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woman's club, which called itself conventus matronarum and gathered together the dames of the great families. Finally, it is certain that many times in critical moments the government turned directly and officially to the great ladies of Rome for help to overcome the dangers that menaced public affairs, by collecting money, or imploring with solemn religious ceremonies the favor of the gods.
One understands then, how at all times there were at Rome women much interested in public affairs. The fortunes of the powerful families, their glory, their dominance, their wealth, depended on the vicissitudes of politics and of war. The heads of these families were all statesmen, diplomats, warriors; the more intelligent and cultivated the wife, and the fonder she was of her husband, the intenser the absorption with which she must have followed the fortunes of politics, domestic and foreign; for with these were bound up many family interests, and often even the life of her husband.
Was the Roman family, then, the reader will demand at this point, in everything like the family of contemporary civilization ? Have we returned upon the long trail to the point reached by our far-away forebears?
From the statue found at Pompeii. Now in the Museo Nazionale, Naples
THE ROMAN THEORY OF EUMACHIA, A PUBLIC PRIESTESS OF ANCIENT ROME
No. If there are resemblances have record of the assembling and of dem- between the modern family and the Roman, onstrations made by the richest women of there are also crucial differences. Although Rome in the Forum and other public the Roman was disposed to allow woman places, to obtain laws and other provisions judicial and economic independence, a refrom the magistrates, like that famous fined culture, and that freedom without demonstration of women that Livy de- which it is impossible to enjoy life in digscribes as having occurred in the year nified and noble fashion, he was never ready 195 B.C., to secure the abolition of the to recognize in the way modern civilization Oppian Law against luxury.
does more or less openly, as ultimate end What more? We have good reason and reason for marriage, either the personal for holding that already under the re- happiness of the contracting parties or public there existed at Rome a kind of their common personal moral development in the unifying of their characters and aspirations. The purpose of marriage was, so to speak, exterior to the pair. As untouched by any spark of the metaphysical spirit as he was unyielding-at least in actionto every suggestion of the philosophic; preoccupied only in enlarging and consolidating the state of which he was master, the Roman aristocrat never regarded matrimony and the family, just as he never regarded religion and law, as other than instruments for political domination, as means for increasing and establishing the power of every great family, and by family affiliations to strengthen the association of the aristocracy, already bound together by political interest.
For this reason, although the Roman conceded many privileges and recognized many rights among women, he never went so far as to think that a woman of great family could aspire to the right of choosing her own husband. Custom, indeed, much restricted the young man also, at least in a first marriage. The choice rested with the fathers, who were accustomed to affiance their sons early, indeed, when mere boys. The heads of two friendly families would find themselves daily together in the struggle of the Forum and the Comitia, or in the deliberations of the Senate. Did the idea oc-' cur to both that their children, if affianced then, at seven or
THE SISTER OF M. NONIUS BALBUS eight years of age, might cement more closely the union of the two families, did the idea occur that by it violence was then straightway the matter was definitely done to the most intimate sentiment of libarranged. The little girl was brought up erty and independence that a human being with the idea that some day, as soon as can know. On the contrary, according to might be, she should marry that boy, just the common judgment, the well-governing as for two centuries in the famous houses of the state was being wisely provided for, of Catholic countries many of the daugh- and these alliances were destroying the
were brought up in the expecta- seeds of discord that spontaneously germition that one day they should take the nate in aristocracy and little by little deveil.
stroy it, like those plants sown by no man's Every one held this Roman practice as hand, which thrive upon old walls and reasonable, useful, equitable; to no one become their ruin.
This is why one knows of every famous pected and persecuted, among them young Roman personage how many wives he had Cæsar, who was in no way responsible for and of what family they were. The mar- the deeds of his uncle, since he was only riage of a Roman noble was a political act, a lad during the war between Sulla and and noteworthy; because a youth, or even Marius. a mature man, connecting himself with This explains how it was that the first certain families, came to assume more or wife of Cæsar, Cossutia, was the daughter less fully the political responsibilities in of a knight; that is, of a financier and revwhich, for one cause or another, they were enue-farmer. For a young man belonging involved. This was particularly true in to a family of ancient senatorial nobility, the last centuries of the republic, — that is, this marriage was little short of a mésalbeginning from the Gracchi,—when for liance; but it is easy to understand, if we the various reasons which I have set forth reflect that, toward 80 b.C., when the arisin my “Greatness and Decline of Rome,” tocratic reaction was in hot activity, it the Roman aristocracy divided into two was not easy for a senatorial family to inimical parties, one of which attempted give a daughter to the nephew of Marius. to rouse against the other the interests, the
It is known that Cossutia died when ambitions, and the cupidity, of the middle still very young, after only a few years of and lower classes. The two parties then married life, and that Cæsar's second marsought to reinforce themselves by matri- riage in the year 68 B.C., was quite differmonial alliances, and these followed the ent from his first, since the second wife, ups and downs of the political struggle Pompea, belonged to one of the noblest that covered Rome with blood. Of this families of the conservative aristocracyfact the story of Julius Cæsar is a most was, in fact, a niece of Sulla. How could curious proof.
