The Single Life in the Roman and Later Roman World

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The Single Life in the Roman and Later Roman World

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THE SINGLE LIFE IN THE ROMAN AND LATER ROMAN WORLD

Using a variety of historical sources and methodological approaches, this book presents the first large-scale study of single men and women in the Roman world, from the Roman Republic to Late Antiquity, and covering virtually all periods of the ancient Mediterranean. It asks how singleness was defined and for what reasons people might find themselves unmarried. While marriage was generally favoured by philosophers and legislators, with the arguments against it largely confined to genres like satire and comedy, the advent of Christianity brought about a more complex range of thinking regarding its desirability. Demographic, archaeological and socioeconomic perspectives are considered, and in particular the relationship of singleness to Roman household and family structures. The volume concludes by introducing a number of comparative perspectives, drawn from the early Islamic world and from other parts of Europe down to and including the nineteenth century, in order to highlight possibilities for the Roman world.  .  is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Her research focuses on the everyday lives of the common people in Antiquity. Among many other titles, she has published The Family in Roman Egypt (Cambridge ) and Papyri and the Social World of the New Testament (Cambridge ). She is currently leading two large-scale projects on Roman Egypt funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation at the University of Basel.   is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and Professor of Ancient History and Latin at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. He studies the social and cultural history of Roman and Late Antiquity, paying particular attention to the human life-course: childhood, youth, family, sexuality and disabilities. His books include Children in the Roman Empire: Outsiders Within (Cambridge ), Youth in the Roman Empire: The Young and the Restless Years? (with Johan Strubbe; Cambridge ) and Disabilities and the Disabled in the Roman World: A Social and Cultural History (Cambridge ).

THE SINGLE LIFE IN THE ROMAN AND LATER ROMAN WORLD       SABINE R. HUEBNER University of Basel, Switzerland

CHRISTIAN LAES University of Antwerp, Belgium University of Manchester, United Kingdom

University Printing House, Cambridge  , United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, th Floor, New York,  , USA  Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne,  , Australia –, rd Floor, Plot , Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – , India  Anson Road, #–/, Singapore  Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/ : ./ © Cambridge University Press  This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published  Printed in the United Kingdom by TJ International Ltd. Padstow Cornwall A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library.  ---- Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Contents

List of Contributors Acknowledgements

page viii x

 



What’s in a Single? Roman Antiquity and a Comparative World Approach



Christian Laes

,     

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society: The Case of Roman Egypt

 

Sabine R. Huebner



Looking for Singles in the Archaeological Record of Roman Egypt



Anna Lucille Boozer



Between Coercion and Compulsion? The Impact of Occupations and Economic Interests on the Relational Status of Slaves and Freedmen



Wim Broekaert

     







Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation Judith Evans Grubbs



‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus Harri Kiiskinen v



Contents

vi 

Tracing Roman Ideas on Female Singleness: Virgil’s Aeneid



Elina Pyy



Single as a Lena: The Depiction of Procuresses in Augustan Literature



Mina Petrova

   

(Why) Was Jesus Single?

 

John W. Martens

 Contesting the Jerusalem Temple: James, Nazirite Vows and Celibacy



Kevin Funderburk

  :        



 Singles and Singleness in the Christian Epigraphic Evidence from Rome (c. – CE)



Thomas Goessens

 Different Ways of Life: Being Single in the Fourth Century CE



Raffaella Cribiore

 Single Life in Late Antiquity? Virgins between the Earthly and the Heavenly Family



Ville Vuolanto

 Being a Bachelor in Late Antiquity: Desire and Social Norms in the Experience of Augustine



Geoffrey Nathan

 Single People in Early Byzantine Literature



Stephanos Efthymiadis

 “Listen to My Mistreatment”: Support Networks for Widows and Divorcées in the Coptic Record Jennifer Cromwell



Contents

vii

 



 Celibacy and Sexual Abstinence in Early Islam



Mohammed Hocine Benkheira

 To Marry or Not to Marry in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-century Cities, with Antwerp and Bruges as Case Studies  Julie De Groot

 Singleness in Nineteenth-century Italy: Permanent Celibacy and Solitariness between Coercion and Free Choice



Matteo Manfredini

Bibliography General Index Index Locorum

  

Contributors

Mohammed Hocine Benkheira is Directeur d’Études at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Section des Sciences religieuses. Anna Lucille Boozer is an Associate Professor of Roman Mediterranean Archaeology at Baruch College City University, New York. Wim Broekaert is a Postdoctoral Researcher of Ancient History at the University of Ghent. Raffaella Cribiore is a Professor of Classics at New York University. Jennifer Cromwell is Lecturer in Ancient History at Manchester Metropolitan University. Julie De Groot is a Researcher of History at the University of Antwerp. Stephanos Efthymiadis is Professor of the Programme of Studies of Hellenic Culture at the Open University of Cyprus. Judith Evans Grubbs is Betty Gage Holland Professor of Roman History at Emory University. Kevin Funderburk is an independent scholar. Thomas Goessens is an independent scholar. Sabine R. Huebner is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Basel. Harri Kiiskinen is a Postdoctoral Researcher of History at the University of Turku. Christian Laes is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Manchester and Professor of Ancient History and Latin at the University of Antwerp. viii

Contributors

ix

Matteo Manfredini is a Professor of the Department of Chemical Sciences, Life and Environmental Sustainability at the University of Parma. John W. Martens is a Professor in the Faculty of Theology at the University of St Thomas, St Paul. Geoffrey Nathan is an Adjunct Professor of History at San Diego State University and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales. Mina Petrova teaches Latin Terminology at the Medical University of Sofia. Elina Pyy is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Helsinki. Ville Vuolanto is a Lecturer in History at the University of Tampere.

Acknowledgements

The idea of having a conference on The Single Life in the Roman and Later Roman World first came to mind because hardly anything had been said before on this quite fashionable modern concept. It took networking, communication between friends and colleagues, and fundraising to give shape to the initial idea. Surely it was worth making the effort, since the conference held at the Academia Belgica in Rome (– May ) has stuck in the minds of its participants as a most interesting event, full of engaging exchange and scholarly discussions. We are most grateful to the many institutions which made this conference happen. To the various academies, for providing lodging to the participants: Academia Belgica, Istituto Svizzero di Roma, Institutum Romanum Finlandiae and the Royal Netherlands Institute. To the University of Antwerp, Department of History, to the Roman Society Research Centre (University of Ghent) and to the Institute of Ancient History at the University of Basel for generous funding. The anonymous readers of Cambridge University Press provided both the editors and the contributors with challenging comments, which very much helped to improve the volume. Michael Sharp and the editorial team of CUP were indispensable for the succesful production of the book. We owe them many thanks. During the conference, Ilse Mueller presented her paper. She had been invited because her  article on Single Women in Funerary Inscriptions was seminal for the topic of the conference. Ilse passed away on  October . With great sadness, we acknowledge the death of a respected scholar, whose area of research was on marginalized groups in the ancient world. Antwerp, Basel, Manchester, October . x

Introduction

 

What’s in a Single? Roman Antiquity and a Comparative World Approach* Christian Laes

 A ‘Marriage’ between Philology and Social History Raised in the rich and established tradition of Altertumswissenschaft, classicists and ancient historians are used to working with concepts and terms, the exact definition of which can be traced down by means of encyclopaedias, lexica and dictionaries. Rem tene, verba sequentur. Only after having searched for accurate definitions can one safely proceed with the research topic. In such a context, the very first thing to do in a volume on The Single Life in the Roman and Later Roman World would be to look for what is meant precisely when we use the word ‘single’, then to search for Greek and Latin terms matching this definition (and in a comparative perspective also words in other well attested languages of the ancient Mediterranean such as Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic), and finally to carefully study the text fragments where such words show up. Though this task may appear both manageable and straightforward, things are not as simple as they appear at first sight. First, the present-day concept. There is at least a certain ambiguity in the use of terms. Derived from the Old French sengle, which in its turn stems from the Latin singuli, the word ‘single’ refers to a person not married, or not having an exclusive relationship with someone. Nowadays, most Germanic languages have taken over the English term, while words such as alleinstehend (German) or alleenstaand (Dutch) connote the condition of living alone or even loneliness. Indeed, the word ‘single’ has become increasingly popular as an untranslated term in many languages. * I am most grateful to John Martens (University of St Thomas – Minnesota) for his careful reading and improving of my English text.  It would make little sense to encumber this chapter with references to dictionaries for each language concerned. Suffice it to notice that I have made use of well-established dictionaries for each language concerned. For Arabic, Aramaic and Hebrew, I kindly acknowledge the help of Malika Dekkiche (University of Antwerp) and Hagith Sivan (University of Kansas).





 

Romance languages etymologically either stress the aspect of not being married, as célibataire in French or celibe in Italian, or the aspect of loneliness, as in Spanish soltero and solteiro in Portuguese. In the Slavic tradition, Russian emphasises not being married, and distinguishes between men (nezhenatuy/неженатый “without wife”) and women (nezamuzhnaja/незамужняя “not connected to a husband”). Here the gendered aspect comes in. The very same tradition now exists in Greek, which has agamos/άγαμος for men and anypantros/ανύπαντρος for women. Arabic ‫( ﺃ ْﻋ َﺰﺏ‬Ɛazbā) again stresses the aspect of not entering marriage (but also refers to being isolated or alone), as does Hebrew ‫רוק‬ (ravak). Both have a masculine and a feminine form, as for instance ravak and ravaka in Hebrew. Moreover, in a globalising context which is strongly influenced by the internet, it seems that the word ‘single’ has become an almost international term to denote a free and unbound lifestyle, while negatively loaded words which mostly concerned unmarried women (cf. the ‘spinster’) are fading away as obsolete or depreciatory. Looking for terminology in present-day languages does not therefore provide us with the methodological clarity one would have hoped for. On the contrary, the different terms point to at least three different aspects of ‘the single life’, all of which can but need not merge within one another: the legal fact of not being married or not being in an exclusive relationship with another person; living alone and the possible economic or emotional consequences of this loneliness; and a happy-go-lucky lifestyle mostly associated with youth. Moreover, in different cultural traditions, the single life might be considered as a transitory period for those searching for a partner with whom to form an exclusive relationship, or it might evolve into a more permanent state, in which celibacy is considered as a vocation, be it personal or religious. As such, both contemporary Israeli and Arabic culture (with traditions firmly rooted in Antiquity) present a fascinating text case for the conflict between tradition and modernity, with familial pressures on single women to marry and to produce (grand)children, but more and more educated young women who delay marriage because of their studies or even refuse to be married to a husband with lower education. 



As in Finnish, the loan word sinkku matches the term ‘single’. While naimaton is a neutral word to denote being not married, the female word vanhapiika is only used in a negative way, as a spinster. I thank Ville Vuolanto for this information, and I happily include one Finnish-Ugrian example to complete the list of language families in Europe. See El Feki  for a lively and fascinating account which gained much media attention.

What’s in a Single?



Imagine a social historian in a far away future studying the single life in the beginning of the twenty-first century. He/she should be very much aware that the context is of crucial importance to understand what is exactly meant in the textual evidence. Here, one may think of application forms in European countries nowadays where the candidate has to fill in whether he/she is single, married, divorced or widowed, and in which he/ she is expected only to fill in one box. Apparently, being married at the moment of filling in the form acts as the sole criterion. Though it is obviously possible to be both single and divorced or widowed (even the three at the same time), the widower or the divorcée who is again married at the time of filling in the questionnaire is not expected to put this aspect of his past in the foreground. The possibility of being in an exclusive relationship without being married is not even mentioned in such a document. The latter is all the more remarkable, since recent demographic data show that the number of marriages per , inhabitants has decreased within the twenty-eight countries in the European Union in recent decades. In fact, the crude marriage rate declined from . marriages per , inhabitants in  to . marriages per , inhabitants by . Since divorce rates increase at the same time, never before have so many children in the European Union been born to unmarried mothers. Moreover, modern sociologists agree that in the cities of the United States and Western Europe solo living has expanded as never before, with globally  million people opting for this living arrangement. Given the difficulties when looking at present-day usage of the term, one can easily imagine the problems which show up when one envisages to tackle the subject from the ancient historian’s point of view. )



 

Throughout the monogamous Graeco-Roman tradition, marriages were not state-registered, nor connected with religious duty. At least from the male point of view, marriage was not necessarily subject to moral expectations of mutual exclusivity (while polygamy did not exist, polygyny thrived). The ideal of exclusivity only became strong in the period of the so-called Christianisation of marriage, though the univira, the widow who never remarried, was an ideal we find from

Statistics and explanations are to be found on the European Commission, Eurostats website: http://ec .europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Marriage_and_divorce_statistics (Data extracted in June ). For solo living on a global scale and sociological explanations of the phenomenon, see Cribiore, in this volume, p. . Standard reference works on Roman marriage include Treggiari b; Fayer  and . Scheidel  and ; Laes .



 

the Roman Republic on. Marriages were easily entered into, and divorce was a simple matter from the juridic point of view. All this does not mean that marriage was an institution without consequences or obligations. Marital laws put considerable pressure on at least the aristocratic class to enter marriage and to remain in the marital state for the most part of their lives. Financial transactions like a dowry were part and parcel of it; both inheritance and citizens’ rights largely depended on marriage. But at least, one might speculate on the consequences of the juridic ‘easiness’ of marriage and divorce for those who did not enter the marital state. Such a question eminently counts for the lower classes, which are very much underrepresented in the sources. As Roman marriage was largely de facto, based on mutual consent and social rules and restrictions (“If you lived together as man and wife, man and wife you were”), would neighbours in the slums of Rome or in a small village in the countryside really have cared whether the man and woman living next door in a small one room apartment were legally married or rather considered themselves, for social reasons, to live in a form of concubinage (compare the absence of any indication of marital status in the Roman Egyptian census, as noted by Huebner, in this volume, p. )? Would they have viewed the couple living next door as ‘different’, depending on whether or not they had Roman citizenship? Both legal marriages and concubinate union could easily and almost instantaneously be dissolved. Also, local traditions might have been prevailing, making people hardly aware of or concerned about the Roman law on marriage. Surely the late antique sources reveal that people distinguished between legal marriage and concubinage, but such testimonies already belong to the Christian sphere and foretell the Christianisation of the institution of marriage. To the question, “Roman marriage and divorce: how easy and how frequent was it?”, one could rightly add, how easy and even frequent it was not to enter into the marital state at all? ) While loneliness is a basic experience of human life, it can be understood in different ways and it surely escapes an archetypal definition for different times and cultures. It has been suggested that    

Cooper . On the univira, see Evans Grubbs :  and Humbert : –.   Evans Grubbs, in this volume. Kajanto . Crook : . The example of Saint Augustine’s concubine, the name of whom we never learn, immediately comes to mind. See August. Conf. .. and Nathan, in this volume. Question raised by Treggiari a, in a volume which contains other valuable contributions on the issue of remarriage (e.g. Bradley b).

What’s in a Single?

)

   





the lonely single is a product of the anonymity of life in modern big cities, while traditional societies were much more concerned about solidarity of life in a broader community. From an historical point of view, it is worth looking at whether people relate the feeling of loneliness with the fact of not being married or not having a partner, or rather with the financial difficulties of having to take care of themselves without the support of relatives or friends. The question eminently comes in when Christianity promotes asceticism. Did this asceticism imply abstinence from (exclusive) sexual relations, or did it encourage people to go and live on their own? There is a large consensus that men in the Roman empire entered marriage somewhere in their mid-twenties. Surely in the higher classes, this leaves the possibility of a transitory period with a considerable amount of free time, the more so since political duties at that age were not enormously time-consuming and the necessity to work not pressing. Possibly, there was room for the celebrating of a specific lifestyle: being young, and not yet worried by the obligations of marriage. Such celebrations may show up in folkloristic or institutional evidence (for instance with youth organisations which included a large amount of bachelors), or in explicit literary testimonies in which people take pride in their unmarried lifestyle. However, the connection with youth should not be taken for granted. Older bachelors might mention their status, and even consider the unmarried state as a vocation or at least the best option for life. For them, it is interesting to see whether they were viewed as complying with the rules or rather behaving in an ‘asocial’ or ‘inappropriate’ way. At least in Late Antiquity, Libanius considered the unmarried life as his ‘vocation’ (cf. Cribiore, in this volume, p. ). Even in the case of young unmarried men, some Roman poets have uttered the hopes of remaining in the bachelors’ state: a godly and happy status indeed, However, Morley :  has pointed to the alienation and anonymity in the lives of the excluded poor without shelter in big cities in the Roman Empire.  Scheidel  has aptly summarised the discussion. Laes and Strubbe : –. Laes and Strubbe : –, though admittedly little evidence on ancient associations of adolescent youth explicitly mentions the members as being unmarried. Eyben : – and : – has extensively described Catullus and the elegiac poets like Tibullus, Propertius and Ovid as rebels, criticising the prevailing norms and provoking the respectable classes. These poets at least represented themselves as singles, opposing marriage. See Laes and Strubbe : – summarising the discussion and criticising Eyben’s theses. Although marriage was often considered as the end of youth for young males. See Eyben : – and Laes and Strubbe : –.



  as it was expressed in the proverbial caelibes caelites. In this context, those inclined to same-sex relations who preferred to remain unmarried for this very reason should also be mentioned (cf. Efthymiadis, in this volume, p. ).

To these three different fields, the gendered aspect must be taken into consideration. To a woman, the fact of not being married before a certain age might have marked her as a femme manquée. Surely, demographic factors such as female infanticide may have caused a shortage of women, so that never entering marriage became a less likely possibility for females, surely in the so-called Mediterranean marriage pattern to which Roman society belonged. Such a demographic pattern could also imply that young men might have encountered obstacles in winning a bride on the marriage market. But also later events in life such as divorce, the husband’s death or the necessity of taking care of relatives may have caused women to stay unmarried for long periods of their life. In such cases, motherhood could seriously have altered the way they lived or the way their being unmarried was viewed. Secondly, loneliness, vulnerability and poverty due to the impossibility of economically taking care of oneself could be matters which were aggravated by being a woman. In the rare autobiographical testimonies we possess, it is worth looking at how ‘single’ women exploited the argument of belonging to the ‘weaker sex’ in order to obtain what they requested in petitions. Thirdly, the celebration of being unmarried as a lifestyle might be strongly altered by the fact of belonging to the male or the female sex. English clearly distinguishes between spinsters and bachelors, the former more negatively connotated than the latter. The Graeco-Roman world was characterised by a late teenage marriage pattern for girls: the time between coming of age and entering marriage was anyway short for them (and perhaps even shorter for girls of the elites, who sometimes married at an even younger age). In the non-Christian tradition, testimonies on the joy and happiness of unmarried life for women are virtually absent, though based on cross-cultural anthropological evidence we might suspect the possibility of a youthful subculture with women. It is only in the Christian sources that female virginity, chastity and the renunciation of  

 Cf. infra note . Bagnall and Frier : ; Scheidel .  See Cromwell, in this volume. Laes and Strubbe : –.

What’s in a Single?



sex and marriage are emphatically represented in a way which was utterly unknown before.

 The Ancients Had Some Words for It Coping with all these different meanings and connotations requires a thorough insight into many aspects of the sociocultural history of the Roman Empire. But, to come back to the first paragraph, such investigation can be well served by ‘traditional’ philological research, starting from Latin or Greek terminology. It might be tempting to look for ancient equivalents for “Mrs.” and “Miss”, as well as “Ms.” (generally used for ‘older’ singles), but the rare explicit testimonies on such issues rather point to biological signs of girls becoming marriageable with the coming of age than to the actual fact of being (un)married. According to Epictetus, women are considered “ladies” (kyriai/κύριαι) by men when they reach age fourteen: “Therefore, when they see that there is nothing else for them besides sharing a bed with men, they start to adorn themselves and in this they place all their hopes.” Democritus addressed a young girl with the words “Greetings, girl” (chaire kore/χαῖρε κόρη), while the next day (i.e. after the night of defloration) he used the sentence “Greetings, lady” (chaire gynai/χαῖρε γύναι). Matrona explicitly denotes a married lady, with or without children. Latin puella seems to have been primarily used for girls before the age of marriage and subsequent sexual initiation, as were the terms virgo or parthenos/ παρθένος. In the early Christian usage, these words denoted both male and female virgins, while there also was a specific Christian term for males, namely virgineus. At first sight, one would expect these men to be unmarried, though the institution of ‘celibate’ married partners living together as brother and sister proves that this did not always need to be the case. The words which come closest to ‘single’ in the sense of not married are anandros/ἄνανδρος, agamos/ἄγαμος and eïtheos/ἠΐθεος for Greek, caelebs

   



Cooper ; Harper  and Vuolanto  are outstanding examples of scholarship on asceticism. The scholarly literature is obviously vast. Epict. ench. ; Diog. Laert. vita et doctr. philos. ..–. See Caldwell : . Gell. ..–; Isid. orig. (etym.) ... Watson ; Laes :  for the epigraphical usage of the terms. Also for males, the distinction between puer and adulescens/iuvenis was not related with the fact of being married. On παρθένος, see also Huebner, in this volume, pp. –. Alwis  (celibate marriage); Laes  (male virgins); Vuolanto :  for many entries on chaste marriage.



 

for Latin. Surprisingly, these terms largely fit the different meanings and connotations as they appear in the modern languages. . Not Being Married Greek agamia/ἀγαμία primarily refers to the unmarried (and childless) state of a man, as when Plutarch states that one should encourage his brother to marry and consequently honour his sister-in-law when she gets children. Though there is a specific gendered term anandros/ἄνανδρος to describe unmarried women, agamos/ἄγαμος may also refer to females. The Greek eïtheos/ἠΐθεος seems very much age-specific, since it refers to unmarried male youth. Rare instances of references to unmarried girls occur. The LSJ lexicon suggests that agamos/ἄγαμος also connotes widowers, though it is hard to find an unambiguous example of this usage. Part of the problem is that Ancient Greek did not have a proper term to denote widowers. The gendered anandros/ἄνανδρος or “husbandless” is used for both virgins and widows, though for widows the specific term chera/χήρα was much more common. In the Latin tradition, several definitions by grammarians and authors with an interest in etymological matters, as well as statements in literary works, confirm that caelebs primarily refers to not being married. If Livia had not existed, the emperor Augustus would have opted for the single life (caelebs vita) – since there was simply no other woman to whom he might have been a husband. The use of the term caelebs predominantly applies 



 







Also for sociocultural historians, Burger – is an essential starting point for further research. The first attestation of monachos appears in a petition from Karanis in the year  (P.Col. VII..), where a diakon and a monachos are mentioned. See Huebner, in this volume. Plut. de frat. am. e (ἀγαμίαν δ’ ἀδελφοῦ καὶ ἀπαιδίαν). The combination of unmarried and childness already appears in Hom. Il. .. See also Xen. symp. .. Obviously, the usage of the word may also imply absence of sexual experience leading to procreation. See e.g. A. Supp. ; Soph. OT ; Eur. Or. . Plat. leg. e stresses the meaning “unmarried” (ἠΐθεον δὲ ἢ καὶ γεγαμηκότα ἄπαιδα τελευτῆσαι). Clearly referring to young unmarried males: Hdt. .; Plut. Thes.  and . Young females: AP . (Antip.); Eup. ; Olymp. Phil., In Platonis Alcibiadem commentarii , line  (κόρη ἠΐθεος).  Cor. : mentions τοῖς ἀγάμοις καὶ ταῖς χήραις and continues by saying that it is better for them to stay unmarried like Paul himself (καλὸν αὐτοῖς ἐὰν μείνωσιν ὡς κἀγώ). The passage rather seems to refer to all unmarried, as it is understood in the Vulgata Latina (non nuptis) though the combination with ταῖς χήραις might point to widowers too. See e.g. Isid. orig. . (caelebs conubii expers); Ovid. met. . (sine coniuge caelebs vivebat) on Pygmalion; Sen. epist. . (hoc viro, hoc feminae, hoc marito, hoc caelibi convenit); Quin. inst. .. (maritus an caelebs); Gell. .. (deberetne uxorem ducere an vitam vivere caelibem). Ov. trist. .: quae si non esset, caelebs te vita deceret, / nullaque, cui posses esse maritus, erat.

What’s in a Single?



to males, though some grammarians suggest it was also in use for females. ‘Not married’ might also apply to the case of widows and widowers. For the latter, caelebs was in use, while for widows vidua was the appropriate term. Caelibatus could also refer to the state of not being married after divorce. In the ecclesiastic usage, caelebs became the appropriate term to denote celibacy by monks or priests. In the Augustan legislation on marriage (cf. Evans Grubbs, in this volume), the terms caelebs and caelibatus are most frequent. The Emperor Claudius is also said to have directed legal inquiries against those who remained unmarried (quibuscumque caelibatum . . . obiceret), while the Institutes by Gaius mention the possibility that on the grounds of the Lex Iulia somebody is excluded from inheritance because he was not married (aut propter caelibatum ex lege Iulia summotus). The same terms show up in Late Antiquity, when the Augustan legislation was abandoned and criticised. .

Loneliness

Connotations of loneliness show up with the same Greek and Latin terms. Almost all attestations date from Late Antiquity, which raises the question whether this state of loneliness became more of an issue when asceticism was promoted more strongly (cf. Vuolanto, in this volume, p. ).

 

 

 

Prisc. gramm. .. (hic et haec et hoc caelebs, huius caelibis); Aug. gramm. .. (caelebs dicitur qui non habet uxorem vel quae non habet maritum). Suet. Galba  (maritum . . . necdum caelibem Galbam) on Emperor Galba before he became a widower; Suet. Galba  (remansit in caelibatu) on Galba not remarrying after the death of his wife; Suet. Claud.  (permansurum se in caelibatu) after the death of Claudius’ third wife, Messalina; Gramm. suppl. . (quod nomen significat sive eum qui numquam uxorem habuit sive qui eam amisit) on the word caelebs; Consent. gramm. .. (ut marem caelibem, feminam viduam appellaret) on distinctions made by the ars grammatica; Cod. Iust. ... (quando ad caelibatum pervenerint, ut permaneant vel feminae in viduitate vel masculi in caelibatu). Note that sometimes, caelibatus and viduitas seem to be set apart, cf. infra note . Cod. Theod. ... (perpetuo caelibatu insolentis divortii poenam de solitudinis maerore sustinent). Zacch. .. p. D (caelibes vivunt monachi); Paul. Med. vita Ambr.  (caelibes sacerdotes). For ascetic women, the term virginitas is used, again pointing to the predominantly male meaning of the term caelebs. Cf. Fulg. serm. ant. : caelibatum dici voluerunt virginitatis abstinentiam (offering a definition of caelibatus). Suet. Claud. ; Gai. inst. . and similarly inst. .. Other examples include Cic. leg. . (censores caelibes esse prohibento); Sen. fr.  (leges quae contra caelibes latae sunt). Cod. Theod. ...pr. = Cod. Iust. .().  pr. (qui iure veteri caelibes habebantur) from the year ; Ambr. vid. . (illi qui deorum suorum adulteria et probra venerantur, caelibatus et viduitatis statuere poenas) offering forceful critiques on the hypocrisy of the Augustan laws.



 

In sermons reflecting upon the various states of life, loneliness is sometimes mentioned together with agamia/ἀγαμία. When the fifthcentury grammarian Consentius distinguishes between caelebs for males and vidua for females, he goes on to say that “the distinction between the nouns makes clear the different degrees of loneliness.” In the year , an imperial edict marked “eternal celibacy” as the right punishment after divorce: the sadness of being alone was considered the appropriate way to endure punishment for the act of divorce, which was strongly condemned in the Christian legislation. Bachelors and childless people were considered an easy prey for testament hunters. After the death of his wife, the aristocrat Vectius is said to have raised his only little daughter with “the tenderness of a grandfather, the diligence of a mother, the kindness of a father”. By doing so, he found consolation for his being single. After the death of both Phaedra and Hippolytus, Theseus mourns having returned only to find himself in great despair: “Wifeless and childless, I might with one torch light the funeral pyres of son and wife?” .

A Deliberate Choice and Lifestyle

Already in the Greek comical and tragic tradition, the emotional advantages of the single life are put to the fore, though admittedly in a somewhat ironic or tragic way. “I live the life of Timon – unmarried, slaveless” says the title character Monotropos in Phrynichus’ play, but the same character is depicted as unapproachable and unconversing. Caelibes caelites: bachelors are like the inhabitants of heaven, like the gods. This proverbial phrase was uttered on the grounds that bachelors are free from a heavy load of care. The word play with reference to etymology was especially popular with grammarians, though Quintilian is rather ironic about it, also mentioning another grammarian’s explanation by stating that caelibes are so called because Saturn cut off the genitals of Caelus. But other explicit       

Greg. Nyss. In Ecclesiasten (homil. ) (τῆς ἀγαμίας τὸ ἔρημον). Consent. gramm. .. (ut discretio ipsa nominum ostenderet solitudinis disparem qualitatem). Cf. supra note .  Cod. Theod. .... Cf. supra note . Amm. .. (orbos vel caelibes). Sidon. epist. .. (filiam unicam parvam post obitum uxoris relictam solacio caelibatus alit avita teneritudine, materna diligentia, paterna benignitate). Sen. Phaedr.  (caelebs et orbus). Phryn. Com.  (ζῶ δὲ Τίμωνος βίον, ἄγαμον, ἄδουλον); Eur. Alc.  (ζηλῶ δ’ ἀγάμους ἀτέκνους τε βροτῶν) in a tragic context. Quint. inst. ... The phrase is mentioned and explained by Paul. Fest. p. ; Don. Ter. Ad. ; Isid. orig. .; Gramm. suppl. .; Aug. gramm. ... See also Orient. comm. . for a link with deus.

What’s in a Single?



celebrations of the celibate lifestyle exist. “Nothing is better than the single life” as Horace emphatically put it. False etymologies between eïtheos/ ἠΐθεος and theos/θεός (god) might have encouraged Latin writers to develop the idea of the godlike status of bachelors – Quintilian mentions the etymology with due irony. In the Greek tradition eïtheos/ἠΐθεος and isotheos/ἰσόθεος (“godlike”) was obvious material for a play on words. Obviously, all these examples point to a misogynist refusal of marriage – they do not necessarily imply refusal of sexual relations as such. To marry or not to marry? To the philosopher Bias and to Favorinus of Arles, this life choice became a matter of play with syllogisms – at least the whole context of the story presupposes that some speculated on which option was the best for life, with Bias choosing the unmarried life (vitam vivere caelibem). Mythology reports on young men who embraced the single life and even refused exclusive relationships: Pygmalion and Hippolytus come to mind as unreachable young people. To the Greek and Roman mind, men who deliberately chose the unmarried life must have existed from the old days. Thus, Valerius Maximus reports on fines imposed by Camillus on those who reached old age without ever marrying, since they had forsaken their civic duties. It is by no means an exclusively Roman tradition that obstinate celibates should be prosecuted. In his Life of Lysander, Plutarch mentions a penalty at Sparta for not marrying at all, for a late marriage, but also for a bad marriage. The Stoic philosopher Aristo of Chios (third century BCE) refers to a fine for not being married (agamiou zemia/ἀγαμίου ζημία). Such statements obviously belong to a utopian tradition, in which various ‘ideal’ regulations were ascribed to Sparta. To an emperor, remaining unmarried throughout his whole life apparently was not considered an option. Claudius had thought about it after       

Hor. epist. .. (melius nil caelibe vita). See also Hor. carm. .. (Martiis caelebs quid agam kalendis). Quint. inst. .. (ingenioseque visus est Gavius “caelibes” dicere veluti “caelites”, quod onere gravissimo vacent, idque Graeco argumento iuvit: enim eadem de causa dici adfirmat). Lexicon artis grammaticae (cod. Coislin. ) , line ; Scholia Il. (scholia vetera) ., scholion . Gell. .. Ov. met. . on Pygmalion (cf. supra note ); Sen. Phaedr.  (caelibem vitam probet sterilis iuventus) the nurse persuades Hippolytus not to be a sterile youth, but to enjoy life. Val. Max. .. (qui ad senectutem caelibes pervenerant). Plut. Lys. ; Aristo Stoic. .. This Spartan custom is also mentioned in the lexicographical tradition: Poll. .; Hes. alpha  line . Plut. de amore prol. e suggests that the Athenian statesman Solon had devised regulations against celibacy or late wedlock, though already Stob. flor. .. (Hense) suggests that such an Athenian regulation actually never existed in Athens.



 

the death of his third wife. Tacitus poignantly remarks that he was not able to bear the celibate life, and that he therefore was prone to being ruled by his successive wives. Galba remained unmarried after the death of his wife, and again the word caelibatus is used to refer to his state of life. One has to wait until the Byzantine emperor Basilius II (–) to find an emperor who never married. To the Christians, celibacy became regarded as the marker of a ‘good’ and fruitful life, enabling the single to offer a helping hand to others – here, the abstinence from sex is surely considered more important than just the mere refusal of marriage.

 Antigamous and Pro-marriage Advice in Literature Already a word search of a handful of Greek and Latin terms has revealed that ancient authors discussed various conditions which were connected to the ‘single life’ with different meanings than the word has nowadays. Some even were engaged in extended theoretical discussions on whether it was preferable to marry or not. Such advice runs from the writing of the early Greek misogynists (Hesiod’s Catalogue of Women) to Roman literature to the High Middle Ages and beyond. Quite unsurprisingly, various authors randomly seek arguments in favour of or against marriage from a wide array of thoughts and ideas. It is tempting for scholars to simply trace down and anthologise the different arguments, though elements such as satirical technique, literary genre and shifting audiences are absolutely crucial to come to an understanding of the discussion. Obviously, the question also belongs to a broader framework of thoughts on sexuality, reproduction and subsequent moral duties towards society. Given the fact that in census records from pre-Christian times marital status was not considered very important (cf. Huebner, in this volume), one might ask how far the ‘philosophical’ reflections were paramount to society, or rather testify to the peculiar concerns of a certain elite.

   

Suet. Claud.  (permansurum se in caelibatu); Tac. ann. . (Claudio caelibis vitae intoleranti et coniugum imperio obnoxio); Suet. Galba  (remansit in caelibatu). Cf. supra note . Hier. Eph. . (si quis in caelibatu beatam transigens vitam alium qui et uxorem habet et liberos et se ipsum vix potest pascere, adiuverit). See Smith a on the anti-marriage tradition in satire – readers of this volume would do well to read the thoughtful review by Roggen . Useful surveys which nevertheless suffer from the tendency to anthologise include Raepsaet ; Gaiser  and Eyben .

What’s in a Single?



. Antigamous Arguments Roman antigamous devices generally derive from the genres of satire and comedy. Greek literature was also influential here: Greek epic and drama supplied arguments, as well as rhetorical and philosophical thought on the state of marriage or the evil nature of women. At least three Roman comedies, Plautus’ Amphitryo and Menaechmi and Terence’s Hecyra have adultery and divorce as central themes. Lucretius interconnects love with other destructive powers that assault our minds and bodies. Ovid’s attitudes towards marriage and free affairs are in sharp contrast with the Augustan legislation on the matter. The poet even went as far as to dedicate book  of his Ars Amatoria to women. His understanding of both men’s and women’s gender and character traits contributes to his thoughts on the difficulty of marriage. When a Sicilian heard from a friend that his wife had hanged herself from a fig tree, he replied that he would like to have some shoots from that tree to plant. This is just one of the many stock jokes on marriage. An amalgam of such puns and antimarital remarks can be found in Horace’s Sermones . and Juvenal’s Satire . Of course, a great deal of this satirical humour needs to be understood under the motto “Physician, heal thyself” – the contradiction between what the satirical narrator says and his own message. Only by keeping the right balance between attack, entertainment and preaching could good satirists manage their work to gain success with the audience. After all, most of their public would be married. Roman novelists balanced between presenting women as chaste heroines or wives as ordinary folks, who degrade the institution of marrriage. In the Christian context, Jerome’s crude attacks on the marital state are full of techniques which derive from satire and invective. What is important here is the shift of audience, with women becoming addressees of the anti-marriage propaganda. Also, part of the Christian argumentation was

     

Hawley . The main texts include Aristot. pol. a– and the many Greek authors anthologised in Stob. flor. . (Hense). Braund , though Roggen :  rightly asks whether one can understand such plays as “experimental”, given the fact that so many Greek New Comedies have not survived. Smith d dealing with Lucr. .–; .–; .–; .–. Pollmann  dealing with Ov. ars .–, –; .–; rem. –. Smith b; Roggen : – on the right balance. The marital joke in Cic. de orat. .. May , dealing with Petron. – (faithful widow of Ephesus) and – (bad women); Apul. met. .–.



 

based on the fact that virginity is preferable to marriage; not on the basis that women were evil. Here, misogamy takes the lead from misogyny. Apart from the satirical traditions, most of the antigamous philosophical arguments are known for the reason that they are countered by the philosophers – though their insisting on the matter raises the suspicion that at least in the higher classes men tried to escape the burden of marriage. Some considered that marriage produced a financial burden. To those who viewed marriage as a waste of time or energy, Hierocles pointed to the relief which was brought by a caring wife. Epictetus is a noticeable exception in his refusal of marriage, but his discourse and somewhat curious logic need to be understood in a very specific context. He seeks an answer for the question whether the Cynic, like other men, should view marriage as a ‘preferred indifferent’. In order to prove that a Cynic actually cannot, he goes on with describing conditions which hold true for the common man, but are wrong for the Cynic. Indeed, the practical duties entailed by the married life distract the wise man from practicing philosophy: taking care of the wife, children, managing of the houses, even attending the little baby are mentioned as typical duties, which are hardly to be escaped if one opts for married life. Instead of such burdens, the celibate philosopher is represented as a spiritual father, who in fact has many children among human mankind (an argument which is taken up by the Christian promotors of asceticism, cf. Vuolanto, in this volume). Under ‘usual circumstances’ a Cynic cannot view marriage as a ‘preferred indifferent’. He simply has another mission. .

Arguments in Favour of Marriage

Most of the pro-marriage material for the Roman period is written in Greek and coloured by Stoic thought. The philosophers’ statements on marriage, household and family are preserved through the Florilegium, a fifth-century anthology compiled by Johannes Stobaeus. Antipater of Tarsus was in charge of the Stoic school in the second century BCE;    

Clark  on satirical elements in Hier. virg. Mar.  and Adv. Iovin.  (but see Roggen :  for justified criticism); Feichtinger  on the Christian shift of audience and argument. Only when one is really not capable of paying for it, he is dissuaded from contracting a marriage by Nicostratus in Stob. .. (Hense). Hierocles in Stob. .. (Hense). Epict. diss. ..–. Obviously, one must take into account a certain exaggeration typical of the genre of the diatribe. It would also be wrong to take the text to be normative for Epictetus’ Stoic views. See Deming : –.

What’s in a Single?



Musonius Rufus and Epictetus were among the prominent Stoics of the first century CE, while Hierocles was one of the most important Stoic philosophers of the second century CE. Needless to say, we should keep in mind that the fragments we are reading only survived thanks to the selection and the choices made by Stobaeus – a certain bias in the selection cannot be excluded. Again, Stobaeus’ interest in the matter may point to the fact that celibacy and not marrying became much more of an issue in Late Antiquity. In general, the philosophers’ views can be characterised as much in favour of marriage, which is considered the only valuable institution for having legal offspring and for promoting the wellbeing of the husband. Fully engaging with the Stoic tradition, these philosophers resort to the nature argument to defend marriage as the best possible state. Humans are born to a life as husband and wife and are therefore attracted towards each other; only in marriage do human beings reach their completion; man and wife supplement each other, as every ruler needs someone to rule. Also, a wife is considered as the most sympathetic of all relatives to the husband, and the closest in proximity towards the children. Children – in this case legitimate offspring are obviously meant – are represented as the logical consequence of marriage and as an important incentive for it. Only by having progeny do parents reach full completion: they live on in their children and grandchildren. In such discourse, children are represented as useful for the state: in times of peace, they make agriculture, arts and trades flourish; during war they are there to defend their country. The ‘usefulness’ and worth of children, both in 





 

For Antipater, we are not entirely sure whether the fragments are indeed by Antipater of Tarsus, or by Antipater of Tyre (first century BCE). See Gaca : – for these philosophers’ views on marriage, reproduction and sexuality. Stobaeus organised his fragments as follows: flor. .: ) on the preferability of marriage ) it is better not to marry ) to some it is good to marry, to others the institution did not bring happiness ) on wooing and courtship ) consideration on the age of marriage ) character is important to marriage, not wealth or noble birth ) blamable faults of women; flor. .: instructions for a good marriage; flor. .: ) on the preferability of having children ) on the inconvenience of having children, the fact that you do not know whether they are really yours, and on not exposing children; flor. .: children need to honour their parents and to obey them in all circumstances; flor. .: on how fathers should behave towards their children and on the natural tie that binds fathers and children; flor. .: on the beauty and the necessity of brotherly love and love for one’s relatives. In all, the anthology by Stobaeus on marriage amounts to  pages of Greek text (Hense .–). Hierocles in Stob. .. (Hense) and .. (Hense); Muson. fr.  (strongly emphasising the nature argument). See already Aristot. eth. Nic. a and also Plut. qu.R. d for similar thoughts. Hierocles in Stob. .. (Hense).  Hierocles in Stob. .. (Hense). See also Clem. Al. strom. .. Cass. Dio ...



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economic and emotional ways, are also stressed as a “divine fruit” of marriage. Both the emotional and psychological relief of experiencing the joy of having young (grand)children around in old age and the pride of seeing a ‘living portrait’ of oneself are mentioned as important incentives for marriage. Quite contrary to the demographic conditions of his time, Musonius Rufus states that couples with many children are more honoured than those with few or no children. Most of these philosophers’ arguments must have had their ground in a sort of communis opinio, at least among the elite classes. When Cicero in his defence of Cluentius mentions the importance of legal offspring, he almost summarises the arguments which are expressed in the moralistic writings. As for wives, the male authors very much stress the support they offer to their husbands. Wives are represented as ‘useful’: they manage the household and supervise the house slaves, they take care of the children and the education of the young ones, they are of help when their husband is ill. As such, they provide their husbands with free time, but also they are helpful for emotional matters. Some philosophers even go as far as to present the husband-wife relationship as the perfect and total union, a friendship on an almost equal basis. Only in the absolute union of marriage do the partners have everything in common, including their soul and body. The offspring which is the result of such absolute longing for each other is the more wonderful and beautiful, since also unmarried couples and animals procreate. In similarly strong terms and referring to the statements by Antipater of Tarsus, Plutarch has defended the true eros of marital life. While some have pointed to the almost ‘modern’ idea of equality between men and women as it appears in such fragments, it should be noticed that Musonius Rufus’ ideal wife is the more perfect as she approximates the man. Moreover, the same Musonius Rufus strongly defends the ideal of asceticism in marriage. To him, procreation is the sole 

 



 

Hierocles in Stob. .. (Hense). Children are also mentioned as ‘useful’ to their grandparents by Hierocles in Stob. .. (Hense). For the idea of the portrait of the self, and living on through one’s offspring, see also Cass. Dio ..–.  Ps.-Dion. Hal. rhet. .. Muson. fr. . Cic. Cluent. . quae spem parentis, memoriam nominis, subsidium generis, heredem familiae, designatum rei publicae civem sustulisset (on a woman who was bribed by heirs to have an abortion). Cass. Dio .. (material and emotional help); Antipater in Stob. .. (Hense) (those who want to be free should marry, since they have somebody taking care of the household); Hierocles in Stob. .. (Hense) (practical help in the household and emotional support). The strongest defences of marriage on such a basis are Antipater in Stob. .. (Hense) and Muson. fr. a. Plut. am. .

What’s in a Single?



and only aim of marriage. Even within marriage, having sex for the sake of pleasure is strongly condemned. In his account of the marital laws introduced by Emperor Augustus, Dio Cassius offers an entirely fictitious oration delivered by the emperor in order to defend these laws. We learn that in the year  CE Augustus convoked the Roman citizens in the forum, and set apart the married and the unmarried. The former are praised by making use of many of the arguments we encountered with the philosophers. Then follows a remarkably harsh tirade against the latter. They cannot be called men nor citizens, since they forsake an essential duty. The city of Rome, and even the entire world, would disappear if all would follow their example, which is nothing less than a crime against nature and against the gods. It is even compared to murder. Moreover, their refusal of marriage does not mean that they are abstinent of sexual relationships with women. By acting in this way and living their happy-go-lucky lives, these singles actually live as animals. Only at the end of his speech does Augustus as depicted by Cassius Dio show some understanding. He admits that marriage and having children involve some problems and difficulties. But he immediately adds that these are largely superseded by the many advantages of it – for only a fraction of these advantages, many ‘normal’ men are prepared to die. .

The Christian Arguments

Apart from Musonius Rufus’ commendation of abstinence in marriage, we are still far away from the praising of the single as a celibate practicing sexual abstinence. Moreover, no religious motivations to impose marriage or to dissuade from it were adduced. Here, Christian ethics made a significant change. Obviously, Christianity did not ban the institution of marriage. Had not Jesus himself pointed to the indissolubility of marriage (Mt. :)? Though Paul prided himself on his chastity, he emphasised that others had received other endowments from the Holy Spirit. In the end, it was better to marry than to burn: marriage served as a tool for the curbing of lust and passion. While Tertullian must have shocked many   



Muson. fr. . See Nussbaum . An idealising view, referring to equality between husband and wife, in Eyben and Wouters .  Cass. Dio .. Cass. Dio .–. Clark  and ; Cooper  and ; Nathan ; Hunter ; Laes ; Vuolanto  are just some examples out of the vast scholarly literature on ancient Christianity and marriage.  Cor. :–.



