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The Latin poets, Juvenal* and Catullus,† also allude to it: whether there were any thing similar in the Roman jurisprudence; or whether, if not sanctioned by the magistrate, or any express law, it was a custom prevalent among them, is altogether uncertain.
Probably this punishment, like that mentioned in Homer, was confined to the poorer class; it is not known if it was mortal, although one instance is recorded, that of Alcæus, who is said to have died of it. It was called παρατιλμος ραφανίδωσις.
By the laws of Crete, the punishment of Adultery was characterized as much by satire as by severity. They covered the guilty persons with wool, as an emblem of the effeminacy of their disposition, and in that dress, carried them through the city to the house of the magistrate, who condemned them to ignominy, which deprived them of all their privileges,
"Quosdam mæchos et mugilis intrat." Juv. Sat. x.
+ "Ah tum te miserum, malique fati Quem attractis pedibus, patente porta Percurrent raphanique, mugilesque."
Catull. Epig. xv.
↑ See Bayle's Dictionary, in Voc. Alceus.
and their share in the management of public business.
The Athenian punishments were very arbitrary, and inflicted often solely at the will of the supreme magistrate. An instance of extreme severity is mentioned in the annals of Attica, as imposed by the last Archon of Codrus's line, on his own son, whom he caused to be torn in pieces for this crime.*
This was, however, before the time of Solon; part of his legislation on this subject has been already noticed; but, in addition, it may be observed, that he enacted, that the husband who detected his wife in the act, might kill the adulterer; as if the lawgiver felt the probability, that the cool and dilatory sentence of the law would not keep pace with the vengeance which a husband might consider due to this crime. The adulteress was likewise ever afterwards prohibited the use of ornaments; and any one who found her wearing them was at liberty to tear them from
* This Archon's name was Hippomanes, a somewhat unfortunate one for such an act. He also discovered a similar punishment for his daughter, whom, having been debauched by a citizen, he shut up with a wild horse, without food, to be devoured alive. Suidas says, there was a place in the City of Athens, called о na xuens, in memory of the horse and the young girl.
her. Eschines adds, that he was allowed also to beat her.
The only other observation on the punishment of Adultery, seems to be that of Demosthenes, who states a consequence of this crime to have been, in his day, a kind of privation, similar to our suspension ab ingressu ecclesiæ. The adulteress (he says) was forbidden from entering any public temple on pain of suffering any punishment except death.
These, then, are the penalties of Adultery by the laws of Greece; on which we may briefly remark, that, various as they were, they all appear to have been as severe as they could have been, not to be capital. This last they were only under certain circumstances, though Plato made a law, that, whoever should kill an adulterer, should be exempt from punishment.
We pass now to their views of Divorce.
In respect of Divorce some little analogy is observable in the laws of Greece to those of the Mosaic Institutes, although, generally, considerable variation prevailed.
Divorce was often permitted for slight causes in some parts of Greece, for the laws differed greatly in the several districts. In
Crete, the fear of too numerous a progeny was an authorized ground of separation.
The Athenians permitted slight considerations to lead to it. Perhaps the laxity of their laws, as well as those of the Romans, presently to be considered, above those of the Hebrew, may be partly explained by the circumstance of their not having received a law from Heaven; they might thus deem themselves under fewer restraints in contracting marriage and dissolving it. It was sometimes the case, that the matrimonial union was severed by the consent of both parties, when they were at liberty to dispose of themselves in a second marriage. Plutarch mentions one of this kind in the Life of Pericles, who, not being able to agree with his wife, parted with her to another man, and, with her consent, was himself united to the celebrated Aspasia.
The Spartans, on the other hand, far from delicate, as they were, in the choice of their wives, yet seldom divorced them; but perhaps this infrequency of Divorce did not originate in causes the most pure and virtuous. Allusion has before been made to the custom
* Plut. in Vit. Pericles.
of lending and borrowing a night's rest in a neighbour's bed.
Although the Athenians permitted Divorce, yet it was not without some restrictions; and certain rules must have been observed to render the separation legal. The parties were obliged to give a Bill of Divorce containing the reasons for the act, and which, if the party divorced made an appeal, was to be laid before the chief magistrate for his approval.
Demosthenes states, that he who divorced his wife was to restore her portion, or to pay, in lieu of it, nine oboli every month; if he refused, her guardian might prosecute him in the Odeum with the action called σirou dixn, (actio de alimentis,) for her maintenance.*
So far Divorce has been considered as a remedy which might be sought, attended with some cost and inconvenience to the party, who might purchase it, or not, at his option; but, in reference to Adultery, it assumed a very different aspect. In this case, Divorce was not optional, but compulsory. Demosthenes states, that the Grecian laws rendered it obligatory on a man to put away his wife after the discovery of an adulterous intercourse. No husband was allowed to live with his wife after
* Demosth. in Neæram.