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Casta and incestum – Roman values

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Roman social relations were based on the existence of two values. For example, a Roman woman who remained loyal to her husband and proved herself as a good wife was referred to as casta, meaning “pure”. THe phase castitas allowed a man to commune with the gods and make sacrifices.

Priests were also called this. As Aulus Gelius claimed, a Roman erudite and writer from the 2nd century CE, anyone who was going to visit the temple should be in a ritual purity – casta. The term casta was very positive and confirmed life in accordance with divine judgments.

The opposite of this term was the word incestum, which literally can be translated as “defilement” or “disgrace”. As such, according to Roman law, were considered to be incestuous accounts that were punished by death in archaic times – being thrown from the Tarpean Rock. In later times, the law was gentler and the confiscation of property and deportation to the island was envisaged. Incestum meant that not only the culprit, but also the immediate surroundings were subject to shame. Lack of reaction to abnormal behavior could have brought the epidemic, hunger, defeat of war, and higher mortality of newborns.

  • Jońca Maciej, Ja, Kazirodca, "Mówią Wieki", sierpień 2015

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