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of his peers by his fierce attacks on extramarital sex, marriages with nonChristians and even procreation, he also extols true Christian marriage, where man and wife live together in perfect concordia, praying together and practicing charity together. To Augustine the state of the married was inferior to celibacy or widowhood, but he nevertheless considered the bond between men and women as testimony to the most natural affinity in human society. However, the unrelenting tirades against marriage and sexuality by Jerome or John Chrysostom must have struck their audience’s ears as much as they strike the ears of modern readers. In their attacks on marriage, they mostly focus on the female side of it: the uncertain period of betrothal, with parents changing their minds over possible candidates for marriage, the nasty character of the bridegroom, the dangers of pregnancy, the problem of fertility, the burden of raising children, ubiquitous mortality, and marital violence. However, ‘male problems’ are not forgotten: deception after marrying a most beautiful woman or a very ugly one, or problems with the dowry. It was also emphasised that those ascetics who refused marriage had abundant spiritual progeny. Here, the argument of spiritual fatherhood turns up again. It became a major tool for the promotion of asceticism and the refusal of marriage. All this is surely a remarkable achievement of the early Church. For the first time in the ancient world, in a regime which was marked by the demographical pressure of producing enough offspring, the ascetic movement became strong and influential and caused many to consciously opt for the single life by renouncing exclusive marital relationships. In Christian epigraphy, being a virgin was considered a most praiseworthy achievement, both for men and for women. One could hardly think of a sharper clash with the ideals prevailing some centuries before.

 A Sociocultural and Comparative Approach So far, we have noticed how the ancient authors discussed being (un)married, loneliness or the deliberate choice for a bachelor’s life. They     

Tert. ad ux. ..–. See also Ioh. Chrys. In epist. I ad Corinthios . on harmony and mutual understanding in Christian marriage. Aug. de sanct. virg.  (inferior to celibacy); bon. coniug.  and  (natural affinity); civ. .; de gen. ad litt.  (marriage and sexual lust). Hier. epist. .; . and ; Ioh. Chrys. de virg.  are telling texts on the disadvantages of marriage. See Schroeder  on marital violence. One of the central themes of Vuolanto . See e.g. Eus. Dem. Ev. .; Greg. Nyss. virg. ; Aug. bon. coniug.  and ; nupt. et concup. .; epist. .. Laes .

What’s in a Single?



did so in asides which one finds throughout their literary works, but they also made the issue a central theme in novels, love poetry, comedy, satire or moral treatises. There were specific Greek and Latin terms to denote the condition of being single or at least unmarried – words which come close to our present-day concepts. Late Stoicism extensively elaborated upon the question of (ideal) marriage, while only in Christianity did being single became closely connected to sexual abstinence and a life of celibacy. To the social historian who studies the single life in other periods, this evidence must appear meagre, not to say disappointing. The sources are heavily skewed towards the higher classes, and even with them it is questionable as to how far the opinions of the moral philosophers actually weighed on the matter. There is hardly any room for regional diversification of the source material. Much of it draws on the city of Rome, on debates in the tiny little upper class and on emperors developing marital laws because they were in need of enough aristocrats for the governing of the Empire. So far, little or nothing has been said about the other cultural traditions which existed in the astonishingly multicultural Roman Empire. To put it more directly: sociocultural research on the single life in the Roman Empire has been virtually absent so far, and this volume is the first to remedy the situation. There is only one predecessor, the merits of which cannot be overemphasised. In a well-referenced and most erudite fourvolume work, Jens-Uwe Krause has sketched a thorough picture of orphans and widowhood in Roman and Late Antiquity, fully integrating sources as diverse as legislation, the papyri and the patristic writers. But obviously, widowhood is just one aspect of the single life, and widows could move on to not being single after a certain period. . Demographic, Archaeological and Socioeconomic Aspects The part on demographic, archaeological and socioeconomic aspects of the single life logically starts with a contribution by Sabine Huebner on the Egyptian census. Indeed, the census documents preserved on papyri and documented at intervals of fourteen years from the period  BCE to / CE offer “the best available demographic source for any population prior to the Renaissance.” Huebner starts from an age criterion, defining as ‘single’ those fifteen and older who do not have a spouse living  

Krause –. While the starting year has traditionally been set in / CE, there now is evidence that dates the first census to  BCE. See Claytor and Bagnall . The quote is from Bagnall and Frier : .



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with them. Individuals aged fifteen years and older without a spouse living with them are found in nearly every single household. There was no specific term or stock description to denote their status. They were younger or older, living with their parents, with married brothers or sisters, with friends or other relatives, or with their own children. Huebner reckons that at certain moments up to % of the individuals in the census were unmarried singles, though their singleness might very well have been temporary. Like all sources, the census documents have their limitations: there might have been changes in people’s personal lives in the time span of fourteen years which escaped the census declaration, and of course some couples might have been in a relationship in the close vicinity, though without cohabitation. Be this as it may, the documentation persuasively suggests that although marriage might very well have been considered the ideal situation, a considerable part of the population did not live according to this standard. As such, Huebner also deals with gendered aspects of singleness, as for instance older women living on their own, and being supported by slaves. The archaeological record for residence and cohabitation is notoriously difficult and sparse: the adage that the spade cannot lie, since it cannot tell us anything significant surely is a truism which needs to be kept in mind here. Yet, there exists a pressing need to combine the quantitative research of archaeology with qualitative, in-depth studies of families and the family experience. Hence, Anna Boozer’s contribution is nothing less than a tour de force, since it offers access to the so-called ‘people without history’. Looking at excavations across the Meditarranean, she strives to identify rooms and places which might have been designated for single habitation: apartments in the insulae, outposts for soldiers, fieldhouses which were temporarily inhabited in times of harvest, signs of internal security in houses (suggesting apprentices or servants living in a separate part of the home). By making use of comparative anthropological evidence, Boozer shows how we can provide best-guess scenarios for the lives of people (temporarily) living alone in the rural communities, villages and cities of the Imperium Romanum. Though figures surely were different among the provinces, the socioeconomic necessity of dealing with slavery was a reality throughout the Empire. In his paper, Wim Broekaert argues that the organisation of the Roman economy, with its reliance on slave and freedman labour and the social control exerted by masters and patrons, seriously complicated the establishment of a harmonious family life for their social inferiors. Making use of legal, literary and epigraphical evidence, Broekaert firstly focuses on

What’s in a Single?



the effects of slave labour on relationships within and outside the family. Jobs created both opportunities and restrictions for the establishing of (exclusive) relationships: those working inside the house were in a more favourable position than itinerant merchants, seamen or slaves working the land in the big latifundia. The second part of Broekaert’s chapter analyses the economic value of slaves within the household and the importance of slave-breeding. In a final section, Broekaert discusses the consequences of manumission on previous relationships. How strong was a patron’s inclination to financially profit from his previous slaves, if this entailed the disruption of family relationships? Roman law made a close connection between profits to be expected by patrons and the family life of their freedmen. If a Roman master first allowed relationships between household slaves to develop, and then decided to only manumit the male partner before the age of thirty as a Junian Latin, he profited from both the childbearing capacity of his female slave and the use of his male slave as a commercial agent. To secure his Roman citizenship by presenting a oneyear-old child born in marriage, it was then up to the freedman to make heartbreaking decisions. He could either start a new relationship with a free or freed woman who could bear him children, or he could wait until his female slave partner was freed, with the risk that she had passed her child-bearing years. Broekaert concludes that apart from all legal, social and economic limitations inherent to the status of slave and freedman, the difficulty of establishing satisfactory stable relationships was an additional stumbling block on the way to emotional wellbeing. . The Roman World The second part focuses on the Roman non-Christian world. The scholarly literature on Augustus’ marriage legislation is vast, but up to now many aspects have not been highlighted sufficiently. It remains a big question whether and how Augustus and his successors actually managed to prosecute and penalise celibacy or childlessness. While the legal texts refer to the “threatening terror of the laws” (Cod. Theod. ..), we know of emperors and aristocrats being unmarried for a long period in their lives. In the epigraphical Laudatio Turiae a husband praises his wife, who nevertheless never gave him children. Pliny’s correspondence was obviously a publicity document par excellence – but this leading aristocrat also did 

Broekaert offers possible scenarios. See Brooten  for an imaginative and empathical approach, trying to sketch the disrupted family life of a late ancient child slave.



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not comply with the Augustan legislation on marriage and children. Drawing on her previous groundbreaking work on family and Roman legislation, Judith Evans Grubbs explains the imperial marriage legislation in the context of informers and prosecutors (delatores) in an aristocratic milieu where reputation was always at stake, and blaming a political opponent was very much part and parcel of everyday life. To Evans Grubbs, the Augustan legislation was not a law penalising singles. It was a law regulating marriage between the social orders and was part of a larger body of ‘morals’ legislation that also targeted adultery. The law mandated childbearing within legitimate marriage for citizens between certain ages. It affected married couples and those living in concubinage just as much as those living in celibacy or without a regular partner. The restrictions on inheritance were not severe – those not married couldn’t inherit from anyone outside of the sixth degree of kinship, and couples without children could inherit only % of the other’s property. It did not affect most family inheritance at all, since you could still inherit from your parents, siblings, grandparents, and first and second cousins. Only the senatorial elite who gave and received legacies beyond the sixth degree, and others who for some reason might expect to inherit from a non-relative, would be affected. The reason the law was so hated was that it () interfered with a Roman’s right to leave his property to whomever he wanted; and () interfered with the private life of the upper class. In other words, it interfered with the paterfamilias ’ right to manage his family and his property. The fact that the inheritance rights of (some) unmarried people were adversely affected was less significant at the time; it was only later, with the emphasis on celibacy and widowhood found among Christians, that that aspect appeared particularly burdensome. Literature obviously reflected the life and mentality of at least the urban middle class and the higher classes in the Empire, and could even be constitutive for it. This evidence should thus not be dismissed as merely ‘literary games’. As such, the study of some of the great ‘classical’ authors forms an essential component of this volume. Harri Kiiskinen points to ‘a surprisingly modern’ concept of singleness in the Late Republic, as it can be gleaned from the poems by Catullus and the speeches by Cicero. A subgroup of the Catullan poetry corpus addresses persons who combine individual social agency with a nonmarital status. More often than not, these people are depicted as living a youthful phase of their lives. However, their acts and behaviour are not depicted as a happy-go-lucky lifestyle. On the contrary, their ‘living-andacting-alone’ is often presented as a lack of control. The poems call for

What’s in a Single?



the person, who is presented as having lost a sense of him/herself, to take responsibility – and this seems to apply to persons of both genders. A similar kind of decency-related argument is present in some of the speeches by Cicero, where the person living alone is also suspect in his morals. Unmarried women are particularly noticeably in Virgil’s Aeneid. Dido is the classical archetype of the univira, as a young widowed woman who decided to stay unmarried, despite prospective marriage proposals. On the one hand, she appears as an admirable moral exemplum: an educated, civilised matron who was born and raised in the sphere of Greek culture. On the other hand, she is depicted as wasting her fertile years in solitude. Her reputation and the loss of it seems to have been constantly at stake: she becomes an example of an unmarried widow who has an illegitimate extramarital relationship. The warrior-maiden Camilla, for her part, is a virgin by principle. Devoted to Diana as a child, she represents a religionbased choice of celibacy, a rare instance in the pagan world. Elina Pyy’s analysis of the figures of Dido and Camilla in a masterpiece of Augustan literature views the Aeneid as a unique source for the Roman value system and the understanding of female singleness in respect of the Augustan legislation. Roman appreciation of and fascination with the single woman balanced between interpretations of her as an example of virtuous pudicitia or as a waste of the community’s resources – almost an aberration from common standards. Gender and literature is also the focus of another chapter, which deals with ‘exceptional’ single women. Indeed, procuresses or brothel-keepsters were ‘exceptional women’, even outsiders in the world of the Roman aristocracy. Making use of both the literary evidence (mainly comedy, satire and love elegy) and the legal sources, Mina Petrova sketches a vivid picture of the complex cultural attitudes about lenae as they existed in Roman society, as well as about the agency of these women who all seem to have shared singleness as an attribute. Independence was a strong and marked feature of such lenae: they were often older women for whom no husband, children or any figure having control over them is mentioned. Roman law often treated prostitutes and procuresses in the same fashion. It was believed that a prostitute or a procuress never ceased to act as one, so it was appropriate for such women to stay unmarried. In the literary depiction of satire and elegy, such women are linked to witchcraft, animality, alcoholism, old age, bad health, hunger, poverty and repulsive appearance. Petrova explains the ‘singleness’ of the lenae as the defensive reaction of a society struggling to strenghten its own ‘immune system’.



  .

The Jewish World

Next to the Graeco-Roman tradition, the Jewish sources offer rich material for discussions on marriage, procreation and the single life. Not only was Jewish culture an integral part of the Roman Empire, it is also a condicio sine qua non for understanding Christianity’s views on matters of marriage and sexuality. Two contributions by scholars well-versed in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, as well as in the classical tradition, are one of the great assets of this volume. Given the strong emphasis on marriage and fertility which marked Jewish culture, one wonders how Jews would have viewed the celibacy of Jesus, the most famous rabbi in history. In his contribution, John Martens examines the New Testament to determine what sort of evidence exists there for Jesus’ singleness, especially concerning Jesus’ statements on the purpose of sex and marriage and their relationship to the age to come, that is, the eschatological expectation of the end of times. In addition, Martens explores the reasons why a Jewish male in Antiquity might have remained single and the precedents for such a choice within Judaism. Also, he considers whether the singleness of Jesus might be seen in the context of a turn to celibacy and asceticism at the edge of Antiquity in the broader Roman Empire, examining some of the Roman laws promulgated at this time and some of the works attributed to Musonius Rufus. Finally, if Jesus was single, dedicated to the celibate life, what can we conclude reasonably about the reasons and purposes for such a decision in Judaism and the Roman Empire in his lifetime? Obviously, Jewish culture did know examples of ascetic renunciation: the Essenes, Qumran, some prophets, John the Baptist, or the pious elderly and widowed figures of the Gospel birth narratives. Focusing on the first generations of Jesus’ followers, in particular James the brother of Jesus, Kevin Funderburk explains how they used celibacy and renunciation to contest the high priestly families and the Pharisees for legitimacy within the larger Jewish world. Based on Davidic priestly prerogatives and tendency to inclusivity, this Jesus movement conceived of its purity as broader, infectious and available to all who were willing to submit to communal standards. That they did so in an urban milieu was unseen before. Funderburk also explains how later Christians, particularly Tatian and those of the Syriac tradition, partially remembered and substantially reinterpreted those ascetic practices for different purposes in the following centuries.

What’s in a Single? .



Late Antiquity

Moving to Late Antiquity, it seems as if the source material on the single life steadily increases. Indeed, the anecdotal tradition, private correspondence and autobiographical narratives of private life – genres which flourished in this period – reveal many details on the choices and motivations of those who embraced the unmarried single life. Apart from the literary evidence, Christian culture also had a flourishing epigraphic culture, at least in the city of Rome. So far, epigraphists have rarely focused on mentions of single life in the inscriptions. Dedicatees being explicitly mentioned as ἄγαμος or caelebs are subjects that first come to mind, as well as those inscriptions in which persons are praised for being virgins. However, such epigraphical mentions are rather scarce. In his chapter, Thomas Goessens took on the challenge of looking for ‘singles’ in the Christian epitaphs of Rome. He uses the term ‘single’ for someone who was never in an exclusive relationship from a marriageable age to the time of death. The inscriptions may have direct indications for such a state of life: the lack of mention of commemorative relationships, the presence of selfcommemoration or the use of specific terminology. However, such a ‘direct approach’ is not always the best way to identify singles. Instead, the combination of different elements might refine the search for singles in the epigraphical record: absence of any reference to a marital state, the age at death and the presence of other commemorative relationships are the three pivotal factors in such a methodological approach. In all, singleness does not seem to have been the preferred pattern: the vast majority of both men and women above the mean age of first marriage were not commemorated as singles. Rather than studying a large variety of texts, Raffaella Cribiore takes the opportunity to focus on three persons, whose single life and motivations for it are depicted in quite vivid details: the emperor Julian, who was forced into a political union and never bothered to marry again after the death of his wife in childbirth; the rhetor Libanius, who never went past the betrothal to a cousin who died at a young age; and the Christian Olympius, who was strongly attached to his mother, and who after her death began to live with a group of women, supposedly virgins, who kept house for him, and adopted two little girls. Both Olympius’ and Julian’s 

Boyaval  collects inscriptions from Graeco-Roman Egypt in which dedicatees are mentioned as ἄγαμος and ἄτεκνος (mostly Jewish inscriptions); Laes : – on virgins in the pagan inscriptions of Rome.



 

abstinence from sex needs to be understood in their striving for asceticism in many aspects of life. To Libanius, devotion to his art and profession was the main motive for not entering into marriage. Tellingly, all three somehow aspired to fatherhood. Libanius claimed that his students were his actual children, and he had a son named Cimon by a woman from the lower class; Julian’s lawful wife got pregnant, and Olympius’ household included two little girls. Drawing on a wide variety of late ancient sources, Ville Vuolanto has scrutinised the interplay between family, children and asceticism in the rise of Christianity in his recent book. Apparently, the ascetics were very keen to present themselves as spiritual fathers or mothers. For his contribution, Vuolanto has reexamined the material to focus on those texts which explicitly mention the ascetic option to withdraw from marriage. In such texts, divergent voices on the single life appear. It made a difference whether one opted for the single life in an organised community, for an ascetic life as a hermit in the desert or for asceticism at home. The latter was undoubtedly the most chosen option. In most cases, the decision to remain single and choose asceticism was not an individual decision, but a family issue. In the case of women without a husband, living alone was not an option, even if it were for ascetic reasons. Monastic communities were represented as new households, and childless couples were encouraged to adopt ascetics as family members. As such, ascetic communities in the East before the end of the fourth century often ended up by including people of both sexes. All such ascetic endeavours were somehow unified by their desire to show how even the radical option for celibacy contributed to society by producing spiritual offspring. Living as a single was translated into the traditional terminology of family and marriage. Vuolanto aptly concludes that Christianity did not advocate elite singleness in the sense of living alone, rather it held unmarriedness in the sense of abstinence from sex in high regard. For the Latin world, Saint Augustine is the most famous instance of an author giving extended motivations for his choice of the single life. The Confessiones offer a detailed account of Augustine’s bachelorhood. Throughout his twenties, he seems to have followed a trajectory similar to most men in the Roman world. Living with concubines, having a child by one of them and eventually contracting a betrothal to a girl who would be twenty years his junior at marriage all collectively parallel broader normative male patterns of delaying marriage until it became expedient or necessary. But Augustine’s resistance to the married state transcended such customary practices, his own sexual urges and even his decision to be

What’s in a Single?



baptised in the orthodox faith. His acceptance of Christianity and his desire to retire from the world should therefore not be seen as a break with his former life in this context, but rather as a continuation and a reinterpretation of the choice to remain unmarried. Geoffrey Nathan’s chapter takes Augustine’s celibacy as a key issue to determine how we might reconcile Augustine’s earlier life with his subsequent decision to retreat from societal expectations, while in both cases remaining single. Concluding the section on Late Antiquity, two contributions deal with the transitory period announcing the Middle Ages. Stephanos Efthymiadis takes the subject of singleness into the early Byzantine period. The material is rich. On the one hand, both men and women could now refer to singleness as their own choice and even as a holy purpose – an option or engagement due to holy pressure, which became more and more acceptable to the broader society without ever becoming a lifestyle or a proper identity. On the other hand, some Byzantine hagiographical texts depict the loneliness of a single’s life in the city of Constantinople in unusually and surprisingly modern vivid detail. Also the fragility and vulnerability of single women (travellers and prostitutes) are highlighted in picturesque detail in the early Byzantine sources Jennifer Cromwell’s chapter takes us from sixth- to eighth-century life in Egyptian villages. Coptic papyri provide glimpses into the lives of women who were either widows or divorcées and having to provide care for their children. This small group of texts shows the economic difficulties that they faced: some women, abandoned by their husbands, petitioned for unpaid alimony; others sought mediation from Arab officials over unhonoured contracts or were supported by a local monastic community; meanwhile, other women were brought in front of local officials for theft. It appears that in the documents two portraits of women were created. Some acted independently as moneylenders or donators of children, but their single or married state is not clear. Others were certainly alone and explicitly mentioned this status to explain the severe problems they experienced. At times, singleness proved a good argument for obtaining necessary support. . The Comparative Perspective The comparative world approach seeks to explore how the Roman and the late Roman world fit in the context of world history. For this, there is little 

See already Efthymiadis .



 

use in mere juxtaposition, offering chapters on celibacy and singleness in other periods of history, or in cultures and regions which are somehow contemporary to the Roman period. Instead, three scholars dealing with the single life in the past delivered comparative chapters. Their remarks and responses question the ancient world from other perspectives, thereby enabling dialogue and clarifying significant differences. Rising in the Mediterranean world, early Islam was very much obsessed with fertility and the reproduction of offspring, a feature it shared with mainstream Semitic culture. Contrary to the Roman legislative tradition which emphasised mutual consent in contracting the marriage, sexual intercourse defined Islamic marriage. Moreover, the obligation to contract a marriage became religiously sanctioned: marriage was the only way to secure chastity, as all sexual practices outside of it were considered unchaste. In the same way, procreation was imposed on a religious basis. While Islam never had a tradition of monasticism with permanently sexually abstinent holy men or women, there are some rare examples of ascetic men or women abstaining from meat, wine and sex. As a specialist in early Islam, Mohammed Hocine Benkheira points to both the similarities and the differences between Islam and the late ancient world as regards the valuation of singleness. Indeed, from the ninth and tenth centuries on, a certain tradition of promoting singleness seems to have existed even in Islam: to be able to exercise authority over others, ascetics needed to be able to master themselves. A recent volume for the first time explored the status of single men and women in Northwestern European towns from the Late Middle Ages up to . The so-called West European Marriage Pattern, characterised by a relatively late age at first marriage, a relatively small age gap between spouses and a large group of people who never married, seems to have existed already in the late medieval period, especially in cities. From a legal point of view, marital status was crucial for understanding issues of performance and status for women. De facto, things turned out to be different. While married women were legally under the coverture of their husband, in real life they had more legal capability and a less limited legal identity than one would assume. Also, widows were sometimes very engaged actors on the property market, and they acted on their own without a guardian. Moreover, due to the vagueness of the classical canon law on marriage, women could be considered unmarried, while in reality 

Cf. canonical law which takes the sexual consummation of marriage as constitutive for whether or not the marriage has been contracted.

What’s in a Single?



they shared their lives with a male partner. Working alone in a late medieval or early modern city was often not a profitable option in the case of women, and in order to make ends meet, such singles often lived together in the same dwelling. Making use of concrete cases, Julie De Groot makes clear that the social and economic repercussions of being single in late medieval society were no more straightforwaard than the concept itself. Her careful distinction between ideals, legal thinking and reality gives ample food for thought for ancient historians, for whom such rich material is simply not available. Finally, the chapter by Matteo Manfredini on the nineteenth-century Status Animarum also serves as a caveat for ancient historians, who inevitably have to paint with broad-brush strokes covering considerable time spans and different regions. In the books kept by Italian parish priests, local variety was strongly pronounced. Manfredini distinguishes between unmarried people living with kin, persons living alone, unmarried servants living in the home of their masters and unmarried people living together with non-kin. In rural communities and mountain villages, there seems to have been no significantly changing pattern of living alone. Apparently, this was mostly a rare and temporary option, sometimes even a stigma in mid-nineteenth-century Catholic Italian society. Urban environments on the contrary seem to have had increasingly more people living on their own. Celibacy was accepted and supported in various environments as a sort of sacrifice in the name of family wellbeing: to avoid the dispersion of land through inheritance in the case of aristocrats, to support an elderly or sick family member, to control fertility in order to keep a balance between scarce resources and population size in mountain communities, or to ensure male control in sharecropping societies. On the eve of Italian unification embedded in the principles of liberalism, unmarried individuals in the cities were seen as a sort of threat to the new social and political stability.

 Conclusions and Further Directions The comparative material of the last three chapters reminds us of what might have existed in the Roman world, but remains unknown to us. For this, ethnographic parallels can also be useful. In some traditional Serbian communities in the Mount Kopaonik region, adults who remained unmarried for longer than deemed appropriate – note that no exact age is mentioned – were re-swaddled using horse equipment or the swaddling clothes of a first-born of the same sex. This custom expresses the



 

belief that the original swaddling had not secured a happy, that is, married future. In the Roman world, a bed to the gods Pilumnus and Picumnus was made in the house in the period between the birth and the naming day of the baby. This could be a thanksgiving for the prosperous and fertile marriage of the new parents, but it might also concern the future socialisation of the child, expressing the hope that it would marry and produce offspring itself. However, no indications of a stigmatisation of the unmarried and consequent ceremonies to improve their conditions are found in the ancient material. Other possible research paths come to mind. The Renaissance period knew the tormented, solitary and melancholic intellectual, whose devotion to books and study took away his desire to marry. Would such celibate bookworms have had their predecessors in ancient times? The chapters by Cribiore, Efthymiadis and Benkheira at least suggest a link, as does the contribution by Martens, who mentions the Rabbi who would rather study Torah than marry. For more than one reason, this volume on singleness in the ancient world is a child of its own time. First, the attention for the topic is very much related to the rise of individualism and the ever-increasing financial independence for both young males and females in the Western world after the rise of industrialisation. These factors have made possible the emergence of a singles’ identity – singleness becoming a deliberate choice and a lifestyle, which does not need to be supported anymore by adducing religious motivations. For demographic and economic reasons, such an option remains a strange and almost impossible one for a large part of the current world population. Second, in the wake of Roman family studies, recent attention has been given to the variety and multiplicity of family experiences. It has been claimed that it is perhaps better to speak about Roman ‘families’, that individual family members should be given due attention, and that ‘other’ forms of families need to be studied.

   

Vukanovic : – on the Serbian case; Graham :  for the possible parallel in the Roman world. Van Houdt  offers a vivid and extended account on humanist bookworms. For late ancient philosophers, see Clark . Witness such popular recent bestsellers as Heine () Single, Carefree, Mellow: Stories and Bolick () Spinster. Making a Life of One’s Own. Laes, Mustakallio and Vuolanto  on diversified Roman families; Laes and Vuolanto b on children’s experience; Huebner and Nathan  on fatherlessness.

What’s in a Single?



In the end, the term ‘single’ has turned out to be as multi-layered as the evidence which we used. Archaeological material and documentary census lists may be revealing for such topics as cohabitation versus solitary existence. Legal and philosophical/theological texts often concentrate on the matter of whether or not to marry. Petitions highlight the economic conditions of the single life. And the literary records inform us on emotions such as solitude or loneliness, and the praising or loathing of people who decide to opt for singleness. “One uses what one has, and there is work to be done”. True, when Sir Ronald Syme (–) uttered these words, he was candid in admitting that he was not much interested in comparative methodological studies. Also, Syme’s interest was more political and institutional. However, it is my and all the contributors’ hope to show with this book that Syme’s claim counts as well for sociocultural history. Much of the material on the single life is fragmented, dispersed and somewhat confused, but the little we have is worth exploring and offers fascinating glances on both the practicalities and the ideals of family life in a past which has in more than one way shaped our present world.

Demographic, Archaeological and Socioeconomic Approaches

 

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society: The Case of Roman Egypt Sabine R. Huebner

In every house of Christians it is needful that there be a virgin, For the salvation of the house is this one virgin.

(Ps.-Athanasius, can. )

 Singlehood in Roman Egypt in a Comparative Perspective Having a never-married adult family member living in the household is usually considered to be a phenomenon that surfaced with the rise of Christianity. Athanasius of Alexandria, for instance, ordered in the third quarter of the fourth century CE that every paterfamilias should keep one of his daughters unmarried at home in order to bring a blessing on his house. And Egyptian patresfamilias seem to have followed his admonition. The Historia monachorum in Aegypto, written at the end of the fourth century, says of Oxyrhynchus: “We were told by the holy bishop of that place that it contained , virgins and , monks.” Even if these numbers are surely exaggerated, we do find several holy virgins in our late antique papyri described as monachai (nuns), aeiparthenoi (lifelong virgins) and monachai apotaktikai (nuns living in seclusion). Most of these unmarried women – as far as we are informed – lived with their natal families, with parents, brothers or sisters, and not, as we would imagine, in a monastery. The first man denoted as “single” (monachos) appears together with a deacon in a petition from the Egyptian village of Karanis in the Arsinoite nome dating to the year  (P.Col. VII.: “And if I had not happened to get help from Antoninus, diakon and

   

 Riedel and Crum : . Elm :  n. ; Rapp : .  Historia monachorum in Aegypto .–. PSI . from / CE. P.Lips. I. from earlier than  CE; P.Lips. I. from  CE. P.Oxy. XLIV. from  CE.





 . 

Isaac, monachos, who came along, they would quickly have finished me off completely”). Egyptian monasticism probably began several decades before Anthony the Great first retreated to the desert around , and the movement of monasticism seems to have been well established in the early fourth century, so that Isidorus could refer in this official document to the monk without any accompanying explanation for his title. Monks were apparently widely recognized within their town or village also among non-Christians, as Isidorus, the author of the petition, and Dioscorus, the praepositus pagi, most probably were pagans, and the deacon and monk appear to have been authoritative witnesses that could be called upon. However, were those unmarried men and women living in sexual abstinence despite their marriageable age really a novelty? Had there been basically no never-married men and women in pre-Christian Roman times? When reading Roman literary or legal sources, we gain the impression that apart from the Vestal Virgins and eunuch priests of Cybele there were hardly any single women or men in Roman society – if we equate single with sexually abstinent. Roman daughters were married as soon as they reached puberty, and young widows or divorcées were remarried swiftly. Every Roman man was also expected to marry – even if he could take his time – to eventually produce legitimate offspring. Augustan marriage law (lex Iulia et Papia Poppaea) encouraged singles to marry and barred singles from inheriting if they were not willing to marry within a -day period (Ulp. Frag. .). Those widowers and widows who would have preferred to remain single after the first spouse’s death were given a two-year ultimatum to find a new partner; divorcées had just one and a half years to find a new spouse (Ulp. Frag. ). Only after the age of  for women and  for men could divorcées or widowers remain unmarried if they wished to do so without incurring penalties under the law (Ulp. Frag. ). Extant copies of the Gnomon of the Idios Logos, a handbook for the Roman official of the ‘private







P.Col. VII. = P.Coll.Youtie II., ll. –: καὶ εἰ μὴ βοηθείας ἔ̣τυχο(ν) ὑπὸ τῶν παραγενομένων Ἀντωνίνου διάκονος καὶ Ἰσὰκ μοναχοῦ τάχα ἂν τέλεόν με ἀπώλεσαν. Cf. Choat : –; Judge : –; Morard : –; Wipszycka : –. If we include among the Roman singles in pre-Christian times also those that did not enter formal marriages but surely had sexual encounters, we have to mention members of the Roman military and their companions, male and female prostitutes, and slaves, who were barred per se from entering into a legal marriage. On Augustan marriage law see Evans Grubbs, in this volume.

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society



account’ (idios logos), show that Augustan marriage laws were also applied to Roman citizens in Egypt. Let us consider the Roman marriage pattern from a comparative perspective: I concluded elsewhere that Roman Egyptian society belongs to the Mediterranean marriage pattern rather than the Northwestern European one. The so-called Mediterranean marriage pattern was shaped by early age at marriage for women, nearly universal marriage, a considerable age gap between spouses, high fertility and high mortality, patrivirilocal residence for newlywed couples (versus neolocal patterns in Northwestern Europe) and no life-cycle service for young females in the Mediterranean. This led in the Mediterranean countries in the early modern period to a very low percentage of single women, whereas the proportion of unmarried women in Northwestern Europe accounted for about % of the adult female population. This divergence between Northwestern Europe and the Mediterranean has been explained by demographers and anthropologists according to various factors: different patterns of inheritance systems, greater infant mortality in the South and therefore the need to exploit women’s fertile years to the maximum, and the importance of female chastity for family honor in the Mediterranean and therefore the need to marry daughters as early as possible. My main sources for studying the demographic background of singleness in Antiquity will be the census returns that have survived on papyri from the Roman province of Egypt. The census returns embrace a time range of about  years from the reign of Augustus to the mid-third century, and they provide us with the only demographic evidence that allows us to draw conclusions with some reliability about frequency of marriage and age at first marriage, and therefore proportions of single men and women in Antiquity. The census returns from Roman Egypt offer the best available source for studying the proportion of singles in ancient society or any other population prior to the Renaissance. Nearly  documents dating from / BCE to / CE have survived on 

 



The Gnomon prescribed that “inheritances left to Roman women possessing , sestertii, if unmarried and childless, are confiscated” (chap. ) and that “Romans possessing more than , sestertii, if unmarried and childless, do not inherit, but those who have less, inherit” (chap. ) (Capponi : ). Huebner : , . In early modern Northwestern societies, young unmarried people sought employment in other people’s households as servants for a period of five to ten years before they married, as a means to save money to establish an independent household with their future spouse. Cf. Kowaleski : –.   Kowaleski : –. Kowaleski : –. Cf. Bagnall and Frier : .



 . 

papyrus and are now held in collections all over the world. Most of these documents originate from the second century CE and come from Middle Egypt, where papyri had a better chance of surviving in the dry desert sands. In those nearly  census returns more than  households, almost , individuals, are recorded. While Roman lawgivers dealing with marriage and succession were mainly concerned with the Roman elite and their propensity for marriage, we know hardly anything about the proportion of single men and women among the middle and lower strata of the population. All the more important in this regard are thus the census returns from Roman Egypt. Most of the women and men who registered in the census were of humble origin and belonged to the lower and middle social strata of their community. We have many artisans, small traders and peasant farmers. The rest were landowners who were able to live off the revenue from their land, and only a few professionals. Slaves accounted for % of all the persons registered in the census lists. Villages are underrepresented: returns from the metropoleis account for roughly % of all our data, though their population constituted probably only one-third to one-half of those of the surrounding villages. Every fourteen years the head of each household, normally the eldest male, had to file such a census return to facilitate future taxation. He had to declare his property and the persons who lived in his household, that is, not only his immediate family, but also lodgers and slaves. The census thus recorded all members of every household, including their names, filiations, ages, physical characteristics (such as a scar on the forehead), relation to the respective head of household and sometimes also their occupations.

 What Difference Does a Husband Make? One issue, however, thwarts our desire to learn more about singles in Roman Egyptian society: the absence of any indication of marital status.  

   

For the beginning of the census see Bagnall  and now Claytor and Bagnall . According to Bagnall and Frier , the returns of  households contained useful information on at least one or more residents (p. ), with those of another  households containing information on at least one or more residents in their addenda not taken into account in the main book (pp. –). Cf. Goessens, in this volume for a study of the epigraphic evidence on singles from the city of Rome. Cf. Tacoma : . However, the town councils, instituted in , only overlapped with the census by fifty years.  Bagnall and Frier : –. Bagnall and Frier : . Bagnall and Frier : ; –. Cf. for the fourth century Bagnall : –.

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society



Marital status is not given in the census or in hardly any other documentary evidence. We only know that an individual was married when he or she was co-residing with his or her spouse; an existing marriage where spouses were living in different households or a previous marriage that had ended can only be recognized by the presence of children in the same household. Divorce was easy to obtain in Roman Egypt. As informally as a marriage was entered into, as easily it could be severed. It was probably already enough if the couple ceased living together in the same household. Either partner could ask for a divorce, and not infertility but rather incompatibility seems to have been the most common reason for divorce. Divorce agreements merely stipulated the return of the dowry and settled any remaining conflicts and reasons for litigation for good. A widow or divorcée without children, for instance, who had returned to her parents’ household would be impossible to distinguish from a nevermarried woman. The same applies to a widower or divorcé without children living in his paternal household. I have searched in vain not only in the census returns but also among the vast corpus of Greco-Roman papyri for mentions of marital status such as unmarried, divorced, widowed, in a domestic partnership and so on. There was no term for being single: women were defined as daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, nieces, wives or widows; men as sons, brothers, fathers, uncles, nephews, husbands or widowers. There was no term for either ‘old maid’ or ‘confirmed bachelor’. Moreover, the ancient Greek word for adult female that we find in the papyri (gyne/γυνή) was the same as for wife, and the word for adult male (aner/ἀνήρ) was the same as for husband. Being adult and being married was therefore literally synonymous. We do occasionally come across the term parthenos for an unmarried young woman, but its occurrence is rare – and does not necessarily imply that the girl was a virgin in the modern sense of the word. The latter point is very well illustrated by a text from the archive of Ptolemaios, a katochos at    



For the same situation in sixth- to eighth-century Egypt cf. Cromwell, in this volume. Bagnall and Frier : ; Montserrat : –. For Byzantine Egypt see Cromwell, in this volume. Montserrat : . While the English language has several alternative terms for unmarried men and women depending on their age and status (confirmed bachelor for unmarried men; virgins for young and nevermarried women; spinsters or old maids for never-married women of advanced age; widow(er)s or divorcé(e)s in case of a previous marriage), we have searched unsuccessfully for most of these terms in the papyri. We find the same phenomenon also in some modern languages such as French (femme for woman and wife) and German (Frau/Mann for woman/man and wife/husband).



 . 

the Serapeion near Memphis from the second century : “I am going along the avenue of the Serapeum with a woman called Tages, a virgin (parthenos). I am talking to her, saying: ‘Tages, is your heart weary because of the sex I had with you?’ She said: ‘She will be hard against me, my sister Thotortais [. . .].’” Apparently, premarital sex did not change her status as “virgin” – parthenos. Furthermore, the fact that a young woman named Zenarion from the second century  is called a parthenos in her marriage contract does not necessarily mean that women in Roman Egypt were generally expected to be virgins when they first married. In this case, things might be different, though. In this marriage contract, drawn up by the young woman’s father and her future husband, a Roman citizen named M. Petronius Servillius, parthenos may stress the physically “intact” never-married young woman, as Roman legal sources and elite authors expect an upper-class paterfamilias to watch over his unmarried daughters’ sexual purity and restrain them from premarital sexual transgressions. Montserrat even argued that Zenarion’s virginity is an integral part of this marriage arrangement – an exceptional case, however, as several other known marriage contracts from the Greco-Roman period regulate a married wife’s sexual conduct during her marriage but not whether she entered the marriage as a virgin. Nowhere else to my knowledge is premarital chastity, a girl’s intact virginity, or the seduction or the rape of a virgin discussed among the Greco-Roman pre-Christian papyri. This changes, however, from the fourth century on, when Christianity conquered Egypt. A father warned his son to desert his bride when the son detected during the wedding night that her virginity was not intact: “As for the eldest son, Paphnute, he took a wife against my wishes. I was very grieved about this, for his life did not run smoothly from the time that he married her, quarrels and disturbances happening in his affairs. They came south to me and told me the reason: her virginity had not been intact (at marriage).” The concept of an aeiparthenos, a woman who led a chaste life and had never been married, was a purely Christian concept that has not been found in the papyri of previous times. Indubitably there did exist concerns about the legal and economic independence of unmarried     

P.Dem.Bologna ; Bresciani et al. : –; trans. Rowlandson : .  P.Mich. VII.. Laes : –, nn.  and ; Caldwell . Montserrat : –. P.KRU .– from the eighth century; trans. Rowlandson : . Cf. e.g. P.Lips. I. from the fourth century.

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society



women, and their sexual activity or chastity for the sake of begetting legitimate children – but the sources for Roman Egypt remain silent on this issue. Rape or illegitimate sexual intercourse is basically never mentioned in the papyri of Greco-Roman times. This lack of concern whether a bride was a virgin or had been married before seems to have been peculiar to Greco-Roman Egypt. Jewish marriage contracts of the same period stress a bride’s virginity at the wedding. The Jewish “bride gift” paid by the groom was thus set twice as high for a virgin than for a divorcée or widow. The instances where marital status is discussed in the documentary papyri are rare: widows (cherai/χῆραι) use their former marital status to their advantage when appealing to officials, stressing the defenselessness and vulnerability of widowed women and their orphan children in order to gain support. Never-married women or divorcées (unless we take cherai/ χῆραι to designate both widows and divorcées) did not use their marital status, which probably at least occasionally brought them into precarious situations, to their advantage when appealing to officials. This apparent lack of interest in marital status might be connected to the informality of marriage in and of itself. In Roman Egypt, marriages were formed essentially by cohabitation; there were no legal formalities around getting married. The dinner, as we can see in invitations to wedding parties, was the central part of the ceremony. Drawing up a marriage contract was an option, but it was not essential for the validity of the union. The state was not involved in these private matters and considered them probably what they were – private. We do not have private letters discussing either that it would be time for so-and-so to get married, that it was shameful that the widow so-and-so got married again so quickly, or that widower so-and-so was already marrying his fifth wife. Even so, individuals asked oracles whether it was granted to them to marry or, more precisely, to marry a specific person. Asklepiades from the village of Soknopaious Nesos, for instance, asked the        

Harlow and Laurence (: ) and Hersch (: ) both stress the importance that was paid to bridal virginity in Roman society. Cf. Montserrat : –. Bryen : . This changes later in Byzantine times when we hear of monks raping women (Montserrat : ; Rousselle : –). P.Yadin. I. from  CE, Petra. Cf. Cromwell, in this volume for widows in Byzantine Egypt. Cf. Rowlandson : , . P.Oxy. III. (second century CE); P.Oxy. I. (third century CE); cf. Winter : . P.Oxy. IX. (second century CE); Winter : –.



 . 

god whether it was granted to him to marry Tapetheus, the former wife of Horion, or whether she would marry someone else. The fact that Tapetheus was a divorcée apparently did not lessen her attraction for Asklepiades nor her general chances on the marriage market. Women once married were, however, expected to be faithful to their husbands, while husbands were merely not allowed to bring another woman into the household or have children with another woman. Husbands’ extramarital affairs seem to have been socially condoned. Furthermore, the sexual conduct of widows or divorcées is never discussed in the papyri. Were those women supposed to live a chaste life? We know that widows and divorced women from the age of  rarely remarried, but did this also mean that they refrained from sexual relationships? We do have quite a number of single women heading their own household in which they lived with their children and/or slaves. A certain -year-old Tatybynchis from Philadelphia in the Arsinoite nome was the owner of the house in which she lived with her -year-old daughter. She most likely did have the autonomy to lead her life as she wished, at least inside her home. If she had a lover, what her family or her village community would have thought about this we will never know. The papyri remain strangely silent about these issues. Other single women even lived with men they were not related to. Aurelia Syra, a -year-old widow from the metropolis of Arsinoe, lived with her three sons (,  and  years old) in her own house. She had taken in her -year-old deceased husband’s brother together with the latter’s son. The wife of her brother-in-law was also dead, and so the two widowed thirty-somethings lived together under one roof – unmarried but probably still as a couple. Young divorcées or widows who did not command their own households usually returned to live with their parents or brothers; their sexual life was then probably under much more scrutiny than if they lived on their own. The papyri also remain silent about the sexual outlets of young life-cycle singles, that is, young men between maybe  and  and girls in their teenage years before they got married, but also young divorced or widowed  

 

Chrest.Wilck.  from  CE. P.Tebt. I. from  BCE and BGU . from  BCE; cf. Peterman : –. The reason for divorce often seems to have been the fact that one of the partners wanted to contract a marriage with someone else. Bagnall and Frier : -Ar-.  Bagnall and Frier : -Ar- (BGU .), from / CE. Cf. Montserrat : .

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society



men and women. Were there any restrictions about their sexual life, and was extramarital consensual intercourse between unmarried individuals socially condoned? It also becomes clear that not all parents were eager to see their children marrying. The old beer-seller from third-century  Philadelphia was devastated when her daughter left her to live with a man instead of staying with her mother and helping with her business: “She was managing the store (with me) and supported me, since I am old. Now, therefore, I sustain loss since she is gone, and I myself do not have the necessities.” While younger single women still found male support from fathers, uncles and brothers, older single women who had no children had lost this support and had no men at all to rely on. Here even a daughter became paramount to one’s survival in old age.

 Looking for Singles in the Roman Census If we want to look for singles in the Roman Egyptian census returns and these singles are not denoted as such, we first define those whom we want to consider being single. Someone who was living alone – regardless of whether he or she was in a stable non-cohabiting sexual relationship? Someone who never married? Someone who was divorced or widowed and chose not to or was unable to remarry? Someone who was apparently co-residing with his or her life partner but was not formally married to him or her? In Roman Egypt this would be for instance the case for slaves, who were unable to marry, and the consorts of Roman soldiers, who could only enter into informal unions during their partners’ active service. Furthermore, as regards the definition of a single, where do we want to draw the line as regards age? Legal adulthood started in Roman Egypt for girls at age  and for boys at age . Girls started getting married around the age of obtaining legal adulthood, and by their late twenties virtually all women seem to have been married at least once. Young men, on the other hand, enjoyed their youth and single life for about five to ten more years before they started getting married in their late teens; many married in their early twenties. However, only by their early fifties do most men seem to have been married at least once, marking a pronounced difference   

Montserrat : : “The whole question hinges on how much access people had to each other, which is not easy to reconstruct.” P.Lond. VII. from  BCE; trans. Bagnall and Cribiore : .  Bennett and Froide : . Bagnall and Frier : –.



 . 

between male and female marriage patterns in Roman Egypt. If the usual age of first marriage for women was in their mid-teens, was every woman above the age of  who was currently not married to be considered a single? Likewise, if on average all men were married by the age of , was every unmarried man above that age a single? Or should we also count all unmarried men in their late teens and twenties as single? For even if it was common that a man in his twenties was not yet married, he was single nonetheless, a so-called life-cycle single who most likely married a few years later. I thus decided to choose as a benchmark the age of , not because that age marked a certain turning point in an ancient life, but to allow for comparisons with modern census data. The modern census usually takes the age of  as a marker of having reached reproductive age and as a benchmark for calculating the percentage of singles in a population. In the following, I distinguish between life-cycle singles, that is, singles who remained unmarried for a certain number of years before they eventually married, and lifelong singles, who never married at all. The years between age  and the mean age of marriage thus constitute the mean years of life-cycle singlehood young people experienced. Bagnall and Frier established for Roman Egypt a mean age at marriage for women of  years and for men of  years. This would mean that young women in Roman Egypt experienced on average three years of singlehood before marriage, while young men had ten years as singles before marrying. Only for young men there thus existed this extended transitional stage of being single preceding the ultimate destiny of marriage. Having decided to keep it simple when analyzing the Roman Egyptian census returns with a view to finding out more about singles in Antiquity, I counted everyone at and above the age of  who was currently not married, judging by the absence of a co-residing spouse, regardless of whether he or she already had children, or whether she or he was living alone or with other people in one household. That means the only two factors under consideration are age and co-residence, but not the absence or presence of children and respective household composition. We have to be aware that, when analyzing these unmarried individuals, we are dealing with a widely diverse group – females, males, young, old, wealthy and poor, healthy and sick or disabled – that shared one common condition, namely that they were living outside the mainstream ideal of  

  Bagnall and Frier : . Kowaleski : –. Cf. Kowaleski : –. Cf. on Roman mean age at marriage for women: Scheidel : .