the nephew of Marius, who had escaped as by miracle the proscriptions of Sulla,
ever have married the latter's niece? BeTHE MARRIAGES OF JULIUS CÆSAR
cause in the dozen years intervening beThe prime reason for Julius Cæsar's be
tween 80 and 68, the political situation coming the chief of the popular party is to had gradually grown calmer, and a new be found neither in his ambitions nor in air of conciliation had begun to blow his temperament, and even less in his po- through the city, troubled by so much conlitical opinions, but in his relationship to fusion, burying in oblivion the bloodiest Marius. An aunt of Cæsar had married records of the civil war, calling into fresh Caius Marius, the modest bankrupt farmer life admiration for Marius, that hero who of revenues, who, having entered politics, had conquered the Cimbri and the Teuhad become the first general of his time, tons. In that moment, to be a nephew of had been elected consul six times, and had Marius was no longer a crime among any conquered Jugurtha, the Cimbri, and the of the great families; for some, on the Teutons. The self-made man had become contrary, it was coming to be the beginfamous and rich, and in the face of an ning of glory. But that situation was aristocracy proud of its ancestors, had short-lived. After a brief truce, the two tried to ennoble his obscure origin by tak- parties again took up a bitter war, and for ing his wife from an ancient and most his third wife Cæsar chose Calpurnia, the noble, albeit impoverished and decayed, daughter of Lucius Calpurnius Piso, conpatrician family.
sul in 58, and a most influential senator of But when there broke out the revolu- the popular party. tion in which Marius placed himself at the head of the popular party, and the rev
THE INFLUENCE OF POLITICS ON olution was overcome by Sulla, the old aristocracy, which had conquered with Sulla, did not forgive the patrician family WHOEVER studies the history of the inof the Julii for having connected itself fluential personages of Cæsar's time, will with that bitter foe, who had made so find that their marriages follow the formuch mischief. Consequently, during the
tunes of the political situation. Where a period of the reaction, all its members purely political reason was wanting, there were looked upon askance, and were sus- was the economic. A woman could aid
powerfully a political career in two ways: son for this lay in the fact that for the by ably administering the household and aristocratic families, who were in possesby contributing to its expenses her dower sion of vast lands and many flocks, it was or her personal fortune. Although the easy to provide themselves from their own
Romans gave their daughters an education estates with the wool necessary to clothe relatively advanced, they never forgot to all their household, from masters to the inculcate in them the idea that it was the numerous retinue of slaves. If the materduty of a woman, especially if she was familias knew sufficiently well the arts of nobly born, to know all the arts of good spinning and weaving to be able to organhousewifery, and especially, as most im- ize in the home a small “factory” of portant, spinning and weaving. The rea- slaves engaged in such tasks, and knew
how to direct and survey them, to make it appears that financial motives and disthem work with zeal and without theft, putes were not wanting. It seems that she could provide the clothing for the during the civil wars Terentia refused to whole household, thus saving the heavy help Cicero with her money to the extent expense of buying the stuffs from a mer- he desired; that is to say, at some tremenchant-notable economy in times when dous moment of those turbulent she money was scarce and every family tried was unwilling to risk all her patrimony to make as little use of it as possible. on the uncertain political fortune of her The materfamilias held, then, in every husband. home, a prime industrial office, that of Cicero's divorce, obliging him to return clothing the entire household, and in pro- the dower, reduced him to the gravest portion to her usefulness in this office was straits, from which he emerged through she able to aid or injure the family. another marriage. He was the guardian
of an exceedingly rich young woman,
named Publilia, and one fine day, at the THE IMPORTANCE OF THE wife's
age of sixty-three, he joined hands with
this seventeen-year-old girl, whose possesMore important still were the woman's sions were to rehabilitate the great writer. dower and her personal fortune. The Romans not only considered it perfectly hon- This conception of matrimony and of orable, sagacious, and praiseworthy for a the family may seem unromantic, prosaic, member of the political aristocracy to materialistic; but we must not suppose marry a rich woman for her wealth, the that because of it the Romans failed to exbetter to maintain the luster of his rank, perience the tenderest and sweetest affecor the more easily to fulfil his particular tions of the human heart. The letters of political and social duties, but they also Cicero himself show how tenderly even believed there could be no better luck or Romans could love wife and children. greater honor for a rich woman than for Although they distrusted and combatted this reason to marry a prominent man. as dangerous to the prosperity and wellThey exacted only that she be of respecta- being of the state those dearest and genble habits, and even in this regard it ap- tlest personal affections that in our times pears that, during certain tumultuous peri- literature, music, religion, philosophy, and ods, they sometimes shut one eye.
custom have educated, encouraged, and Tradition says, for example, that Sulla, exalted, as one of the supreme fountains of born of a noble family, quite in ruin, owed civil life, should we therefore reckon them his money to the bequest of a Greek wo- barbarians? We must not forget the great man whose wealth had the most impure diversity between our times and theirs. origin that the possessions of a woman The confidence which modern men repose can possibly have. Is this tradition only in love as a principle, in its ultimate wisthe invention of the enemies of the terrible dom, in its beneficial influence on the afdictator? In any event, how people of fairs of the world; in the idea that every good standing felt in this matter in normal man has the right to choose for himself times is shown by the life of Cicero. the person of the opposite sex toward
Cicero was born at Arpino, of a knightly whom the liveliest and strongest personal family, highly respectable, and well edu- attraction impels him— these are the sucated, but not rich. That he was able to preme blossoms of modern individualism, pursue his brilliant forensic and political the roots of which have been able to fasten career, was chiefly due to his marriage to only in the rich soil of modern civilization. Terentia, who, although not very rich, The great ease of living that we now had more than he, and by her fortune enjoy, the lofty intellectual development enabled him to live at Rome. But it is of our day, permit us to relax the severe well known that after long living together discipline that poorer times and peoples, happily enough, as far as can be judged, constrained to lead a harder life, had to Cicero and Terentia, already old, fell into impose upon themselves. Although the discord and in 46 s.c. ended by being habit may seem hard and barbarous, cerdivorced. The reasons for the divorce are tainly almost all the great peoples of the not exactly clear, but from Cicero's letters past, and the majority of those contem