated their age, not by the number of consuls, but by the number of husbands they had had. *
The most ordinary causes of Divorce were, barrenness, age, disease, madness, and banishment. On Coriolanus going to his exile, when he parted with his wife, he intreated her to marry again, and to find a man happier than himself.
One kind of marriage among the Romans, was not dissoluble; it was called the farracia, from marriage being the communion of far, Gea, the ordinary food of the ancient Romans.t The rest were too easily broken; and the remedies proposed for the increasing moral evils which arose in consequence, were as inadequate in their nature, as they were tardy
*“ Illustres quædam ac nobiles fæminæ, non consulum numero, sed maritorum, annos suos computant, et exeunt matrimonii causâ, et nubunt repudii.”
Sen. de Benef. lib. iii. Op. tom. 2. p. 418. This word eweunt, is stated to be critically accurate, as it formed part of the phraseology of the dismissal, at least, according to Juvenal : “ Collige sarcinulas, dicet libertus, et exi.”
Juvenal, Sat. vi. + Dion. Halicar. ii. 93.
in their application. The goddes Viriplaca, “ the appeaser of men,” was resorted to, in order to adjust the causes of complaint; but it is sufficient to have analyzed her name, to exempt her from any imputation of impartiality. The Censors and the Prætors were also employed in these matters..
Valerius Maximus relates an instance of the former expelling a Senator for unreasonably dismissing his virgin spouse ; but it was not until Augustus, who united in himself both the Censor and the Prætor, that this licence of Divorce was effectually restrained.*
By a construction of crime, in that period peculiar to himself, he termed Adultery an infraction of the laws of majesty, and made it high treason. According to this principle, he accused his daughter and grand-daughter, and punished all their gallants with death or exile. There might be motives of policy influencing this construction, sufficiently powerful to have dictated even harsher measures. These gallants were numerous, and were men of consideration, of whom, the reigning Emperor felt no little jealousy, and this was a . ready and plausible mode of removing them from his sight.
* Valerius Maximus. lib. i. cap. 19.
But this last clause brings us near the third branch of the Essay, the laws of the New Testament. We have passed over the Greek and Roman laws, and a single remark may be necessary to review the whole It will then appear from the passages referred to, that the punishments annexed to the crime of Adultery have exceedingly varied in the severity of their nature, according to the views entertained by the legislators and the people, of the crime itself. Some have regarded it as a capital offence, others as venial ; and the penalties have in consequence either been so rigorous as to amount to cruelty, or so ridiculous as to excite a smile. Sometimes death has been the visitation of a crime, which has inflicted a misery, worse than death, on the injured party.* Sometimes the loss of the eyes, as the avenues through which the temptation entered; sometimes the loss of the offending member; at others, only slight pecuniary mulcts, or personal inflictions of the oddest character, mutilation, castration, sometimes compulsorily self-inflicted, and the excision of the ears or nose. The punishments have not only strangely varied, but have been
* Toons turouan
- de un, Davey Xpewn.