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society



marriage. Singleness could have been marked by a wide range of diverse situations in which a person might find him- or herself unmarried: by choice if they deliberately chose not to (re)marry for personal reasons (homosexuality, religious faith), by chance (the right person never came along), by necessity (young children from a first marriage, ailing parents who needed care) or because of adverse fate (war, sickness or death of a suitor). Most of the time the sources remain silent about the reasons for someone’s singleness.

 The Demographic Background for Singles in Roman Egypt We have in total , personal entries of individuals among the surviving Roman Egyptian census return that can be reconstructed more or less completely. Of those , persons,  were above the age of , that is, basically half of the population (.%). In Germany in  the proportion of people above the age of  encompassed an impressive % of the population. A proportion similar to that of Roman Egypt exists in present-day Niger, with just % of the population being  years and older, and to a slightly lesser degree in many other contemporary central African countries. For Roman Egypt, we find  persons of the adult population (N=) over the age of  who were single, a striking %. That a considerable proportion of the adult population was not married at any point can thus hardly be considered a modern phenomenon of the twenty-first century but in Roman Antiquity a very common way of life for many people. In the following we want to look at the details of this phenomenon. I excluded slaves from the calculations because slaves were single by definition. It was legally impossible for them to contract a valid marriage either with another slave or with a freed person or free person. Furthermore, informal companions are difficult to detect in the census returns, and always a matter of speculation. Moreover, any children borne by a slave woman were slaves themselves, with the status of the mother passed to the child regardless of whether the father was a slave or free(d) person. The majority of the slaves found in the census returns of Roman Egypt 



Bagnall and Frier  speak of , individuals (p. ), but I subtracted  slaves (p. ) and added another  individuals recorded in the census returns that only became available after Bagnall and Frier’s book was in print (pp. –). Cf. Population Reference Bureau .



 . 

were female, supplying domestic labor to the more affluent households of the towns and villages of Middle Egypt, and many of them had children living with them. These slaves were forced to remain single even if many of them might have lived in steady partnerships. Only if manumitted could they contract a legal marriage. Domestic servants, similar to the life-cycle servants of early modern Northwestern Europe, do not seem to have existed in Roman Egypt as such, unless we interpret lodgers – often living as a family unit and registered with the head of household’s family – as servants of the family. The  singles mentioned above lived in  different households, some of which contained more than one single. In total we have sufficient data for  different households. That means that we would have found a single in more than every other household, and that on average every household with singles contained . singles. Let us split up the singles by sex: of a total of  females over the age of , of them were not married. That means nearly half, %, of the female adult population over  was unmarried. In early Renaissance Tuscany the percentage of single women accounted for around % of the female population; the percentage in Roman Egypt was therefore basically ½ times higher. Distinguishing between those single women with and without children, we find just over a fifth (/ = .%) of the adult females were unmarried but had children living with them, and therefore most of them had certainly been married before. However,  of those  females over the age of  were living without children of their own, that is, .% of the female adult population. There is no way to tell whether these women had never been married or had left their children behind in the latter’s paternal household. Some of these women might even have been married, but their marriage had remained childless or any children had died early. Renaissance Tuscany is often compared to Roman Egypt because of the similarities in its demographic background. Here, however, the proportion of lifelong single women accounted for just –% in urban areas and less than % in rural regions. Finally, in Roman Egypt there was a fundamental difference between never-married women and widows without children, on one side, and widows with children, on the other. Whereas the former remained for all their life in a dependent position as daughter, sister, niece or aunt of the head of household, we find the latter often herself as head of household, 

Kowaleski : .

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society



managing her late husband’s estate and rearing their joint children independently. If such a widow had borne three or more children, she did not even need a tutor anymore for her business actions. Single as a common term for these women, defining them merely by their status as currently not-being-married, is therefore surely not sufficient to assign them to one group. More reliable indicators of the actual proportions of never-married or widowed or divorced proportions of the populations are probably the numbers for the adult male population, since children in cases of divorce or death of one parent usually remained living with their father or father’s family. Since ever-married status is only discernible by the presence of children in the household and children usually remained in their father’s household, they thereby serve as an indicator of their father’s ever-married status. Age at first marriage for men was on average five to ten years later than for women. Let us look again at the numbers: of the total of  adult males over the age of  recorded in the census returns,  of them were currently not married. That is .% of the adult male population, about % less than the single adult female population. Furthermore, many of these men we find in the Roman Egyptian census returns should probably be characterized as ‘life-cycle singles’ rather than as lifelong singles, individuals who remained unmarried for a period of one, five, or even ten years and then married or remarried. On average, women in Roman Egypt were married to men who were about five to ten years their elder, and so younger wives married to considerably older men had a good chance of outliving their husbands. Because widowed women, however, regularly chose not to remarry once they were over the age of  (age per se mattered probably less here than living circumstances, household composition and the number of children borne by this age), the age gap between spouses became smaller in surviving marriages. The opposite is true for men – the younger they got married, the smaller was the age gap with their spouse: in their twenties, their wives were on average four years younger than them; in their fifties, however, they had wives on average more than ten years younger than them. This correlates with the pattern of men remarrying regularly even in their forties and fifties. Taking into account the age gap, Bagnall and Frier have found that young men on the marriage market in Roman Egypt might have encountered serious obstacles to winning a bride. Not only did young men in 

Cf. Froide : .



Cf. Bagnall and Frier : ; Huebner : –.



 . 

their twenties outnumber young women in their mid-teens, but young men also competed for a wife with older men who were looking to remarry. Since widows did not reenter the marriage market from about age , some men necessarily must have stayed single or were not able to remarry even if they wished to do so. Of the  adult males,  were living without wives and children. This means that about .% of the male adult population had therefore apparently never been married or had been married but did not produce offspring, or had been married and the children had died. That also means that the vast majority of unmarried men (.%) did not have children. Of the  adult males,  (.%) were single with children, or  of  unmarried men (.%).

 Old Maids and Confirmed Bachelors in the Roman Census? What is important to recognize is that the pressure of being married surely varied according to the individual’s stage in life. Whereas the majority of the female and male population was still single around puberty, it seems to have been expected that women married before the age of . Men could delay getting married for a considerably longer period until their late twenties or even early thirties before they would have experienced the pressure of their families and peers. In early and mid-adulthood, being married was clearly the normative and expected social role; men and women who refused to succumb to societal expectations were probably severely criticized for their lifestyle choice. This prejudice, however, just applied to the never-married singles. For widows who already had children from their first union, the expectation of their remarrying was less strong and with advancing age diminished probably to zero. Most men and women in the Roman Egyptian census probably considered married life as the ideal living circumstance in adulthood, but the high numbers of singles in Roman Egyptian society imply that singlehood

 

Bagnall and Frier : . For the sex ratio in Roman Egypt, see Bagnall and Frier : –. Bagnall and Frier (: –) state that around the age of , half of all men were married and around three-fifths of women were married. Bagnall and Frier then claim that around age  nearly all men were married or seem to have been married. Men according to them thus needed a much longer time span to get married than women, for whom nearly universal marriage is claimed at the age of . However, twenty-nine men age  and older seem never to have been married, versus fifty-six men age  to . That means of all unmarried men whose age can be ascertained, % were  years and older, and  men or % were older than .

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society



did not come with a social stigma. Being single likewise did not automatically go hand in hand with poverty or loneliness. Inheritance in Roman Egypt was partible: daughters inherited as much as their brothers, and children inherited from both of their parents, father and mother; spouses, on the other hand, did not inherit from each other. That means that a widowed or divorced woman was not automatically better off than a never-married woman. Moreover, the most common form of residence for the majority of the population was the joint family household consisting of several married couples related via the male line, together with their offspring. Daughters left their father’s household upon marriage to move into their bridegroom’s household; sons, however, remained in the paternal household, bringing their young brides into an already established household consisting of their parents and siblings, and potentially even uncles and aunts, cousins and even grandparents. When women divorced or became widows, they usually returned to their paternal home. According to the household life cycle prevalent in Roman Egypt, an unmarried man or woman would have therefore lived with parents, if still alive, with unmarried or married brothers and the latter’s wives and children, and with any unmarried sisters. As son or daughter of the head of household, one was lacking neither standing nor financial security. However, once the parent generation was dead, living with sisters-in-law arguing over the division of work, authority and resources would seem much less desirable. We can in fact observe in the census returns the tendency that young women who still had two living parents and younger siblings seem to have had towards delaying marriage into their mid-twenties, while women whose parents had died early, or whose older brothers were already married and were living with their wives and children in the household, married in their early teens.



The Age Gap between Spouses, and Life-cycle Singleness

In Roman Egypt, women started marrying around the age of , threefifths of all women were married by age , and virtually all women had married by their late twenties – at least according to Bagnall and Frier. Bagnall and Frier attribute the substantial number of women in their  

The eldest son often received a double share, though (Huebner : –). Bagnall and Frier : .



 . 

mid-twenties who seem to have never been married to a statistical fluke, since slightly fewer women are attested for this age range, from  to  years, than for the age ranges from  to  and  to  years. However, should we not rather believe that we are dealing here with divorcées and widows who were either still childless or who had returned to their paternal home, leaving their children behind in the latter’s paternal home? Assuming from this meager evidence that all of the many women in their twenties, thirties or forties in the census who did not have a husband or children living with them had been married before does not rest on a solid basis. Of the  apparently never-married women in the census returns whose age we can ascertain,  women, or more than %, were  years or older. But there might be further reasons why some men and women delayed marriage for so many years, while their coevals jumped into marriage right away. Here demographic factors and the traditional age gap between spouses come into play. The explanation is simple: as in many other premodern societies, dowering a daughter might have been paramount to contracting a legal marriage. Since there was no civil wedding or religious ceremony, but marriage just consisted of an unwritten or written private contract between two parties, the relocation of the bride to her groom’s household and the transfer of the dowry probably constituted the commonly recognized critical elements of a marriage. Botticini has shown for fifteenth-century Tuscany that the younger the bride was at her wedding, the smaller the dowry was that parents had to give to the groom’s family. An older bride had to bring a larger dowry – apparently because she would have fewer years left to contribute children and labor to her husband’s household, and this disadvantage needed to be offset by a larger contribution in assets. Parents in Renaissance Tuscany therefore hurried to sell their daughters into marriage as early as possible. It has been argued that young women who received their share of their parents’ property at their wedding in the form of a dowry were eager to get married as soon as possible, whereas in societies where inheritance was 



However, comparative evidence from other premodern societies of the Mediterranean does suggest that marriage was nearly universal for women. I have suggested elsewhere that young widows were urged to remarry when they were still childless, or when the couple had lived with the husband’s family and their children remained with their father’s family where there was no place for an unattached widow (Huebner : –). Yet when the couple had lived on their own and the widow was able to take over headship of the household from her late husband, she could remain in the family home, raising her children alone, and choose not to remarry. The latter case was more common for widows over the age of . Botticini : –; cf. Van Zanden : .

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society



partible among all children, and daughters also inherited at their parents’ death, there was no incentive to get married as early as possible. In Roman Egypt we now have a combination of these two different kinds of inheritance patterns. Daughters did receive a dowry as inter vivos transfers. However, at their parents’ death the value of their dowry was set in relation to their brothers’ share and, in case it was smaller, complemented with additional means. It seems to have been the rule that brides received a dowry from their father. The dowry could be administered on a daily basis by the husband as long as the marriage persisted, but was legally owned by the wife. In case of death of the husband or divorce, the dowry fell to the wife and served as her main old age security, since she would not inherit from her husband. If her parents had already died when a girl reached marriageable age, a brother, uncle, grandfather or cousin – whoever was managing her inherited property – was supposed to provide her with a dowry.

 The Forty-year-old Virgin? Case Studies of Singles in the Roman Egyptian Census We discussed earlier that most of the women in their twenties who seem never to have been married were still living with their parents and younger siblings – or if they had been married, had returned to their natal home. Senosiris ( years old) is an example for this most prevalent household composition for apparently never-married women. She lived with her parents, her -year-old younger sister and her -year-old brother, who had brought his -year-old wife into his father’s household. The couple already had two babies (one a year old and the other younger); at her wedding, the brother’s wife thus cannot have been older than  years. We might wonder whether -year-old Tereus, a woman from the village of Alabanthis in the Hermopolite nome, had ever been married. She lived with her parents and her -year-old brother in her father’s house. A rather unusual household of three unmarried adults was formed by -year-old Athas and his two sisters, Therobastis,  years old, and Therothbechis,  years old. None of the siblings seems to have been married or to have had children. The siblings lived in the village of Thebonthon Siphtha in the Prosopite nome in the latter part of the second century. A census return dating to the fourth or fifth century would have  

 Van Zanden : –. Bagnall and Frier : -Ap-.  Bagnall and Frier : -Hm-. Bagnall and Frier : -Pr-.



 . 

made us think immediately of a household of an apotactic monk and nuns, but here we have simply siblings who did not get married – by choice or because of other reasons unknown to us. Interestingly, not the elder brother but the two sisters sign as owners of the house. The household was not without means, because it possessed two adult male slaves. And we have another example of a household formed by adult unmarried siblings: -year-old Teteuris and her -year-old sister seem to have been orphans. They were living alone in a house in Oxyrhynchus in the late second century. However, since it was their own house, they must have been regarded as attractive marriage partners. Now let’s consider some examples for unmarried men. The -year-old Papontos from Oxyrhynchus resided with his married sister in his brotherin-law’s household, which may have been quite an uncomfortable situation. Papontos was seemingly unmarried and childless, and when the census return was drawn up was temporarily absent. His sister and her -year-old husband had a -year-old son, who likewise had not married yet. And another unmarried young man, -year-old Apollonides, was living with the family. From his affiliation given with many details we know for sure that he was not the son of -year-old Petosiris, -year-old Ti-s or -year-old Papontos. He might have been a nephew of one of the men. All men of the household worked as stonecutters, potentially the reason why they kept living under one roof. As our last example, we want to look at a family that we can follow over a period of twenty-eight years, thanks to three consecutive census returns that survived from their household. The family consisted of three brothers living in the village of Bacchias in the Arsinoite nome. Their parents had already died, and Peteuris, the eldest brother, was acting as head of household. In the first record of the household, dating to  CE, -year-old Peteuris is married to a -year-old woman named Tapeine. The second eldest brother, named Horos, then  years old, was not yet married, and the youngest brother, Horion, was  years old. Fourteen years later the situation had changed: -year-old Peteuris was not married anymore, nor did he have any children. Had we had only this one census return for the household, we probably would have assumed that Peteuris had never been married since he did not have any children living with him to prove it. In any case, Peteuris continued living together   

 Bagnall and Frier : -Ox-. Bagnall and Frier : -Ox-. Bagnall and Frier : -Ar-. See also P.Mich. III, p.  for a stemma of the family. Bagnall and Frier : -Ar-.

Single Men and Women in Pagan Society



with his two younger brothers, the -year-old Horos, who apparently still had not married, and the -year-old Horion. Now only this youngest of the brothers was married, to a woman four years his senior, but he did not have any children yet. Yet another fourteen years later, the eldest brother, Peteuris, had apparently died (between the age of  and ). Now the middle one, -yearold Horos, was acting as head of household, and he had finally married. He and his wife had two sons; the ages are lost, but they both would have been below the age of  because Horos had not been married yet in the census fourteen years earlier. The youngest brother, Horion, now , was still married to his older wife, and the couple now had a year-old son. Older children had probably died, since at that point the couple had already been married for more than fourteen years.

 Conclusion In Roman Egypt, men and women were certainly raised to believe that their most important role in society was to marry and have children. Nonetheless, a considerable percentage of the adult population never married at all or never remarried after a divorce or death of a first spouse. Specific contexts, such as social and economic status and household composition, surely affected the propensity, desire and ability to refrain from marriage, yet we lack any discussion of these issues in our sources. It seems that in pre-Christian times marital status was not considered very important. Not even the Roman census officials were interested in marital status; they merely paid attention to the relations of household members to each other but did not record marital status per se. It comes as a surprise that, according to the definition for a single set out earlier, we discover a single man or woman in more than every other household. While marriage for Roman Egyptian society has usually been seen as universal, virtually every household contained a man or woman above the age of  who was currently not married. In fact, more than two-fifths of the adult population in pre-Christian Roman Egypt was not married at any given point. And because  sounds to us such a low age to be married, looking for unmarried individuals of age  and older,



Bagnall and Frier : -Ar-.



 . 

we find that almost % of all of the singles recorded were in fact in that age group. For all we can say about living circumstances and the household composition of individual singles in Roman Egypt, the papyri remain silent about informal extramarital relations beyond the household walls and potential sexual liaisons these singles might have had. The census documents from first- to third-century Egypt thus show us that unmarried young or middle-aged adults living with their family were already far from being the exception in pre-Christian times. While it is usually claimed that marriage was early and universal for men and women in Roman Egypt, the high number of singletons – life cycle or nevermarried singles, we often cannot tell – actually speaks against it. Therefore, even in a pagan society there was room for an alternative way of life, for the deliberate choice of not getting married but staying with one’s parents in one’s natal household far into adulthood. Yet this alternative way of life is discussed nowhere in the letters or other documents. However, in pagan times some of these single men and women might have been married before or might have been about to marry (again), singleness thus being an intermediate status, while in Christian times for those holy men and women who pursued the ascetic way of life their marital status was permanent. In sum, we can conclude that a significant minority of the population of Roman Egypt – and probably of ancient societies in general – remained single. How lifelong singles were viewed surely varied from society to society; in early imperial Roman law, for instance, social and economic sanctions were placed upon women and men who did not marry. With the rise of Christianity and the ideal of the monastic life becoming more prevalent, however, singlehood became a respectable alternative to marriage for men and women. We might wonder even whether the entire proportion of unmarried men and women, which constituted basically half of the entire adult population, can have really increased over the course of the fourth century with the rise of Christianity, without severely endangering the delicate balance between fertility and mortality in any premodern society.



A total of  women and  men over the age of  were singles,  of the total  singles above the age of .

 

Looking for Singles in the Archaeological Record of Roman Egypt Anna Lucille Boozer

 Archaeology and Singles While literary and documentary source material have long been used for family and demographic studies of the ancient world, the surviving material culture continues to be perceived as too epistemologically ambiguous for shedding light on the ancient family. In spite of such skepticism, both the abundance and the variety of archaeological material make it indispensible for studies of the ancient family, and in this case, the ancient single life. In contextualizing distinct temporal and geographical loci, archaeology serves not only to reconstruct a broad pattern of household materialities, but also to discern what factors led to particular household formations. This ability to provide both breadth and detail demonstrates how archaeology might contribute to ongoing discussions of singles in Antiquity. This article looks for singles in the archaeological record of Roman Egypt. In doing so, there are four important considerations to keep in mind. First, identifying singles purely on the basis of material evidence and without any sort of written testimony is, to put it simply, not possible. The most critical issue with the archaeological data is ambiguity; what archaeological signatures suggest a single person? Even among documentary sources, questions of defining singleness are fraught issues, particularly given the flux evident in all family forms. This issue is even more difficult for archaeologists, who often struggle to define single event horizons in the archaeological record, much less distinguish individual persons. Additional problems plague archaeological interpretations of the single life. Disparate qualities of data collection can significantly impact

 

Nevett :–. See also Jameson . See Laes, in this volume. See also DePaulo and Morris a, b.





  

our ability to reconstruct and compare archaeological material within and across sites. Moreover, all too often, archaeological data is poorly published or physically inaccessible to researchers. And, finally, data often is not interpreted in a way that allows for broad social questions to be asked of it; a complete re-evaluation of the material would be required before theoretical interpretations could be advanced. Even when archaeology provides a mute or uncertain response to a question, basic reasoning about the possibilities is essential. For example, women and children were long ignored for their role in producing and using a substantial portion of the archaeological record. Recent research has demonstrated the value in considering age groups and genders beyond men in their prime of life when interpreting archaeological evidence. Although we must remain cautious in how we interpret data, we do real conceptual harm to archaeological interpretation by ignoring a group that may have contributed to a substantial proportion of the material culture left behind. In order to answer this call to include archaeological approaches in the study of singles in Antiquity, I first review Laslett’s household classification system, which was published in . In doing so, I underscore where we might find singles among these household forms and, in turn, identify where these household forms might appear in the archaeological record. A necessary corollary to any current review of Laslett is the critiques that have come about in recent years. These critiques also provide direction for ways in which archaeology can further developments in household studies that grow out of Laslett’s model. This article provides four case studies of Romano-Egyptian archaeological material that speak directly to Laslett’s classification system, namely apartments, praesidia (remote garrisons), field houses and houses. These four case studies demonstrate both the particular circumstances of singleness, including short-term singleness, as well as the material conditions in which long-term or life-long singles resided. Finally, I conclude this article with a discussion of how archaeology can continue to contribute to our understanding of singles in Antiquity.



On the archaeology of children, see Baxter ; Johnson ; Kemp ; Sofaer Derevenski , a, b. On the archaeology of women, see Claassen ; Dommasnes ; Gero and Conkey ; Gilchrist ; Hendon ; Joyce . For an application of these theories and perspectives in a Roman-Egyptian house, see Boozer .

Looking for Singles



 Household Classifications: Laslett The classic Cambridge household classification system, developed by Laslett in , distinguished between at least five different types of households: () Solitary households (one individual) () No-family households (roommates) () Simple or nuclear family households (conjugal couple residing with/ without children; single-parent families) () Nuclear families with an elderly parent () Multiple family households (more than one conjugal couple residing together) Rather than serving as stagnant categories, these five household types should be viewed as fluctuating over the years. These different forms of family composition should be understood as stages in a categorical model of household progression. Indeed, a single individual might experience all five of these household options during the life course. For the purposes of this paper, it is notable that singles could be found in types , , ,  and . In other words, singles can be found in each and every type of household in Laslett’s system. Singles turn out to be a dominant category to consider when employing the Laslett system for analyzing household structures.

 Critiques of Laslett It is undeniable that the Laslett household classification system has conceptual flaws and numerous scholars have critiqued Laslett’s model over the years. A particularly common thread of criticism is that Laslett’s system smooths over the considerable variety found among regional household forms in the Mediterranean. These local variations range from almost exclusively nuclear households to a system with a high percentage of complex family households. These variations would impact where we might look for singles.  



Laslett and Wall . See also Laslett . In the recent past these “no-family households” typically consisted of unmarried siblings residing together, but it also could be people living in apartments above work spaces (an ancient example is Kom el Dikka, see below). Today these no-family households would be seen more frequently as apartment shares in expensive, large cities, such as New York, London or Tokyo. Sacchi and Viazzo : .



  

How can archaeological data help to mitigate critiques of Laslett’s model? Let us look more closely at three major categories of critiques leveled against his model. First, critics urge scholars to remain mindful that real households were always a process rather than a category. Household boundaries are fluid, defined by the everyday practices and relationships of its members. These household forms can be shaped by marriage patterns, fertility and mortality rates. The family evolves over time through cycles of birth, marriage, death and divorce. Researchers have called this process “the family life cycle”. The order, contours and timing of these events are particular to individual families, although quantitative detail can be informative as well. The call for more emphasis upon the family life cycle is valid, but an archaeological contribution to understanding singles as part of this process is limited. It is difficult for archaeology to differentiate fine-grained, shortterm changes on the basis of the current data that we have available to us in most regions and time periods. Archaeologists require exceptionally wellpreserved and well-defined contexts in order to sort out short-term household changes. Some scholars argue that even household-level change is beyond the ability of archaeologists to detect. This area of work should not be ignored, however, as there are ways around this issue. For example, we can consider various contexts for their physical role within different phases of a single life course even if we cannot follow the life course of a single individual from birth to death. Second, there is considerable regional and local variety in families, which critics would like to see addressed more thoroughly. Archaeology can contribute enormously to addressing this issue. Although census data, and particularly the Roman census in Egypt, is an incredible resource for ancient demographic studies, this data is highly geographically and temporally circumscribed. Archaeology can provide additional regional texture to the data that we gain from census documents (among others). Third, there is a pressing need to combine categorical, quantitative research with qualitative, in-depth studies of families. For example, Sacchi and Viazzo have suggested turning to qualitative sources where epigraphic and papyrological evidence does not exist. It is notable,   

Hammel : ; Wilk ; Wilk and Netting : . For Roman Egypt, see Huebner . Heinz, Huinink and Weymann ; Mayer . For recent archaeological approaches to the life course, see Gilchrist , .  Nevett . See Huebner, in this volume.

Looking for Singles



however, that they do not consider (or even mention) the potential of material evidence for facilitating qualitative study of households. The urge for qualitative rather than quantitative studies of the family is noteworthy, although statistical analysis cannot and should not be discarded. Archaeological research can contribute substantially to gathering qualitative data on ancient families because we can provide access to the so-called ‘people without history’ whose lives went largely unrecorded in Antiquity.

 Data and Analysis: Methods for Looking for Singles This section introduces the methodology for finding singles in the archaeological record to determine how we should look for them and where they may have been located physically. In the next section, I examine four different options for the physical location of singles in Roman Egypt: apartments (insulae) at Kom el-Dikka (Mediterranean coast), praesidia in the Eastern Desert, possible field houses in the Dakhleh Oasis (Western Desert) and houses in the Western Desert and the Fayum. The wide range in geographic locations is intended to mitigate against the bias of the Roman census data, which concentrates upon other locales in Roman Egypt. For each case study I present a table summarizing the data sets employed as well as the assumptions I make. I also describe the Laslett category that the example addresses. In this way, I suggest viable contexts in which different types of singles may be found. These physical locales provide texture and depth to literary and documentary evidence. My methods for finding singles are heavily dependent upon texts and cross-cultural comparisons. I have focused on archaeological contexts that documentary texts suggest would be likely locales for singles (apartments, praesidia, houses) or that cross-cultural comparisons reveal as a context deserving of further exploration in Roman Egypt (field houses). Rather than signaling a weakness, this cross-disciplinary work demonstrates the considerable gains scholars can make when employing a diverse range of evidence for answering nuanced research questions.   

Sacchi and Viazzo : , –. On this critique, see Sacchi and Viazzo . On the need for statistics, see Bowersock . Wolf focused upon globalization and its impact upon both “civilized” and “uncivilized” people in his well-known book (Wolf ). The term “people without history” has been used beyond this period and framework to include others who have been ignored in traditional macro-histories.



  



Case Studies of Singles in the Archaeological Record ()

Apartments

The term insula (pl. insulae, literally ‘island’) denoted a city block and also a multistoried apartment building. This form of housing was essential in the urban areas of the Roman Empire due to population increases and the rising costs of land in densely occupied areas. Survivals of apartment buildings have been poor in major cities such as Rome, where they are presumed to have been the dominant housing form. Ostia, located at the mouth of the Tiber River and the major port for Rome, provides our best examples of apartment houses. These Ostian apartments could have multiples entrances into the building. Central courts helped to provide air and light into the individual apartments. The exterior could include shops at street level. A number of urban apartment blocks have been discovered in Egypt, of which the complex at Kom el-Dikka is the prime example. Given that most of Alexandria has remained unexcavated, the ratio of public buildings, palaces and parks to shops and housing, both apartment housing and houses, remains unknown. Moreover, the proportion and distribution of these various types of structures would have changed over time and these diachronic shifts are not well understood. Kom el-Dikka has undergone excavation since the s by Polish archaeologists, and excavations continue to this day. This site is the most Table .. Kom el-Dikka Apartments Who Duration Why How

 



Primarily young and male; older males also possible Short- and long-term occupancy Artisans and apprentices Suites of data (archaeological and papyrological); comparisons

Boozer ; Gates : . Rodziewicz : –, pl. III. Also on Kom el-Dikka, see Rodziewicz , . Some apartment blocks consisting mostly of two-room flats, with a similar arrangement, have been excavated at Abu Mina, by the DAI since , in the northwestern region of the site, beside the North Bath (Grossmann and Pfeiffer : –, fig. ). These blocks appear to have been rest houses for pilgrims and travelers. See also al-Taher, Abd al-Hafiz and Grossmann : fig. ; Grossmann et al. ; Grossmann : . This site also could be explored for the study of singles. Delia : .

Looking for Singles



Figure . Map of Egypt. Drawn by M. Matthews after a commission by A. Boozer (CC-BY).

extensively and intensively studied site within ancient Alexandria. In the early Roman Period, Kom el-Dikka had luxurious urban residences that were damaged or destroyed and subsequently abandoned by the midfourth century CE. At this stage, the entire area was rebuilt with new structures. These structures include a small theater (or odeion), a bath 

Majcherek , , , , .



  

Figure . General plan of Kom el-Dikka. Courtesy of the Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology.

complex and a set of auditoria, which probably belonged to an educational institution. This area may have included a gymnasium complex. The Kom el-Dikka apartment building is located near the baths. There is an earlier brick structure (third–fourth century CE) and a later, larger brick-and-block construction (fifth century CE) with apartments or shops to the west. The apartment building at Kom el-Dikka appears to date from the early fourth to the mid-seventh centuries CE. It is a two-, possibly three-story building with a number of one- or two-room apartments surrounding a narrow central court. There must have been a balcony 

For a summary of the visible evidence, see Bagnall and Rathbone : –.

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

Figure . General view of Kom el-Dikka.

Photo: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. ©  Iris Fernandez (used with permission).

running around the court that could have been used to access the apartments upstairs since there is no portico. A stairway opposite the entrance on its east, narrow, side, provided access to these apartments. There is a common latrine next to the stairs. Evidence for ivory working, as found in various dumps, as well as glassmaking, as found in dumps and in kilns, suggests that this complex is associated with craft production. Parallels to the association between artisanal and domestic space can best be found in Rome and Ostia. This craft production, and particularly the ivory carving, appears to have been on an industrial scale. The apartment complex at Kom el-Dikka has not been published fully yet, but a viable hypothesis for its use must connect it to the craft production areas. As such, it is likely that at least some of the apartments in this complex housed artisans and their apprentices who were learning



St. Clair : .



  

the crafts produced here, namely glassmaking and ivory working. These apprentices were almost certainly singles. According to recent research, the circulation of children and young adults to learn various trades appears to have occurred in the ancient Mediterranean. Dixon has described the mobility of children between families in the Roman world. The institution of apprenticeship of adolescents that we know best for Roman Egypt, thanks to the papyrological evidence, can also be regarded as life-cycle service. Farmers and artisans sent their own children to other peasants or artisans to help them out or let them learn a trade. In turn, these families might host the children of other families in their own household, while providing them with training. These apprentices would live with the family and be fed and clothed. After a few years they would return home with the new skills they had acquired. The juxtaposition of the Kom el-Dikka apartment complex with intensive craft production suggests a possible urban solution to housing craft workers and apprentices. Rather than incorporating apprentices into houses, it is possible that crafts people and apprentices resided in these small apartments. In Laslett’s system, these arrangements would be termed ‘no-family households’ and the singles found here were most likely male and young. () Praesidia All Roman soldiers were banned from contracting legal marital unions, probably from the time of Augustus until  CE, when the marriage ban was lifted. Despite this ban, we have ample papyrological data suggesting that soldiers and veterans produced large households. Illegitimacy obviously led to some complications for inheritance, and accounts of these legal issues can be found in documentary sources. The legally required single 

  

 

Alston and Alston : . It was not uncommon to find singles in cities in Roman Egypt. Alston and Alston also note the concentration of craft areas in cities, which would promote the movement of singles into urban areas. Dixon . On the Greek world, see Bremmer .  Bradley ; Brewster ; Herrmann ; Westermann . Bradley . Van Minnen argues that we find only very few freeborn females among the apprentices because parents of freeborn females of marriageable age kept them at home to ensure their virginity (Van Minnen : ). Cases in which female apprentices are found (n= in Van Minnen’s study) show them living with women (n=) or a married couple (n=). This does not mean that freeborn women did not learn or practice a trade; they just learned it at home (Bradley ).  Van Minnen . Alston : –; Campbell ; Phang : . Phang : –, .



Looking for Singles Table .. Praesidia Who Duration Why How

Adult males Medium-term occupation Soldiers garrisoned in a remote locale Suites of data (archaeological and documentary); comparisons

Mons Porphyrites

Wadi Belih

Abū Sha'ar al-Qibli

er Riv

Abū Sha'ar Bādīya Dayr al-Atrash Abū Qurayya Bāb al-Mukhayniq Qattār Al-Sāqiya Wádi Safaga Al-Hâyita Abū Zawal Mons Claudianus Qarya Tiberiane Al-'Aras Samna Quway Kainè (Qina) Al-Matūla Krokodilô Bi'r Sayyēis Myos Hormos Qusūr Persou Dawwi (Qusayr al-Qadim) al-Banât Koptos Al-Hamrā Maximianon Phoinikôn Didymoi Bi'r al-Hammâmât Dios polis Aphrodites Paneion of orous

Domitianè/Kaine Latomia

le Ni

R e

d

S

the Wadi Menih

e

NA RIA AD VIA H

Kompasi

Latôn polis Apollōnos polis hè megalé (Idfu)

Barrāmīya

Xéron Pelagos

Al-Kanāïs Bi'r Samūt

Ancient settlement

a

Dios Bi'r Bayza

(Isna)

Mersa Makari

Mons Smaragdus

Phalakron

Apollōnos Hydreuma

Ancient Fort Cabalsi?

Ancient road or route

Kainon Hydreuma 0 0

25

50 25

75

100 km

50 miles

Figure .

Vetus Hydreuma?

Syènè

Bereniké

Map of Eastern Desert Roman roads with Dios indicated.

After J.-P. Brun; reproduced with the permission of Brun and the IFAO (Hélène Cuvigny, Jean-Pierre Brun, Adam Bu¨low-Jacobsen, Dominique Cardon, Jean-Luc Fournet et al., La route de Myos Hormos, L’armée romaine dans le désert Oriental d’Egypte (Praesidia du désert de Bérénice I). Le Caire, , Fouilles de l’IFAO /–).

status of a Roman soldier should not, therefore, be taken a priori as evidence of soldiers not forming families. All locales, however, did not equally allow for Roman soldiers to develop family entanglements, be they legal or not. For example, soldiers stationed at well-fortified garrisons (praesidia) in remote areas would have had fewer opportunities for forming family ties. There were simply fewer people with whom they could form relationships. One such locale to consider is Egypt’s Eastern Desert. In this remote locale, garrisons can be found on



  

Figure . Plan of Dios. After J.-P. Brun; reproduced with the permission of Brun and the IFAO (Hélène Cuvigny, Jean-Pierre Brun, Adam Bu¨low-Jacobsen, Dominique Cardon, Jean-Luc Fournet et al., La route de Myos Hormos, L’armée romaine dans le désert Oriental d’Egypte (Praesidia du désert de Bérénice I). Le Caire, , Fouilles de l’IFAO /–).

the road from Koptos to Myos Hormos and the Red Sea, and in the quarries of Mons Claudianus, Didymoi, Aphrodites Orous, Kompasi, Dios and Xeron. The building of the praesidia along the recently constructed stretch of road from Phoinikon (Laqeita) to Phalakro was new under Roman rule and seems to have happened under Vespasian, probably around – CE. Desert products (e.g. porphyry) and trade items from the Red Sea were important to Egypt’s Roman rulers. Moreover, the Eastern Desert was important for military control of the desert



Sidebotham, Hense, and Nouwens : .



Bagnall, Bu¨low-Jacobsen, and Cuvigny .

Looking for Singles

Figure .



Dios.

Photo: J.-P. Brun; reproduced with the permission of Brun and the IFAO (Hélène Cuvigny, Jean-Pierre Brun, Adam Bu¨low-Jacobsen, Dominique Cardon, Jean-Luc Fournet et al., La route de Myos Hormos, L’armée romaine dans le désert Oriental d’Egypte (Praesidia du désert de Bérénice I). Le Caire, , Fouilles de l’IFAO /–).

and guarding against marauders. The praesidia served to maintain boundaries and to control and guard trade goods. Each garrison would have contained approximately  men. The praesidia themselves are small structures that resemble miniature Roman army camps. There were pragmatic and ideological considerations for this resemblance; the construction was familiar and easy to replicate while also signaling a perpetual Roman presence, even in the barren desert. Most of the praesidia are rectilinear and were constructed with materials found at hand, such as cobbles and small boulders that were laid without mortar. Defensive towers often are placed on the corners and surrounding the primary entrance gate. Many of these praesidia had protective deities and shrines associated with them. A large well (hydroema) can be found in the center of most of these garrisons. Abutting the interior walls of the structure were storage rooms  

  Maxfield . Bagnall . Bu¨low-Jacobsen : . Sidebotham, Hense, and Nouwens : .



  

and the rooms of the individual soldiers stationed there. Some of these structures had a small intramural bath. Records of communication along the roads and between these praesidia preserve concerns expressing both professional and personal circumstances. Ostraka found in excavations of the praesidia provide ample details about the daily life of soldiers stationed here. From these records, we learn that the soldiers were charged with protecting the roads and aiding with quarrying duties as their official roles. They also seem to have felt the need to frequent prostitutes. For example, O.Dios. inv.  provides one such account: . . . Herakles, the horseman, took the letters, but did not leave until the tenth hour of the night (c. : a.m.), which you can verify, (in margin: ‘I found it’) because he was lying with a woman.

Prostitutes were transported between the praesidia, from one contract to the next, by donkey. The need for prostitutes may indicate the single status of these soldiers and their need to find some respite from their singleness in this barren desert. These prostitutes also could be explored as another group of singles in Antiquity. As it seems that there was local recruitment of Egyptian legions, it is possible that some of these praesidia soldiers had prior family arrangements in other areas of Egypt. For example, O.Florida  and  show families of soldiers trying to obtain food for them while they are posted to the Eastern Desert. The loneliness, disconnection and even ennui found among the soldiers also is attested. Even so, the most viable interpretation of these praesidia soldiers’ family situation is that they were single for at least the duration of the time that they occupied these structures. Locating singles within these praesidia required ample use of documentary and comparative source material, but the environment as well as the archaeology itself contributes to interpretations of singles living in these structures. Once again, this case study provides an example of Laslett’s ‘no-family households’.

   

  Sidebotham : –. Bu¨low-Jacobsen : . Cuvigny , . Bu¨low-Jacobsen : . H. Cuvigny published this ostrakon as P.Worp .  Cuvigny : –. Haensch : , ILS . See also Bagnall : . Bagnall : .

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

() Field Houses Field houses are very small, seasonally occupied structures. They are best known from the American Southwest, but they also can be found elsewhere. These structures helped farmers to cope with the inconvenient distances between residences and agricultural areas. Cross-culturally, inhabitants of field houses were single or temporarily without a family while they occupied these structures. The catalyst for developing field houses centers upon the need to minimize transportation costs. Some scholars have thought that field houses represent both the effects of shifting cultivation and the beginnings of its demise. Preucel, for his part, considers the field house strategy as a form of agricultural intensification. This intensification develops in response to escalating competition over arable land as a result of population growth and the clustering of people into larger settlements or cities. Field houses, he argues, develop in order to minimize the costs of transportation to and from distant villages. Preucel’s observations find particular relevance in the harsh conditions of the Saharan desert. These unforgiving desert conditions constrain the development of larger nucleated settlements. Many Saharan oases have multiple small villages spread through the palm groves in order to reduce the travel distance between dwellings and gardens. Urbanism has been a rare and episodic phenomenon in the Sahara as a result of these environmental constraints. Given Preucel’s reasoning concerning the Table .. Field Houses Who Duration Why How

    

Male (?); broad age range but very young and very old persons unlikely Episodic; periods of intense agricultural activity (temporarily single) Increasing competition over arable land due to population growth and aggregation, which is intensified in oases Cross-cultural comparisons

Kohler . See also Kolb and Snead ; Kolb .  See Laes, in this volume, for definitions of singleness. Wilcox : . Preucel : . See Fletcher  for a link between maximum settlement area and communication range and travel capacity. See papers in the forthcoming Mattingly and Sterry volume Urbanism and State Formation.



  

Figure .

Sketch map indicating the location of the columbarium farmhouses in Western Dakhleh, made in .

From H. E. Winlock, ed., Dākhleh Oasis: Journal of a Camel Trip made in . New York, , plate XV; reproduced with the permission of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Figure . Plans of columbarium farmhouses drawn in .



From H. E. Winlock, ed., Dākhleh Oasis: Journal of a Camel Trip made in . New York, , plate XII; reproduced with the permission of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.



  

Figure . Photos of the Dakhleh Oasis columbarium farmhouse, taken in .

From H. E. Winlock, ed., Dākhleh Oasis: Journal of a Camel Trip made in . New York, , plate XVI; reproduced with the permission of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Looking for Singles

Figure .

Plan of columbarium farmhouse /-H– or “House VII”.



From A. J. Mills, “The Dakhleh oasis columbarium farmhouse.” Bulletin de la Société archéologique d’Alexandrie  (): –; reproduced with the permission of A. J. Mills.



  

conditions required for field houses to develop, it would seem logical to expect these structures during periods of incipient and full-blown urbanism. As far as I am aware, no one working in Roman Egypt has identified field houses yet. This lack is surprising since these structures could mitigate against the harsh desert conditions found in the Eastern and Western Deserts. Given the intensification of urbanism in the Western Desert under Roman rule, this region offers a prime locale to look for these structures. I suggest that the so-called ‘columbarium farm houses’ of the Dakhleh Oasis might be candidates for field houses. Even if these particular structures later prove not to be field houses, the search for field houses in Roman Egypt should be pursued. The environmental and urban developmental pressures that would create the need for these structures are in place. Moreover, the spatial distribution and architectural features of these structures reinforce the impression that they were employed to reduce transportation expenditures within an urbanized, harsh environment. The so-called ‘columbarium farm house’ occurs singly, in pairs or (less often) as part of a larger grouping. The name ‘columbarium’ was introduced in Herbert E. Winlock’s  publication of his research visit to the Dakhleh Oasis in . The name derives from the incorporation of a pigeon loft into the structure of each of these houses. The distribution of this house is oasis-wide, although they seem to occur more frequently in the western half of the oasis. Some well-preserved examples can be found near Amheida on the road leading out to the Qârat el-Muzzawaqa burial ground. The sizes of these farm houses are variable, but they are typically square in plan view and their dimensions tend to vary from  x  m to  x  m. These dimensions are tentative at this time since only one columbarium farmhouse has been excavated (see below). Winlock describes the structures that he saw in the vicinity of Deir el-Haggar as small structures standing to two stories. Most had two vaulted 



 

Ignoring the debates and attention surrounding male-male relationships in Siwa, the long-term practice of young men living and working outside of the walls of Shali (Fakhry : –) would be worth exploring from the standpoint of field houses. The village of Ain el-Gedida in Dakhleh may have been an epoikion (a small agricultural settlement associated with the management of a large estate) (Bagnall et al. ). Several features found at Ain el-Gedida, such as at least two large bakeries, storage areas for cereals and grains, a ceramic workshop and a dovecot suggest that Ain el-Gedida was an agriculturally oriented site (Aravecchia forthcoming). On the urbanization of Egypt’s Western Desert, see Boozer forthcoming-a.   Mills : . Winlock : . Mills .

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

rooms on the ground floor, but one of them (Winlock Building C) had six. Access to the second floor, where the pigeons were housed, was by means of a ladder. Another columbarium has an open court in the center, which measured about  m square. The only columbarium to be examined in any detail is one known as House VII at site /-H–, which is located in western Dakhleh. The walls stand nearly four meters high. As is typical of these structures in Dakhleh, it is remarkably well preserved. This house belongs to a widely dispersed group of eleven buildings. This village is situated on a flat area of sandstone bedrock. The use of such natural “turtle backs” for habitation is common in Egypt as good agricultural land was in great demand and was protected from construction. North of this bedrock, good arable land can be found. This farm house group is closer to the escarpment foothills than to the southern perimeter of the oasis and is . km northeast from Deir el-Haggar. Given its location, Trimithis (Roman Period Amheida) would have been the closest city. The outer perimeter wall of House VII encloses a space of about  m x  m. There is a single entrance on the east side, which provides access to an open space that is the northern half of the whole enclosed area. The living space and the actual columbarium building occupy the southern half of the enclosure. The northern half of the courtyard was open to the sky and contained a single room (no. ) in the northwest corner. This rectangular room, approximately . x . m, is entered from the east side and utilizes the outer wall for two of its own. The floor of this chamber was bare bedrock and the fill consisted solely of a  cm compacted layer of animal droppings and straw. The stable, for a small flock of domestic animals, is a typical component of Egyptian farmhouses. Apart from this shed, the northern half of the courtyard is featureless. The southern half contained the living quarters. There are two parallel, rectangular rooms (nos.  and ), each  x . m in size. The entrance to each is through an arched doorway in the north wall, and there is a connecting doorway between them that was cut through after the building was completed. Mills found only one floor level in his excavation of the House VII ground floor. There was little occupational debris, suggesting a short occupation and planned departure. Adobe floors wear easily and require

 

Winlock : –. Mills : –.

 

Winlock : . Mills : –.

 

Mills : , plate XVII.  Mills : –. Mills .



