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Way to increase number of marriages

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Bas-relief showing a Roman marriage
Bas-relief showing a Roman marriage

Quintus Cecilius Metellus Numidian, leader of the optimates and opponent of Gaius Marius, was considered an energetic man, with an impeccable reputation. In 102 BCE he held the office of censor. During his tenure in office, he strove to increase the number of births in Roman society.

To this end, he urged men to marry. In his speech, he argued that the Romans could certainly live without wives. However, mother nature has arranged life in such a way that man can neither live comfortably with them nor cope without them.

So he spoke:

If we could […]live without women, we would all give up this trouble. But that nature has so directed that neither comfortably with them nor life without them can be lived without, it is advisable to advise a lasting relationship rather than fleeting pleasure1.

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights I.6.1

Another writer, in turn, argued:

Women’s vices must either be suppressed or abolished. In the first case, the wife becomes better, in the second you will become more perfect2.

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights I.6.1

  1. Own translation from Polish.
  2. Own translation from Polish.
  • Koper Sławomir, Miłość i polityka. Kobiety świata antycznego, Warszawa 1997

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