  

numerous episodes of repair and replastering to maintain them. Low artifact densities suggest that individuals had time to plan the removal of their belongings. Full reports of the architectural features, ceramics and small finds are not available, but the preliminary reports are already informative. For example, a pair of small domestic ovens (no. ) were found. Special jars used for the pigeon nests confirm the use of the columbarium for housing these birds. The most likely inhabitants of field houses would be men, possibly from the same family, who were temporarily single. These men could be considered to be living in ‘no-family households’ because they were not a conjugal pair. It is also possible, but unlikely, that a single person lived alone in a field house, thereby occupying Laslett’s first category of a single person living alone. In either case, it seems likely that the occupants were temporarily single, having a family living in a city or large settlement in reasonably close proximity, but visited infrequently during the heavy labor periods of the agricultural season. () Houses A house can be understood as a physical structure, while a household defines a group of individuals sharing a common dwelling, usually family members and possibly some biologically unrelated members. The physical houses of ordinary Romano-Egyptians were modest, consisting of two or more rooms. They were rectangular, square or sometimes more complicated in their footprints. The majority of Karanis houses found in the center of the settlement were about  m square in their footprint. Table .. Houses Who Duration Why How

 

Family members, domestic or agricultural servants, slaves, lodgers or apprentices; male or female; broad age range Short-term, medium-term, long-term, and temporarily single Singles ubiquitous despite being ‘invisible’ Documentary sources; archaeology will be mute

Boozer : –. Mills : –.

 

Boozer : ; LaMotta and Schiffer ; Schiffer .  Hope : – and plate XIX.. Depraetere .

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Figure .



Plan of House B, Dakhleh Oasis.

Drawn by N. Warner after a commission by A. Boozer (CC-BY).

They were multistoried, and so the total square footage of the structure would have been larger, depending on the number of floors. Small houses, of about  m square or so for their footprints, were found at the edges of the town.



Given the potential of field houses, these houses should be fully re-examined. Unfortunately, little can be found about them in the published reports.



  

Figure .

Reconstruction of House B, Dakhleh Oasis.

Drawn by N. Warner after a commission by A. Boozer (CC-BY).

Singles residing with families either could be relatives or they could be from the non-family category of household members. These singles could reside with families for anything from a few weeks to a couple of years, or even a lifetime. Singles residing with their extended families should be

Looking for Singles



expected in Roman Egypt. One of the signature characteristics of the Mediterranean family model is the importance of extended kin who might live with the so-called immediate family. The number of family members in the Romano-Egyptian household ideally increased as the parents entered old age. Culturally, the elderly were respected and valued household members. The continuously evolving roles and standings of its members naturally created individual changes, but elders were not physically and socially isolated in the manner we have come to expect of most modern nuclear families. Both daughters and sons were involved in the support of their elderly parents, even if to different degrees and functions. It is certain that some of these elderly persons were single as single status becomes more demographically significant in old age. Non-familial singles might include domestic or agricultural servants, slaves, lodgers or apprentices. Slaves seem to have played a rather negligible role in households below the social elite in the Roman world. While the Roman elite household of Rome, Herculaneum or the great Roman landowners’ estates required a large slave population, households of the standard Romano-Egyptian type seem to have owned at most one or two, and then mainly female, slaves. As a result, the singles we might expect within the Romano-Egyptian household likely will be family members, servants, lodgers or the aforementioned apprentices. Archaeology will be mute for most of these possible categories of singles. This ambiguity is normal when considering individual household members. It is difficult, if not impossible, to attribute objects to specific household members, although one can make logical hypotheses when a contextual analysis is employed. There are additional issues that make identifying singles in RomanoEgyptian houses more difficult than identifying specific genders or age groups. First, the single person may be kin and there are no specific material correlates to this status that would materially distinguish this individual from the rest of the family. Second, apprentices are usually 

  

The significance of the extended, often multigenerational kin groups is a topic of some controversy. Richard Saller and Brent Shaw minimized the significance of this group in epithets (Shaw and Saller ), which others, notably Huebner, have argued against (Huebner ). Rupprecht . Bagnall and Frier . See also Culbertson  on the Roman East more broadly. I attempted to attribute some artifact assemblages and frequency of room usage to specific gender and age groups in my excavation report for House B from Trimithis (Roman Amheida) in the Dakhleh Oasis (Boozer forthcoming-a). This analysis was possible due to the preservation of the structure and the way in which specialists analyzed the material.



  

treated like family members, and therefore also are invisible archaeologically. Third, domestic furniture was modest and preserves poorly so we cannot attempt to identify singles and additions to houses through beds and other items. Fourth, houses of most families were small and the ways in which they used space changed throughout the time of day and year, which leaves behind confusing and even conflicting material signatures. For example, areas for accounting become areas for spinning linen, and then become areas for sleeping. The genders, age groups and (for our purposes here) marital status of the people using this area become intertwined and may be impossible for archaeologists to disentangle. Despite these caveats, we would do a conceptual disservice to our understanding of domestic life if we did not admit to the possibility and, indeed, likelihood, that singles occupied houses. We also may devise logical strategies for surmising the presence of singles in houses if we retain a strong element of caution. First, the houses of Roman Egypt were easily modified to accommodate changing circumstances because they were made predominantly of mud brick. If houses are excavated and analyzed closely, we can discern physical modifications to the structures to allow for a greater number of people. In particular, additions that are not clustered with the rest of the rooms of the structure might reveal non-familial household additions. Second, concerns for security within the house can be discerned in papyrological and archaeological evidence. Some families would lock internal doors in houses to protect individuals and possessions from nonfamily members. We could look at house plans and at door construction to discern door bolts that would have been used for this construction. Additionally, the presence of locks on boxes and the like may provide additional clues that security was a concern. As is usual in archaeology, the confluence of multiple material signatures will be more persuasive than an isolated signature suggesting singleness. The houses that included singles would most likely be Laslett’s “simple or nuclear family household”, “nuclear family with elderly parent household”, or a “multiple family household”.

 Conclusion Even if Laslett’s  model is now dated, it provides a useful comparative tool and illustrative device. For the purposes of this paper, Laslett’s model 

Bradley .



Boozer forthcoming-a.

Looking for Singles



reminds us that singles can be found across all of his categories. Indeed, I have explored examples for each of Laslett’s five categories in the four case studies provided. At this stage it is useful to re-examine the possibility of ‘finding’ singles in the archaeological record of Roman Egypt as well as considering how they might be located archaeologically in other regions and time periods. Most fundamentally, it must be made clear that singles cannot be identified securely in the archaeological record. Despite this negative statement, I argue that there is conceptual harm in ignoring singles. Singles were a known group of people who produced and used a significant proportion of the material record. Ignoring this category of individuals is conceptually erroneous. Moreover, this article has suggested that we can provide best-guess scenarios for the physical location of singles by using a holistic approach to the data as well as employing cross-cultural comparisons. The four case studies employed demonstrate how we might approach the material signatures associated with singles. These case studies may help to illustrate the potential for future work to incorporate singles into our conceptions of craft production, the military, agricultural production and domestic life. Moreover, I suggest that archaeology can contribute substantially to redressing critiques of Laslett’s model. The four case studies have demonstrated some possibilities for answering these critiques, but additional research could do substantially more to further such objectives. First, critics wish to see more emphasis upon the family as process. Sites such as Karanis (among others) could contribute substantially to our understanding of diachronic household changes if re-analyzed contextually. Karanis has deep stratigraphy with houses superimposed upon one another. Analyzing these houses using the method suggested here could produce diachronic data on changing family structures as well as underscoring viable hypotheses for the presence of singles in specific locales. Second, critics point out that families experience great regional and local variety. Although documentary and literary sources provide remarkable details on family life in Antiquity, as other papers in this volume amply demonstrate, they often subject researchers to a particular region, gender and class perspective. In the case of Roman Egypt, the Roman census provides a narrow chronological and regional perspective of demographic conditions. Archaeology can provide considerable regional and local variety that can complement or enhance the documentary and literary record. For example, we have informative archaeological remains from the Eastern Desert, the Western Desert, Alexandria and the Fayum to contribute to



  

our understanding of these regions. All of these regions were missing from the Roman census, and therefore there are great gains to be envisioned by looking to other categories of material. Third, critics of Laslett have urged that scholars should contribute more qualitative rather than quantitative studies of the family. Due to the uncertainties involved, archaeological studies cannot provide secure quantitative data on singles, but they can provide instructive qualitative data. In the present article, I discussed groups such as the military, artisans, farmers and families. Archaeologists can study the possibility of singles among additional groups of people, particularly when they pair archaeological data with documentary and literary sources. A few examples of these groups might include monastic, pilgrimage, migrant, work (such as miners) and even prison communities. An archaeological study of singles may initially appear to be an impossible task, but this article suggests potential ways forward through the inherent uncertainties. It is hoped that additional, future studies, possibly as outlined above, will reveal more data about this enigmatic but pervasive group in Antiquity. 

Sacchi and Viazzo .

 

Between Coercion and Compulsion? The Impact of Occupations and Economic Interests on the Relational Status of Slaves and Freedmen Wim Broekaert  Introduction Romans were supposed to marry and have children. In this respect, the Augustan marriage laws only confirmed and strengthened social expectations. Nevertheless, deciding between marriage and single life assumes some level of free choice and the right to enter into a stable relationship. Yet, in a slave society such as Imperial Italy, independence and the right to marry were not equally available to everyone. This paper will argue that the organization of the Roman economy, with its reliance on slave and freedman labour and the social control exerted by masters and patrons, seriously complicated the establishment of harmonious family life for their social inferiors. The first part will focus on the effects of slave and freedman labour on relationships within and outside the family. I will explore how different professions and the master’s decision-making created various opportunities and restrictions to start relationships or even a ‘family’. The second part analyses the economic value of slaves within the household and the effects of slavebreeding. A final section discusses the rationale of manumission and its consequences for previously established relationships. Did a freedman have sufficient economic power to reconstruct his family, in case he alone was freed? Did he continue his profession, thus maintaining strong connections to his patron’s family? How strong was a patron’s inclination to financially profit from his previous slaves, if this entailed the disruption of family relationships? The conclusion must be that apart from all legal, social and economic limitations inherent to the status of slave and freedman, the difficulty of establishing satisfactory stable relationships was an additional stumbling block on the way to emotional wellbeing.





 

 Agency, Occupation and Relationships There is abundant evidence, both literary and inscriptional, for the presence of slaves and freedmen in virtually every sector of the Roman economy. They acted as trusted agents on behalf of masters and patrons and often held positions of considerable responsibility. Yet, occupational choice was not so much affected by personal preferences as by the decisionmaking of masters and patrons. Slaves received training on the job or by apprenticeship, sometimes in accordance with perceived abilities, but always in view of the economic strategies of their owners. Freedmen often continued to work for their patron and his family, perhaps in a position of greater freedom of action and commanding more resources, but still in a profession defined by previous training and experience gained during slavery. As occupational demands evidently affect one’s possibilities to enjoy stable relationships, the training and profession imposed on them thus was a crucial factor for slaves and freedmen in establishing affective ties and family life. I will first consider the impact of a number of broad occupational categories on relational status. Slaves working in their master’s house as assistants obviously had the best chances of finding a partner and engaging in a more durable relationship. Much evidently depended on two closely related variables, viz. the sex ratio of the domestic slaves and scale of the household. There is little evidence that in large (that is, elite) households the sex ratio would have been skewed in favour of either gender. It is true that epigraphy is a notoriously unreliable source in this respect, for commemoration practices of slaves and freedmen tend to stress the presence of skilled male slaves and underrepresent women, but it seems likely that a considerable part of the household slaves had at least the opportunity to start a relationship within the household. Whether or not this possibility gave rise to stable and emotionally rewarding relationships, will be discussed below. The second variable, scale, is far more important. Opportunities for slave relationships increase in proportion to the number of slaves in the family. Small households with little money to invest may have preferred to purchase male skilled slaves to make some profit, rather than to invest in a female domestic servant, which might have resulted in unbalanced sex ratios. Slaves living in these families probably had to seek a partner outside the household. This could have been a challenge, especially for slaves  

 Bodel . Mouritsen b: –; Broekaert .  Scheidel ; Mouritsen . Edmondson ; Mouritsen b: –.

Between Coercion and Compulsion?



whose profession did not require them to leave their master’s home and spent most of their life indoors. Equally good opportunities to find a partner were available to those slaves and freedmen working in a stable environment separated from, but in the near vicinity of the household, viz. as managers and artisans in a shop or workshop on the property of their owners. The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum offer first-rate evidence for the frequent integration of commercial and productive infrastructure into residential dwellings and the use of dependent and semi-dependent labour in these premises. Some of these relationships between members of the same household may have been the result of the training given to male and female slaves of the family, their shared working environment and deliberate encouragement by the slave owners. I have argued elsewhere that it was in the interest of the master–patron to encourage relationships between slaves and freedmen of different gender but with similar occupational specialisation to enter a stable relationship within the family. In this case stable relationships supported prolonged cooperation between principal and agents. A completely different picture emerges once we leave the urban setting of the stable household. Large-scale agricultural slavery for instance was less accommodating to long-term relationships. The labour on agricultural estates has been characterised as predominantly “male and celibate in nature”, with an exception made for the estate’s bailiff, who was allowed (or even encouraged) to take a wife. Varro advised to also permit overseers to take a partner, but does not mention regular slaves being allowed to engage in stable relations. Recent research however has suggested that Roman treatises on estate management might have overemphasised the predominance of male slave labour and perhaps obscured the presence of female slaves and the possibility of establishing slave families, but supporting evidence is limited. Moreover, the presence of women on large farms does not necessarily result in many slave relationships, let alone marriages: consent by the owner was required and may not easily have been obtained by one of the anonymous agricultural workers with little access to the villa and its owner. On small-scale estates, on the other hand, slave families

    

Mouritsen ; Flohr  and . Broekaert  with further references and case studies.  Hopkins : . For bailiffs and their family, see Carlsen . Varro, rust. ... Roth  and . See Edmondson  and Mouritsen b:  for the contrast between rural and urban slaves and the advantages of the latter’s proximity to the master.



 

had better opportunities to develop, predominantly due to the absenteeism of the landowner and less rigid control. Another economic sector equally unfavourable to family life was maritime commerce. Slaves had been used as captains and sailors from the days of the Mediterranean conquest onwards, and Roman law quickly recognized their position as commercial agents with the introduction of the actio exercitoria. To accommodate for the increasing use of freedmen in maritime trade, lawgivers decided to broaden the scope of the actio exercitoria to include free(d) agents (sui iuris). Ancient sources again provide insufficient data to enable us to quantify the impact of a life on board a commercial vessel, as slaves working as oarsmen, sailors and ship captains are largely invisible in the epigraphic records, though not completely absent. Comparative studies on the life of seamen however offer far more convincing evidence for the proverbial image of bachelor ‘Jack Tar’. Sailors in Early Modern times were renowned for making the most of their stay in the harbour, a notorious behaviour frequently resulting in heavy drinking, fighting and spending their wages in brothels. They often ended up in debt, unable to gain sufficient spending power to marry and start a family. Latin literature presents a very similar picture of sailors frequenting bars of questionable repute in the company of prostitutes. Apparently only twenty to twenty-five per cent of the seamen in Early Modern Europe eventually married, but usually only older mariners and shipmasters managed to find a life partner, not the young crew. In addition, the grim demographic regime and hard life in shipping limited the possibilities for young sailors to establish durable bonds. If the same distinction between a large majority of young bachelor sailors and a small number of older, better-to-do shipmasters able to maintain a family could be transferred to Antiquity, one would expect slaves in the position of bachelor seamen and more experienced freedmen acting as shipmasters with a family life. This picture would fit the available epigraphic records quite well. Slaves and freedmen working as commercial agents also frequently settled (sometimes for life) in distant ports and distribution      

Apul. met. .–; Bradley  and Laes . Kirschenbaum ; Aubert ; De Ligt ; Aubert ; Broekaert . CIL ., CIL . and IG .. For what it is worth, none of this small sample of inscriptions mentions any family relationships. Fury ; Vickers and Walsh ; Linebaugh and Rediker ; Magra . Hor. epod. .; carm. ..–. For the predominance of freedmen among Mediterranean shippers (navicularii) and their family life, see Broekaert , nrr. –.



Between Coercion and Compulsion?

centres to facilitate the exchange of goods supplied by other members of the household. One can imagine they will have found it difficult to immediately establish a family in their new home town and started their residence as single men. The best example must be the isle of Delos, one of the most important commercial nodes during the Republic, where a large community of Italian slaves and freedmen settled to engage in the slave trade. The virtual absence of family ties in the inscriptions dedicated by the Italian slaves and freedmen has not gone unnoticed by scholars. Finally, and similar to the restraints on family life caused by maritime trade, the constant travels and long absence of itinerant merchants may have complicated harmonious family life, or at least resulted in relational stress and broken relationships. Apuleius for instance relates how a merchant from Aegina had left the isle to do business in Thessaly, Boeotia and Aetolia and encountered one of his colleagues in a state of acute poverty and distress. The man described how he had travelled to Macedonia for business and had been away for ten months. Meanwhile, in his home city, he had been given up dead, his children had been awarded legal guardians and his wife was urged by her parents to remarry. A Roman epitaph evokes very similar relational problems: a husband laments that he had only been married two years and four months to his late wife, but they had only spent six months together because he had constantly been travelling (propter causas peregrinationis). In conclusion, the profession chosen by a master-patron for his slaves and freedmen already sets the limits for their ability to find a partner and maintain long-term relationships. However, it was not only the trade itself that would determine the nature of relational status, but also, on the one hand, the intrinsic value of the slave, and on the other, the property he had acquired after manumission. These two factors will be discussed below.

 The Economic Value of a Slave: Slave-breeding and Family Life In this section I explore how a slave’s value could influence his relationships within and outside his master’s household. Did masters frequently move slaves around between different properties, thus making the establishment of slave families more difficult? Were slave families often broken up through sale and donations? Did masters value the slave’s emotional  

Broekaert  with case studies. ICUR .



Fabre :  (n. ).



Apul. met. .–.



 

wellbeing and attachment to his slave family over economic profits? This subject obviously is closely related to the question of how important slave-breeding and the concept of stable slave families for this purpose were in Roman society. The sources of the Roman slave supply, especially during the Empire when mass enslavement after conquest had become less important, have been much debated in recent years. The use of various demographic models in particular has proven extremely useful for approaching natural reproduction as a vital factor in maintaining the slave system. As a consequence, the practice of slave-breeding not only affected the value (and price) of female slaves of child-bearing age, but also their manumission rate. Although it has long been argued, on the basis of both epigraphic records and comparative evidence, that slave women were freed more often than men and at a younger age, more recent research has pointed out that inscriptions alone can never form a demographic database appropriate to reconstruct frequency and age of manumission, and that there is no compelling evidence to prove that fertile women were freed on a regular basis. On the contrary, the demographic logic of the slave supply system would require young slave women to remain in the power of their master until their late thirties. The concern to partially sustain the slave population through reproduction can perhaps be one of the reasons why Augustus decided to set the minimum age for formal manumission at exactly thirty years. The presence of freedwomen younger than thirty in the epigraphic records does not necessarily invalidate this model, because manumission below the legally required age could have taken place for many reasons, including testamentary manumission, personal affection and manumission of seriously ill slaves (so they could die a free person). If this reconstruction holds true, the implications for relationships among slaves and freedmen are considerable. First, if slave-breeding was an important motive to keep female slaves in the household, it does not follow that the master would be required to invest in an equal number of male slaves. Conceiving does not demand   



Scheidel  and . For a different model, see Harris . Hezser  collects evidence from the rabbinic texts for slave-breeding. Scheidel ; Bagnall  and more recently McKeown : – and Harper . Scheidel  and Mouritsen b: –, both with references to earlier studies. Contra Fabre : –, but with too much faith in epigraphic and literary sources. For the methodological problems of using epigraphy in studies of the Roman family, see Scheidel  and Mouritsen b: . Gai. inst. ..

Between Coercion and Compulsion?



monogamous, stable relationships. Cato famously organized a form of prostitution among his slaves, presumably to release sexual tension, but the consequence was at any rate an increase of home-born slaves without the need to allow stable relationships. Slaves always ran the risk of sexual abuse by the master and the members of his household, a prerogative that was never questioned but even considered a fundamental part (necessitas) of a slave’s existence; this condition probably extended to freed persons, for whom being sexually available for the patron was considered a (legally unenforceable but socially expected) duty (officium). That female slaves were supposed to be constantly available to the master and his relatives must also be responsible for the recurring image of freedwomen as being promiscuous, easy to seduce and unfit for durable relationships. One of the reasons for frequent sexual relationships with slave women by the master and his relatives was not only the relationship of power between owner and slave, but also the difference in age at marriage between men (late twenties, early thirties) and women (late teens, early twenties). The age difference resulted in a need for extramarital sexual activity and the presence of female slaves may have offered a solution. Also, male family members wishing to restrict the number of children (and thus legitimate heirs) may have turned to their slaves. The demand for slaves would thus, for a variety of reasons, have been partially answered by impregnation of slave women in the household. Paternity of these children was never an issue, as the child would always belong to the mother’s owner. That Roman slave owners frequently showed considerable care in the upbringing of home-born slaves and even hired wet-nurses for these children, might not only have been motivated by the wish to have the mothers return back to work quickly, but also because they after all were his own natural children. Martial famously jokes about a certain Quirinalis having sex only with his female slaves in order to fill his house and estates with slaves. While obviously exaggerating for comic effect, the text suggests that Roman masters clearly understood that relationships between master and slave women contributed to the supply of cheap labour. The philosopher Musonius Rufus describes how Roman society considered it quite normal for a master to have relationships with his slave-maiden (although he himself  

 

Plut. Cat. mai. .. Sen. contr.  pr. : “For a freeborn person, losing one’s virtue is a crime, but for a slave a necessity (necessitas) and for a freed person a duty (officium).” See also Hor. carm. ..–; Fabre : – and Mouritsen b: .   Fabre : – with references. Saller . Bradley . Mart. ep. ..



 

questioned the moral rightfulness), particularly if she was not married to somebody else. Although this text might suggest some consideration from the master’s side for relationships already existing between slave partners, it leaves little doubt as to the common practice of sexually abusing slave women. How frequently masters and their relatives were themselves responsible for the supply of home-born slaves by having intercourse with slave women, is impossible to quantify. The fact that slave offspring begotten by the master (filii naturales) only rarely occur in epigraphy, carries little value, as commemoration practices may have obscured this kind of information. Anyhow, sexual abuse by social superiors evidently caused psychological damage to the victims and complicated the establishment of stable, satisfying relationships among slaves in the household. In addition to abuse by male members of the household, slaves were always threatened by the danger of losing a partner or a child in response to the master’s decision-making. Roman law only considered food, clothing and shelter as basic necessities to be provided by the slave owner; family ties and emotional wellbeing did not figure on the list. Slaves were sometimes allowed to form marriages with the master’s consent, probably in the first place to promote procreation and increase control, but it is impossible to tell how frequently masters rewarded their slaves with this privilege. Inscriptions predominantly show relational ties between freedmen, but are generally silent about the moment these relationships had started (i.e. during slavery or only after manumission). Some scholars have argued that only a small minority of slaves ever had the prospect of forming familial bonds, while others maintained that slave marriages were necessary for reproduction and the sustainability of slavery itself. None of these models will ever find sufficient substantiation in the sources. Some masters will have reasoned that slave marriages could be used as a powerful incentive, others that reproduction only required impregnation, not stable relationships. Yet, even slaves enjoying the comfort of family relationships were never certain how long their master’s goodwill would allow these bonds to last. The danger of becoming single again always loomed in the background. A major threat to the slave family was the property division after the death of a household member. Roman law clearly stated that   



  Muson. fr. . Herrmann-Otto : – and –. Bradley : –. Dig. ... Fabre : –. Low frequency: Harris . High frequency: Treggiari a (a rather optimistic approach to the inscriptional data) and Scheidel . For an introduction to the debate, see Mouritsen a. Dig. .... Dumont : –; Rawson  and .

Between Coercion and Compulsion?



relationships could and should be ended when demanded as such in the will. Slaves could also be obliged to circulate between different properties of their master, either as part of the services they provided or as punishment, or they changed households as a consequence of gifts, loans, debt settlements or the divorce of master and mistress. Martial for instance asks a slave owner for a pretty girl to love and inspire him, suggesting that the temporary exchange of slaves for sexual reasons was not unheard of. Epigraphy and papyrology also regularly testify to the sale of slave partners and children to different households, but how frequently masters disregarded family ties is impossible to establish. The fact however that sales never concern slave partners or families strongly argues in favour of frequent family disruption. In addition, papyri also show that female slaves of childbearing age were being sold to new owners, suggesting that the former owners may have acquired sufficient home-born slaves and decided to sell the women to other households in need of slaves. The family relationships started in the first households were then inevitably broken. Nevertheless, there seems to be a tendency in Roman law to try and prevent outright separation, but it was not until the reign of Constantine that the separation of slave families became prohibited. This ever-present risk could easily have demoralized slaves and made them averse to becoming too emotionally attached to other members of the household or different families. Similarly, slaves who had managed to establish a stable relationship but had experienced loss and separation, might have decided not to start any new relationship again as long as they remained under a master’s control. It has indeed been argued that freedmen tended to remember only the children born after manumission, not those born as a result of brief liaisons during slavery. Ancient historians  

    

Dig. .... Mouritsen a. Circulation: Rawson  and Juv. .–, for the transfer of a child, born to slave parents, from a rural estate to the city. Punishment: Petron. . and .. Roth , on the other hand, argues that the fragment does not necessarily suggest a movement to the countryside, only an occupational demotion. Property transfer: Apul. met. .–; . and .–, describing how slaves decided to flee together, fearing that the new owner might split slave families in a single instant.  Mart. ep. .. Epigraphy: Rawson . Papyri: Straus . Bradley : –. Law discouraging separation: Dig. ... and .... Constantine: CTh ..; CI ... See Solazzi . In comedy, slaves frequently seek the company of prostitutes, suggesting sexual relationships within the household were not always available or desirable. See Dumont : –. Treggiari : –. See also Bradley : – on the psychological damage caused by slavery and the disruption of family bonds.



 

will never be able to penetrate into a slave’s mind to know how they tried to cope emotionally with this threat, but here again comparative evidence can help, or at least present some better documented personal experiences of slaves confronted with disruptive relationships and the emotional consequences. In the antebellum US South, nearly one in three marriages was ended by forced separation and approximately half of the children became separated from at least one of their parents. The disruption of family life often resulted in singleness, unwed motherhood, self-determined abstinence, adultery and a predominance of temporary relationships. Whether Roman slaves experienced comparable feelings will remain uncertain, but we do know that slave families were exposed to very similar conditions of separation and loss. It does not come as a surprise then that many slaves found it difficult to establish and maintain long-term family relationships. However, slaves with access to a substantial peculium (a considerable asset for slaves, but evidently limited to those belonging to the more affluent households) could hope to limit the masters’ control over their family life. One option involved procuring his partner as under-slave (vicaria). Although the slave probably still needed explicit permission to make the purchase and the under-slave legally remained his master’s property, it seems likely that the connections between master and vicaria were not as tight as between master and slave. The master could even use his permission (or refusal) to buy a vicaria for affectionate (instead of purely economic) reasons as an incentive for his male slaves. Because the peculium remained with the slave after manumission, he effectively gained control over his partner and was able to free her and start a family. In this case, the slave’s family life would not only be better protected against arbitrary interventions by the master, but would also continue without interruption after manumission. Nevertheless, the slave could never be sure about the fate of his partner and their children. Matthew’s Gospel describes how a slave owed a debt to his master (presumably caused by mismanagement of the peculium) and was threatened with the sale of his wife and offspring. Another possibility, again only available to the better-to-do slaves, was to await manumission, purchase his slave partner and instantly manumit her. Here he had to take   

 Kolchin ; Williams . Treggiari . For the peculium being handed over to the slave upon manumission, see Mouritsen b: –, arguing against the use of the peculium to purchase freedom. Mt. .–. The text does not offer much details on the slave’s family life, but because the master threatens to sell the slave’s family and possessions, it seems likely he is referring to the peculium and everything and everyone in it.

Between Coercion and Compulsion?



into account a possible delay between manumission and family reunion, because the slave’s owner was never compelled to agree with his offer to purchase her (see below). There is evidence that some freedmen were forced to wait for their patrons’ death to eventually inherit their partners and children, and some no doubt would have been waiting in vain. Both scenarios result in the man being both patron and husband of his wife, a situation reflected in the phrasing of several funerary dedications (coniugi et patrono or viro et patrono). Inscriptions however do not always elaborate on the exact relationships between the individuals mentioned, and it is possible that many other epitaphs in which both partners share the gentilicium, rather than documenting a marriage between two fellowfreedmen manumitted by the same master, in fact hide a marriage between a former slave and his under-slave, or between two partners one of whom had been purchased by the other. Many stumbling blocks thus prevented slaves from enjoying a stable and rewarding family life. They must have longed for manumission, hoping that freedom would finally improve their chances of having a proper family. After all, once manumitted they would be free to choose their partner, engage in a lawful marriage and have legitimate children. Things however were a little more complicated than that.



The Fate of the Freedman: The Entanglement of Possessions and Family Life

This final section discusses the consequences of the precarious nature of slave families for those who received manumission, and the impact of the Augustan body of laws concerning freedmen on their family life. One of the major reforms initiated by Augustus involved the creation of a new category of freedmen, the Junian Latins. This is not the place to delve too deeply into the legal intricacies of this new status; suffice it to say that when a slave had not been formally manumitted, he did not receive Roman citizenship but became a Junian Latin instead. One of the conditions for lawful manumission was that the slave would not be set free  



Evans Grubbs ; Mouritsen b: – with further references. See e.g. CIL .; .; .; .; . and .. In a similar way, parents sometimes tried to reconstruct their family life by purchasing and manumitting children born to them while still being slaves. See CIL . (matri et patronae) and Rawson a. The literature on the legal status of the Junian Latins is vast, but the history of their social and economic life remains to be written. I here only cite Sirks  and ; Weaver  and ; López Barja de Quiroga ; Rawson ; Emmerson  and Koops .



 

before the age of thirty years, as defined by the lex Aelia Sentia. Junian Latins were thus considered free, but they did not have access to all the legal rights entailed by Roman citizenship. For instance, they did possess the right to engage in legal business contracts (the ius commercii), but had no right to make a testament. When they died, their property returned to the patron or his family and could not be transferred to his relatives. It was not an attractive prospect for the freedman and his partner, to realize that he would not be able to pass on any property to their children. One can imagine that partners could sometimes have hesitated to start a family, or even a long-term relationship, in these difficult circumstances. Yet, various procedures gave Junian Latins the opportunity to become a Roman citizen, including the presentation of a one-year-old child born in marriage (the so-called anniculi causae probatio). It is this particular clause in Roman law that is most important for the subject of this paper. I argued in the previous section that a master had little to gain from freeing his female slaves as long as they were able to give birth. If procreation was indeed an important part of being a slave woman, we would expect only a minority of female slaves to acquire the status of Junian Latin (with exception of those manumitted for particular reasons mentioned above). For male slaves, on the other hand, the situation was completely different. The household did not require an equal sex ratio to ensure procreation, so unless the master was using the possibility of slave marriages as an incentive to stimulate diligence and loyalty, slave-breeding in itself was no reason to keep male slaves under a master’s power until the age of thirty. On the contrary: because Junian Latins had the ius commercii, they were perfectly suited to be used as commercial agents. Slave agents had the considerable disadvantage that the master was, to some extent, liable for the contracts his slave representative had concluded, because the actiones adiecticiae qualitatis protected third parties when dealing with dependent agents. Freed agents, on the other hand, could be provided with capital goods and money to invest, perhaps in return for a share of the profits, without the actiones for dependent agents ever being applicable (the patron could now only be sued under the actio institoria and exercitoria, provided his agent was working on the basis of an appointment). Moreover, precisely because a Junian Latin was not allowed to transfer any property to his children, he was the ideal tool to make investments: any profits realized when acting as his patron’s agent would 

I will not go into any detail here, but refer to the literature cited above (n. ) for the actio de peculio, the actio de in rem verso and the actio quod iussu.



Between Coercion and Compulsion?

accrue to his property and hence be indirectly added to the patrimony of the patron and his family. It has therefore been argued, and with good reason, that masters probably felt little incentive to grant their slaves formal manumission, when they had more to gain from first promoting their slaves to the status of Junian Latins, without access to Roman citizenship, and perhaps later, when they had proven themselves to be respectful and trustworthy freedmen, awarding them with full citizenship. It was thus in the interest of the patron that his Junian Latins themselves would not be able to qualify for full citizenship. In other words, by limiting their opportunities to start the anniculi causae probatio, i.e. by reducing their chances to start a family, the patron would have easy access to his freedmen’s possessions. But Augustan legislation affected not only the family life of Junian Latins. Another law, the lex Papia Poppaea, ruled that rich freedmen who possessed Roman citizenship (i.e. those who had never been or no longer were Junian Latins) and whose inheritance was valued at , sesterces or more, could only exclude the patron from claiming an equal share by having at least three children. Once again, Roman law made a close connection between the profits to be expected by patrons and the family life of their freedmen. The consequence of this law was that freedmen now had to choose between trying to have sufficient children, with the result that each received a smaller share, or to limit family size and provide one child with half of the family’s possessions. We can only guess at the psychological effects of this difficult situation, but one can imagine freedmen wondering what the purpose of family life would be, if his children’s economic interests would almost as a rule be harmed by his patron’s claim. Some freedmen even tried to reduce their property to a sum below , sesterces, so as to escape the patron’s claim, but Roman law was quick to act against this practice and protect the patron’s share. If a master wished to anticipate his freedman’s attempt to exclude him from the future inheritance, he could allow relationships between household slaves to develop and then only manumit the male partner of the relationship, if possible before the age of thirty. This way he could, on the one hand, profit from the child-bearing capacity of the female slave, and, on the other hand, continue to use his male slave as commercial agent. If his freedman would aspire to obtain Roman citizenship (if he was a Junian Latin) or have three surviving children (in case he already had Roman citizenship), he would either be forced to start a new relationship 

Weaver ; López Barja de Quiroga .



Gai. inst. ..



Mentxaka .



 

with a free or freed woman, young enough to bear children, or to wait until his partner would be freed, accepting the risk of seeing his companion being freed at an age when child-bearing would have become more difficult. Considering the grim demographic profile of Roman Antiquity, in which nearly one in three children died during the first year, Junian Latins and freedmen with Roman citizenship alike were forced to hesitate between a new relationship with chances for social and economic improvement, or remaining faithful to their slave partner and seeing their chances dwindle to either join the ranks of ordinary freedmen or to transfer property to their children. Roman law was even sufficiently clever to close a loophole to freedmen who tried to adopt members of other families or who had biological children from their time as slaves and tried to purchase, manumit and adopt them, so as to meet the legal requirements: adopted children did not count in Roman law. The constant emotional stress and sorrow of having lost children at a young age and the awareness that chances for success were limited, may have made older couples of freed people reluctant to conceive again. It is therefore possible that many freedmen, especially those whose partner had not yet been manumitted, simply did not attempt to answer to the legal conditions and decided to continue to live in concubinage and raise illegitimate children. That concubinage and, in the words of Rawson, other ‘de facto’ marriages occurred quite frequently in Roman society, perhaps reflects the problems of many freedmen to start a family. Freedwomen manumitted after child-bearing age who had either witnessed their former partner start a relationship with a younger woman or who had been living without a slave partner suffered an even worse fate: they probably had little chances of finding a (new) husband. These women most likely remained completely invisible in epigraphy, but papyri offer good evidence for the close relationship between the ability to reproduce and the opportunities to find a partner. As the prospect of women to find a partner decreased in proportion to their child-bearing capacity, many middle-aged freedwomen were probably condemned to live their life in solitude. Evidence for the severe situation freedmen could be confronted with is offered by the dossier of one of the few Junian Latins known to us, L. Venidius Ennychus. Several tablets discovered in Herculaneum discuss the challenge of Ennychus’ bid for an unknown office under the suspicion   

 See Gardner ; Gai. inst. .– and Tac. ann. .. Carroll . Rawson ; Evans Grubbs ; López Barja de Quiroga . Krause –: –; Pudsey .

Between Coercion and Compulsion?



that he did not possess full citizenship and his attempts to prove he actually did qualify, as he had successfully followed the procedure of the anniculi causae probatio. What is most interesting in the dossier, is that Ennychus made his first appearance in the tablets in – AD, but only initiated the legal procedure in – AD. He apparently did not manage to change his status of Junian Latin for at least twenty years. How this long delay should be explained, is not exactly clear. Had Ennychus, unlike his slave partner Livia Acte, been freed and decided to wait for her, until they were able to reunite and start a family? Did he try to buy her freedom, but failed to receive permission? Did the couple experience difficulties in conceiving and bringing up a child, especially considering the probably rather advanced age of his partner and the high infant mortality? Or had Ennychus initially decided to await his partner’s freedom (a partner unknown to us), eventually given up and married a younger partner (Livia Acte)? Whatever the story of his life, it seems likely that after his manumission Ennychus failed to start a family right away and probably remained single for quite a while. We also find evidence of a second approach followed by slave masters, to reduce the chances of their freedmen having children and trying to limit access to their inheritance. Roman law offers evidence for patrons and their sons having freedmen and freedwomen swear an oath not to marry nor to have children as a necessary condition for manumission. Although condemned by jurists, the fact that it was deemed necessary to discuss this possibility clearly indicates that patrons sometimes deliberately tried to limit family life and procreation by former slaves by demanding such a promise. Additionally, we must also ask ourselves whether freedmen and freedwomen would be aware of the fact that these oaths were legally void and unenforceable and whether they would have showed the courage to refuse, particularly in view of the patron’s power to deny manumission after all. And even if this strategy had failed, the patron could still hope to influence the family life of his manumitted slaves in another way, because Roman law obliged freedwomen to gain the patron’s consent in order to marry. Suppose a freedman and freedwoman belonging to the same household intended to get married and have legitimate children. A patron  



Arangio Ruiz ; Camodeca  and ; Andreau . Dig. ...; .. pr.–; ..; ..– pr.; Fabre : ; Gardner : –. The concept of the patron’s power over a freedwoman’s personal life is also illustrated by Ulpian’s statement that it is more honourable for a freedwoman to be the concubine of her patron than to start a family of her own (Dig. ..). Fabre : – with references.



 

would recognize that this familial bond could reduce his claim on the freedman’s property and might have been motivated to deny or postpone his consent, so the couple would experience difficulties in rearing the required number of children. Only when the freed couple belonged to different households would the patron find less incentive to refuse marriage. Yet, one could even imagine the patron of the freedman asking the patron of the freedwoman to deny his consent in order to prevent the marriage, but this scenario, while legally perfectly plausible, sounds perhaps too devious to occur in real practice. But perhaps a patron did not even need to go to such great lengths in order to limit his freedman’s chances of procreation. If slave women were on average manumitted at a more advanced age than male slaves, the sex ratio of freed persons might have been skewed towards males. In addition, we also need to take into account the consequences of the Roman demographic regime, in which many female slaves, subject to frequent pregnancy and child-birth, might not even have reached the age of thirty, again resulting in a probable shortage of female marriage partners. As manumitted slaves predominantly married within the same social cohort (i.e. to other freed persons), some freedmen must have experienced difficulties in finding a suitable partner. Again, epigraphy will never provide conclusive evidence for such claims, but one cannot help but notice the frequency with which freedmen were being commemorated by fellowfreedmen, and not by family members. It appears that for some freedmen, the word colibertus started to resemble a kinship term. The affectionate terms freedmen sometimes used to commemorate each other clearly suggest very intimate relationships that did not end after manumission. It is also in the company of his fellow-freedmen that Trimalchio is staging his own funeral, probably because he only expected them (and not family members) to attend to the rites and commemorate him. Oddly, very few of Trimalchio’s guests ever mention children. The setting of a dinner party can perhaps account for their absence, but the fact remains that the guests, who are mostly freedmen, seem to indulge in the company of slaves and other freedmen, rather than in that of family members. One of the reasons for this apparent predilection might be that those freedmen who had troubles establishing a proper family started to consider their   

Scheidel . Rawson ; Treggiari : –; Brunt : ; Boulvert : –; Flory ; Los .  CIL .a. Andreau .

Between Coercion and Compulsion?



fellow-freedmen, with whom they had shared slavery and service in the same household, as a surrogate family. Even freedmen who did manage to start a family of their own within or outside their patron’s household, continued to feel emotionally connected to their fellow-freedmen, sometimes even awarding them a place in the funerary monument destined for the nuclear family. Some more fortunate (and above all wealthy) freedmen managed to marry a freeborn partner (or even their patron’s daughter), an achievement which has generally been considered an indication of upward social mobility, of freedmen’s wealth purchasing a ticket to a more respectable status. We might wonder to what extent demographic constraints also encouraged freedmen to look for a partner beyond their own group of social peers. In conclusion, the legal changes made during the Augustan age not only strengthened the power of the patron over his freedmen, but also resulted in a number of subtle strategies available to patrons and their families to reduce their former slaves’ chances for having a family of their own. It is somehow ironic that the economic logic of the status of Junian Latins and the patron’s claim over his freedmen’s inheritance runs counter to Augustus’ wish to stimulate procreation within lawful marriage.

 Conclusion Together all demographic, legal and social constraints seriously complicated the development of a harmonious family life for slaves and freedmen. The power relationships between masters and slaves or patrons and freedmen in themselves entailed considerable authority over the relationships and family life of the social inferiors. Yet, we also have to take into account the interaction between slave-breeding, manumission and the Junian Latin status, probably resulting in a shortage of young marriageable women of child-bearing age and a surplus of freedmen in the same age cohort. A major consequence, for freedmen and freedwomen alike, was the limited opportunity to acquire the attractive legal privileges contingent on the number of surviving children born in marriage. It appears they had little hope of ever excluding patrons and their heirs from guardianship over freedwomen or from a share in the freedmen’s property. We should   

 See e.g. CIL .. Treggiari : –; CIL . and . Bu¨rge ; Los . See however Mouritsen b: – for the possible underrepresentation of marriages between freedmen and freeborn women. Gai. inst. .–.



 

not be surprised then to see that those freedmen who eventually did manage to establish a legitimate family proudly advertised their accomplishment in inscriptions and funerary art. The centrality of the family motive in epitaphs and relief portraits of freedmen has indeed often been noticed. I will not argue that the freedman community and their social relationships clearly stood out from the rest of the Roman population or developed a different system of family values, but the consequences of their former status as slaves and the power patrons continued to wield over them and their family unmistakeably had an impact on the opportunities for freedmen to find (and keep) a partner and to have a proper family. For this reason alone, their family relationships deserve separate and more detailed analysis.  

Treggiari : –; Fabre : –; George ; Borg . Contra Saller and Shaw : , who considered it futile to distinguish the family life of slaves and freedmen from that of the freeborn population.

Being Single in the Roman World

 

Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation Judith Evans Grubbs

The marriage legislation of the first emperor Augustus has been a topic of discussion and debate among both Roman social historians and Romanist legal scholars for decades. The princeps was motivated by demographic, moral and ideological concerns (not necessarily in that order) and was interested mainly in the behavior of elite men and women and, as we shall see, their former slaves. Overall, the legislation was “a massive and deliberate appropriation by the state of a new regulatory sphere: marriage, divorce and sexuality.” “Singles,” at least those of elite status, were certainly affected, but we should not overestimate the impact the laws had on unmarried men (women were another matter), nor assume that celibacy was their only target.



The Content of the Augustan Legislation

There is much we do not know about Augustus’ marriage legislation, although it was the subject of commentaries by several distinguished jurists in the centuries following its enactment. Our knowledge of Roman law in the first three centuries of the Empire largely depends on the sixth-century Corpus Iuris Civilis of Justinian, particularly the Digest and the Code of Justinian. The Digest is essentially a sourcebook of excerpts from the writings of legal experts (jurists) of the classical period of Roman jurisprudence (c.  BCE– CE), compiled centuries after the time of the authorities it collects. Like all sourcebooks, it contains only a very, very 



Cohen : . There has been extensive scholarship on the laws; I am citing only that of the past thirty-five years. Most useful are Dixon : –; Treggiari b: – and –; WallaceHadrill ; Treggiari ; Astolfi ; McGinn : –; Severy : – and –; Spagnuolo Vigorita . See also Evans Grubbs : –. Crawford : – gives the extant quotations from the two marriage laws along with a tentative reconstruction and translation; see also – for the adultery law. Spagnuolo Vigorita : – provides all the literary sources along with extensive discussion.





  

small sample of what was originally written, and the bulk of juristic writings that it does include mostly date to almost  years after the reign of Augustus. Most of the selections in the Digest are from jurists of the late second and early third centuries, especially Papinian, Ulpian, Paul and Modestinus, all active under the Severan emperors. Little remains from the reign of Augustus himself. In , Constantine repealed the Augustan penalties on caelibes (the unmarried) and orbi (the married but childless), leaving only the restrictions on inheritance between childless couples. By Justinian’s day nothing remained of the restrictions on the unmarried and childess; therefore, little trace of them appears in his corpus. The Institutes of Gaius, a second-century legal handbook that survives independently of the Justinianic codification, does mention the marriage laws on more than one occasion. They are also referred to in several late third- or early fourth-century legal sources, especially the so-called “Rules of Ulpian” (Regulae Ulpiani; also known as the Tituli ex corpore Ulpiani). However, even though the inheritance restrictions no longer applied in Justinian’s day, some aspects of the legislation were still relevant, and so the Digest also includes some excerpts from juristic commentaries of the second and third centuries on the legislation. More sources survive on the adultery law, since it was still in effect under Justinian, although there too Constantine had introduced modifications (see below). The Augustan marriage legislation actually comprised three separate laws, all engineered by Augustus but presented as leges, that is, acts of the Concilium Plebis. Two were marriage laws and one was a law on adultery and other illicit sexual activity. The first law on marriage, enacted in  BCE, was the lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus (“Julian Law on the Marrying of the Social Orders”). Twenty-seven years later a second law, the lex Papia et Poppaea, reinforced the lex Julia but also mitigated certain   



Cod. Theod. ... The restrictions on the right of childless married couples to inherit from each other were removed almost a century later. Gai. inst. .; .; .; .; .–a; .–. For instance, the fourth-century Western collection known as the Fragmenta Vaticana: Vat ; –, ; cf.  and  (all having to do with excuses from performing munera like serving as a guardian). Also the Paul. sent. .., compiled probably either just before or early in the reign of Constantine (r. – CE). The Regulae Ulpiani (= Ulp. (reg.)) XIII-XIX provide the most information and evidently represent the state of the marriage laws just before Constantine’s repeal. These pre-Justinianic collections are most conveniently accessed in FIRA II; note that the Paul. sent. and Regulae Ulpiani are not by the renowned jurists Paul and Ulpian but later pseudonymous compilations. Dig. ..– are all from treatises on the Augustan laws, elucidating the meaning of terms taken from or relevant to the law. Other examples are given in notes below.

Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation



provisions. Whereas the first law had been proposed by Augustus himself (using his tribunician potestas), the second was passed by the two consuls for the year, M. Papius Mutilus and Q. Poppaeus Secundus (both themselves unmarried and childless), but undoubtedly Augustus was behind it also. In later legal sources, these two laws are referred to collectively as the lex Julia et Papia, so it is difficult to know which law was responsible for particular measures. Together, the laws decreed that women between  and , and men between  and , were to be married and having children. Caelibes, those who were not married (or at least betrothed) were not allowed to receive an inheritance or legacy from someone who was not related to them within the sixth degree of kinship. Orbi, the married but childless, could receive only half of what they were left by those beyond the sixth degree of kinship, and could receive only ten percent of their spouse’s property by will. Under the lex Julia of  BCE, widows were allowed a grace period of only a year before they had to remarry, and divorcées were allowed just six months; the lex Papia et Poppaea extended this to two years for widows and eighteen months for divorcées. Anything left to those who were ineligible to receive them because they were not married was termed caduca and went to the testator’s other heirs, assuming they qualified under the Augustan laws; if there were no heirs, the caduca went to the public treasury (aerarium). By the third century, caduca were going to the imperial fiscus rather than the aerarium, and Caracalla decided that the fiscus would claim all legacies left to ineligible recipients, unless the deceased had parents or legitimate children. Informers (delatores) who reported to the fiscus that childless or unmarried people had received illegal legacies were rewarded with part of the confiscated property. Those who voluntarily denounced themselves (by declaring that they had been left property which they were not eligible to receive) could receive half of the property in question, with the other half going to the fiscus.

  

 

On these age limits and the fluctuating legal attitude toward marriages of those beyond them, see Parkin . In Roman terms, the sixth degree of kinship included great-uncles and great-aunts, great-nieces and great-nephews, and second cousins. Ulp. (reg.) XV.; they could take an additional tenth for every child they had. They could receive nothing from each other without a will (unless the woman was married cum manu or they were related within six degrees).  Ulp. (reg.) XIV (lex Papia granted longer grace periods); cf. Suet. Aug. . Ulp. (reg.) XVII. Dig. .. (Paul.) and Dig. ... (Julius Mauricianus), citing rulings by Trajan and Hadrian.



  

It should be stressed that these rules applied only to unmarried or childless persons who received a legacy or inheritance from someone not related to them within six degrees. Those who inherited from their parents or grandparents, or aunts, uncles, cousins or even second cousins, had nothing to worry about even if they remained single all their life. In other words, intrusive though it was into Roman elite practices of property transmission, the Augustan marriage law did not prevent anyone – certainly not any man – from pursuing a “single” lifestyle. (The right of unmarried women of respectable status to live as “singles” was subject to much more regulation, as we shall see.) It simply restricted their inheritance rights in regard to friends, lovers or clients. Evidence for the age of marriage for Romans is problematic, even among the elite whose lives are best known to us. However, it appears that elite females were likely to be married by age twenty; men, who were on average about ten years older than their wives, seem to have been married by age thirty. Therefore the requirement that women be married and producing children by age twenty was in conformity with societal expectations, and probably caused little upset to family arrangements. Young men, however, might find their time of premarital pleasure cut short, since they were supposed to be married by twenty-five. Augustus’ law may well have prompted some men of senatorial status to marry earlier in order to avoid the restrictions on inheritance from non-kin, and to reap the benefits granted to those who did obey the law. For indeed, Augustus’ legislation offered benefits as well as penalties. Men and women who had three or more children were rewarded under the laws. Men were given preferment in holding office and other perks like exemption from having to serve as a guardian and good seats at the theatre. Women were released from the need for a tutor mulierum and so had the freedom to dispose of their property and act legally. The grant of such privileges was called the ius [trium] liberorum, the “right of [three] children.” The ius liberorum was also granted (originally by the Senate, later by the emperor) to some men and women who did not have children; thus the ius not only bestowed privileges, but was a mark of honor and imperial esteem. Freedwomen who married and had four (not three) legitimate children after manumission could also receive the ius liberorum; given that 



Scheidel , modifying somewhat Saller : –. Lelis et al.  propose earlier ages for first marriage for males as well as females, which would make the Augustan law’s expectations more reasonable. Treggiari b: .

Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation



full manumission usually came only at age thirty and women would be past their peak child-bearing years by then, it is unlikely that many freedwomen qualified. The adultery law, known as the lex Julia de adulteriis coercendis (“Julian law concerning the repression of adultery”) dates to shortly after the marriage law of  BCE and was evidently part of the same legal “package” as the law on the marrying of the social ranks. But whereas failing to marry or procreate according to the lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus merely incurred restrictions on one’s right to inherit from non-kin, the adultery law carried severe penalties. Sexual relations between a married woman and anyone except her husband became a public crime, to be tried in a newly created standing court (quaestio perpetua). Stuprum, illicit sex with an unmarried woman or a boy or youth of good social class and reputation, fell under the same law. Men and women who were convicted under the adultery law were relegated to (different) islands; men had half their property confiscated, and women had half their dowry and a third of their other property confiscated. A woman convicted of adultery could not make a legal marriage again; having lost her honor and become infamous (infamis), she also lost the right to have an honorable union. These were serious criminal penalties, much more unpleasant than the inability to receive a legacy from a friend or grateful client. Just as enforcement of the marriage laws depended on delatores to report recipients of illicit legacies, the adultery law also required a third party to bring charges against adulterous wives and their lovers; there was no public prosecutor in classical Rome, so citizens were expected to regulate and repress the behavior of other citizens. As with the marriage laws, those who exposed others’ offenses were rewarded by receiving a part of the condemned person’s property. The law allowed sixty days after the commission of adultery for either the woman’s husband or father to prosecute. Those men, whose own reputation was most affected by the sexual misconduct of an adulteress, were supposed to channel their anger through the courts, not take personal revenge. In fact Augustus specifically     

Dixon : –. See Cass. Dio ..– on grants to those (including Livia) who did not have the requisite number of children. See Broekaert, in this volume. Most scholars date it to  BCE also, but Spagnuolo Vigorita :  puts it at between June  BCE and June  BCE. Cf. Dig. .. (Modestinus) on stuprum and the lex Julia. See Richlin ; Cantarella ; Cohen ; Treggiari b: –; Edwards : –; McGinn : –. In effect, she was lowered to the social and legal level of a prostitute or a lena (procuress). See Petrova, in this volume on the lena.



  

prohibited a cuckolded husband from killing his wife, even if he caught her in the act (though men who did kill their wives in a fit of passion could receive imperial leniency); fathers could kill their daughters only under specific, restrictive circumstances. If both husband and father failed to prosecute, then the right of accusation was thrown open to any adult male citizen. Women were not able to bring an adultery accusation, even against their own husband, as the emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla told an aggrieved wife. Thus one of the traditional prerogatives of the Roman paterfamilias, the right to investigate and punish infractions of morality by the women of his family (after consulting with a consilium of relatives), was curtailed: dirty laundry had to be washed in public. Moreover, a husband who knew about his wife’s adultery and did not divorce her could actually be charged with lenocinium, acting as her pimp, on the assumption that he would only be allowing such an offense to his honor if he were somehow profiting from it. This is really quite astounding: not only did Augustus encourage the public prosecution and punishment of respectable women who had misbehaved in the bedroom – a matter which heretofore had been in the hands of her family – he punished the husband who did not want to break up his own marriage. Pliny the Younger wrote of his experience serving on Trajan’s consilium when the emperor judged an adultery case. A woman, Gallitta, married to a military tribune (of senatorial status), had, in Pliny’s words, “stained her own and her husband’s honor by her love for a centurion.” The wife’s infidelity was here compounded by the fact that her lover was of significantly lower status than her husband, increasing his shame. Her husband had complained to his provincial governor, who passed the case on to Trajan. Trajan investigated and sentenced the centurion (who was also dismissed from his rank) to relegation. But the tribune, satisfied with his rival’s removal from the scene, did not wish to see his wife punished. He was still keeping her “at home,” not divorcing her as the Augustan law required. Advised by Trajan to complete the adultery proceedings by accusing his wife, the man did so unwillingly, and she too was banished and deprived of part of her property, and could never make another legal marriage again. The husband had evidently not realized that once he had exposed his wife’s affair, he could not remain

  

 See Cantarella  on this aspect of the law. Cod. Iust. .. to Cassia ( CE). Dig. ...– (Ulpian); .. pr. (Ulpian); McGinn : –. Plin. epist. ..–.

Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation



married to her without being seen as her leno (pimp), an offense that would have resulted in his own disgrace.

 Reaction against the Augustan Legislation The marriage legislation met with a great deal of objection from the Roman elite. During celebratory games in Rome, a group of equestrians urged Augustus to repeal the penalties on the unmarried and childless. In response, Suetonius says, Augustus “summoned the children of Germanicus and held them up as an example, receiving some in his own lap and some in their father’s lap, showing with his hand and face that they should not regard it as a burden to imitate the young man’s example.” According to Cassius Dio, after another protest by the equites, the princeps even “gathered together into the forum in separate groups those of them without wives on the one hand, and those who had married and had children on the other. And seeing that the latter were much fewer than the former, he grieved and lectured to them . . .” Dio then relates two speeches, purportedly of Augustus but, as was customarily the case for ancient historians, actually the words of Dio himself. The first, directed to those with wives and children, was in effect a panegyric on marriage, employing all the tropes of the epithalamic genre. Next the emperor turned to the (much larger) group of unmarried men and scolded them roundly for refusing their duty to their ancestors and the state and preferring a life of pleasure (not solitariness, for these “celibates” had not given up sex, according to Augustus) to the responsibilities – and burdens – of married life. Dio’s rendition tells us more about the continued importance of the marriage laws and the Roman ideology of marriage and family in the early third century than about what Augustus actually said. It is clear, however, that Augustus spoke out publicly, on more than one occasion, regarding the need for his citizens to marry and have children. Suetonius notes that the emperor enjoyed reading out edicts to the populace, including orations like Quintus Metellus’ De prole augenda 





Suet. Aug.  (my translation). Spagnuolo Vigorita :  dates this episode to late  or  CE, because of the presence of Germanicus in Rome. In that case, the equites would be protesting the lex Papia Poppaea. Cass. Dio . (trans. Evans Grubbs a: ). Spagnuolo Vigorita : – dates this to early  CE, thus before the lex Papia Poppaea. He thinks the equites were protesting an (otherwise unmentioned) law enacted between  BCE and  CE, which he identifies as the lex Aelia Sentia of  CE (on which see below). He believes the lex Julia of  BCE penalized only caelibes (because Cassius Dio does not mention orbi) and the law of  CE then added penalties for orbi. Cass. Dio .–. See Kemezis  and Laes, in this volume.



  

(“On Increasing Offspring”). If this was the same speech as the one that Aulus Gellius says was given by the second-century BCE censor Metellus Numidicus, De ducendis uxoribus (“On Taking a Wife”), it apparently gave all too much attention to the burdens of marriage and not enough to the rewards. In any case, in  CE the lex Papia et Poppaea was passed to supplement (and at least partly mitigate) the earlier legislation, in response to the protests by equestrians. These equites included not only permanent members of equestrian rank, but also sons of senators who were being groomed for senatorial positions; they thus represented elite youth unhappy with restrictions on their lifestyle. What exactly was the cause of all this tumultus recusantium, “uproar of those refusing” the Augustan legislation? It was not the requirement that Romans get married: virtually all women and most men, even those whose sexual preference was for members of their own sex, would marry at least once. Marriage and procreation were almost universally considered good things by Romans (even philosophers), necessary for perpetuation of the family and of the state: “For this reason we conceive and give birth to sons and daughters, so that from their offspring we may leave for ourselves a lasting memorial for all time,” as the Severan jurist Callistratus put it. There was, as Metellus’ speech suggests, a perception that marriage and (especially) the rearing of children entailed care and trouble and, due to high child mortality, usually grief. But even those who practiced “alternative lifestyles” and celebrated the single life, as the Augustan poets did, knew that their duty as Romans was eventually to make proper marriages and have legitimate children; they just did not like legal pressure on them 



 





Aug. .. Cf. also the Periochae of Livy , which says that the censor Quintus Metellus “censuit ut cogerentur omnes ducere uxores liberorum creandorum causa ” (“decreed that everyone should be forced to marry for the sake of creating offspring”), a speech that Augustus recited in the Senate when “de maritandis ordinibus ageret ” – which would refer to the original law of  BCE. See Kemezis : . Aulus Gellius Noctes Atticae .. Metellus was criticized for saying that if it were possible to live without a wife, everyone (i.e., every male) would – an early example of the “Women! You can’t live with them, you can’t live without them” topos. Osgood :  says Numidicus was Quintus Metellus’ nephew. On the burdens of marriage, see Laes, in this volume. Spagnuolo Vigorita : –. Aug. : prae tumultu recusantium, Augustus had to mitigate the original provisions of the law. It’s unclear if the modifications Suetonius refers to are those of the lex Papia Poppaea or if changes were also made between  BCE and  CE; see note . Dig. ... (Callistratus): Etenim idcirco filios filiasve concipimus et edimus, ut ex prole eorum earumve diuturnitatis nobis memoriam in aevum relinquamus. Callistratus was discussing the definition of liberi, “children,” and he stresses that they included grandchildren as well – the original context of his comment may have been an inquiry about eligibility under the Augustan law. Parkin : –.

Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation



to do this. Propertius, rejoicing after the failure of an earlier attempt by Augustus to impose marriage on Roman citizens, declares to his beloved (and evidently unmarriageable) Cynthia that, “More swiftly I’d suffer this head to leave my neck, than waste torches at a bride’s whim, or parade past your closed door, a husband (maritus), turning damp eyes back toward my betrayal.” He professes to prefer to serve in love’s army rather than the emperor’s: “Why should sons of mine feed my country’s triumphs? None of my blood will be a soldier.” Yet his final poem channels the voice of the virtuous and fertile Cornelia, daughter of Augustus’ first wife, Scribonia (and half-sister to the less virtuous but even more fertile Julia), who remained married to one man until her death and perfectly exemplified the Augustan ideal. Similarly, Propertius’ contemporary Horace sang of the pleasures of the single life and never married himself. But in his Carmen Saeculare, performed by a choir of virginal girls and boys at Augustus’ Ludi Saeculares in  BCE (a year after the passage of the lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus and the lex Julia de adulteriis coercendis) he extolled the recent “decrees concerning the marrying (lit., “yoking”) of women and the marriage law, fruitful in new offspring” and beseeched the goddess Diana, in her role as protector of women in childbirth, to bring them to fruition. The poets knew when to get with the Augustan program – except for poor Ovid, who learned too late just how serious Augustus was. The reference to “yoking” of women, a play on the word for marriage, coniugium, reveals the double standard held by Horace, Augustus and virtually all Romans apart from a few philosophers: the laws were intended primarily for freeborn women, especially those of the senatorial and equestrian classes. It was women’s sexual behavior that was to be regulated, not men’s. In an earlier, less edifying poem, Horace mocked men whose tastes ran to married women, who were willing to endure difficulties in reaching their lovers, humiliation and even physical mutilation by angry husbands, when they could enjoy risk-free sex with male or female slaves or 

   

Prop. ., trans. H. Deutsch in Rayor and Batstone : . There has been much debate about what law (or proposed law) Propertius is referring to: see most recently Spagnuolo Vigorita : –; Osgood : –. On the vexed question of Cynthia’s status, see Osgood : –. Prop. .; Osgood : –. Carm. saec. –: diva, producas subolem patrumque prosperes decreta super iugandis feminis prolisque novae feraci lege marita. On Horace’s praise of the caelebs vita, see Laes, in this volume. On the poets and the single life, see Kiiskinen, in this volume. For the fate of Ovid, see Spagnuolo Vigorita : – and –. I understand iugandis as referring to marriage; however Spagnuolo Vigorita :  suggests Horace was referring to repressing women’s adultery, something the Senate evidently had also called for (Cass. Dio ..) and the subject of the lex Julia de adulteriis.



  

with freedwomen. The Augustan adultery law ratified this status/gender calculus: freeborn women of respectable status were liable under the law if they had sex with any man other than their husband, whereas men were liable only if their alleged partner was herself a respectable woman. Slaves, prostitutes and other women of low birth and occupation, such as actresses, could be had with impunity. Women who disregarded this rule received nothing but opprobrium and criminal prosecution – like Vistilia, a woman of high rank who registered as a prostitute in order to evade the adultery law and thereby triggered a senatorial decree in  CE. Women who followed the rules and married, only to lose their husband through death or, less respectably, divorce, were required by the law to remarry or face the inheritance restrictions of the law unless they had already had at least one child. Widows would have justifiably been upset that the original law of  BCE allowed only a year after a husband’s death before remarrying, since it was unseemly to take another husband when the traditional ten-month mourning period had barely passed. However, the Papian-Poppaean law of  CE extended the grace period after widowhood to at least two years. It is likely that the change was in response to petitions and discreet pressure from widows and their families rather than the complaints of the obstreperous equestrians who confronted Augustus in public. Even without the laws, young women of child-bearing age who were widowed or divorced before they had children would probably have remarried anyway – at least among the Roman senatorial and equestrian classes at whom the laws were especially aimed. Despite the images created by ancient Christian writers and some modern scholars, few widows were compelled to remarry when they really wanted to honor the memory of their one and only husband as univirae. In the era of Augustus, the univira (“one-man woman”) was usually not the woman who survived her husband in years of chaste widowhood, but the wife who remained faithful during her marriage and was then fortunate enough to predecease her husband without suffering bereavement through death or

   

Hor. sat. .; written before the Julian law on adultery (otherwise Horace could have added the legal repercussions of adulterous affairs to the physical risks). Tac. ann. .; cf. Suet. Tib. ; Dig. ... (Papinian). See McGinn : –. On registering as a prostitute, see Petrova, in this volume. Ulp. (reg.) XIV. Suetonius (Aug. ) says the period was increased to three years. Humbert : –; Parkin : –. In Egypt census returns indicate cases of remarriage of women still in their child-bearing years (up to thirty-five) but not afterwards; on the other hand, older widowed or divorced men were likely to remarry: see Bagnall and Frier : –. Below the elite, widows past their mid-thirties were unlikely to remarry.

Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation



divorce – women like the Cornelia whose story Propertius told, or “Turia,” praised by her husband of more than forty years. Most men and women who had been married for more than a few years would probably have had at least one child, if not three, and so would escape the penalties of the inheritance law. True, children could, and often did predecease their parents; would a child’s death automatically push its parents back into the ranks of the legally disadvantaged? The Regulae Ulpiani sets out in detail (perhaps in response to questions from anxious couples) the ages to which a child would have to survive in order to “count” for spouses to be able to inherit from each other: a male child surviving to age fourteen or a female to age twelve (i.e., the age of puberty for each); two children (of either sex) living until at least age three; or three surviving until their naming-day. Jurists also debated whether disabled children would count for the purposes of the law; there seems to have been some difference of opinion on this matter. Surely the question was raised by men and women anxious to know whether they qualified for the ius liberorum or were able to inherit from each other. But those who did not remarry (or marry at all) would still be able to inherit from their family within the sixth degree of kinship. These very broad exemptions to the inheritance restrictions would have had the effect of keeping wealth within families, including even those members who were themselves childless. We should not overestimate the numbers of caelibes and orbi whose hopes of a legacy were dashed by the lex Julia. Apart from the wealthy elite for whom giving and receiving legacies from friends and clients was an established tradition, most freeborn Romans would be unlikely to inherit from anyone beyond this extended family and so were

 







On the univira, see Humbert : – and Treggiari b: –. Christian adaptation of the ideal: Lightman and Zeisel . Turia: see below. Arjava : – believes that most women could have earned the ius liberorum. Note, however, that on average twenty percent of marriages would have produced no children; in such cases, a surviving spouse would need to remarry in order to inherit fully from those beyond the sixth degree of kinship. On orbi couples, see below. Ulp. (reg.) XVI.a. This title is on the capacity of spouses to inherit from each other, but presumably applies to inheritance by orbi from non-kin in general. See Wallace-Hadrill : –. Cf. Dig. .. and  (Paul.), regarding when a child can be said to be anniculus (one year old); clearly this is in response to questions regarding eligibility under the law. The bar was higher when it came to claiming the ius liberorum: see Parkin : –. Dig. .. (Ulpian); cf. Dig. .. (= Paul. sent. ..–). See Allély : – for the context. Note also Dig. .. (Paul.): stillborn children do not count. On disabled children, see Laes, Beperkt? Gehandicapten in het Romeinse rijk (Leuven, ): –. Gardner : –.



  

not affected by the laws. Of course it was precisely the elite, both senators and equestrians, who were complaining about the laws, and for a reason. As Andrew Wallace-Hadrill pointed out thirty-five years ago, there was a practice among wealthier Romans of leaving sizeable legacies to non-kin, as tokens of esteem or gratitude for patronage or support; this went back well before the time of Augustus. This custom was so important to, and so ingrained in, the propertied classes, that penalizing the recipients of such bequests just because they were single or childless was perceived as harsh. Augustus’ legislation promoting marriage and child-bearing cut into this tradition and affronted those who practiced it. Freedom of testation, both giving and receiving by will, was almost as much a part of Roman tradition as marriage. This, rather than any real reluctance to marry and procreate, was the real root of elite resistance to Augustus’ laws. It was particularly offensive that one man, who had only one child (and none in common with his second wife, Livia) and had benefited enormously from inheritance himself, would place such restrictions on those from families at least as illustrious as his. And to increase the indignity, Romans were encouraged to inform against their peers, or even their social betters, in order to enforce the law; the penalties only came into play if a third party revealed that someone ineligible under the law had benefited from the will of a non-relative. Worst of all was the fact that adultery could no longer be handled discreetly within the household by the paterfamilias and his consilium; instead, it was possible for a third party to bring an adultery accusation and damage the reputation of all involved – including the cuckolded husband, who would be forced to divorce his wife rather than be branded with infamia as her pimp. The official encouragement to denounce fellow citizens really rankled. That is why Tacitus, in his digression on the deleterious evolution of law, blames the laws that had come into effect under “peace and princeps ” for the rise of the notorious blight on Roman elite society, the delatores: Harsher bonds (arose) from this, guards were imposed and induced by the rewards of the Papian-Poppaean law such that, if there was any default from

 



Champlin : – notes that family members within the sixth degree, especially children, were by far the most common heirs and legatees. Wallace-Hadrill ; Hopkins : –; Champlin : –, who notes (–), “The roughly one-fifth of Roman testators who in the course of nature would be childless seem to have looked for heirs among their friends rather than their kin.” Cf. Champlin : – on the amount Augustus inherited.

Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation



the privileges of parents, then the people (i.e. the aerarium), as if the parent of all, would keep the ownerless properties. But they (informers) penetrated deeper and seized hold of the city and Italy and wherever there were citizens, and the positions of many were destroyed.

Looking back, Tacitus saw that Augustus’ laws had encouraged Romans to denounce each other over illegally acquired inheritances. His account of the trials in the Senate for treason, magic (or poisoning) and – not coincidentally – adultery, demonstrates how ready elite Romans were to use the laws to attack each other if it was to their own advantage. Moreover, in addition to the loss of legacies or criminal penalties for adultery, the laws also added a layer of public shaming, not only to sexual misconduct within the household but also to what had always been considered a great misfortune: childlessness. On average, twenty percent of all marriages will not result in children, and given high neonate mortality and the risk of miscarriage, especially for women marrying in their teens, we can assume that even more than twenty percent of Roman couples would be officially orbi. Two famous examples illustrate the additional pressure and anxiety the Augustan marriage legislation put on already worried childless couples. The first is an inscription from the time of Augustus set up for the wife known today as “Turia” which records her husband’s funeral oration for her. The bereaved husband says that after many years of childlessness his wife, grieving at his orbitas, offered him a divorce, and even proposed to find him a more fertile wife and continue in a more sisterly relationship with him. He was, he tells us, absolutely shocked that she would think of such a thing, and hotly refused to put aside the wife who had saved his life during the proscriptions of the Second Triumvirate. To a modern reader it may appear a little odd, and more than a little tasteless, that a husband would talk about his wife’s fertility problems at her funeral. Who wanted to know all this? Presumably the husband’s peers and friends and enemies, and also Augustus, who may even have attended the funeral; the laudatio’s language shows the husband to have been a supporter of the new regime, although he could not agree with it in this one respect.      

In other words, if someone who did not have children received a legacy. Tac. ann. ., translation from Evans Grubbs a: . Spagnuolo Vigorita : . Tac. ann. .; .; .; .; .; .–; Marshall . See further at Evans Grubbs : –. CIL VI.. Latin text in Wistrand ; discussion in Horsfall ; Lindsay ; and esp. Osgood . The identity of the woman and her husband are still debated. Lindsay  on the husband as supporter of Augustus’ program of reform.



  

Similarly, Pliny the Younger in a pair of letters, one to his teenage wife’s grandfather and one to her aunt, informs them that most regrettably, Calpurnia didn’t realize she was pregnant and did things she shouldn’t have and consequently, she miscarried. Again, these letters were intended for public consumption; Pliny had them published in his lifetime. He wanted not only his grandfather-in-law to know that they were actively trying to have children, but also his elite readers and, of course, the emperor. Trajan did in fact grant Pliny the ius liberorum, and in his letter of thanks Pliny assured the emperor that he truly did want children, as was clear from the fact that he has married more than once. Some time later, Pliny respectfully asked Trajan to grant the same boon to Pliny’s friend and protégé, the biographer Suetonius who, Pliny says, had not been “fortunate” in his marriage. Thus Pliny did not have to worry about inheritance restrictions, which was fortunate for him because he actually received, and gave, quite a lot of money through bequests. Those who did not have Pliny’s connections and also did not have children would not only be unable to take legacies from clients and friends, but would feel the sting of public reproach – because whatever Roman satirists and moralists might say, elite Romans did want children. However, they did not want to be dictated to or to be told that their testamentary rights would be curtailed if they did not marry and reproduce. The Augustan marriage laws remained in force for more than  years, not necessarily because they increased the citizen population or strengthened elite families but because they reenforced imperial ideology (and imperial coffers). Until  CE, when the Edict of Caracalla granted Roman citizenship to virtually all free inhabitants of the Empire, only Roman citizens were affected by the Augustan laws, and most of them were in Italy or the more “romanized” western provinces. But we know from the Gnomon of the Idios Logos, the handbook of the official in charge of imperial accounts in Egypt, that the laws were applied in Egypt in the second century. Marriage contracts of Roman citizens in Egypt referred to the lex Julia quae de maritandis ordinibus lata est liberorum procreandorum causa (“Julian law which was passed concerning the social  

 

Epist. . and .. Plin. epist. . (his own grant of the ius liberorum); epist. .– (Suet.). Trajan grumbled a bit at the request for Suetonius, because he had already told the senators that he was going to restrict the number of grants of the ius liberorum, but he did give it to Suetonius. Duncan-Jones : – on Pliny’s legacies. However, the rules as given in the Gnomon differ somewhat from what we know from Roman legal and literary sources: see Besnier ; Treggiari b: –.

Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation



orders for the sake of procreating children”). The cosmopolitan North African writer Apuleius inserted references to the Augustan laws on marriage and adultery in his Metamorphoses, knowing that his educated readers would get the jokes. The Christian apologist Tertullian in early thirdcentury Carthage refers to the laws as vanissimae, implying that they were ineffective and annoying. The adultery law also remained in force and continued to be used and abused: Cassius Dio says that when he was consul (under Septimius Severus), he found , adultery cases pending, but few accusers bothered to complete a prosecution. This suggests that the possibility of prosecution was used to blackmail a woman or her lover (or her complacent husband). In  CE, an edict of Constantine “to the people” of Rome abolished the Augustan penalties on the unmarried and childless. The emperor freed caelibes from the “threatening terrors of the law” and decreed that henceforth no one should be considered orbus; women were to be freed from the “yokes” placed on their necks by the demands of the laws, an etymological reference to a wife’s role as coniunx (“yoke-mate”) and perhaps also an echo of Horace’s Carmen Saeculare. Ironically, only thirteen years earlier, on the occasion of his marriage to the young Fausta, Constantine himself had been lauded by a panegyricist as an outstanding representative of the marriage laws, a youth who readily took on his duty to family and state. Although the repeal of the Augustan penalties is the best-known part of Constantine’s law of , it was not its sole purpose. Several other pieces of the original edict survive, scattered throughout books of the Codex Theodosianus and the Codex Justinianus, and when they are considered as a whole, it appears that the intention was to foster Romans’ testamentary rights and free them from various legal constraints. In other words, like Augustus’ original legislation, Constantine’s repeal was essentially about inheritance, not celibacy. No doubt Constantine’s decision was pleasing to the senatorial aristocracy of Rome, whose favor he wished to keep. Indeed, 

  

 

P.Mich. VII. + P.Ryl. IV. (early nd c.); trans. Evans Grubbs a: –. Cf. P.Vind. Bosw.  (from Hermopolis,  CE), referring to the “Papian-Pappaion [sic] law.” See Evans Grubbs  on marriage contracts.   Osgood . Tert. Apol. .. Cass. Dio ... Cod. Theod. .. (, ad populum). See Evans Grubbs : –. Childless couples still could not inherit from each other; this did not change for over seventy-five years, when the emperors Arcadius and Honorius abolished the need to apply for the ius liberorum: Cod. Theod. .. (Arcadius, ) and ..– (Honorius, ). Panegyric  (Mynors); see Evans Grubbs :  for quotation. Evans Grubbs : –.



  

the grumbling of rich elites about the restrictions on their testamentary freedom was probably at least as much a factor in Constantine’s repeal of the Augustan penalties as any desire to support Christian celibates (of whom there were very few in the territories Constantine then ruled). Moreover, Constantine, like his predecessor Trajan, hated the delatores who informed against their fellow citizens, and the emperor frequently raved about the exploitation of his subjects by imperial officials, including those of the fiscus. Six years after his repeal of the penalties on caelibes and orbi, Constantine also significantly modified the Augustan adultery law (though he did not abolish it) by restricting the right to prosecute an adulterous wife to her male family members. Thus the most irksome and terrifying aspect of Augustus’ legislation – the encouragement of denunciation by outsiders and intrusion into the private domain of the family – was ended.

 Augustus the Social Engineer There was another part of the marriage legislation, however – in fact the only part for which the text of the law is preserved in the Digest. For Augustus and later emperors, just as important as being married was being married to a person of the suitable social class. The third-century jurist Paul quotes a fragment of the lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus in a commentary on the Augustan marriage laws: Whoever is a senator, or whoever is or will be his son, or a grandson from a son, or a great-grandson born from a son, shall not knowingly or deceitfully have as fiancée or wife a freedwoman or a woman who herself or whose mother or fathers leads or has led a career on the stage. Nor shall the daughter of a senator, nor a granddaughter born from a son, nor a greatgranddaughter born from a grandson born from a son, knowingly and deceitfully be a fiancée or wife to a freedman or to a man who himself or whose father or mother leads or has led a career on the stage, nor shall any of those men deceitfully and knowingly have her as a fiancée or a wife.

The law of  BCE forbade marriage between men or women of senatorial status and former slaves or actors. Moreover, no freeborn person (including of course those of senatorial status) could have legal marriage  



Spagnuolo Vigorita ; Evans Grubbs : –. Constantine (Cod. Theod. ..,  CE) limited the right to accuse a married woman of adultery to her husband and male family members, whereas Augustus had opened up the ius accusandi to all male adult citizens after a period of sixty days. Dig. .. pr. (Paul.); translation in Evans Grubbs a: .

Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation



with a prostitute or pimp or a woman convicted of adultery. These restrictions remained even after Constantine abolished the penalties on celibacy; in fact, Constantine significantly expanded the restrictions on marriage between the social orders. The ban on marriage between senators and actresses was not removed until the early sixth century by the emperor Justin (supposedly at the urging of his nephew Justinian, so that Justinian could marry the former show-girl Theodora). Ultimately, after the publication of the Digest and the Codex Justinianus, Justinian allowed men of high rank to marry former slaves, as long as they had documentation that the relationship was marriage and not concubinage. Until Justinian’s repeal, however, any man of senatorial status who wished to enter a monogamous relationship with a former slave would have to have her as a concubine, not a legal wife – unless he could get permission from the emperor to marry her. In fact, the perhaps unintended consequence of Augustus’ legislation was to give concubinatus a recognized role as a quasi-marital, monogamous relationship for those whose status was so disparate that marriage was either prohibited by law or strongly discouraged by social mores. Adultery, that is, sexual relations with someone else’s wife or with a single woman of good status, was a crime, but concubinatus, a steady monogamous relationship with a woman of lesser status, was not. Neither the concubine nor her higher-ranking partner would be in compliance with the marriage laws, so they were subject to all the inheritance restrictions that “single” people were. Moreover, any children they had together would be illegitimate and unable to inherit from their father unless he left them something in his will – and that would be open to challenge by his relatives. On the other hand, the law of  CE explicitly allowed freeborn men other than senators and members of their families to marry freedwomen. According to the Greek historian Cassius Dio (writing more than two centuries later), because of a relative shortage of marriageable women of     

 

Evans Grubbs : –; McGinn a; Evans Grubbs . On marriage with a pimp, see Petrova, in this volume.  Cod. Iust. .. pr. (– CE); Procopius, Anecdota .–. Novel. .. Dig. .. (Ulp.). On concubinatus, see Treggiari b; McGinn ; Evans Grubbs . See McGinn : –. There were ambiguous cases: the union between a senator and a freedwoman would probably be construed as concubinatus, but if the woman were freeborn questions as to its propriety (and legality) might arise: see Dig. ... (Papin.), discussed by McGinn : –; Gardner : –; Evans Grubbs : –. Ulp. (reg.) XVI.. Gifts to a concubine (during one’s lifetime) were allowable, however (unlike gifts to a wife). Dig. .. (Cels.).



  

good birth, Augustus allowed freeborn men other than those of senatorial rank to marry freedwomen and have legitimate children with them. If a man below the senatorial elite did want to marry his slavewoman, he could free her for the purpose of marriage, and epigraphic evidence shows that many men did marry their own freedwomen. This continued to be the case until legislation of Constantine extended the ban on marriage with freedwomen beyond the senatorial elite to cover also provincial officials and the highest ranks of decurions, and also expanded the definition of unmarriageable women to include not only freedwomen and actresses but also other “humble and lowly” women such as tavern-keepers and women who sold goods in public. Constantine also went further than Augustus in prohibiting any attempt to transfer any property to such women or their children, under penalty of infamia and deprivation of citizen status for the high-ranking man. Marriage between free women and former slaves did not receive the same encouragement from Augustus or Roman society as a whole. Jurists reluctantly conceded that a freedwoman could marry her former partner in slavery after freeing him, but freeborn women who stooped to marriage with their ex-slaves were subject to social, literary and eventually legal sanctions. Here too Constantine went beyond the original measures of Augustus. Thus the lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus, in addition to mandating marriage and child-bearing, was also a law regulating status and should be considered in the larger context of Augustan social legislation, including laws on manumission and on patron/freedman relationships. Under the lex Fufia Caninia ( BCE), slaveowners could free only a certain proportion of their slaves in their will, on a sliding scale, depending on the number of slaves in the household. Someone with ten or fewer slaves could free no more than half of them, whereas someone with between  and  slaves could free no more than one fifth of them by will. The lex Aelia Sentia of  CE said that a slave could not be fully manumitted until he or 

  

Cass. Dio ..–, who speaks of a shortage of eugeneis women (lit. “well-born,” but possibly synonymous with Latin ingenuae, “freeborn”). Whether there really was such a gender disparity among the elite is debatable: McGinn : – believes there was, but cf. Parkin : –; Treggiari : . However, Augustus’ policy can be seen as encouraging “marrying down” among males below senatorial status: McGinn . See below on patronus–liberta marriage. Cod. Theod. .. (); this law was enacted sixteen years after Constantine repealed the Augustan penalties for caelibes and orbi. See Evans Grubbs : – and ; McGinn a. See Evans Grubbs ; disapproval of the “slumming” behavior of elite women and their slaves discussed by Richlin  and Edwards . See further Mueller, in this volume. Gai. inst. .–.

Singles, Sex and Status in the Augustan Marriage Legislation



she reached the age of thirty; the manumittor had to be at least twenty. An exception was made in the case of a woman freed in order to marry her patron. If a freedman had three children (in legitimate marriage and therefore after fully legal manumission), they would be able to inherit his whole estate, whereas otherwise the patron could take all (if the freedman was childless) or part (if the freedman had fewer than three children). The consequences of the Augustan laws on marriage for freedpeople were much more significant than for wealthy freeborn caelibes and orbi. Consider, for instance, the uxor liberta (freedwoman wife), manumitted for the purpose of marrying her master. Such a marriage was encouraged by several measures of Augustus, including exemption from the requirement under the lex Aelia Sentia that a slave be at least thirty for full manumission. This exemption was for the convenience of the master, so that he could have legitimate children from his freedwoman wife while she was still young and fertile; the slave was supposed to consent to the marriage, but “consent” in such a situation is pretty meaningless. Moreover, the Augustan marriage law said that a woman whose master had freed her for the purpose of marriage could not divorce him and marry another without her patron husband’s consent. So whereas other free women were supposed to remarry after divorce if they had no children, a freedwoman married to her patron, even if she divorced him, could not make another legal marriage against his will. As the emperor Alexander Severus replied to a petitioner named Amphigenes, “Your freedwomen, who is also your wife, if she has left you when you were unwilling, does not have the right to marry another man as long as you want to have her as your wife.” Justinian, who ultimately repealed all the restrictions on marriage between high-ranking men and lowborn women, not only retained this rescript for his Code but strongly endorsed it in his later nd Novel on remarriage. This “new law,” in Greek, refers to the hubris of a freedwoman wife in leaving the man who gave her freedom and says that any union she later enters into is not marriage, but “fornication (porneia) and corruption.” The freedwoman married to her patron may seem to be an extreme case, but such marriages occurred regularly, and are often commemorated on tombstones. But if a patronus–liberta marriage was unhappy, the wife had    

Gai. inst. .– on the lex Aelia Sentia. On these laws, see Gardner ; Treggiari : –; Mouritsen b: –. Dig. .. (Ulp.), citing the words of the law; cf. Dig. .. (Licinius Rufus) and Dig. .. (Mod.).  Cod. Iust. ... Novel. . ( or ).



  

no legal means of escape and the consequences could be dreadful. Moreover, her case points up a key aspect of Augustus’ marriage legislation that is obscured if we see it only as a law penalizing “singleness” and childlessness. Yes, caelibes, male and female, did suffer restrictions on their inheritance rights when they did not marry in accordance with the law, but this penalty was mild compared to what would happen to freedwomen in an unhappy marriage to their patron, or freeborn women in an unhappy marriage who took a lover. Too often we forget that the full title of Augustus’ law was the lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus – the Julian law on the marrying of the social orders. In other words, the law’s purpose was not simply to get as many people as possible married and producing children; rather, it was to regulate legitimate marriage, and especially the passing on of family property, so that only those whose legal and social standing made them suitable could contract marriage with others, either of higher or lower status. It was also intended to control the use of the privilege and wealth of the Roman elite, an elite that Augustus was reshaping to his own ends. The same was true of the laws regulating how many slaves a Roman could free in his or her will, and at what age they could receive full manumission. This aspect of social engineering, that is, the regulation of status distinctions and the channeling of legitimate marriage and inheritance, long outlasted Constantine’s repeal of the penalties on caelibes, and was not finally dismantled until the reign of Justinian, five and a half centuries after Augustus.  

Commemoration: Davies . Dreadful: see Evans Grubbs b for an example. Treggiari  and .

 

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus Harri Kiiskinen

 Introduction Studying ‘singleness’ in the context of an ancient culture is bound to entail problems of definition. Is ‘singleness’ defined as the binary opposite of the social category of married, or should we see ‘singleness’ as a set of cultural norms and meanings resulting in a defined set of behavioral patterns? As Laes’ introduction to this volume shows, ‘singleness’ understood as the social status opposed to ‘married’ includes people of all ages and of every status. The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the second option: ‘singleness’ as a certain set of cultural norms and behavioral patterns. Now, the question of ‘singleness’ is comparable with the question of whether a specific youth culture existed in Rome or not. In a recent book, Laes and Strubbe suggest that there probably was a youth culture, but that it was limited to scions of families with appropriate financial resources and a certain social standing. In addition to being an urban phenomenon, this youth culture was also limited to young men, as girls in well-to-do families were not allowed to sully their reputations before marriage. In this chapter, I look at how three different themes related to singleness appear in Late Republican literature. I will begin with the assumption that these themes are especially relevant in the case of young men, but I will develop my analysis further by looking at evidence concerning older men as well as women of all ages. I will show that the descriptions do not form a coherent system of meanings and suggest that this incoherence might be a symptom of the ongoing process of the cultural renegotiation of the Roman value system. An argument of this size cannot be treated fully, but I hope the proposed readings of the selected texts will provide food for thought and offer further insights into understanding the ongoing moral discussions of the Late Roman Republic. 

Laes and Strubbe : for marriage age, –; for a summary of their argument, –.





 

The main sources used are the poetry collection of Catullus and Cicero’s speech pro Caelio. These texts are often read together, and for good reason. They date from the same time, the early s BC, and the characters belong to the same social circles within the elites of the city. The same characters appear in both texts, the most well-known shared personae being Marcus Caelius Rufus and Clodia Metelli (and Cicero himself, of course, in Catullus ). M. Caelius Rufus, the young man Cicero is defending in his speech, is usually identified as identical with the Rufus who appears in Catullus’ poem as having taken Lesbia from him. Lesbia herself is often identified as the same woman Caelius had had an affair with, the infamous Clodia Metelli, the widow of Quintus Metellus Celer, and the subject of so much vitriol in Cicero’s speech. This identification is, however, far from certain. It is unlikely that a definitive conclusion to the matter can be found, but in this context, the exact identity of these persons is irrelevant. Marilyn Skinner has warned, and rightly so, against reading these two texts with the expectation that they can tell us anything about the real person called Clodia: “There is a good prima facie case, then, for regarding the ‘Clodia’ of the pro Caelio as a literary construct similar to ‘Lesbia,’ a fiction designed to conform to cultural expectations and play upon standard prejudices.” I consider that the same warning should be applied to all persons present in these particular texts. As it happens, this warning by Skinner summarizes perfectly why these texts are so useful to us: as they conform to cultural expectations and play upon standard prejudices, they therefore allow me to address the use of these cultural meanings. My readings embark from the Foucauldian view that truth is not an external reality to be grasped, but a rhetorical trope that is used in discourse for the greatest possible effect. In the context of this study, all characters are assumed to be fictional in the sense that the correspondence of named characters to real persons of the same names is not considered relevant. These texts were written using available cultural meanings to obtain particular results; what is significant are the uses made of particular concepts and the characters created in these texts. In the case of Cicero’s pro Caelio, for example, the purpose of the speech was not to present a truthful description of Caelius’ character, but    

The editions and translations of these texts used are Gardner  and Goold . Catull. . Cranstoun ; Wiseman : –; Blázquez Martínez : ; Skinner : –.  Skinner : –. Ormand : .

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus



to ensure that he was not convicted in court. Cicero naturally had to stay within certain limits in constructing his defense, but these limits could be bent, and bend them he did, for example by trying to make the courtroom audience see the whole case as a comedy.

 Living Alone You reproached him for living apart from his father. This cannot now be made a matter of reproach to him at his time of life. He had just won, in a political case, a victory that was annoying to me yet glorious to himself, and, besides, his age allowed him to aspire to public offices; then, not only with the permission of his father, but even with his advice, he separated from him, and since his father’s house was a long way from the Forum, in order to be able to visit our houses more easily, and to keep in touch with his own friends, he took a house on the Palatine at a moderate rent.

Cicero says that Caelius has been reproached because he was living apart from his father, thereby acknowledging that this was in itself seen as reprehensible. In his counter-argument, Cicero emphasizes how Caelius was actually filling the role of an adult, independent man, working actively and productively in society. He points out Caelius’ professional qualities, his legal status as a possible candidate for offices, his need to visit his patrons Cicero and Crassus, and his need to entertain his own people. In addition, Cicero argues that since Caelius’ father’s house was not centrally located nor well suited for these activities, Caelius was acting with his father’s blessings when he rented himself a modestly priced (non magno) house on the Palatium. Furius, you who have neither a slave, nor a money-box, nor a bug, nor a spider, nor a fire, but who have a father and a stepmother too, whose teeth can chew even a flintstone, you lead a merry life with your father and that dry stick, your father’s wife.

 

 

Leigh ; Geffcken . Cic. Cael. : Reprehendistis, a patre quod semigrarit. Quod quidem iam in hac aetate minime reprehendendum est. Qui cum et ex publica causa iam esset mihi quidem molestam, sibi tamen gloriosam victoriam consecutus et per aetatem magistratus petere posset, non modo permittente patre, sed etiam suadente ab eo semigravit et, cum domus patris a foro longe abesset, quo facilius et nostras domus obire et ipse a suis coli posset, conduxit in Palatio non magno domum. Gardner has translated this as ‘friends,’ but I suspect another word might be better for this; perhaps ‘political connections’ would be closer to the intended message. Catull. .–: Furi, cui neque servus est neque arca / nec cimex neque araneus neque ignis, / verumst et pater et noverca, quorum / dentes vel silicem comesse possunt, / est pulcre tibi cum tuo parente / et cum coniuge lignea parentis.



 

Furius obviously belongs to Catullus’ social circles, but the poem is not particularly friendly. The taunt in the poem is aimed at Furius for living with his father and his stepmother. Because he is still living in his father’s house, his life is so easy that he should not complain about minor things like , sesterces. Furius is obviously also ‘single’ in the sense of not being married, and the whole attitude of the poem suggests that Furius was ridiculed just because he was still living under his father’s roof. But was he really living with his father? There is an accepted interpretative tradition that identifies this Furius as A. Furius Bibaculus from Cremona in Cisalpine Gaul, and therefore as somebody who shared a possible common background identity with Catullus as a provincial outsider in Rome. The problem in this context is that either we have Furius’ father also move to Rome at some point in order for Furius to be able to live in his house, or Furius is still living in his father’s house in Cremona. In order for Furius to be able to act as a messenger to Catullus’ girl, and if this girl really is Lesbia, one would expect that Furius would have to be part of Roman social circles and not a local poet in Cremona. Luckily, the exact identity of Furius is not of the utmost importance here, and we can focus on the important part, the taunting of Furius for living with his father. The comparison between the two texts shows two cultural stereotypes that could productively be used in the literary and public context of the Late Republic: the young man living alone and leading a frivolous and immoral life; and the young man still living with his parents, carefree but easily ridiculed because he is still living at home and perhaps not really a man yet. You shall have a good dinner at my house, Fabullus, in a few days, please the gods, if you bring with you a good dinner and plenty of it, not forgetting a pretty girl and wine and wit and all kinds of laughter. If, I say, you bring all this, my charming friend, you shall have a good dinner; for the purse of your Catullus is full of cobwebs.

Unlike Furius, Catullus has a house and a home into which he often invites people to spend time with him or to dine. On some occasions, this entertainment of friends has unforeseen consequences, like the time when Asinius Marrucinus steals one of Catullus’ napkins, which in itself is not  

This argument was first presented by Heidel ; it is further supported by the textual analysis in Hawkins . Catull. .–: Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me / paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus, / si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam / cenam, non sine candida puella / et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis. / haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster, / cenabis bene: nam tui Catulli / plenus sacculus est aranearum.

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus



valuable, but was a present from Catullus’ friends Fabullus and Veranius, a Saetaban cloth from Spain. A practical joke, perhaps: Asinius Marrucinus, you do not make a pretty use of your left hand when we are laughing and drinking; you take away the napkins of people who are off their guard. [. . .] which does not concern me for what it is worth, but because it is a keepsake from my old friend; for Fabullus and Veranius sent me some Saetaban napkins as a present from Spain. How can I help being fond of these, as I am of my dear Veranius and Fabullus?

Since Catullus here resorts to the use of aestimatio in defining the value of the napkin (quod non me movet aestimatione, verumst mnemosynum mei sodalis), this quotation implies that had the cloth been a valuable item in itself, such a prank would have worked; but since the value of the cloth is personal (mnemosynum mei sodalis), the action is seen by Catullus as a personal insult. Since this was not the only case where something like this happens in the poems, it seems that such practical jokes as stealing things from the host’s table were usual among these young men. Another, similar case appears in Catullus : Effeminate Thallus, softer than rabbit’s fur [. . .] send me back my cloak which you pounced upon, and my Saetaban napkin and Bithynian tablets, you silly fellow, which you keep by you and make a show of them, as if they were heirlooms. [. . .]

The effeminate Thallus is exhorted to return the cloak, the napkins and the writing tablets he has stolen. Much as in the case of Asinius, the napkins were from Saetaban fabric, and the tablets from Bithynia, which might suggest that they were Catullus’ personal memorabilia from his service there. This poem supports the interpretation of the last poem with the emphasis on aestimatio, since in this case the stolen items were clearly presented as valuable ‘trophies’: Thallus shows them off like heirlooms (avita). It is perhaps not implausible to assume that the young men could well have had a social ‘game’ where the intention was to steal items from 



Catull. .– and –: Marrucine Asini, manu sinistra / non belle uteris in ioco atque vino: / tollis lintea neglegentiorum. / [. . .] / quod me non movet aestimatione, / verumst mnemosynum mei sodalis. / nam sudaria Saetaba ex Hiberis / miserunt mihi muneri Fabullus / et Veranius: haec amem necessest / ut Veraniolum meum et Fabullum. Catull. . and –: Cinaede Thalle, mollior cuniculi capillo / [. . .] / remitte pallium mihi meum, quod inviolasti, / sudariumque Saetabum catagraphosque Thynos, / inepte, quae palam soles habere tamquam avita. / [. . .]



 

friends’ houses. Such social play where esteem is gained by stealing items at parties is reminiscent of Kaster’s view of Roman elite culture as a show of behaviors where status was lost and gained in intricate social displays of honor and pride. The various references to parties and visits also describe a habit that may have been common among the young men – the need to entertain friends and acquaintances to maintain social networks. The statement by Cicero, with its emphasis on paternal support for Caelius living independently, strongly suggests that this kind of entertainment would not be possible within the paternal home. This interpretation is supported by what we know about the forms of the Roman Republican upper-class houses. In these houses, the internal spaces formed a spatially contiguous whole, without any separating walls that could have acted as soundproofing. It is hard to imagine a young man entertaining friends in a triclinium opening onto the peristyle while at the same time his father tries to spend a quiet evening somewhere else in the house. Also, the role of the domus as the focus of a man’s public role and identity made it first and foremost the house of the paterfamilias, and any role a son would wish to have could not be performed in the same place. In addition to these young men, women that seem to be living alone also appear in both texts. Often these characters are identified as prostitutes. It is, however, possible to challenge this identification through more nuanced readings, for example by considering the texts from a spatial perspective which takes their settings into account. In general, the persons in Catullan poetry appear without any situational or spatial context, but in some cases, there are quite specific descriptions of the loci where the poems are situated. One such description is in poem : “My dear Varus had taken me from the Forum, where I was idling, to pay a visit to his mistress.” Here Varus takes Catullus from the Forum to meet his love (ad suos amores). There is no explicit mention of the living conditions of this amore, but from the description that follows, it is evident that there is enough space for the three to spend time and talk at leisure. A common interpretation is that Varus’ amore was a prostitute, but in fact the poem does not require such a conclusion – Catullus’ use of scortillum at verse  in    

Kaster . For the role of the household for the image of a man, see e.g. Cooper  and Treggiari . Studies of the Roman domus abound; for a recent overview, see Clarke . Catull. .–: Varus me meus ad suos amores / visum duxerat e foro otiosum. E.g. Blázquez Martínez : –.

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus



describing a member of the opposite sex can hardly be quoted as conclusive evidence for the social status of that particular individual. Although the interpretation of scortum as a prostitute can hardly be denied, this is the only known occurrence of scortillum, a diminutive, and in the context of Catullus’ use of vocabulary, perhaps it should not be taken as prima facie evidence for the professional status of the girl, especially since it is obvious that the relationship Varus has with her is about much more than sex. The nature of the discussion that takes place in the poem is such that this can be no ordinary prostitute, since the poem makes fun of Catullus himself by describing how the girl, amidst their banter, catches Catullus out as he brags about something which is not quite true and triggers an exasperated comment from him. I entreat you, my sweet Ipsitilla, my darling, my charmer, bid me come and spend the afternoon with you. And if you do bid me, grant me this kindness too, that no one may bar the panel of your threshold, nor you yourself have a fancy to go away, but stay at home and have ready for me nine consecutive copulations. And bid me come at once if you are going to at all: for I’m on my bed after lunch, thrusting through tunic and cloak.

Here Catullus addresses his own sweetheart Ipsitilla, and begs for an invitation, since he would like to meet for an explicitly stated purpose. He entreats her to stay at home and to open her door to him. Catullus asks that she should send the invitation at once, since he is quite ready to come. There is an explicit use of the word domus in reference to Ipsitilla’s abode. Ipsitilla is “at home,” and that is where Catullus would like to be, too. In this case, as well, a traditional interpretation is that Ipsitilla is a prostitute, but again, the poem itself does not require such an interpretation, even if it is admittedly possible. One has to think here also about the significance of the word domus as a house and a home. “Mistress” might be a better translation in the traditional style of classical studies; the modern term “fuck-buddy” could also be applicable. In connection with this theme, poem , which deals with the unnamed former love who is usually assumed to be Lesbia, is also relevant: “You regulars of the whore-house tavern, nine doors from the temple of the  



Adams . Catull. : Amabo, mea dulcis Ipsitilla, / meae deliciae, mei lepores, / iube ad te veniam meridiatum. / et si iusseris, illud adiuvato, / nequis liminis obseret tabellam, / neu tibi lubeat foras abire. / sed domi maneas paresque nobis / novem continuas fututiones. / verum, siquid ages, statim iubeto: / nam pransus iaceo, et satur supinus / pertundo tunicamque palliumque. E.g. Blázquez Martínez : .



 

Capped brothers, [. . .].” In the context of this poem, there is no doubt that Catullus is calling the “girl who has left his embrace” a prostitute and her haunt a salax taberna. A common interpretation is that Catullus is accusing Lesbia of having turned her home into a bordello. In this context, it is important that even if this interpretation is correct, the place is not called a “home” anymore, but a taberna – and this contrasts very strongly with the examples above where no such term is ever present. A spurned lover’s testimony on the moral qualities of his former mistress should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt, but one does get a sense that there might be an oblique reference not only to prostitution but also to procuring here. This amount of evidence hardly allows us to draw any strong conclusions about the relationships domus/taberna and prostitute/mistress, but it seems that this might be a question that could be examined further, especially since the spurned lover could be expected to use the kind of language where the former domus has been turned into a prostitute’s taberna visited by many men. Whether Lesbia ever lives alone or not is difficult to figure out based on the Catullan evidence. The poems in the beginning suggest a level of intimacy and privacy which it is difficult to reconcile with the idea of a married woman living with her husband. As such, they are comparable to the examples of Varus’ girlfriend and Ipsitilla. It is interesting how close Cicero’s Clodia is in tone to Catullus’ Lesbia. If a woman without a husband opens her house to all men’s desires, and publicly leads the life of a courtesan; if she is in the habit of attending dinner-parties with men who are perfect strangers; if she does this in the city, in her park, amid all those crowds at Baiae; if, in fact, she so behaves that not only her bearing but her dress and her companions, not only the ardour of her looks and the licentiousness of her gossip but also her embraces and caresses, her beach-parties, her water-parties, her dinnerparties, proclaim her to be not only a courtesan, but also a shameless and wanton courtesan; if a young man should happen to be found with this woman, would you, Lucius Herennius, consider him to be an adulterer or a lover? Would you think that he desired to ravage her chastity, or only to satisfy his passion?   

Catull. .–: Salax taberna vosque contubernales / a pilleatis nona fratribus pila / [. . .]  E.g. Blázquez Martínez : . See Petrova, in this volume. Cic. Cael. : Si quae non nupta mulier domum suam patefecerit omnium cupiditati palamque sese in meretricia vita collocarit, virorum alienissimorum conviviis uti instituerit, si hoc in urbe, si hoc in hortis, si in Baiarum illa celebritate faciat, si denique ita sese gerat non ingessu solum, sed ornatu atque comitatu, non flagrantia oculorum, non libertate sermonum, sed etiam complexu, osculatione, actis,

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus

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For Cicero, Clodia is obviously a meretrix if she behaves like this, and Caelius’ defense is based on the fact that for him, having sex with a woman behaving like Clodia allegedly has surely should not count as adultery, but as natural sexual intercourse with a prostitute – the intent being not to “ravage her chastity,” but to “satisfy his passion.” But another possible interpretation of this description of Clodia is of more interest here. If we disregard the moral judgement of her behavior and concentrate simply on the activities Cicero seizes upon at the beginning of his accusations, we are left with ‘an unmarried woman that opens her domus.’ Had this definition been a self-evident description of a harlot or a prostitute, as is often suggested, there would hardly have been any need for the vehemence in Cicero’s description; one has to remember that Augustan adultery legislation was still in the future at this point. In the light of that later legislation, there would have been no need to describe how improper the woman actually was: for the state, it would have sufficed to establish that a man found with an unmarried woman was an adulterer and lover. Obviously, this was not yet the case. Caelius’ relationship is turned from adulterium to amor not on the basis of the fact that the unmarried woman is living alone, but because of her behavior, which is seen as meriting the description meretrix. This interpretation of Clodia fits well with Skinner’s reading of the persona of Clodia. She bases her reconstruction of the character of Clodia Metelli on a close reading of Cicero’s letters and disregards both the speech pro Caelio and the Catullan poetry as unreliable sources for the character of Clodia because of their use of cultural prejudices to entertain and convince their intended audiences. The image of Clodia that emerges from the letters is very different from the ‘Palatine Medea’ of the pro Caelio. Skinner’s reading of the letters shows how Cicero wrote about this woman who was wealthy, independent, resourceful and had social dexterity on many occasions over decades. Clodia was a politically active person who promoted her brother P. Clodius Pulcher’s political career, managed her own properties, remained single after the death of her husband in  BC and was in a secure position in which she retained control over her affairs also in her later years.

 

navigatione, conviviis, ut non solum meretrix, sed etiam proterva meretrix procaxque videatur: cum hac si qui adulescens forte fuerit, utrum hic tibi, L. Herenni, adulter an amator, expugnare pudicitiam an explere libidinem voluisse videatur? See Evans Grubbs, in this volume. Skinner : ; Skinner : esp. –, where Skinner summarizes the argument of the whole book.



 

The key to the whole issue of Clodia’s character is the fact that she was married (at first) and later on widowed. In the context of an article about ‘singleness,’ Clodia might be a surprising person to bring up, but in a way, the character of Clodia epitomizes the characteristic most strongly associated with the concept of ‘singleness’ in today’s world: independence. Whereas in the modern day, unmarried young professionals are independent in their means and ways, and marriage signals the assuming of responsibility in the role of the married person, marriage in the Late Republic seems to have opened up paths towards independence, at least for the women of the upper classes. Consequently, in the social circles of Cicero and his peers, it was perfectly acceptable for a woman to live in a domus of her own. Even in the cases when they were actual harlots, they were still living alone. It is their conduct that makes the women ‘immoral,’ not the fact of living alone in and of itself. As Hopkins has convincingly suggested, men who were older at the time of marriage were often also the ones who died earlier, leaving widows behind. Based on Hopkins’ data, women were, on average, nine years younger at the time of marriage, which of course directly correlates to the age difference between deceased men and their widows. An important side note to this discussion, although of a somewhat later date, can be brought up in this context. At the death of Augustus, discussion broke out in Rome over whether his surviving wife Livia should be given a) an honorary title as the ‘mother of the country’ and b) whether she should be given a position of actual superiority to Tiberius. It seems that Livia herself was of the opinion that she should be respected more than Tiberius and that Tiberius should be thankful to her for becoming what he had become in the first place. Tacitus and Cassius Dio, our sources on this matter, report that Tiberius refused her these honors; Tacitus personally thought that they would be “excessive.” Concerning the aims of this article, this section allows us to draw certain interesting conclusions. At first, the moral acceptability of young men living alone was not obvious; Cicero’s defense of Caelius had to take into account the fact that Caelius was living separately from his father could be and was used as an argument against his morals. Therefore, this choice had  

Hopkins : esp. –. Hemelrijk : –. In the second half of the second century AD, the metaphor of motherhood became a more common way to assign authority and position to significant members of local communities and associations.

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus

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to be defended using arguments that made it less morally suspect: paternal acceptance, and the social needs of a political aspirant. On the other hand, we can note that we have examples of women living alone and that this, in and of itself, was not necessarily any more suspect than Caelius living alone. Living alone was not necessarily a constituent component of youth culture, since we also see women of different ages living alone, perhaps but not necessarily in combination with lifestyles resembling those of young men.

 Young and Emotional Catullus and Cicero employ very different types of language to describe their main characters’ emotions. Catullus is very open, and bares the souls of his protagonists, whereas in Cicero’s usage, the language of emotions is subdued, almost to the point of leaving them implied. While Catullus describes emotions openly, he does not present the character ‘Catullus’ as their slave. Cicero, on the other hand, presents Caelius superficially as a rational young man, a man formed according to Cicero’s own ideals. A closer reading of the text reveals, however, that instead of reason, it is emotions that are given as explanations for the young man’s conduct. Cicero tries to present these emotions as natural, but that does not diminish their effect; it merely provides a rational explanation for them. Cicero’s Caelius is a young man who is subject to his emotions, in effect a slave of them, and susceptible to stupid behavior as young men are sometimes wont to be. Where possible, Cicero rationalizes Caelius’ actions, and where this is not possible, he ascribes them to his youthfulness, arguing that Caelius behaves as one would expect for a man of his age, so it is not his character that is corrupt: he is simply too young to be able to behave properly. The emotional vulnerability of young men is key to understanding how Cicero uses the concept of cupiditas in the context of pro Caelio. The many appearances of this concept in the speech can be divided in two groups according to the context in which they are used. This allow us to recognize that Cicero actually draws on two distinct concepts: cupiditas, which is always a negative attribute; and cupiditas adulescentiae, which is portrayed as a positive and natural quality that should be present in young men. These two separate types of cupiditas do not appear at random, and in fact Cicero – as a part of his general argument – explains the binary nature of cupiditas. Since this explanation illustrates well what kind of behavior was expected of men of different ages and social positions, Cicero’s



 

order of presentation is worth tracing. One can see that in previous translations, different words have been used to translate the concept into English, suggesting that it is not directly translatable to contemporary English usage. The first time cupiditas appears in the speech is when Cicero uses it to describe Catiline: “No, I do not believe that there has ever existed on earth so strange a portent, such a fusion of natural tastes and desires that were contradictory, divergent, and at war amongst themselves.” Catiline is an important character in the speech, since Caelius had attached himself to Catiline at his second candidature and therefore was also somewhat suspect in the eyes of the public. In this quotation, Catiline is the unnatural monstrum in which the completely opposed natures of studium and cupiditas merge. Catiline was a married man, and thus perhaps not allowed to succumb to cupiditas, and his morals are what condemn him in Cicero’s works. If, among people of this class, there may be some who have by chance pushed themselves into this trial, do you, gentlemen, shut out their greed by your wisdom, that you may show yourselves to have had a careful regard at one and the same time for the welfare of my client, for your conscience, and for the security of all citizens against dangerous and powerful individuals.

Here cupiditas is used to question the motives of the men present at the trial. Cicero suggests that some of those present might have been tempted to appear by their greed, thus implying that their judgement may be affected by promises made to men of power and influence. Consequently, Cicero urges the others to shut out that greed (cupiditas) by their own wisdom (sapientia). In this context, cupiditas is something that motivates people to disregard their morals and be led by their hunger for material wealth. In both cases, the concept is used to describe the immorality of men who put their personal interest ahead of the common good – in the first case, Catiline was characterized in this way, and in the second case, the men criticized have appeared at the trial, but not in order to uphold justice or the public good. The implication is that they were present only to  

Cic. Cael. : Neque ego umquam fuisse tale monstrum in terris ullum puto, tam ex contrariis diversisque et inter se pugnantibus naturae studiis cupiditatibusque conflatum. Cic. Cael. : Hoc ex genere si qui se in hoc iudicium forte proiecerint, excluditote eorum cupiditatem, iudices, sapientia vestra, ut eodem tempore et huius saluti et religioni vestrae et contra periculosas hominum potentias condicioni omnium civium providisse videamini.

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus

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support the accusations against Caelius because they were either paid to do so, or expected to be paid if the desired resolution was obtained. After that, the discussion turns towards the youthful nature of Caelius. In this context, the word cupiditas appears again, this time modified by adulescentiae: “For by common consent a young man is allowed some dalliance, and nature herself is prodigal of youthful passions.” This is followed by a moral statement that youthful desires should be tolerated as long as they do not lead to young men ruining other people’s lives or shattering their homes. Up to this point in the speech, Cicero argues that traditional values have lost their standing and concludes that it would be impossible to base common moral standards on values and models which are lost in the past, since no man is able to abide by them these days. At this point, in the middle of the speech, Cicero constructs a ‘moral program’ suitable for his own age. He proposes a new ‘guideline’ that allows young men some liberty within certain limits. Let us therefore forsake this abandoned and neglected track now blocked by branches and undergrowth; let some allowance be made to age; let youth be allowed greater freedom; let not pleasures be always forbidden; let not that upright and unbending reason always prevail; let desire and pleasure sometimes triumph over reason, provided that in such matters the following rule and limitation is observed: let a young man be mindful of his own repute and not a despoiler of another’s; let him not squander his patrimony; nor be crippled by usury; nor attack the home and reputation of another; nor bring shame upon the chaste, taint upon the virtuous, disgrace upon the upright; let him frighten none by violence, quit conspiracy, keep clear of crime. Lastly, when he has listened to the voice of pleasure and given some time to love-affairs and these empty desires of youth, let him at length turn to the interests of home life, to activity at the bar and in public affairs, so that all those pursuits the vanity of which reason had previously failed to reveal, he may show that he has abandoned from satiety and found contemptible through experience.  

Cic. Cael. : Datur enim concessu omnium huic aliqui ludus aetati, et ipsa natura profundit adulescentiae cupiditates. Cic. Cael. : Ergo haec deserta via et inculta atque interclusa iam frondibus et virgultis relinquatur; detur aliquid aetati; sit adulescentia liberior; non omnia voluptatibus denegentur; non semper superet vera illa et decreta ratio; vincat aliquando cupiditas voluptasque rationem, dum modo illa in hoc genere praescriptio moderatioque teneatur: parcat iuventus pudicitiae suae, ne spoliet alienam, ne effundat patrimonium, ne faenore trucidetur, ne incurrat in alterius domum atque famam, ne probrum castis, labem integris, infamiam bonis inferat, scelere careat; postremo, cum paruerit voluptatibus, dederit aliquid temporis ad ludum aetatis atque inanes hasce adulescentiae cupiditates, revocet se aliquando ad curam rei domesticae, rei forensis reique publicae, ut ea, quae ratione antea non perspexerat, satietate abiecisse, experiendo contempsisse videatur.



 

In this context, cupiditas adulescentiae appears again, this time signifying a phenomenon natural to young men, and one which, according to Cicero’s moral program, young men should be allowed to succumb to as long as they kept within certain limits of social acceptability. This is typical of Cicero’s technique, and as Braun has demonstrated, Cicero used moral concepts either as very loaded and effective concepts or as more or less empty catch works, whichever best suited his purpose. This interpretation by Braun makes reading Cicero even more fruitful, as it supports a reading where the moral propositions Cicero uses need not be analyzed against Cicero’s personality, as they would have to be if we believed that Cicero was trying to present a coherent argument about morals. At least in the court speeches, quite the opposite probably applies: the moral statements which appear can all be read as useful tools in the battle for the judgement of the jury. In that sense, this quote from Cicero nominally showing his own reformulation of the ‘Roman ideal’ in a form suitable for his times should rather be read as his own view of what the commonly accepted social ideal of his own day was. Cicero formulates this social ideal explicitly in order to counter any attacks against Caelius’ morality based on Roman values. And, gentlemen, both in our own days and within the memory of our fathers and ancestors, there have been many great men and illustrious citizens who, after the passions of youth had simmered down, have in their maturer years been eminently conspicuous for their virtues.

Cicero creates with few words a cultural narrative featuring ‘young men who behaved badly but who – perhaps even because they behaved badly – become important members of society’. Decent men, he argues, grow out of those who succumbed to adulescentiae cupiditas in their youth. Between the lines, Cicero even implies that suffering from the ‘passions of youth’ be seen almost as a requirement for a good man. Cicero continues: “And yet be assured, gentlemen, that those excesses with which Caelius is reproached, and these pursuits which I am discussing, cannot easily be found in the same man.” Cicero implies that the accusations against Caelius are based on the wrong cupiditas, the one that brings a permanent  



Braun . Cic. Cael. : Ac multi et nostra et patrum maiorumque memoria, iudices, summi homines et clarissimi cives fuerunt, quorum cum adulescentiae cupiditates defervissent, eximiae virtutes firmata iam aetate exstiterunt. Cic. Cael. : Atqui scitote, iudices, eas cupiditates, quae obiciuntur Caelio, atque haec studia, de quibus disputo, non facile in eodem homine esse posse.

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus

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blemish on a man’s character. In the case of Caelius, this is impossible, since this kind of cupiditas is not compatible with the presence of studium – except in the case of Catiline, as Cicero said earlier in his speech but understandably omits here, even though cupiditas is used in the same sense as in the Catiline example, as opposed to studium. Cicero then continues on the same theme, contrasting cupiditas with studium: For it is impossible that a mind given up to the allurements of passion, hampered by love, longing, desire, often by excessive wealth, sometimes also by the lack of it, can sustain the efforts, whatever they may be, which we make in speaking, in whatever way we make them, not only the bodily exertion but also the mental labour.

Cicero defends Caelius by stating that the vices Caelius is accused of are not compatible with the physical and mental demands of speaking, a skill Caelius is already known for. A mind hampered by amor, desiderium and cupiditas cannot achieve this. Caelius might be suffering from cupiditas adulescentiae, but he does not suffer from cupiditas. Much later on in the speech, cupiditas appears again with negative connotations: “I could wish that his passion for glory had rather taken him in another direction; but the time for such a lament is past.” This complaint begins a list of Caelius’ misdeeds as seen from the point of view of Cicero. He explains how Caelius, guided by his ardent desire for glory, ended up doing things that were perhaps not wise, and definitively against the wishes of Cicero. Caelius therefore was guided by cupiditas. This seemingly judgmental description ends on a different note, however, when Cicero once again sees Caelius’ cupiditas as tempered by adulescentia: But I am not speaking about good sense, a quality which does not belong to his years; I am speaking about his impetuosity, his eagerness to win, his ardent desire for glory. Such passions, in men who have reached our time of life, ought to be somewhat restrained, but in youth, as with plants, they give promise of what virtue in its ripeness and how great the fruits of industry will some day be.



 

Cic. Cael. : Fieri enim non potest, ut animus libidini deditus, amore, desiderio, cupiditate, saepe nimia copia, inopia etiam non numquam impeditus hoc, quicquid est, quod nos facimus in dicendo, quoquo modo facimus non modo agendo, verum etiam cogitando possit sustinere. Cic. Cael. : Vellem alio potius eum cupiditas gloriae detulisset; sed abiit huius tempus querellae. Cic. Cael. : Sed ego non loquor de sapientia, quae non cadit in hanc aetatem; de impetu animi loquor, de cupiditate vincendi, de ardore mentis ad gloriam; quae studia in his iam aetatibus nostris contractiora esse debent, in adulescentia vero tamquam in herbis significant, quae virtutis maturitas et quantae fruges industriae sint futurae.



 

The tempering of cupiditas with adulescentia contains the implicit subtext that although Caelius is somewhat too eager to win and desirous of glory, this is age-appropriate and, indeed, shows promise of the greatness that may await him in the future. The same eagerness in men of Cicero’s age, thus forming a coeval alliance with the men taking part in the trial, would not be acceptable. This is the great culmination of Cicero’s argument concerning the moral qualities expected of young men. In a young man, cupiditas was not a negative but a positive characteristic, an expression of natural youthful energy. A certain susceptibility to emotions was, Cicero argues, simply part and parcel of a young man’s nature. The apologetic nature of Cicero’s definition is also of interest: young men behave foolishly by nature, and this ought to be counted not as their ‘fault’ but as an expression of the natural ‘life-force’ they embody, and therefore, if not a prerequisite, then at least as an indicator of potential greatness. What is appropriate for young men does not befit older (married?) men, as the interplay between cupiditas and cupiditas adulescentiae in Cicero’s speech wonderfully demonstrates. Cicero defends Caelius against accusations of immoral conduct by emphasizing how he personally has known many men who devoted their youth to pursuing sensuality, but nevertheless grew up to become respectable members of society after learning to behave with the gravitas expected of adult men. To support his personal observations, Cicero presents examples that he obviously expects his hearers to recognize. The defense of Caelius at this point is based on the comparison of Caelius with these examples from the Roman past and present of men who turned out to be decent and respectable in spite of having spent their youth licentiously. It is natural to interpret this as a statement of the general values of Roman culture. However, the need for Cicero to present this argument means that the interpretation he steers towards is not necessarily one which was widely held to be self-evident. Cicero presents the listeners with a possible interpretation that allows for the presence of a ‘decent Caelius’ in spite of all the rumors and accusations surrounding Caelius, but this is not the only interpretation of Caelius’ behavior which was possible according to Roman social norms. Based on this statement, we should not assume that the Roman upper class looked favorably on this behavior of young men driven by the pursuit of sensual pleasures. While it may have been tolerated, Cicero’s description certainly does not mean that it was seen as desirable. It was likely seen as a vice that some men are able to outgrow – which, the necessary subtext implies, not all men can do.

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus

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For women, immorality was also defined in terms of their actions and activity. Although Skinner, as noted earlier, was able to find a decent, active Clodia in Cicero’s letters, she strongly emphasizes the fact that the ‘general image’ of active women was easily used to turn public opinion against them. As we have already seen, Cicero was able to accomplish this with little difficulty in pro Caelio. The same kind of phenomenon is apparent in Sallust’s description of Sempronia, a supposed member of the Catiline conspiracy. Boyd writes: It is in part the very fact of Sempronia’s high social status that makes Sallust’s portrait of her so striking: instead of a catalogue of the typical virtues of a Roman matron, we find a woman whose education and aggressiveness are characteristic either of a prostitute or of an urbane man.

This is all remarkably interesting, because here, once again, we find the potential connection between a woman’s active behavior and the status of a prostitute – although again in an interpretation by a modern scholar reading between the lines and not as an explicit statement in the sources. The key to the comparison between Clodia and Sempronia is the following sentence: “Now among those women was Sempronia, who had often perpetrated many deeds of masculine daring.” It is this active conduct which makes Sempronia morally suspect, although Sallust praises her other qualities in precisely the same passage. The main comparison in this section was between Cicero’s description of young men’s cupiditas adulescentiae versus older men’s cupiditas, or cupiditas in general. Although the concept of ‘active women’ may not be fully comparable with this discussion, I think in general Cicero’s argument for leniency in the case of Caelius’ supposedly uncontrolled or immature behavior was based on an expectation that forms of action that were not fully thought out and planned in advance were more acceptable for young men than for others. The case of adult women is somewhat different, but not perhaps entirely out of place here, since aggressive, ‘manly’ behavior rendered their morals particularly suspect – although not unacceptable at the time, other than, perhaps, in the literary descriptions of these women. In light of this discussion, it seems that a view that certain kinds of behavior and a certain range of behaviors were more acceptable for young men than for other people did in fact exist. Whether this constitutes a youth culture in itself is still a debatable point, but a certain acceptance for  

 Skinner :  and : . Boyd : . Sall. Catil. : Sed in eis erat Sempronia, quae multa saepe virilis audaciae facinora conmiserat.



 

the special group of young men was at least conceivable – and based on certain quotes from Cicero above, perhaps even expected.



Unmarried and Free

Modern concepts of singleness come with connotations of a free and wild life. DiCicco has emphasized this association in her study of the imagery associated with modern young single females. This association also seems to hold in the cases presented above. Pro Caelio is about single persons, since neither Caelius nor Clodia is presumed to have been married at the time of the court sessions. Catullus deals with the same constellations: the personas we encounter in the poems mostly seem to be unmarried. Some friends in the poems are described as couples, and in these cases the importance of relationships and the obligations they impose are emphasized. In the cases described in this chapter, judgement is cast on several persons whose conduct is perceived as improper. In each one, the persons are generally considered to have been unmarried at the time, i.e. singles. However, in the moral judgements aimed at them, this argument is not used. Even though these people behaved improperly, it was not because they were not married at the time, it was seemingly either because they were either of bad character or young. Singleness was not used as a stick to beat them with or as an explanation for their behavior. It simply does not appear. It may be appropriate at this juncture to recall that marriage at the time may not have been the ultimate tool of identity construction that it became in later history. In the world of the Roman upper classes, marriage was about properties and alliances more than it was about any emotion called ‘love’ or a search for self-fulfillment. That marriage could and perhaps even should be seen more in terms of a companionable alliance for the advancement of a common project is suggested also by JeppesenWigelsworth’s analysis of the language of marriage and friendship in Cicero’s letters. He comes to the conclusion that the letters Cicero writes to his friends and the letters he writes to his spouse do not differ from each other in any significant way. Cicero writes to his wife in the same register he uses to write to his friends. Also, as Masterson so aptly notes, the fact that a Roman man was under his father’s patria potestas until his father’s  

 DiCicco . E.g. Septimius and Acme in Catull. . Jeppesen-Wigelsworth .



Eyben : –.

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus



death and lacked autonomy as a result meant that “family and civilian life were not places where manly self-assertion could occur, even for men of considerable maturity.” In comparison to the ‘sensible marriage’ approach present in these interpretations of Roman marriage, the Catullan marriage poems are celebrations of the emotions of married couples and the new phase of life they were entering. Although these poems celebrate marriage, they also come across as poems suitable for wedding festivities, and as such, they should not be seen as celebrations of the institution of marriage per se. Catullus uses a completely different register in most of his marriage poems. Whereas the ‘single’ poems are often satirical and full of irony, these celebrations of marriage take on comic aspects. A good example of these is Catullus’ poem on the consequences of marriage for the favorite (slave) boy of the newly wedded husband: [L]et the favourite boy give away nuts to the slaves, when he hears how his lord has left his love. Give nuts to the slaves, favourite: your time is past: you have played with nuts long enough: you must now be the servant of Talassius. Give nuts, beloved slave. Today and yesterday you disdained the country wives: now the barber shaves your cheeks. Wretched, ah! wretched lover, throw the nuts!

So no room for ‘dalliance’ existed any more for the married man who has to say goodbye not only to children’s games but also to the slave boy’s nuts, an obvious reference to certain pre-nuptial licenses the man had enjoyed. In this context it is not possible to go further into marriage in Catullus’ poetry, but what would merit further investigation is how much the vocabulary Catullus uses changes in the marriage poems. In poem , for example, words such as virgo, puellula, nupta, maritus, uxor, and coniunx appear; all these are from a different register than the words used in the other poetry, and perhaps are more suitable for describing the moral world of married people. Catullus’ poems are full of visions of emotional self-fulfillment which are at odds with the views of Roman marriage often presented in research. Perhaps we can discern in them faint echoes of the presence of more than  

Masterson : . Catull. .–: nec nuces pueris neget / desertum domini audiens / concubinus amorem. // da nuces pueris, iners / concubine: satis diu / lusisti nucibus: lubet / iam servire Talasio. / concubine, nuces da. // sordebant tibi vilicae, / concubine, hodie atque heri: / nunc tuum cinerarius / tondet os. miser a miser / concubine, nuces da.



 

one ‘emotional community’ in Rome at the time. The concept of ‘emotional community’ has been coined by the historian of emotions Barbara Rosenwein to explain the presence of contradictory emotional systems of meaning and practice in medieval France. With this concept, it might be possible to make sense of the seemingly contradictory interpretations of the position occupied by marriage in Late Roman culture: one could easily imagine that the culture within the elite could be different from the public view of Roman culture, with the two forming distinctive but partially overlapping emotional communities. In this case, the Catullan poetry would belong to the emotional community formed by a certain portion of the cultural and social elites; and our traditional interpretation of the position of marriage could still be valid for the other emotional community, the one of traditional Roman culture which Cicero and his wife perhaps were also part of.

 Conclusion Both authors should be read in the context of their relative positions within the cultural order of the Late Roman Republic. Neither originally belonged to the Roman elite. Their literary activities must be read through their position as homines novi, not as established members of the cultural and social elites of the capital. They both aspired to establish their own positions within this elite. Catullus, for example, linked poems to the long tradition of Latin literature in order to enlist the support which this tradition provided in promoting his texts, and perhaps also in order to convince readers that the author was well versed in the Roman tradition and that his literary endeavors were worth taking seriously even though he came from an outsider family in Verona. And in many ways, Catullus’ poems are a description of the life of a man suffering from cupiditas adulescentiae; a desire for sex, love and success. They can therefore easily be read as promoting this kind of life. As Blázquez Martínez emphasizes, the Lesbia poems of Catullus describe love between two adult persons belonging to high Roman society without ever touching on marriage (though poem  is an exception). In most cases, the relationship is based on desire. The poetry of Catullus sounds raucous to modern ears, but that is only superficial. Beneath the surface, I would propose, the poems  

Rosenwein ; Rosenwein ; and Plamper : – for an overview of Rosenwein’s thinking.  Habinek : –. Blázquez Martínez : –.

‘Singleness’ in Cicero and Catullus



are often surprisingly conservative. The superficially romantic texts conceal satirical representations of the moral qualities lacking in society at the time. A good example of this is found in poem . Here Lesbia (Clodia) prefers Lesbius (Clodius) to Catullus. In Skinner’s reading, the poem deplores the behavior of Lesbia as an example of placing personal relationships second and the political interests of the family first, in this case expressed in Lesbia’s greater love for (her brother) Lesbius than for her lover Catullus. This reading would support a view of Catullus as an advocate of emotional, personal experience. Butrica’s close reading of the poem, however, analyzes the innuendos in the poem that play on Clodius’ sexual reputation, thus characterizing him as immoral. At the same time, the comparison between the worth of the whole family of Catullus and Clodius is resolved in Clodius’ favor, thus pointing to the social inferiority of Catullus. Through these readings, one could perhaps conclude that what Catullus is complaining about here is that no matter how much a proper man he ever is, in comparison to Clodius/Lesbius it will be of no import, since Clodius belongs to the gens of the Clodii, Lesbia will decide to prefer him anyway. I would suggest that Catullus feels Lesbia should choose him over that immoral brother of hers since he would make a suitable husband, which in turn – and this is important – would also make her a ‘decent’ woman. One cannot overlook the connections here to Pyy’s argument in this volume. In light of these two texts and in the social context of the upper classes at the time Catullus and Cicero were writing, two groups with more liberty than others to behave as they choose seem to be identifiable: young men and older women, i.e., women that have already been married at some point. In light of Catullus’s poems, it does not seem impossible that some younger women could also have been living on their own, although their social status is difficult to pin down. What should be noted, however, is the difference from the Augustan world as depicted in Pyy’s chapter. What appears as disreputable behavior in these sources is deemed to be actually illegal merely decades later. As Pyy notes on page , social change had made the categorization of women difficult. Of the themes discussed in this article – living alone, being susceptible to one’s emotions and being unmarried – only one issue, indulging one’s emotions, seems to have been something that was both an accepted and expected part of the behavior of young, single men. Living alone and being 

Skinner : –.



Butrica .



 

unmarried do not seem to have had the kind of connotations that a modern-day view of a ‘singles’ culture would have, but this also depends on the view of marriage we adopt. Therefore, we can conclude that a youth culture of sorts did exist, at least for single young men. This result conforms to the Laes–Strubbe model discussed at the outset of this chapter, but especially the discussion of the marriage poems suggests that the presence of several of Rosenwein’s ‘emotional communities’ should also not be ruled out. Based on the evidence from Catullus and Cicero’s pro Caelio, it was not only young and unmarried men who were known to live a life contrary to Roman traditional values, and it seems that the ‘behavioral differences’ cannot be explained solely by class or gender. It is very important to put these texts in their proper temporal context. The setting for all of these texts is the Late Roman Republic, before the civil wars, the dictatorship of Caesar, the Second Triumvirate and the Augustan peace. Given the devastation these events subsequently wreaked on the elites of Rome, there is no reason to assume a simple continuation of the value system of this period into later Augustan times. Whatever renegotiations of the Roman value system Catullus and Cicero were taking part in, a completely different Rome was on its way – a Rome that under Augustus’ aegis was to take a different route towards defining its values.

 

Tracing Roman Ideas on Female Singleness: Virgil’s Aeneid Elina Pyy

 Introduction When discussing the concept of ‘singleness’ in the classical Roman world, it is necessary to acknowledge and consider the gender aspects of the phenomenon. In Roman society, women were defined by their relationships to men, and their value to the community was largely – although not exclusively – measured by their fertility and fecundity. For these reasons, being or remaining unmarried naturally meant different things to men and to women. That the Romans understood marriage, sexuality and reproduction in strongly gendered terms can be observed in Augustus’ famous marriage laws. The lex Iulia de maritandis ordinibus introduced in  BC (and supplemented by the lex Papia Poppaea in AD ) was designed to promote marriage among the Roman elite. The edict encouraged both men and women to marry, using various economic and legal incentives. For men, two of the greatest incentives to marry – and to marry at a young age – were earlier candidacy for political office and the prestige in public life associated with being married. Women, for their part, were freed from tutela after giving birth to three children – moreover, motherhood could exempt them from the inheritance restrictions of the Republican lex Voconia. The double standard becomes obvious, however, when we examine the other law introduced in  BC, the lex Iulia de adulteriis. In this Augustan edict, the Roman ideal of female pudicitia can be particularly

  

See e.g. Hallett : –, –, –; Crook : –; Gardner : –; Dixon : –; Evans Grubbs a: –.   Laes, in this volume, pp. –. See Evans Grubbs a: –. Dixon : .  Dixon : –; see e.g. Cass. Dio .. Rawson b: –.





 

well observed. As long as they refrained from sexual relations with freeborn virgins, widows or married women, Roman men enjoyed relative freedom to satisfy their sexual desires with slaves or courtesans. For freeborn women, the situation was quite different. The Julian Law defined any sexual relations of an unmarried woman, whether she was a virgin, a widow or a divorcée, as stuprum – a crime of ‘promiscuity’ or ‘fornication’ (a curious exception, as Petrova points out, seem to have been the procuresses who were exempt from prosecution for adultery and expected to continue their corporeal business instead of marrying). On the other hand, if a married woman had sexual relations with a man other than her husband, her sexual partner was considered guilty of adulterium, a crime clearly defined and punishable under the Julian Law. Augustus’ moral legislation, therefore, transformed the age-old ideal of pudicitia into the letter of the law, making private family matters public and confining female sexuality to within the limits of marriage. In summary, the Augustan marriage laws appear to have had two main aims at the level of ideology: first of all, to encourage marriage and reproduction and, secondly, to restrict the sexual promiscuity of the elite and promote the ideal of pudicitia. However, it is incontrovertible that when taken to extremes, these two ideals could sometimes clash. This conflict can be observed in Augustan literature, particularly in poetry. In this paper, I briefly examine the representation of unmarried women in the Aeneid, the epic masterpiece of the Augustan period and the cornerstone of Roman identity. The poem is, of course, not a reliable source for the study of Roman social history and will not be examined as such in this paper. Nevertheless, the significance of the Aeneid for the ethos and the ideological atmosphere of the early Principate was so immense that it can 

  



Pudicitia, a virtue associated in particular with married women, was a crucial part of Roman moral thinking; as Langlands points out, it is too complex and multifaceted to be translated simply as “modesty”, “chastity” or “continence”; it is a more overarching concept that also includes many non-sexual aspects. See e.g. Val. Max. ..; Tac. ann. ..; Pompon. .. Besides being an abstract virtue, Pudicitia was also a goddess whose cult was a crucial part of the Roman religious system in the Republican period. See Langlands : –. See Csillag ; Treggiari b; Petrova, in this volume. For a more focused and detailed analysis of Augustus’ marriage laws, see Evans Grubbs, in this volume. It has, however, been questioned whether these really were the primary aims of the Julian laws. Wallace-Hadrill, for one, has argued that the actual practical purpose of Augustus’ marriage laws was to stabilize the transmission of property and social status from generation to generation among the Roman well-to-do families. Wallace-Hadrill . See Kiefer’s detailed list of passages regarding sexuality and sexual morals in Augustan poetry: Kiefer : –.

Tracing Roman Ideas on Female Singleness: Virgil’s Aeneid



be considered a unique source for the study of the Roman value system – including its ideas concerning marriage and sexuality. As a poem that both reflected the values of its time and deliberately aimed at constructing them, it offers us a window onto this crucial period of transformation in Roman culture and society – the turn from the political turmoil of the late Republic towards the cultural revolution of the Augustan era.

 The One-man Woman – Ideal, Fantasy or Rhetorical Weapon? In the Aeneid, the best example of a situation where the themes of marriage, sexuality and ‘singleness’ are present is naturally the story of Dido and Aeneas. The tale has all the elements necessary for a full-scale discussion of values and ideals regarding pudicitia and sexual mores. Unsurprisingly, the female protagonist, in particular, is depicted and assessed throughout the story in terms of her marital status and her sexual conduct. When the Trojan refugees land in Carthage, it is immediately made clear to the reader that their new hostess, Queen Dido, is a widow. She escaped her native Tyre after the violent death of her beloved husband, Sychaeus. After landing in Libyan territory with her band of fugitives, she founded a new city there. As queen of Carthage, Dido cherishes the memory of her late husband and has remained a widow. This makes her an archetypal literary univira – a one-man woman who has only been married once. In Roman culture, this was traditionally considered to be among the highest levels of female pudicitia. And at least in theory, it was presented as a pursuable, model way of life for young brides – this can be observed in the tradition that originally, only univirae could act as pronubae at weddings.



  



The unique position of the Aeneid as a work that both reflects and constructs the Roman ideology, identity and ethos of the Augustan period has been discussed, for instance, in Hardie ; Toll ; Putnam ; Toll ; Adler ; Syed ; Reed . Virg. Aen. .–. See Humbert : –; also Gardner : –; Treggiari b: –; Dixon : –, , ; Evans Grubbs a: , . Traditionally, the cult of Pudicitia, popular in the Republican period, excluded all women who were, for whatever reason, not univirae. As Langlands states, this prohibition seems to derive from religious considerations rather than ethical ones: a woman who had had sex with more than one man was considered impure, or ‘stained’ – even if this might not have affected her social status, the circumstances excluded her from the cult practice. Langlands : –. For further discussion on the tension between practice and ideal in matters concerning marriage and reproduction, see Huebner, in this volume. Lightman and Zeisel : – (see Tert. de exhortatione castitatis ; de monogamia .). See also Humbert : . As Dixon points out, not only was there a conflict between the ideal and practice, but there most probably was a causal relation between the two: it was because widows and



 

Before proceeding with the literary analysis, it is necessary to point out a few methodological issues and idiosyncrasies connected to the concept of the univira in Roman culture. As presented in literary sources, this ideal is extremely vague and difficult to grasp – it is particularly difficult to show to what extent it formed part of religious thinking and Roman philosophy in the classical period, and how drastically it was subsequently shaped by the Christian church fathers. Doubtlessly, the emphasis put on this ideal, as well as many of the moral and religious aspects associated with it in the Christian period, have influenced modern scholars’ understanding of the concept. When examining the ideal of the univira in the specific context of classical pagan culture, it is crucial to note that the concept of the oneman woman apparently did not originally refer to a widow – instead, it was applied to a woman who had come into her husband’s household as a virgin bride and had died before her husband. Dixon suggests that it was only from the late Republic onwards that the term was associated with widows who chose not to remarry, out of loyalty to their late husbands, or in order to protect their children’s financial interests. This interpretation – like most of our information about Roman univirae – is based on epigraphic material from the imperial period. In the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, over thirty Latin funerary inscriptions that commemorate virtuous univirae can be found. However, even if the term itself does not appear in Roman literature dating from the classical period, several literary passages attest to the existence of the ideal. The praise and the glorification of women who only married once and decided to remain widows after the deaths of their husbands is not an uncommon feature in imperial Roman prose – Seneca, Tacitus and Valerius Maximus are our most useful sources for this sort of rhetoric. In the field of poetry, in turn, the best-known and the most memorable univira in the Roman literary tradition is certainly Dido in the Aeneid – and this brings us back to the literary analysis of Virgil’s poem. In book four of the Aeneid, Virgil makes it clear that Dido takes her oath to remain unmarried quite seriously at the beginning of her story. She states that mihi . . . animo fixum immotumque sederet/ne cui me vinclo vellem

 

divorcées normally remarried that society continued to idealize the woman who married only once. Dixon : –; see also .  Dixon : , . See e.g. CIL .; .; .; ., ; ., . See e.g. Val. Max. .., ..; Tac. ann. ., Germ. .; Sen. de mat. –. For further discussion, see Csillag : –; Humbert : –; Langlands : –.

Tracing Roman Ideas on Female Singleness: Virgil’s Aeneid



sociare iugali. Her devotion can also be observed in her anxious outburst to her sister Anna: . . . rather, I would pray, may earth yawn for me to its depths, or may the Almighty Father hurl me with his bolt to the shades – the pale shades and abysmal night in Erebus – before, Shame, I violate you or break your laws! He who first linked me to himself has taken away my heart; may he keep it with him, and guard it in the grave!

In effect, the poet tells us that the queen has received plenty of marriage proposals from the princes of neighboring cities, but has systematically turned them all down. Anna reminds Dido that . . . no wooers moved your sorrow, not in Libya, nor before them in Tyre; that Iarbas was slighted, and other lords whom the African land, rich in triumphs, rears.

Naturally, there are a number of methodological issues that must be taken into account when examining the character of Dido as an exemplum of univira. First of all, she is a fictitious character, and secondly, she is not Roman but a foreign queen whose character, therefore, does not merely reflect the Roman value system and the ideals of the time, but also many of the cultural prejudices and stereotypes concerning the ‘Other’ which prevailed in the early Augustan period. It has been convincingly shown that Virgil utilizes an extensive repertoire of narratological tools in the 



 

Virg. Aen. .–. These passages can, naturally, also be interpreted in another way, if we assume that Dido is feigning her devotion towards her late husband – the fact that she is quickly and easily persuaded by Anna to pursue a union with Aeneas would support this reading. I have analyzed this matter further in my previous article (Pyy ). . . . mihi vel tellus optem prius ima dehiscat/vel pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,/pallentis umbras Erebo noctemque profundam/ante, pudor, quam te violo aut tua iura resolvo. Virg. Aen. .–. English translation of the Aeneid by H.R. Fairclough, LCL. . . . aegram nulli quondam flexere mariti,/non Libyae, non ante Tyro; despectus Iarbas/ductoresque alii, quos Africa terra triumphis/dives alit. Virg. Aen. .–. For a more detailed analysis of Dido’s ‘Otherness’ in the Roman epic tradition, see Keith ; Syed ; Keith . The obvious and deliberate association between Dido and Cleopatra has been analyzed over and over again (see e.g. Benario ; Horsfall –; Nadeau : –; Keith , –; Syed : –). Arguably, this association alone is enough to emphasize Dido’s Otherness and to represent her as alien to the Roman value system and the moral decorum of the time – and even as a threat to them. It has been convincingly argued that due to the political circumstances of the time, the Augustan authors needed to reconstruct Cleopatra’s public image, representing her as the Other and associating her with the most strange and exotic features of Egyptian culture (see e.g. Virg. Aen. ., .–; Prop. ..–; Hor. carm. ..–; Ov. met. .). As Gruen puts it, the portrait of Cleopatra as the Other was “tied most closely to a particular time and purpose.” Gruen : –. See also Galinsky : –; Maehler : –; Syed : –. The archetype of the exotic foreign queen, strongly present in the literary discourse of the Augustan period, was thus strengthened by the character of Dido in the Aeneid. And whereas the association with Dido helped to represent Cleopatra as the exotic Other,



 

Aeneid in order to stimulate the emotions of his Roman audience and to encourage them to identify with certain characters – and to distance themselves from others. Dido is often considered to belong to the latter category – Syed, for one, has argued that throughout Dido’s story, the poet depicts her as the exotic Other, who is distanced from the reader by means of gaze, voice and emotions. According to this reading, it would have been particularly difficult for a Roman reader to relate to Dido, or to consider her as a representative of his or her own culture and value system. This interpretation, however, is not completely convincing when we examine Dido’s character from the viewpoint of Roman sexual morals and the ideals of the time. Dido’s obsession with her vows of chastity, her strong commitment to the ideals of monogamy, and her distress about not being able to give children to her husband and her country are all significant details that show how strongly she has been imbued with the paradigms and the value system of the patriarchal society. It is crucial to remember that despite having become an exotic Carthaginian dux femina, Virgil’s Dido is also an educated, civilized matron who was born and raised in the sphere of influence of Greek culture. Therefore, we have plenty of reasons to assume that the Roman audience – the female audience, in particular – could, and was expected to, identify with Dido. Moreover, this gives us reason to believe that readers were expected to assess her sexual conduct as if she were an upper-class Roman matron. Dido’s resolution to remain unmarried is the first occasion in the Aeneid where the reader can observe the aforementioned conflict between the ideals of chastity and of reproduction. It is evident that Dido’s decision to remain unmarried brings her kudos and glory, making her the embodiment of pudicitia. On the other hand, however, it is implied that it is not the wisest possible choice for her, considering her position as the sole ruler of a newly established city. Without an heir to the throne, Carthage is



 

the same effect worked the other way around – the Roman audience’s familiarity with the Cleopatra lore doubtless made Dido instantly appear to them as an exotic and dangerous foreign queen. Syed : –. For further analysis on the techniques of identification in Roman literature, see also Konstan ; Nugent ; Skinner : ; Keith : . Classical narratology has not been widely applied to the study of Roman epic; when it comes to Homeric epic, instead, there is a strong research tradition in the field of narratological analysis – these methods are very suitable and applicable for the study of Virgilian epic as well. See, in particular, De Jong, Nu¨nlist and Bowie ; De Jong and Nu¨nlist ; Bakker . Syed : –. This idea is supported by a passage in Juvenal’s Satires where the author blames an imaginary elite matron for doing so: Illa tamen gravior, quae cum discumbere coepit,/laudat Vergilium, periturae ignoscit Elissae,/committit vates et comparat, inde Maronem/atque alia parte in trutina suspendit Homerum. Juv. .–.

Tracing Roman Ideas on Female Singleness: Virgil’s Aeneid



bound to become politically unstable in a few decades’ time. Since the queen has no children by her former husband, a new marriage would certainly strengthen the political status of the city as well as ensure the continuance of Dido’s own royal line. The situation appears to reflect the discussion concerning unmarried widows and their social status in the Roman Principate. Their praise of univirae and the ideal of female chastity notwithstanding, the Julian marriage laws incentivized widows to remarry as soon as possible. We can find an echo of this in Ulpian, who states that feminis lex Iulia a morte viri anni tribuit vacationem, a divortio sex mensum, lex autem Papia a morte viri biennii, a repudio anni et sex mensum. However, in this matter, as in many others, having children guaranteed more freedom of choice to women. If a widowed woman had already given birth, she could decline a new marriage, even if she was still of child-bearing age. This, however, is not the case with Dido. The fact that she is once widowed and still without children makes her position ambiguous and insecure. This is clearly expressed in the words of Anna when she tries to persuade her sister to consider remarrying: . . . are you, lonely and sad, going to pine away all your youth long, and know not sweet children or love’s rewards? Do you think that dust or buried shades give heed to that?

Unsurprisingly, Dido is quite willing to accept Anna’s advice, and eager to yield herself to love again. She burns with passion for Aeneas, stating that . . . since the death of my hapless lord Sychaeus, and the shattering of our home by a brother’s murder, he alone has swayed my will and overthrown my tottering soul. I feel again a spark of that former flame.



 

 

In the Republican period, the widow was expected to go into mourning for a period of ten months; see Ov. fast. .–; Paul. sent. ..–. Remarriage during the mourning period was penalized by the praetor’s edict (the punishment being the loss of legal privileges). Apparently, the practical reason for this was to prevent any doubt about a posthumous child’s paternity. For further discussion, see Treggiari b: –; Rawson a: ; Gardner : –. See also Evans Grubbs a: –; Dixon : . Ulp. (reg.) .; see also Suet. Aug. . Rawson a: –. A good example of a situation like this is the case of Antonia, daughter of Mark Antony. She lost her husband, Drusus, when she was under thirty years of age; however, having already given birth to three children, she was able to have her way and remain a widow. Val. Max. ... solane perpetua maerens carpere iuventa/nec dulcis natos Veneris nec praemia noris?/id cinerem aut manis credis curare sepultos? Virg. Aen. .–. miseri post fata Sychaei/coniugis et sparsos fraterna caede penatis/solus hic inflexit sensus animumque labantem/impulit. agnosco veteris vestigia flammae. Virg. Aen. .–.



 

Therefore, it is out of her infatuation with Aeneas, rather than because of Anna’s reasoning, that Dido starts a liaison with the Trojan refugee. Although she takes her vows of chastity quite seriously, the allure of love and companionship is too strong. Dido appears to the audience as a univira who cherishes her prestigious status – but only until she gets an offer that is attractive enough, until the option of a new marriage appears more beneficial than the honor gained by abstinence. It is impossible to tell whether or not Virgil utilized Dido’s character to comment on phenomena that were topical in his contemporary society – but it is likely that his Roman audience recognized the behavioral pattern represented by Dido and, most probably, assessed her conduct by the standards of their own time.



Young Widows, Shame and Sexual Morals

It is, however, crucial to note that Dido is never quite ready to let go of her cherished pudicitia – she goes to a great deal of trouble to justify her actions, and when she starts a relationship with Aeneas, she considers it a legitimate marriage. This is yet another of the ambiguities in the story of Dido and Aeneas. The question of why Virgil so extensively utilizes imagery and vocabulary associated with marriage when depicting their liaison is intriguing: the incoherent details and the deliberately misleading narrating voice have been widely noticed by scholars before. It is incontrovertible that the poet depicts the consummation of Dido and Aeneas’ relationship as a marriage ritual guarded by Juno herself. The queen of the gods states: I will be there and, if I can be sure of your good will, will link them in sure wedlock, sealing her for his own; this shall be their bridal!

Moreover, the poet describes the episode in the same terms: Primal Earth and nuptial Juno gave the sign; fires flashed in heaven, the witness to their bridal, and on the mountaintop screamed the Nymphs.

  

See e.g. Perkell ; Skinner ; Dietrich . adero et, tua si mihi certa voluntas,/conubio iungam stabili propriamque dicabo./hic hymenaeus erit. Virg. Aen. .–. prima et Tellus et pronuba Iuno/dant signum; fulsere ignes et conscius aether/conubiis summoque ulularunt vertice Nymphae. Virg. Aen. .–.

Tracing Roman Ideas on Female Singleness: Virgil’s Aeneid



Even Mercury, when he addresses Aeneas, speaks of Dido as his uxor. These passages appear to be deliberately misleading – most probably, their purpose is to emphasize the confusion around the whole relationship, and to explain why Dido has reason to believe that she is Aeneas’ lawful wife. Examined against this background, it does not come as a surprise that when Dido addresses Aeneas upon his departure, she speaks of data dextera, and pleads to him per conubia nostra, per inceptos hymenaeos. However, Aeneas’ immovable answer makes it evident that, at least in his mind, no official agreement ever took place. He claims that “I never held out a bridegroom’s torch or entered such a compact.” Ultimately, the poet implies that on an unconscious level, Dido herself was aware all along of the nature of their relationship. After all, it is noteworthy that when Virgil depicted Dido’s thoughts and feelings in the beginning of the affair, he had mentioned that . . . no more is Dido swayed by fair show or fair fame, no more does she dream of a secret love: she calls it marriage and with that name veils her sin.

Thus, it is subtly implied that in effect, Dido has been telling herself what she wanted to believe – what she needed to believe in order to maintain at least a shred of the precious pudicitia that she sacrificed when uniting herself with a man again. Now, however, as the relationship is coming to an end, she is forced to admit that there never was a marriage: infelix Dido, nunc te facta impia tangunt? (“Unhappy Dido, do your sinful deeds come home to you only now?”), she chides herself. Therefore, it must be concluded that the relationship between Dido and Aeneas is not a legitimate conubium – according to the first chapter of lex Iulia de adulteriis, it is a stuprum, fornication with a widowed woman. This is where we come back to the social and historical background of the poem – it would appear that in stressing the confusion and the distress caused by Dido and Aeneas’ illegitimate union, Virgil is reflecting the ideological atmosphere of his own day. Notably, in the Rome of the late Republic or the early Principate, it was not a situation completely unheard of that after being married several times, some of the widowed elite     

tu nunc Karthaginis altae/fundamenta locas pulchramque uxorius urbem/extruis? Virg. Aen. .–. Virg. Aen. ., .. nec coniugis umquam/praetendi taedas aut haec in foedera veni. Virg. Aen. .–. . . . neque enim specie famave movetur/nec iam furtivum Dido meditatur amorem/coniugium vocat, hoc praetexit nomine culpam. Virg. Aen. .–. Virg. Aen. ..



 

matrons might have preferred to stay unmarried at least for a while and enjoy their autonomy. And during such phases, they might have taken lovers. From the point of view of pudicitia, this sort of lifestyle was naturally highly questionable. Furthermore, from a more practical point of view, it endangered the woman’s chances of producing legitimate children – young widows who refused to remarry not only wasted their fertile years in solitude, but also risked having spurious offspring by their lovers. A famous example of a situation like this can be found in Cicero’s Pro Caelio, his literary account of the lawsuit that took place in  BC – some thirty years before Virgil wrote the Aeneid. In his notoriously malevolent speech, Cicero scorns Clodia Metelli for degrading herself to the level of a meretrix when she remained unmarried after the death of her husband in  BC and – allegedly – had sexual relations with other men. Cicero represents Clodia as a merciless man-eater who preys on young, financially strapped elite men. He appeals to the jury’s sense of decency, asking them not to let M. Caelius be “sacrificed to female lust.” In Cael. , he elaborately describes Clodia’s carefree lifestyle, depicting her as an impudent harlot: If a woman without a husband opens her house to all men’s desires, and publicly leads the life of a courtesan . . . if, in fact, she so behaves that not only her bearing but her dress and her companions, not only the ardour of her looks and the licentiousness of her gossip but also her embraces and caresses, her beach-parties, her water-parties, her dinner-parties, proclaim her to be not only a courtesan, but also a shameless and wanton courtesan; if a young man should happen to be found with this woman, would you, Lucius Herennius, consider him to be an adulterer or a lover?

Cicero emphasizes the idea that being unmarried, Clodia sets no limit whatsoever to her sexual desires. He repetitively suggests that an incestuous relationship exists between Clodia and her brother (and his mortal enemy)

  

For women in their fertile years, prompt remarriage after a divorce was, of course, a more common option; see e.g. Bradley : –. Caelium libidini muliebri condonatum, Cic. Cael. . Si quae non nupta mulier domum suam patefecerit omnium cupiditati palamque sese in meretricia vita collocarit . . . si denique ita sese gerat non incessu solum, sed ornatu atque comitatu, non flagrantia oculorum, non libertate sermonum, sed etiam complexu, osculatione, actis, navigatione, conviviis, ut non solum meretrix, sed etiam proterva meretrix procaxque videatur: cum hac si qui adulescens forte fuerit, utrum hic tibi, L. Herenni, adulter an amator . . . videatur? Cic. Cael. . English translation of Pro Caelio by R. Gardner, LCL. For the full quotation and a more elaborate analysis of this passage, see Kiiskinen, in this volume.

Tracing Roman Ideas on Female Singleness: Virgil’s Aeneid



P. Clodius Pulcher. Moreover, he scorns Clodia for her many other alleged love affairs, stating: You have grounds by the Tiber purposely procured just at the place where all the young men come to bathe; from there you may pick up marriage proposals any day.

Naturally, there is no evidence whatsoever that Clodia – or other young widows of the time – indulged in sexual adventures of the kind described by Cicero. As Skinner points out, Cicero’s malevolent comments about Clodia’s personal life cannot be considered anything but “wild fabrications” conceived with political interest in mind. However, the mere existence of this sort of comments shows the suspicion and the reproaches reserved for young widows who refused to remarry. Naturally, Cicero’s goals were first and foremost political, and to him, Clodia was a mere pawn in his long-standing feud against her brother. Nevertheless, as Griffith points out, what made it so easy for Cicero to reproach Clodia for her alleged sexual conduct was the age-old ideal that a widow should remain chaste and cherish the memory of her late husband. With her relationships with alienissimi viri, Clodia obviously betrayed this ideal and made herself an easy target for moralists. Obviously, the whole situation is based on a striking paradox – while the ideal of univira existed and was used to assess Clodia’s behavior, remarrying was the only way she could have protected herself against vicious rumors targeted at her chastity. It does not seem far-fetched to claim that in the political turmoil of the late Republic, the ideal of a oneman woman was little more than a weapon for moralists, misogynists and political opportunists. As Petrova, in this volume also points out, patriarchal society needed to define women either as virgins (under the control of their fathers), or as matrons (under the control of their husbands). The social changes that took place in the course of the Republic – the stark decline of the manus marriage and the increasing wealth and social power of elite women – made it increasingly difficult to place some women in the late Republic in either of these categories. It is naturally problematic to compare two texts from such different genres and with such different agendas as the Pro Caelio and the Aeneid.   

Cic. Cael. , . See also Cic. Sest. ; Cic. Pis. . For further discussion on this aspect of Cicero’s inflammatory rhetoric, see Butrica . Habes hortos ad Tiberim ac diligenter eo loco paratos, quo omnis iuventus natandi causa venit; hinc licet condiciones cotidie legas . . . Cic. Cael. .   Skinner : . Griffith : . Griffith : –.



 

However, in their own way, both of these works reflect Roman ideas concerning unmarried widows and female sexuality – as well as the anxieties that Roman society experienced when it came to the sexual morals and the autonomy of Roman elite matrons. Due to his different aims, Virgil’s tone in discussing these matters is much more humane and understanding than Cicero’s. He treats Dido in a gentle and empathetic manner – nevertheless, it is made evident that by making a number of poor choices, she has weakened her social position. Dido herself, furious with Aeneas, acknowledges this when she claims that “because of you and you alone my shame has been extinguished and, wherever I go, my ill repute goes before me.” A little later, she desperately calculates the paths open to her now that her cherished status as a univira has been lost: Shall I once more make trial of my old wooers, only to be mocked, and shall I humbly sue for marriage with Numidians, whom I have scorned so often as husbands? . . . But who – suppose that I wished it – will suffer me, or take one so hated on those haughty ships?

Evidently, Dido’s situation has gone from bad to worse: she has lost her cherished pudicitia, but also all prospects of marriage. It appears that all the roles in which it is possible to perform womanhood in a respectable and socially approved way – virgin, wife, mother, widow – have now been denied her. As a result, she is confused and frustrated, and she bitterly regrets her sexual transgressions. At this point, the poet returns to a theme brought up at the beginning of Dido’s story, the issue of hypothetical motherhood. It is intriguing that Dido, deeply in love with Aeneas, does not only grieve the end of their relationship – she also grieves that the affair did not leave her with a child. She tells Aeneas: At least, if before your flight a child of yours had been born to me, if in my hall a baby Aeneas were playing, whose face, in spite of all, would bring back yours, I should not think myself utterly vanquished and forlorn.

It would appear that Dido has already accepted the fact that their union was illegitimate at this point – it is evident that a child born of it would not be legally acknowledged by Aeneas. Dido nevertheless wishes that there  



te propter eundem/exstinctus pudor et, qua sola sidera adibam,/fama prior. Virg. Aen. .–. rursusne procos inrisa priores/experiar, Nomadumque petam conubia supplex,/quos ego sim totiens iam dedignata maritos? . . . quis me autem, fac velle, sinet ratibusve superbis/invisam accipiet? Virg. Aen. .–, .–. saltem si qua mihi de te suscepta fuisset/ante fugam suboles, si quis mihi parvulus aula/luderet Aeneas, qui te tamen ore referret,/non equidem omnino capta ac deserta viderer. Virg. Aen. .–.

Tracing Roman Ideas on Female Singleness: Virgil’s Aeneid



was a child, if only to remind her of Aeneas. Most probably, this passage is supposed to be read in the context of the episodes that stress Dido’s desperate situation and her defiled reputation after Aeneas’ departure. As she now has such slight chances of ever receiving a marriage proposal again, she might as well remain a widow for the rest of her days and raise her illegitimate child as her heir. In effect, this might have been a way out of the otherwise unbearable situation – not a respectable one, but at least something to cling to, and a promise of better times to come. Dido’s cup of anxiety pours over when she realizes that even this option is out of the question since there is no child. At the end, the relationship with Aeneas leaves Dido empty-handed, stripped of her honor and of her high hopes for her city. Virgil, therefore, represents Dido as an example of an unmarried widow who has an illegitimate extramarital relationship – and has to pay for her mistake. At the end, she is deprived of the protection of a husband and the joys of motherhood, and she has no legal protection at the moment of the break-up. Therefore, it is certainly possible to interpret the story of Dido and Aeneas as a pro-marriage story, perhaps even as a reaction against the sexual freedom and ‘immorality’ of the late Republic. However, I suggest that this sort of interpretation could be mistaken. It is most intriguing that ultimately moralistic overtones and pro-marriage propaganda are completely absent from the end of the story of Dido and Aeneas. At the end of book four, right before her suicide, Dido looks back on her life and reminisces about her union with Sychaeus and her relationship with Aeneas – and at the end, she wishes she had never married at all. One of her last statements is that Ah, that I could not spend my life apart from wedlock, a blameless life, like some wild creature, and not know such cares!

Here Virgil recalls the fascination of a single life – the fascination that obviously was well known in his contemporary society – and stresses the pain that love (in or outside of marriage) can cause to a human being. At the end, Virgil’s Dido is not a classic exemplum of easy virtue and a 

 

In Roman society, marriage was a contract that aimed at the economic wellbeing of both parties; in the case of divorce, the rights of the wife were protected and the dowry was returned (under the condition that no adulterous behaviour on the part of the wife could be proven). Gardner : –; Rawson a: –; Dixon : –; Evans Grubbs a: , . non licuit thalami expertem sine crimine vitam/degere more ferae, talis nec tangere curas. Virg. Aen. .–. See e.g. Hor. epist. .., carm. ...



 

tarnished reputation. She is a human being who has been conquered by powers greater than herself – a victim of two brilliant and conniving goddesses, a victim of patriarchal society’s unrealistic expectations and, first and foremost, a victim of love that omnia vincit. In this poem, it is not better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

 Futile or Virtuous Virginity? The Case of Camilla The themes of marriage, singleness and sexual morality are also briefly discussed in another story in the latter part of the Aeneid. In the final lines of book seven, Virgil introduces another of his captivating female characters – the Volscian warrior maiden Camilla. Camilla’s character is Virgil’s invention, and mostly based on the Amazon imagery of Greek literature. As a young, unmarried woman, Camilla can be examined as an intriguing comparative case to Virgil’s Dido. While Dido is a devoted univira, Camilla is a virgin as a matter of principle. In book eleven, the poet relates the story of the warrior maiden, explaining how her father, Metabus, an exiled tyrant of the Volsci, devoted his daughter to Diana as a baby and brought her up alone in the woodlands. Camilla, therefore, is an example of virginity embedded in religion and cult practice – the type of celibacy that was well established in Roman society in the classical pagan period. Measured in numbers, however, this sort of lifestyle was uncommon compared to the popularity of the phenomenon in Christian Late Antiquity. In the Aeneid, Virgil plays with this tradition, creating an intriguing hybrid of a maiden priestess of Diana and a warlike Amazon. In no part of the epic is it explicitly stated how Camilla serves Diana, but it seems that she is at least a devotee, and possibly a priestess, of some sort of sylvan cult. It is said that Camilla worships Diana alone in the woodlands. In battle, she wears arcus et arma Dianae (“the bow and armour of Diana”), and the goddess herself describes the warrior maiden as cara mihi ante alias (“whom I love as none besides”). Therefore, Virgil depicts Camilla as an outsider   



Virg. ecl. .. See e.g. Schönberger : –; Köves-Zulauf : –; Arrigoni : –, –; Horsfall : –; Horsfall : –; Pyy : –. During his flight, Metabus arrived at the river Amasenus and, being unable to swim across with the child in his arms, tied the baby onto his spear and hurled her over. Before doing this, he prayed Diana to protect the child and, should she survive, promised to devote her to the goddess. Virg. Aen. .–. Virg. Aen. ., .. See Arrigoni : –; Horsfall : .

Tracing Roman Ideas on Female Singleness: Virgil’s Aeneid



to the human community and to its norms concerning marriage, in particular – in effect, Camilla appears to actually live the blameless life of a wild creature that Dido could only dream of. In Camilla’s story, too, the conflict between the ideal of pudicitia and practical questions regarding marriage and reproduction is evident. Even though Camilla herself has not chosen her virginity – the choice was made by her father – it is made clear that she is happy with the situation and proud. She has no wish whatsoever to marry – but her decision to remain unmarried needs to be constantly affirmed and explained to the society surrounding her. In book eleven, it is narrated that many a mother in Tyrrhene towers longed in vain for her as daughter; content with Diana alone, she cherishes unsullied a lifelong love for her weapons and her maidenhood.

Furthermore, when Camilla rides out to war, she is apparently not without admirers: all the youth, streaming from house and field, and thronging matrons marvel, and gaze at her as she goes, agape with wonder . . .

That it is namely the youths and matrons that admire Camilla is telling, and again hints at the prospect of marriage. Thus, both implicitly and explicitly, the poet tells us that, despite her unconventional lifestyle, Camilla is coveted as a bride and as a daughter-in-law. However, she deliberately rejects the possibility of family life. Camilla’s rejection of the normative lifestyle is emphasized when Virgil describes her as . . . a warrior maid, never having trained her woman’s hands to Minerva’s distaff or basket of wool, but hardy to bear the brunt of battle and in speed of foot to outstrip the winds.

The emphasis put on spinning and weaving seems highly significant. By forsaking a life spent on these feminine tasks, Camilla is rejecting womanhood altogether. By stressing this, Virgil subtly places the maiden in another category, that of the heroes and the warriors. In effect, it would appear that Camilla’s role as an exemplum of male epic heroism is

  

multae illam frustra Tyrrhena per oppida matres/optavere nurum; sola contenta Diana/aeternum telorum et virginitatis amorem/intemerata colit. Virg. Aen. .–. illam omnis tectis agrisque effusa iuventus/turbaque miratur matrum et prospectat euntem,/attonitis inhians animis . . . Virg. Aen. .–. . . . bellatrix, non illa colo calathisve Minervae/femineas adsueta manus, sed proelia virgo/dura pati cursuque pedum praevertere ventos. Virg. Aen. .–.



 

strongly built on her virginal status – a quality that the poet stresses throughout her story. Furthermore, aeternum telorum et virginitatis amorem makes evident that Camilla’s virginity is of a peculiar kind in the sense that it is permanent. Contrary to the idea of maidenhood as a stage that precedes matrimony, Camilla’s virginity is constant. This very characteristic makes it very difficult for us to compare her to the other women of the Aeneid. Certainly there have been attempts – most often she has been contrasted with the character of Dido, who is a woman but not a virgin, and a female leader, but not a militant one. Comparisons with the virgin Lavinia have also been made. Rosenmeyer, for instance, considers the warrior maiden as “loosely sandwiched between a concentrated dose of pathetic Dido and the insubstantial expectation of Lavinia.” Nevertheless, it would appear that all attempts to categorize Camilla in relation to the other female characters of the Aeneid are bound to fail, since the warrior maiden falls outside all of the available categories. She is a young woman but not a bride-to-be; she is permanently a virgin, but not a proper priestess; she is a valiant warrior, but not a man. Instead of comparing her to the other mortal women of the Aeneid, we might understand her character better if we perceived her as a reflection of the virginal warrior goddess Minerva. Like Minerva, Camilla clearly and indisputably belongs to the female sex, but has rejected the social role of a woman. Instead, she adopts the role of a man and a warrior, and she is remarkably consistent and successful in her male behavior. This irreconcilable ambivalence about her is, at the end, what enables Camilla to act in the way she does. She astonishes men and women alike, a fact which is clearly expressed in her first appearance. As Latin mothers and youths gather to marvel at Camilla, Virgil applies the word miratur to describe their amazement – a word that carries with it strong implications of something marvelous and supernatural.

 



  See Becker : –. See e.g. Vinchesi : . Rosenmeyer : . Note, however, that some scholars perceive Camilla as failing in her male role at the end of her story, when she is distracted from the battle by desire for spoils (Virg. Aen. .–). See Becker : ; Rosenmeyer : ; West : –; Pyy : –. Becker and Quinn have both stressed the idea that the internal audience considers Camilla as different from mortal women. Becker : –; Quinn : . Horsfall, likewise, states that “the choice of verb . . . is expressive both of C.’s character as a thauma/θαῦμα in the ethnographic . . . sense and of the beholder/reader’s reaction to the spectacle/ecphrasis.” Horsfall : . OLD () defines an object of the verb as “cause of wonder, marvelous, remarkable, extraordinary.”

Tracing Roman Ideas on Female Singleness: Virgil’s Aeneid



I suggest that with the help of these associations, Virgil represents his warrior queen as a character who is biologically a woman but socially a man – a manly maiden who falls outside the boundaries set by the real world. In short, Camilla does not question the conventional gender system because she does not take part in it. What seems to be important is that it is specifically her status as an unmarried virgin that allows her to act in the way she does and to stretch the limits of the Roman imagination. While her chastity is portrayed positively as admirable, it is implied that it is also, in a sense, a terrible waste. Camilla is a daughter of a former ruler of the Volsci – and in addition to her royal bloodline, she is clearly beautiful, apparently wealthy and probably chaste. Moreover, she is at an ideal age for child-bearing. In this context, her choice of lifestyle appears, in a sense, as an aberration. The poet implies that Camilla is wasting her fertile years in worship and in war just as Dido wasted hers in solitude and in grief. While this is never explicitly stated in the Aeneid, it is subtly hinted at in the episode that depicts Camilla’s death. The description of the manner of her death in battle includes some fairly erotic overtones. Virgil narrates that . . . the spear, borne home, found lodging beneath the bare breast and, driven deep, drank her maiden blood. . . . She tugs at the weapon with dying hand but in the deep wound the iron point stands fast between the bones, close to the ribs. Bloodless she sinks; her eyes sink, chill with death; the once radiant hue has left her face.

Apart from the obvious erotic imagery implying penetration and defloration, there is a mention of the spear “drinking” Camilla’s blood from her breast. As Fowler points out, this seems to be a clear allusion to nursing – something that Camilla, along with so much else, never experiences. In his perceptive analysis of Camilla’s death scene, Fowler convincingly argues that the allusions to defloration, marriage and motherhood are designed to draw attention to Camilla’s unusual way of life – “her death shows the abnormality of her life.” However, as he also points out, the poet’s tone in discussing these issues is not moralistic or reproaching but rather sad and melancholic. Virgil does not blame Camilla for her choice of lifestyle, but laments the wasted potential and the lost opportunities that Camilla comes to represent. Certainly, she is a virtuous and pious 



. . . hasta sub exsertam donec perlata papillam/haesit virgineumque alte bibit acta cruorem. . . . illa manu moriens telum trahit, ossa sed inter/ferreus ad costas alto stat vulnere mucro./labitur exsanguis, labuntur frigida leto/lumina, purpureus quondam color ora reliquit. Virg. Aen. .–, .–.   See e.g. Heuzé : ; Fowler : . Fowler : . Fowler : .



 

exemplum of pudicitia, but due to this choice, she is left without the joys of a marriage and the sweetness of children – just as Anna warns Dido in book one. Moreover, it is not only Camilla herself that suffers from her choice, but also the society that she is a part of. By her resolute virginity and her premature death, the warrior maiden deprives the community of her potential offspring.

 Conclusion In the stories of Dido and Camilla, we can observe reflections of issues around marriage, sexuality and ‘family planning’ that were highly topical in the late Republic and at the very beginning of the Principate. In particular, these two stories from the Aeneid make visible the conflicts between ideals and practice which arose in connection with unmarried women in Roman society and the Roman value system. On the one hand, Virgil represents these female characters who decide to remain virgins or widows as laudable embodiments of pudicitia, the most glorious expression of female chastity. On the other, he lingers over the issue of years and opportunities wasted, of children left unconceived. However, no final synthesis of these two approaches is arrived at. It would be a crude violation of Virgil’s work to read his poetry as ‘pro-’or ‘anti-Augustan’, or as a reflection of the princeps’ marriage laws that were yet to be enacted at the point in time when the Aeneid was released. At the end, what we can say is that the same issues that seem to have troubled Augustus clearly also troubled Virgil, and probably many of the other members of the Roman elite in their day. The Aeneid raises the issue of waning interest in married life among the Roman elite and thematizes it in the context of the conflicting needs of individuals and the community. What is intriguing is that Virgil appears to focus on the gender aspect of the phenomenon, revealing and examining the double standard that was intrinsic to Roman sexual ethics. Without pointing fingers or offering solutions, he shows that in Roman society, the decision to stay unmarried was never exclusively a woman’s own choice. It was the business of the whole community and, in the Augustan period, it was a politically acute and potentially sensitive issue. Moreover, as these stories from the Aeneid demonstrate, it was an area that needed to be continuously argued, explained and reconsidered.

 

Single as a Lena: The Depiction of Procuresses in Augustan Literature Mina Petrova

 Introduction Various literary sources portray the figure of the lena as a traditionally established literary theme. Since the supposed prototypes for the lena were introduced in the generally lost comedies of Menander, her literary transition emerges in subsequent genres, influenced by New Comedy. Particularly representative examples include Lucian’s Dialogues of the Courtesans and the comedies of Plautus, where the bawd, already an assimilated stock character, functions as an erotodidactic expert. Contemporary readers of Augustan elegy must frequently have encountered the figure of the bawd with her peculiar personality of the old drunkard skilled in the art of seduction, and her stage appearances were rather predictable. Augustan elegy reestablishes the lena theme by drawing on many of her conventional characteristics to create tension in the elegiac world. As a result, we have a few elegies centered on the multidimensional opposition between the elegiac poet and the bawd. The literary roles of the elegiac lena have been the subject of various prominent articles and studies of Roman love elegy. Myers notes that all elegiac poets share a common interest in contrasting their positions as both lovers and poets with the activities of the lena. As James observes, the lena in an elegy is an advisor; 

    

The word lena could be rendered in English as: “bawd, procuress, go-between, madam, brothelkeeper; it denotes a woman who for her own profit arranges introductions between girls and men, and covers a wide range of operations, from those of the professional brothel-keeper employing a large establishment to those of the old nurse arranging liaisons for a particular client” (Barsby : ). An extant source supporting this statement could be Ov. am. ..; Rabe : . The common theme of erotodidaxis or “love instruction, practiced by experienced, old women” is extant both in Augustan elegy and later Greek literature; for more see Wheeler ; Day . For more on the lena in Roman comedy, see Plaut. Asin., Cist., Most., Truc. The primary sources for the lena in Augustan elegy are Tib. ..–, ..–; Prop. .; Ov. am. ..  Chiefly Kratins ; Gross ; Myers ; O’Neill ; James . Myers : .





 

her primary function is to provide countervailing rhetoric, while her social status is a lesser issue. She can be an old maid (Scapha in Mostellaria) or, as Rosivach observes, pseudo nutrix, “an overaged party-girl who now acts as guardian or procuress for a younger girl, perhaps her daughter” (Delia’s mother in the elegies of Tibullus and Dipsas in Ov. am. .). Regardless of the genre they occupy, all these lenae share the common identity of old women who live and survive independently of men – with no husbands, fathers or pimps – but are highly dependent on women, the younger prostitutes under their guidance. Very often there is no mention of a husband, children or any figure having control over them. At the same time, these literary bawds consciously manipulate the decisions of their younger counterparts to escape loneliness, financial insecurity and even death. In a way, they fit into the modern concept of the ‘single life’ in the sense of “living alone and with the possible economic or emotional consequences of this loneliness.” But what can be said about the social roles and the reality corresponding to the literary depictions of lenae? Apart from her existence as a fictive literary persona, the lena also existed in reality. It is beyond question that the profession of procuress existed in Rome by the time of Augustus and Ovid; the Digest contains some excerpts of juristic commentaries on lenae. This does not necessarily mean that the literary lena of elegy has much to do with the real-life practitioner mentioned in the legal literature. When discussing such complex social phenomena as the ‘single life’ in an ancient context, both legal and literary sources could be helpful. I will make use of both for the purpose of the present study, which I will divide into two parts. I shall begin this chapter firstly by focusing on ‘singleness’ in its aspect of “the legal fact of not being married or not being in an exclusive relationship with another person.” In this section, I will focus on the social status and especially the marriage prospects of real-life procuresses in the Roman world. For the sake of this discussion, I will use mainly, but not exclusively legal sources that explicitly or implicitly shed light on the social standing of the procuress in relation to the institution of Roman marriage. Secondly, I shall consider ‘singleness’ in a broader sense of human experience and investigate its relationship to the literary character of the lena.    

 James : . Rosivach : . On old women, see Oliensis ; Richlin  (especially on invective); and Richlin : – et passim; Rosivach ; Cokayne : –.  See Laes in the introductory chapter of this volume. Such as Dig. ...  Barsby : . Laes in this volume, p. .

Single as a Lena



My primary sources are two elegies of Propertius and Ovid where procuresses appear as antagonists seeking to dethrone the elegiac vates from his position of poet-lover. The outcome of this fruitful opposition, the numerous curses heaped upon elegiac bawds, their dehumanization and their depiction as monsters, will be subsumed, for the sake of my research, under the idea of ‘singleness’. I will fragmentize these negative representations into several microthemes and use them to illustrate how ‘singleness’ reflects on these elderly, marginalized female figures– the lenae.

 Single as a Lena – the Social Perspective Although scarce, the legal sources recognize the existence of procuress as a profession for women. We can find a concise legal definition in the Iustiniani Digesta: () To practice the profession of a procuress/pimp is nothing less than to earn money through the sale of sexual services. () Furthermore, we describe those who prostitute women for money as “procuresses.” () We will understand “procuress” to include even the woman who practices this way of making a living under another name. () If any woman operating an inn should have prostitutes working there (as many are accustomed to do on the pretext that they are part of the service staff ), it must be said that she too is classified as a “procuress.”

The legal concept here uncovers two types of lenae: procuresses who were open about the true nature of their activity, and others who seemed to conceal the act of procuring under the name of another business. The latter group is even extended into a possible reference (“as many are accustomed to do”) to the existing practice of masking prostitution with

  





As the lena Dipsas in Ov. am. .. alone calls him (Ecce, quid iste tuus praeter nova carmina vates donat?). See note  above. For most of the passages drawn from the Digesta, I rely on Mommsen and Krueger  for the Latin text, and Scott  for the English translation. However for the passage mentioned here, I rely on McGinn’s translation (McGinn : –) since it renders better the proper meaning of the legal terms. Dig. ..: . Lenocinium facere non minus est quam corpore quaestum exercere. . Lenas autem eas dicimus, quae mulieres quaestuarias prostituunt. . Lenam accipiemus et eam, quae alterius nomine hoc vitae genus exercet. . Si qua cauponam exercens in ea corpora quaestuaria habeat (ut multae adsolent sub praetextu instrumenti cauponii prostitutas mulieres habere), dicendum hanc quoque lenae appellatione contineri. For further explanation of possible motives, see McGinn : .



 

scenery (the inn) other than that of the common brothel. In both cases that same “legal” identity extends the notion of an apparently existing nexus between procuring and prostitution, in spite of its scenery. Moreover, McGinn suggests that the moral zoning of prostitution in Roman cities was quite probably a Christianizing policy: “you do not need a brothel to sell sex.” In addition, Roman law often treats prostitutes and procuresses in the same fashion. They are both described as infamis, and turpitudo is imposed on them as a moral stigma, regardless of their present status. “The law brands with infamy not only a woman who practices prostitution, but also one who has formerly done so, even though she has ceased to act in this manner; for the disgrace is not removed even if the practice is subsequently discontinued.” That is indeed not surprising, given that most lenae were actually ex-prostitutes, which is also the reality of the literary persona. In a fragment of the Mostellaria, a procuress, instructing her young protégé, reveals her past as a meretrix: “Things which you don’t hope happen more frequently than things which you do hope. In fine, if you cannot be persuaded by words to believe this to be the truth, judge of my words from facts; consider this instance, who I now am, and who I once was.” If a procuress was normally an ex-prostitute, what were her civil rights, and where did she stand in the social hierarchy? Was she typically a female slave – ancilla or freeborn – ingenua, engaged in the activities of a lena, i.e. the lenocinium, or more likely a freedwoman – libertina? I believe the answer to the last question should be negative. The argument in favor of that assumption should be the fact that the Digesta describes a procuress as actively performing her occupation (“those who prostitute women”), even as a manager of slave prostitutes. As noted by McGinn, the choice of the word instrumentum in the description of the prostitutes as service staff in an inn suggests a slave status.   

   

See Dig. ...pr.; Dig. ..(). for the same reference; Dig. .. for reference to similar practice by male practitioners. McGinn in Faraone and McClure : . See Muirhead : : “The constant reference in the pages of both the lay and professional writers to infamia, ignominia, turpitudo, improbitas, as imposing disqualifications, shows how much store continued to be set, theoretically at least, on integrity of character.” Dig. ...: Non solum autem ea quae facit, verum ea quoque quae fecit, etsi facere desiit, lege notatur: neque enim aboletur turpitudo, quae postea intermissa est. This is suggested both by literary evidence and by their treatment by the law. See McGinn : ; for procuresses as former prostitutes in Ancient Greece, see also Glazebrook : . Plaut. most. ..–. For the English transl. see Riley . Instrumentum used as denoting some kind of personality, chattels or stock of a farm, business, trade, etc.: Paul. sent. .., , ; Dig. ..., etc.

Single as a Lena



The second option – seeing the procuresses as ingenuae, or freeborn women, would in turn raise questions about what motivated them to choose a profession which automatically and instantly lowered their status in the Roman social structure. At the very least, it is certain that by procuring, a freeborn Roman woman would deprive herself of many options such as the chance of a favorable marriage or even any marriage recognized as legitimate, as is suggested in Dig. ..: “Where a man lives with a free woman, it is not considered concubinage but genuine matrimony, if she does not acquire gain by means of her body.” As an exprostitute, however, a procuress would most likely have lost these options already. Along with these consequences, lenocinium implied a loss of honor for both its male and female practitioners. Augustan laws charged all persons suspected of assisting in the act of adultery with lenocinium. What happened particularly to ingenuae caught in adultery under the lex Iulia de adulteriis coercendis is well known: they were forbidden to marry freeborn persons, as well as to remarry, and moreover, part of their dowry was confiscated. Furthermore, if a chaste woman had chosen to play a role despised by society, she would have been literally undressed of her highborn female status as mater familias. Women not meeting these moral requirements were expected to adopt all the attributes of a prostitute, for instance wearing the toga rather than the stola – an idolized and long cherished item – the dress of a matron, i.e. a marker for women ‘wearing’ all the respectable ornaments. The loss of this honor implied sinking into the ‘underground’ world of illegitimate forms of marriage that rendered women unprotected, vulnerable and in a sense even single. It is possible to assume that the Augustan regime was not the proper time for an ingenua to engage in any disreputable business. Apart from poverty, only one factor could explain or excuse such a decision. In the Annales, Tacitus refers to a certain highborn woman named Vistilia who made a public profession of prostitution before the aediles in order to escape liability under Augustan adultery law. In addition to this, other sources of a more explicit character indicate that prostitutes were not among the women who could be held liable for adultery. The foregoing discussion implies that   



See Ulp. Dig. ...–; Ulp. Dig. ..(). and Evans Grubbs, in this volume, p. . Dig. .... Fest. L (matronas appellabant eas fere, quibus stolas habendi ius erat). For remarkably detailed information on the opposition stola–toga, see McGinn :–, also Olson in Faraone and McClure :–. Tac. ann. ..–; cf. Suet. Tib.  and Evans Grubbs, in this volume, p. .



 

procuresses were possibly equated with prostitutes both morally and legally, so they were likely also among the exempted categories of women. Another fragment in Suetonius supports this view and suggests an escape clause existed. It is indeed curious to think of prostitution and procuring as the lesser evil for women of high social rank, such as Vistilia, but the legal sources support that assumption. Let us go back to the question of a procuress’s civil status and discuss the third option– a procuress being typically a freedwoman – libertina. This is the most probable of all hypotheses, judging by some of the literary evidence. A section from Cistellaria is of special interest here. The first scene in this comedy presents a kind of ancient ‘girls’ night out’: three female characters are engaged in loquacious talk – Selenium, acting as bona meretrix, another girl called Gymnasium and her mother Syra, the bawd. In Syra’s speech, she gives a down-to-earth description of her situation as a libertina. What follows is a short account of the precarious lifestyle of freedwomen, expressed as a protest against highborn matrons. She also summarizes her opponents’ viewpoint: “They declare that we are in the habit of having commerce with their husbands; they say that we are their supplanters; they attempt to crush us.” The bawd claims that the legal wives (matronae) classify her together with her female companions as paelices (“supplanters”). The use of the word pellex is actually evidence for their marital status. According to an old definition, an unmarried woman who cohabited with a man was originally called pellex, but later the more respectable appellation of concubina was used. In the same play, the procuress Syra identifies both herself and the other lena in the play as “freedwomen, former prostitutes,” apparently single mothers with illegitimate children, since the fathers were “random men they had intercourse with.” Syra decided to procure her daughter “out of poverty” and not “out of arrogance.” In other words, the Plautine bawds here are describing themselves as freedwomen and possibly concubinae.  

    

See above. Pap. Dig. ..() “A woman who gratuitously acts as a bawd for the purpose of avoiding the penalty for adultery, or hires her services to appear in the theatre, can be accused and convicted of aultery under the Decree of the Senate.” See Plaut. Cist. ..–. viris cum suis praedicant nos solere, suas paelices esse aiunt, eunt depressum; Engl. transl. Riley . See Gel. . and Dig. .., which stress the vulgar meaning of ‘pellex’ versus the more respectable ‘concubina’. According to Tituli .: children whose father is uncertain spurii appellantur. Plaut. Cist. .. –: quia nos libertinae sumus, et ego et tua mater, ambae/meretrices fuimus: illa te, ego hanc mihi educavi/ ex patribus conventiciis. neque ego hanc superbiai/causa pepuli ad meretricium quaestum, nisi ut ne esurirem.

Single as a Lena



Freedwomen were eligible for concubinae; the most honorable position for a freedwoman was that of the concubine of a patron, and it was not considered appropriate for her to marry without her patron’s consent and act as mater familias. This is not a surprising opposition; Plautine ladies of low origin often stress the distinction between their class and the matrons. Sometimes this is expressed as part of an instruction to a young ward: “That is more suitable to a married woman, my dear Silenium, to love but one, and with him to pass her life, to whom she has once been married; but, indeed, a Courtesan is most like a flourishing city; she cannot alone increase her fortunes without a multitude of men.” This proverbial remark emphasizes the duty of a meretrix, reminding her not to behave like a matrona, i.e. not to have high expectations of a just marriage. Legal sources support this assertion. Roman law considered concubinage as the most fitting union for an unmarried man and a woman of low social rank such as our comic characters here. Moreover, it is necessary to take into account what the Augustan laws say or do not say about such women, about their eligibility for marriage and their possibilities. Legal sources demonstrate that eligibility for marriage among citizens was highly dependent on the status of women. A procuress should logically fit into one of three status categories: ancilla, ingenua or libertina. Each of these categories involved different marital possibilities. Firstly, as an ancilla, a woman was capable of living in contubernium, the only recognized form of cohabitation for slaves, considered matrimonium iniustum as opposed to the civil law marriage conubium possessed generally only by Roman citizens. As previously noted, the law did not treat procuresses as victims, but as practitioners of prostitution, and therefore procuresses most likely fitted into the other categories. Secondly, as an ingenua, a woman engaged in prostitution was eligible for concubinage but not genuine matrimony because of her moral disgrace. Thirdly, a procuress with the status of libertina could live in  

  

 Dig. ... Plaut. Cist. ..–. This view is also supported by Treggiari : (“A slave mistress might be freed and the liaison continued. As for the second category, in classical law, if a slave prostitute was manumitted she could not be compelled to continue in the trade, but undoubtedly there were in all periods many who were unable or unwilling to change. So the common streetwalker was probably most often of slave or freed status.”) Dig. .. pr. “. . . this is especially the case where she is of a low origin, or has lived by prostitution . . .” For general and detailed explanations of Augustan legislation, see Evans Grubbs, in this volume. See Tituli .: Cum servis nullum est conubium. See for contubernium: Col. .., .; Petron. .; Tac. hist. ., .; Dig. ...



 

concubinage (like the aforementioned Syra). Concubinae as semi-legal partners were deprived of some of the rights and benefits associated with lawful marriage; children born in a union other than conubium were considered illegitimate and usually took the mother’s status. As Rawson has demonstrated, there is a high probability of the partners in such unions being either slaves and thus ineligible for legal marriage, or freed persons: “It was status that precluded many couples from legal marriage.” In addition, the lex Papia guarded against the occurrence of unions between members of the senatorial order and freed persons. For Roman women, freed status was itself an opportunity to fulfill the role of lawful wife, by marrying any free Roman except senators and their relatives. But in the case of lawful marriage, the jurists provided for the interests of female partners who were not socially degraded like prostitutes were. As McGinn has noted, the phrase “if she does not acquire gain by means of her body” quite possibly emphasizes sexual disgrace in general and not the profession of a prostitute in particular. Consequently we could assume that procuresses were embraced under the same moral ban, but simply not mentioned. Finally, and sticking with the hypothesis that procuresses were most likely freeborn or freed, they were disqualified from legal marriage by means of two social marks: low status and base morals. As we have seen, a procuress had two options: she could marry a freeborn or freed man, or she could cohabit with a man as concubina, contubernalis. But even in the first case, she could not benefit from the marriage; too many restrictions were carefully designed to present obstacles. For example the rights of testation, property or bequests – these were all legally tied to the rights of children (ius liberorum) introduced in the lex Papia. The law forbade childless partners from having more than a tenth of each other’s estates. What happened, then, when a marriage contravened Augustan law? A legal passage says: “Under certain circumstances [spouses] receive nothing from each other, that is, if they have married contrary to the terms of the lex Iulia et Papia Poppaea, for example, if someone [i.e., an ingenuus] marries a woman stigmatized by the statute, or a senator marries a freedwoman.” In the legal texts “a woman     

Dig. .. benefits such as dos; donatio propter nuptias; donatio inter virum et uxorem.    Rawson : , note . Ibid.: . Dig. ... McGinn : . See Tituli . – there is a major dispute over the authorship and the dating of this text; for more see McGinn : . Tituli .a. Tituli .: Aliquando nihil inter se capiunt: id est, si contra legem Iuliam Papiamque Poppaeam contraxerint matrimonium, verbi gratia si famosam quis uxorem duxerit, aut libertinam senator.



Single as a Lena

stigmatized by the statute” (famosa) was often used as an epithet for a woman of ill repute, which could positively be a characteristic of a lena. Thus, if a lack of obedience was identified in a woman, she would be prevented from receiving anything from her husband. In sum, if married legally, a lena could feasibly have met all the requirements for children, age and status set out in the Augustan legislation. Otherwise, she had the right to inherit only one tenth, or even nothing at all, if her marriage contravened the lex Papia. As a third, additional option here, I would add her option of not marrying under Augustan laws. McGinn discusses an interesting case, drawn from Quintilianus, where a prostitute named Spatale received a quarta upon the death of her lover. The actual meaning of quarta is uncertain, but McGinn suggests that the situation concerned an unmarried prostitute, who had the right to claim one-fourth of the patrimony, in contrast with childless wives of freedmen, who were entitled only to one tenth. Such a measure could be interpreted as an encouragement for prostitutes not to marry. As a former prostitute, then, a procuress could have secured her situation by gaining financial support from a generous lover. However, this could have been engineered only by unmarried procuresses, and this may have reduced their desire to enter into legal marriages accordingly. We can assume that disreputable women in Rome were granted minor benefits by the law. They were exempted under the adultery regime, and they had the opportunity to be financially secure as unmarried women. Overall, society did not have high expectations of them; they were not encouraged to merge into the class of Roman matrons and to adopt new morals. It was believed that a prostitute or procuress never ceased to act as one, so that it was more appropriate for her to stay ‘single’ and not to cross social barriers. If a desire for marriage emerged, she was seen as a simulacrum of a respectable woman.

 Single as a Lena – the Literary Perspective There is one (whoever wants to learn about the bawd, let him hear) . . .

Ovid, Amores ..

Augustan elegy reintroduces procuresses as more complex and poeticized literary creatures. The lena appears as an undeveloped character for the first  

Suet. Tib. .; see also McGinn –. Quint. inst. ..: . . . decimas uxoribus dari, quartas meretricibus?



McGinn : .



 

time in Tibullus ., . and soon afterwards in Propertius . and Ovid, Amores ., which are believed to be closely related. The lenae in all of these elegies share common characteristics attributed to procuresses; these include witchcraft, animality, dipsomania, old age, a repulsive appearance, and cynical and corrupting speech. Both Propertius and Ovid extend the female expertise of lena to encompass an intense magical component. Witchcraft is depicted conventionally, following traditional magical ideas: both the Ovidian Dipsas and the Propertian bawd Acanthis exert control over water, plants and animals. Elegiac bawds are animals themselves, especially at night: Acanthis “conceals her back in the shape of a nocturnal wolf.” Her transformation into a she-wolf is not surprising. We know that lupa is just one of numerous euphemisms for prostitute in Latin and also in the Romance languages. More interestingly, Ovid envisions his Dipsas as a bird of an uncertain kind. He even imagines her as a violent creature in action as the presence of verbs and v-alliteration here suggest. In the extended metaphor from the third line, Ovid focuses on her thirst for alcohol, claiming – “she has never seen sober the mother of black Memnon on her rose-coloured horses.” The Ovidian description of the lena is closely related to the common Hellenistic representations and sculptures of anus ebria, mostly represented as a bare-breasted old drunkard, a follower of Bacchus affectionately cradling an immense wine jar. All these negative characteristics of the elegiac bawds accord with the Roman literary representation of old women as especially susceptible to alcoholism and a whole assortment of deviant practices. The literary depictions of bawds encompass the negative Roman anus stereotype, which may be reinforced by the assumption that these characters are generally depicted as single. Ancient literary conventions tend to depict         

On the chronological order of these elegies, see Williams ; Courtney ; McKeown ; Myers ; for parallels between Propertius and Ovid, see the commentary of McKeown . For more on the magical attributes and their canonical representation in ancient literature, see McKeown : –. Prop. ..: sua nocturno fallere terga lupo. All translations of elegiac fragments used in this chapter are mine. For indeed intriguing discussion on the figurative use of lupa, see Adams :  (lupa would have stressed the predatory character of prostitutes). Ov. am. ..–: hanc ego nocturnas versam volitare per umbras / suspicor et pluma corpus anile tegi. For v-alliteration cf. Virg. Aen. .: continuo venti volvunt mare. Ov. am. ..–: nigri non illa parentem / Memnonis in roseis sobria vidit equis. See NH .; cf. Smith : –. On old women, see note  above; on old women (including lenae) and magic (especially love magic) see Dickson ; O’Neill ; Faraone  and Dickie .

Single as a Lena



old women of uncertain social and marital status in an unsympathetic manner. Each of the attributes mentioned above – femininity, old age, singleness, low social status – ‘paralyzes’ their real body ‘limb by limb’ until they suffer textual metamorphosis and eventually a statue of the lena appears – her literary simulacrum. Both the comic and elegiac lenae include the motif of fleeting youth as an admonition in their instructions to the young meretrix. In the Mostellaria, Scapha illustrates this important advice with an example from her past: “Consider this instance, who I now am, and who I once was. No less than you are now, was I once beloved, and I devoted myself to one, who, faith, when with age this head changed its hue, forsook and deserted me. Depend on it, the same will happen to yourself.” The nostalgic remark here summarizes the general mistrust of men and misfortune in love of the lenae, who often portray themselves as disillusioned women. Their arrogance comes as a consequence of some life catastrophe, and they thus seek by all means to prevent its repetition. Elegiac lenae are also preoccupied with this ‘carpe diem’ motto. In Prop. ., the procuress Acanthis puts an end to her monologue with the crème de la crème sententious remark: “I saw the rose-gardens of fragrant Paestum, that should have lived, lying withered away in the morning by the South wind.” “I saw” adds more drama to her statement and suggests her own experience. Apart from being a commonplace argument in the speech of procuresses, the repetitive motif of lost youth serves also to highlight their own present state. Their preoccupation with time and age reveals much about them. Since the lena has already lost her youth and her beauty, and her professional success lies in tatters, we could interpret her ‘carpe diem’ mania as symptomatic of her present state. As Dipsas observes, her personal fortune is tied to the successful exploitation of her confidante’s beauty: “I wish you were as wealthy as you are gorgeous: I will not be poor, if you get rich.” She is eager to manipulate the decisions of the elegiac puella, sculpting her future as a prosperous prostitute. Otherwise fleeting time condemns this single, old woman to the most terrible death. In the ancient context, that would mean dying lonely and in extreme poverty. 

 

Plaut. most. ..–: vides quae sim; et quae fui ante. nihilo ego quam nunc tu . . . amata sum; atque uni modo gessi morem: qui pol me, ubi aetate hoc caput colorem commutavit, reliquit deseruitque me. tibi idem futurum credo; transl. Riley . Prop. ..–: vidi ego odorati victura rosaria Paesti sub matutino cocta iacere Noto. Ov. am. ..–: Tam felix esses quam formosissima vellem: / Non ego te facta divite pauper ero.



 

We can find these fears projected onto the speech of procuresses, who often conclude their rhetorically polished erotodidaxis with images of graves, tombs and commemoration. The Ovidian lena Dipsas hopes to be admired while alive and commemorated after death for her loyal service: “If you stick to these instructions, known to me because of long experience, / if the wind and air do not blow away my words, / you will always speak of me well, while I am alive and always pray / when I have died to rest in peace.” Unlike Dipsas, Acanthis does not pray for any honor; instead of commemoration, she suffers especially violent cursing upon her grave, expressed as magic formulae by the elegiac poet who condemns her to die in utter misery. We could use the same curse as a model of the worst possible death in the Roman imagination. Papanghelis links the realistic content of this passage to modern conceptions of realism. Indeed the scene of Acanthis’ death abounds with lurid images of suffering, poverty and desolation. In the very beginning, the poet summons her death by a vivid description of its causa: “. . . I saw the cough, congealing in her wrinkled throat / and bloody spittle running through her rotten teeth . . .” We instantly grasp the naturalistic synecdoches of her extreme ugliness and old age, such as “wrinkled throat” and “rotten teeth.” These strong epithets are mixed with noticeable medical imagery. A congealing cough could apparently be a disease symptom, along with “bloody spittle.” As Susan Sontag argues: “In the premodern view of disease, the role of character was confined to one’s behavior after its onset.” In the next lines, Propertius continues his violent description with an image of the lena ’s actual death. All of the features highlighted above are present: her home turns out to be pergula, which was supposedly an ancient version of booths used for all kinds of sales and even for prostitution. Acanthis is depicted as passing away “on the mats which belonged to her father.” The poet deprives her even of the privilege of dying in her own bed: she has not had any other property but her father’s. She never had the right to       

Ibid. –: haec si praestiteris usu mihi cognita longo/nec tulerint voces ventus et aura meas/ saepe mihi dices vivae bene, saepe rogabis/ut mea defunctae molliter ossa cubent. For a reading of Prop. . in terms of magic ritual, see O’Neill . Papanghelis : . Prop. ..–: vidi ego rugoso tussim concrescere collo, / sputaque per dentis ire cruenta cavos. According to the medical author Celsus, both could be interpreted as signs of tuberculosis: see Cels. ...  Sontag : ; ibid.: . Cf. Plaut. Pseud. .. Prop. ..: atque animam in tegetes putrem exspirare paternas.

Single as a Lena



a nuptial bed or to a domestic space she could be a guardian of. The phrase exspirare animam putrem is essential for the whole passage. It represents the same disease–character dichotomy explained by Sontag. Acanthis is dying, “exhaling not just her bad, putrid breath” but also her “rotten soul.” The next lines are taken up with the depiction of her funeral. She is wearing only the leftovers of her miserable life: “stolen hair-bindings” and a “worn-out turban,” and her funeral procession consists of a dog. As a receptacle for her rotten body and soul, she should have an “old wine jar with a broken neck.” The dog accompanying her in death is an allusion to mythological representations of Hecate, commonly attended by dogs, and thus harmonizes with the morbid mise-en-scène in this passage. The same aggressive tone is visible in Tib. ., where the poet curses the lena with frenzy and doglike behavior. The callida lena of Tibullus . is transformed into a creature of Hecate, her behavior characterized both by the fury of a wild animal and by inhumanity. Doomed to extreme poverty and hunger, the poet considers that she should subsist on the leftovers of the prostitutes she manages (lupis). Apart from being a mythological symbol, dogs have often been associated in elegiac poetry with solitude, abandoned places and forsaken women. Just two poems before introducing his lena character, Propertius depicts the domestic solitude of Arethusa, whose only companion in bed is her pet dog, Graugis. It is evident that the poetic use of dog imagery varies according to the subject of poetry. When ‘singleness’ in terms of solitude is attributed to female figures such as the young and beautiful Arethusa, all its aspects serve to induce sympathy. But when attached to the repulsive appearance of a wicked old procuress, ‘singleness’ itself becomes revolting. Being depicted as single, women become vulnerable. But it is their specific reflection of ‘singleness’ and not ‘singleness’ in and of itself that creates the vast distance between these stereotypical figures. In comparison with the idealized and cherished figures adored by the elegiac 





 

Ibid. –: . . . exsequiae fuerint rari furtiva capilli / vincula et immundo pallida mitra situ, / et canis, in nostros nimis experrecta dolores, / cum fallenda meo pollice clatra forent. / sit tumulus lenae curto vetus amphora collo . . . See Hopkins : (“poor Romans were sometimes buried in giant wine jars split in half to form a cheap container and cover for the corpse; smaller wine jars were also used as receptacles for ashes, their necks projecting above the ground both to mark the grave and serve as a funnel, down which the bereaved could poor libations for the dead”). Tib. ..–: “May she sack, enraged by hunger, the tombs for plants/and bones, left by savage wolves, and run through towns with bare loins and howl,/followed by a cruel pack of crossroad-dogs behind.” For lupis here is ambiguous and we could understand it again as “prostitute.” See note  above. Prop. ..– Craugidos et catulae vox est mihi grata querentis: / illa tui partem vindicat una tori.



 

lovers, elegiac bawds are portrayed “with bare groins,” divested of all the moral vestimenta reserved exclusively for highborn singles. Legal texts place procuresses at the margins of Roman society by stripping them of crucial rights and by not admitting such practitioners to perform actively a female social role. Under Augustan legislation, they enjoyed sexual freedom to some extent; they were exempt from being prosecuted for adultery and even expected to continue their corporeal business instead of marrying. Despite the fact that in many legal fragments prostitutes and procuresses are treated by the law in the same manner, we can scarcely claim that the two professions were equated in moral terms. Roman society, with its hypersensitivity towards moral degradation, stigmatized procurers and procuresses more harshly than those who were procured. The former were perceived as actively performing their occupation, while the latter were seen as objects of exploitation. Even if the law, serving as an instrument of certain propaganda or politics, could legally define procuresses and thus admit of their existence, society was not obliged to condone socially what was condoned in law. The extent of this social stigma is evident in the literary sources. The negative concept is especially striking in the Augustan elegy, where the lena functions predominantly as a literary creation, a ‘Frankenstein’ creature, composed of numerous negative characteristics associated with old women. The lena is found wanting in all the roles attached to the respectable Roman woman. Because of her social disgrace, the procuress is a priori an unsuccessful woman, mother and wife, and thus she embodies the worst fears of Roman society. Her singleness in terms of her marital status, along with her experience of ‘single life,’ shows the defensive reaction of an ancient society struggling to strengthen its ‘immunity’ by constant rejection of the Other. 

See Dion Chrys. ., moralizing on the mere existence of such professions; also Cic. Verr. .., where Cicero address Verres as leno.

Singles in Judaism

 

(Why) Was Jesus Single? John W. Martens

 Introduction The question of whether Jesus was single continues to be contested by scholars because the answer has a relevant force for the understanding and interpretation of Christianity even today. For some, Jesus’ singleness and celibacy are a model for celibate Christians and the ground for their Church’s teaching. Others are certain that Jesus was single, but not necessarily celibate, though his sexual life is nowhere described in any source, even those which popular culture would hold up as examples, such as the third-century Gospel of Philip. While the authenticity of the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” fragment seems to have been settled, with the majority of scholars considering it a forgery, this document was not the origin of academic speculation as to whether Jesus was married. Historically, the most common understanding of Jesus’ marital state was that he was single and celibate. It is still the most compelling reading of the evidence, but the problem for any hypothesis is that the evidence is scant. No wife is mentioned, no children are named, but neither is there a straightforward claim that Jesus chose a life of celibacy and singleness. What we have in the Synoptic Gospels are a series of statements regarding marriage, celibacy, family, children and sexuality which, taken as a whole, point in the direction of the singleness of Jesus. Even more compelling is the question of why Jesus was single. Some scholars argue that there is little evidence for the practice of celibacy in Judaism, while others state that there is data which clearly defines the practice of singleness and celibacy in Judaism. After examining relevant Jewish texts, from the Hebrew Bible to the rabbinic corpus, to determine  

King . King . Six articles in New Testament Studies (), July , –, were dedicated to proving that the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” fragment was a forgery. I will not enter into that debate in this paper.





 . 

whether there are historical and theological precursors for singleness and celibacy in the Jewish tradition, we will study the Synoptic Gospels and a few early Christian agrapha to evaluate the evidence for Jesus’ singleness, and then propose an answer as to why Jesus was single.



The Practice of Celibacy in Judaism

There are accounts of Jews, found in the Hebrew Bible and elsewhere, who chose celibacy and singleness, at least for prescribed periods of time, and a number of reports of Jews, both individuals and groups, who were celibate around the time of Jesus. The question is, What reasons do these texts offer for the choice for singleness, and do they help us understand Jesus’ singleness? The following six examples are precursors or concurrent examples of Jewish people or groups who chose singleness: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f )

Moses and Israelite males Prophets Essenes/Qumran covenanters Therapeutae Jubilees Rabbi Ben Azzai

(a) The Hebrew Bible offers a passage regarding Moses and the men of Israel abstaining from sex. In Exodus :–, “Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, ‘Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman.’” This passage connects holiness, purity and the avoidance of sex. William Loader interprets Moses’ abstinence from sex specifically as an issue of purity, related to similar regulations regarding sexuality at the Temple or other holy places. The regulations regarding Moses and the people of Israel are temporary, as are the sexual regulations for the Temple, but they are in place because of the pronounced sense of holiness regarding these places or states of being. Even if these practices are temporary, a connection between holiness and the impurity of sex is at the heart of sexuality in Judaism. Such temporary celibacy is not opposed to marriage, and happens in the context of marriage, but Moses’ celibacy in 

 

Harper :  points to a “tectonic shift” in sexual ethics in Judaism centuries prior to the rise of Christianity particularly concerned with “the moral regulation of male sexuality.” It is possible that singleness and celibacy fit within these broader issues of male sexuality in the Hellenistic period. All biblical citations are from the New Revised Standard Version unless stated otherwise.  Loader : –; Van der Horst : . Koltun-Fromm : –, –.

(Why) Was Jesus Single?



the rabbinic writings, due to his own holiness, leaves his wife Zipporah bemoaning the lack of sex in her marriage and hoping other women do not share her marital experience. Another example from the Hebrew Bible which leads to temporary celibacy is preparation for participation in war. In two passages,  Samuel :– and  Samuel :, abstinence from sex in order to be in a state of holiness is connected with proper preparation for war.  Samuel :– allows that David’s men can eat consecrated food, “provided that the young men have kept themselves from women.” David states that they have been pure for three days. But holiness in preparation for war is similar to the sexual abstinence which is demanded of priests at the Temple. In Leviticus :, we are told that “Whoever touches anything made unclean by a corpse or a man who has had an emission of semen . . .” is in a state of impurity. The impurity by virtue of an emission of semen is temporary, but it once again connects holiness and purity with abstinence from sex. This is not a direct call for singleness, but a management of sexual behavior which relates sex to the impure in certain locales and situations. (b) The Hebrew Bible also contains a general call to celibacy and singleness for prophets, though some prophets, such as Isaiah and Hosea, are definitely married. Jeremiah : states God’s command to Jeremiah, “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place.” With respect to Elijah and Elisha, we hear of no wives and, indeed, the context for their calls and their relationship makes it clear they were without families ( Kings :–). Elisha wants to “kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Elijah rejects his request, leading Elisha to destroy his former life and livelihood by burning his plow and cooking his slaughtered oxen over the fire. When Elisha wants to return to say goodbye, it is only to his father and mother, not wife and children, and Elisha is later seen as Elijah’s son in this prophetic relationship. (c) At the time of Jesus, a number of near contemporaries report the practice of celibacy among the Essenes, including Josephus (Jewish War ..–; Antiquities ..), Philo (Every Good Man is Free –; Hypothetica .–) and Pliny the Elder (Natural History ..). Scholars have questioned whether the reports of celibacy are accurate,  

Sifre on Numbers .(); Phil. Mos. .–; Boyarin : –; Koltun-Fromm : –.   Koltun-Fromm : –. Klawans : –. Vermes : –.



 . 

and it seems that not all of the sectarians associated with Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls were celibate, but that some Qumran sectarians were celibate is a reality which cannot be denied. Some Qumran texts speak of preparation for eschatological battle as a reason to remain celibate, in which only purified men are allowed in the camp (QM :–). Other texts report that God’s holiness is present in the community as if it were the Temple, and so a person “shall not enter my Temple with their soiled impurity to defile it” (QTemple :–). Since God dwells among the members of the community, sex is eschewed because they must “keep apart from every uncleanness . . . in perfect holiness” (CD :–; :–). Q/QSD  ii – says, “And every father who is in it will be holy.” Reports that the community chose celibacy due to misogyny (as reported in Philo and Josephus) are not backed up by the DSS themselves. (d) Philo also reports on another celibate group in De Vita Contemplativa, the Therapeutae, and this community seems entirely celibate, with the women described as aged virgins and the men likely widowers who have renounced their families. The Therapeutae are made up of men and women who live separately in male and female communities, and within these groups they live alone. They come together to worship, and, according to Philo, one of the main reasons they remain celibate is to focus on study of the Torah, God’s creation and worship. Troels EngbergPederson and Doron Mendels have questioned whether the Therapeutae are a product of the philosopher’s imagination. There is no reason to think this is the case, but even more, if they are an ideal, why were they being imagined by Philo at this time? Why was the celibate ideal current, as in early Christianity, at this time and place for Philo? It seems that for a number of Jews at this time celibacy and singleness were considered a part of the ideal life. It does not seem likely that all of the Therapeutae were living celibate lives since childhood, however, but that many of them made this choice in their older age, specifically to focus on worship and study.

      

Vanderkam : –; Van der Horst : –; Baumgarten : –. Garcia : ; Van der Horst : ; Dykas : .   Garcia : ; Van der Horst : . Garcia : . Garcia : . Collins : –, –; Van der Horst : . Engberg-Pedersen : –; Mendels : –. Beavis : –; Van der Horst : .  Collins : ; Van der Horst : –. Baumgarten : –.

(Why) Was Jesus Single?



(e) Jubilees also gives us another model of celibacy, one which looks to the Urzeit, the time of primal innocence, but with a focus on the Endzeit, the coming eschaton. William Loader states that Jubilees : “describes the garden as the holiest place on earth.” Indeed, the Garden of Eden in Jubilees : is the “holy of holies and the residence of the Lord.” Adam and Eve “during their time in the garden-temple . . . are chaste.” They remain in a state of purity, in fact, “in Jubilees’ innovative account, the man knew the woman, that is, had sexual intercourse with the woman, already at her formation on the sixth day in the creation (:), but outside the garden.” In the Garden of Eden, sex is not allowed. Only after they leave the garden do they resume sexual intercourse, and only then did Eve give birth to Cain and Abel. In Jubilees we are dealing with an instance of celibacy in “the right place and the right time. In holy place and, for the author, holy time, sex was out of place. In ordinary time and place sex belongs and is affirmed as a normal part of life.” In Jubilees, however, the time of the end returns humanity to the Garden of Eden, when there would no longer be a right place and a right time for sex since in the Endzeit one could not leave the garden. Jubilees also writes of people in the future returning to childhood when the Garden of Eden is restored, “And there (will be) no old men and none who is full of days, because all of them will be infants and children” (Jubilees :). As Loader says, “the notion of all being infants and children . . . may suggest the possibility of a sex free society” and may give us a clue to understanding Jesus’ own teaching about becoming “like children.” All of these passages in Jubilees, including the many which see the present era as a time rife with sexual immorality and adultery, are pointing us to a time in the future when sex itself will come to an end. In addition, the Garden of Eden as Temple is also envisaged by the Qumran documents, and the Garden of Eden is described there as a place of holiness (Q/QSD  ii –) in which sex would not be present. (f ) Finally, there is the well-known story of Rabbi Ben Azzai who did not marry and spent all his time in Torah study, claiming that others could continue the world without his help. Tosefta Yevamot : says, in part, “Rabbi El’azar ben Azariah said to him, ‘Ben-Azzai, words are fine when   

  Loader : . Loader : . Loader : .  Wintermute : –. Loader : ; Loader : . Baumgarten : –; Doering : –.



 . 

accompanied by practice. There are those who interpret well and behave well but do not interpret well. You interpret well, but do not behave well.’ Ben-Azzai said to them, ‘What shall I do? My soul desires Torah. Let the world continue by the efforts of others!’” Ben Azzai represents an oddity among the rabbis, but his reason for remaining celibate and single, Torah study, was one that the rabbis did debate. The question came up most often with respect to when rabbinic students should marry, that is, whether marriage was a hindrance to or benefit for study, and how long students could stay away from their wives while studying (cf. b. Kid b; m. Keth :; b. Keth a–b). The examples offered above propose a variety of reasons for singleness and celibacy, sometimes for a set period, set place or set purpose, sometimes for the eschatological future, sometimes due to vocation and sometimes for study. We can break the variety of reasons down into a list: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f ) (g) (h) (i)

Study of Torah (t. Yeb :; Philo, De Vita Contemplativa); To preserve purity (Exodus :–; Leviticus :–; Sifre on Numbers .(); Philo, Mos. .–; Every Good Man is Free –; Hypothetica .–; Josephus, Jewish War ..–); To preserve God’s holiness, as at the Temple ( Sam :–; Lev :; CD :–); To prepare for battle in this world ( Sam :–;  Sam :); To prepare for eschatological battle (QM :–; QTemple :–; CD :–; :–; Q/QSD  ii –); Eschatological return to Eden (Jubilees :–; :; :–); Eschatological transformation to childhood (Jubilees :); Vocation of prophecy (Jeremiah :;  Kings :–); Misogyny (Philo, Hypothetica .; Josephus, Jewish War ..; Pliny, Natural History ..).

None of these examples, perhaps, presents an identical situation or teaching to those of Jesus, but with these examples in mind, we ought to be able to study the evidence of the Gospels and piece together a reason or reasons as to why Jesus remained single. There are a few things we should pay attention to in our study in addition as we compare these texts to those of early Christianity: Is celibacy in the Gospels seen as a communal or individual activity? Is celibacy or singleness understood as a temporary



b. Yeb. b; b. Shab. a.

(Why) Was Jesus Single?



or lifelong commitment? Is celibacy or singleness understood as a future, eschatological activity or one presently viable and necessary?

 Jesus’ Teachings on Marriage, Divorce, Celibacy, Family, Children and Sexuality from the Gospels: Was Jesus Single? In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus is not single in the sense of aloneness, since he is always surrounded by disciples and crowds. Jesus is with people he considers an eschatological family, which takes priority over his natal family. Something else becomes clear when gathering up the Gospel passages considering marriage, divorce, celibacy, family, children and sexuality: rarely does one Gospel passage deal with only one of these topics. Rather, most often two, sometimes three of these topics are covered in a particular passage. These themes are intertwined and they coalesce to form a coherent picture. The picture that forms presents a negative view of marriage, divorce, family and sexuality; the only positive part of the picture is that of children or adults becoming like children. ()

Relevant Gospel Passages on Marriage

Jesus’ first teaching on marriage is embedded in his divorce sayings, in which the Pharisees “test” Jesus on whether it is “lawful for a man to divorce his wife” (Mk :; cf. Mt :). In Mark :–, Jesus answers, “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew :– offers a similar response from Jesus, adding, however, in : that divorce was only allowed due to hardness of heart, but “from the beginning it was not so.” As numerous commentators note, Jesus’ answer takes us “back to the beginning,” that is, to Genesis : and : and the creation of male and female. Marriage for Jesus is seen as a fulfillment of the Edenic realities of sexual differentiation and the unity of the male and the female prior to the primal disobedience. Yet, Jesus’ teaching suggests that something has changed for humanity which allows them to return to the pre-lapsarian ideal now so that divorce is no longer necessary. What has softened the “hardness of heart” that necessitated divorce? 

Loader : –; Martin : –.



 . 

Ben F. Meyer has said that Jesus’ moral teaching in Matthew is a characteristic of “high, eschatological idealism,” in which a lustful thought can be equated with act of adultery. For Jesus, the situation is not normal, as he understands the Torah “at this moment being made new . . . appointed and reserved for the end-time,” radicalizing even a foundational institution like marriage. Underlying Jesus’ radicalizing of marriage is that as Messiah, he will bring about the eschaton which will create the human perfection necessary to follow this new Torah. The eschaton is the context in which we must understand Jesus’ teaching on marriage, but this is also the context for understanding “the beginning.” In the two versions of the marriage saying, Jesus brings us back to the beginning three times: “from the beginning of creation;” “the one who made them at the beginning;” and “from the beginning it was not so.” Primal origins, however, are also about the end: Urzeit ist Endzeit, as we saw in Jubilees. Jesus proclaims the end of divorce because God’s kingdom is on the verge of breaking through and will soon be here. The eschatological orientation makes sense of the teaching on marriage in large part because marriage itself will soon come to an end. For Jesus also says that there is no marriage in the Endzeit (Mk :–; Mt :–; Lk :–). In reply to a question from the Sadducees regarding Levirate marriage in the world to come, Jesus rebuffs his questioners: “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mk :; cf. Mt :). This would seem to be the earliest stratum of the Jesus logion, and the import of it is that in God’s kingdom marriage is not required since human beings are asexual and do not reproduce. Since people live eternally, the need for procreation, the prime purpose of marriage, has come to an end. And since the question concerns those who have been married to each other, it also indicates that marriages which were contracted here on earth have also come to an end. Why bring a marriage to an end through divorce when the eschaton will soon bring marriage itself to an end? The Lukan version of this pericope is even more intriguing. Luke’s version indicates that marriage is for people tied to this world, not the world to come, for “those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Lk :–). It is possible to read v.  as arguing that marriage is only 

Meyer : .



Meyer : .



Loader : –; Martin : –.

(Why) Was Jesus Single?



for those of this world, though it is not clear if v.  means that those who marry now will not share in the world to come, or simply have to give up marriage in the kingdom of God. Luke : stresses the reason for the end of marriage, since “they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” The twofold use of children in this verse might also indicate the goal for which humanity is intended, namely, permanent childhood. Childlikeness is put forward as a criterion for a follower of Jesus to enter the kingdom (cf. Mt :), and it is possible that the eschewal of marriage fits with the childlike and eternal nature of Jesus’ heavenly disciples. The only other relevant passage that mentions marriage does so in the context of a parable on the Messianic banquet. And, again, the state of marriage is found to be a hindrance to those invited to participate in the eschatological life, for when invited to the banquet the invitee says, “I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come” (Lk :). It is a simple statement on its own, but the parable also contains a number of verses which devalue or diminish the role of the blood family – “do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” (Lk :–) – and coupled with other sayings which relativize the role of marriage, the passage is a blunt reminder that marriage is a distraction from the kingdom of God. These passages are basically all we have regarding Jesus’ teaching on marriage and they are not straightforwardly positive regarding marriage. As to Jesus himself, the most they offer is circumstantial evidence regarding his own marital state, but we can say that Jesus’ teaching does seem to be directed to his communal family as a whole, not certain individuals alone, and that the single and celibate state, while clearly the eschatological ideal, has an impact on how Jesus’ followers ought to live now. () Relevant Gospel Passages on Celibacy One of the passages just noted, Matthew :–, also has an important reference to celibacy. In response to Jesus’ claim that divorce is not possible in marriage, except in tightly prescribed situations, Jesus’ disciples say, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Mt :). Jesus’ response to the disciples offers an enigmatic saying on 

Martin : –.



 . 

eunuchs: “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can” (Mt :–). On the indices of embarrassment, difficulty and discontinuity, this is an actual saying of Jesus, although the original form is difficult to determine. The original form is difficult to reconstruct because the first sentence, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given,” could possibly be an addition to mute the severity of Jesus’ teaching. If it is original to Jesus, what does it mean that “not everyone can accept this teaching”? Does it mean there is a choice among Jesus’ followers to accept or reject the teaching? Does it mean that only those who can accept it can be Jesus’ followers? The second clause, “but only those to whom it is given,” might indicate that only some followers of Jesus can accept the teaching regarding marriage and divorce or that only those who have had this insight given to them – by God? – are fit to be Jesus’ followers. It is unclear whether all of Jesus’ disciples should be single or if some have a choice to be married. The eunuch saying tends to the side of singleness and celibacy, but as we will see, this, too, is complicated. Jesus describes two categories of eunuchs at first, those from birth and those made so by others, and both of these categories are found in the Mishnah. Only after describing these does Jesus describe another category, not found in the rabbinic literature, and that is those “who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” One of the misreadings of the third category, the eunuchs who make themselves so for the kingdom of heaven, is due to the fact that the first two types of eunuchs are often not differentiated. Most commentators simply group the first two types of eunuchs into the category of those who are made so by others, boys or men, often slaves or prisoners of war, whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off. There are regulations regarding such eunuchs in Deuteronomy :, where it states that “no one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.” But these are not the only sort of eunuchs Jesus describes. The other category of eunuchs, those born eunuchs, did not have the same limitations imposed on them by the Torah, and those born eunuchs could marry.  

Loader : –; Collins : –. Collins : –, .



Loader : –.

(Why) Was Jesus Single?



Mishnah Yebamoth : discusses the eunuch (saris) in the context of marriage and whether a born eunuch (saris chamah), literally a “sun eunuch,” can marry. If a priest were a born eunuch (saris chamah) and he married the daughter of an Israelite, he renders her eligible to eat the priest’s-due. R. Jose and R. Simon say, if an hermaphrodite (androgonos) priest wed the daughter of an Israelite, he endows her with the right to eat of priest’s-due. R. Judah says, if one whose sex were indeterminate were operated on and was found to be a male, he must not submit to chalitzah because he is considered as a eunuch (saris). An hermaphrodite (androgonos) may marry but he may not be married. R. Eliezer says, an hermaphrodite (androgonos), one (a male) incurs because of him the penalty of stoning as with a male.

The mishnah distinguishes as does Jesus in Matthew : between two sorts of eunuchs, those born eunuchs (saris chamah), and those made so by human beings, such as castrated males. This is important for Jesus’ teaching in Matthew, as a saris chamah in Yebamoth can marry in certain situations. I will not discuss all of the issues that arise from m. Yeb. :, beyond the fact of possible marriage of the saris chamah and the similarity of an androgonos with, in some cases, a born eunuch. A born eunuch is one who has not developed sexually, for the rabbis by the age of twenty, or one whose genitalia is both male and female. Such a eunuch, an androgonos, may marry a woman as a man, but not be married as a female by another man. This problematizes Jesus’ saying, for his use of eunuch is often aligned only with those males who were castrated, and so describes males incapable of marriage, but the assumption that born eunuchs could not marry is untrue. These males may not have been able to engage in sexual relations, at least in many cases, but they could marry in some instances. Does Jesus’ statement in Matthew accept or acknowledge this reality of marriage for the born eunuch? Jesus’ saying might assume that such a eunuch could marry, and may or may not have been able to have sexual intercourse, but then what would the expectation be for his third group, “eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven”? Does Jesus think that eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven should not marry and should not have sex like a eunuch made so by human beings? Or does he believe that they may marry, but may not have sexual intercourse like a born eunuch? Or does he believe both marriage 

Blackman : .



b. Kid. b.



 . 

and sexual intercourse should be given up by “eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven”? Jesus’ third grouping must indicate a category of those who have willingly rejected sexual intercourse, or why even categorize them as “eunuchs”? But even if Jesus thinks they can marry, he discusses them in the context of those who have chosen willingly to forego sex, a view of marriage unique in Judaism in that these eunuchs have chosen this path and have not had it forced upon them by nature or other human beings. If the saying does foresee marriage, it must be celibate marriages; if it does not foresee marriage, it simply proposes a life of singleness. And if Jesus proposes this as a teaching which “not everyone can accept . . . but only those to whom it is given,” can we truly expect that Jesus himself would not count himself among the group “to whom it is given”? This is strong circumstantial evidence regarding Jesus’ own marital state and, again, it does seem to be directed at all of his disciples, at least “those to whom it is given,” which could be all of them. The linking of the eunuchs to the kingdom of heaven indicates the eschatological ideal of the single and celibate state enacted now. Other passages which might also fit with a focus on celibacy are found in a variety of contexts. Luke , for instance, contains the Lukan version of the Beelzebub controversy, which alone has a woman in the crowd call out to Jesus, “‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’” (Lk :–). In this minimization of motherhood, including that of his own mother, we might say that the issue is more precisely family than celibacy, yet the rejection of the womb that bore him and the breasts that nursed him is also a rejection of the sexual act which produces children. And it is not this passage alone that speaks to this issue. All three of the Synoptic apocalyptic passages (Mk :; Mt :; Lk :) contain identical versions of a Jesus logion which warns mothers of eschatological distress: “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days!” Given the imminence of the Endzeit in Jesus’ teaching, it would seem that a fuller argument against sexuality is being made here than is often realized.

 

I do not believe that Jesus refers to actual castration or cutting off of the penis in this passage, cf. Loader : ; Heid : . Pitre : –.

(Why) Was Jesus Single?



() Relevant Gospel Passages on Divorce The eschatological context is also the proper context for understanding Jesus’ teaching on divorce. Jesus’ teaching on divorce is far more stringent than that of the rabbis, in which divorce was possible in most, even trivial, situations. Jesus counters conservative Jewish teaching with a radical proposal, intended to promote sexual asceticism, a form of “self-control in imminent expectation of the kingdom of God.” Jesus’ teaching is that marriage ought not to be contracted more than once and divorce is not allowed, a form of the intensification of the Torah due to its Messianic fulfillment and eschatological asceticism (Mk :–; Mt :–, :–; Lk :). Matthew’s pericope, however, offers an exception clause, in which divorce is allowed if the wife commits porneia. I believe this exception clause concerns marriages which ought not to have been contracted due to degrees of consanguinity outlawed by Leviticus and maintained later by the rabbis and does not concern adultery. This clause is not original to Jesus’ saying, and the basic outlines of Jesus’ teaching is modified: Jesus would prefer new marriages not be contracted, and existing marriages ought not to be ended, unless they were not truly marriages to begin with. Dale Martin understands the exception clause in this way: “If Matthew : and : are read as I suggest – that divorce is absolutely forbidden, but that remarriage may not constitute a second sin if the divorce is due to porneia – there is no contradiction: Jesus in Matthew then would be forbidding divorce in all cases, and teaching that a second sin is committed by remarrying unless the divorce was due to porneia.” A large part of the issue regarding divorce, as Martin discerns, has to do with remarriage, which was an expectation for ancient Jews after divorce. In fact, Martin argues that Luke : actually prohibits divorce with remarriage, not divorce alone. “The solidarity of the married couple represents the old, self-serving order of the traditional family and familial solidarity, with its concerns for economic stability, inheritance, and continuity.” Indeed all of the divorce passages point to adultery as the result of divorce with remarriage, and  Corinthians : simply instructs a separated woman not to remarry but to remain single. It is the focus on   

  Martin : –. Loader : –. Martin : .   Doering : –. Martin : , . Martin : . Harper : –. Harper sees as Paul’s goal to “steer a middle course” between sexual libertinism and “another group who espoused strict continence as an urgent ideal” in Corinth. It is not clear that the middle course is found in Jesus’ own teaching.



 . 

adultery which brings up the point of laws regarding divorce: on the verge of the eschaton, divorce can only lead to adultery in remarriage, and there is no point in remarriage, sexual activity or children now. The movement away from marriage seems not just to reflect Jesus’ attitude, but his own practice. ()

Relevant Gospel Passages on Family

All of these passages point us to the diminution of the natal family as an important or necessary institution. In the Beelzebul passages (Mk :–; Mt :–; Lk :–), Jesus rejects his blood family for the spiritual family. Mark :– ends the scene as follows: “‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’” Jesus is constructing a spiritual family made up of those who follow God’s will. We see the devaluation of the earthly family in Luke : when a man decides to follow Jesus but asks to return to bury his father. Jesus responds, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another person asks to say farewell to his family, but “Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Lk :). Jesus’ responses in Luke focus on replacing one’s family of origin with the eschatological family. These sayings, whether authentic to Jesus, clearly depend upon Elijah’s prophetic call of Elisha in  Kings :–, which led him to leave his family, just as Jesus called on his followers to cut their family ties. In Luke :–, the Messianic banquet passage mentioned earlier, the invitees are called on not to invite family members, but the marginalized in society to enter the Messianic kingdom. The continuation of the passage contains an even more searing indictment of the family by Jesus, who says, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple” (Lk :; cf. Mt :; Gospel of Thomas ). In the same context Matthew includes a saying about the division which Jesus will bring to families, bluntly stating, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household” (Mt :–; cf. Lk :–). Mark’s

(Why) Was Jesus Single?



version has Jesus say, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death” (Mk :; cf. Mt :). The setting for all of these passages is the chaos that marks the eschaton. The call to discipleship with Jesus is a call to sever family ties. In response to the rich young man, Jesus in Mark :– (cf. Mt :–; Lk :–) tells him to sell everything, which grieves the man but also astounds the apostles, especially Peter. He responds, in Mark : (cf. Mt :; Lk :), “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus tells his disciples that “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age – houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions – and in the age to come in eternal life” (Mk :–; cf. Mt :). Jesus asks that his followers turn their backs on the natal family. ()

Relevant Gospel Passages on Children

The Gospels also preserve a series of sayings which hold up children as models for the kingdom, but these sayings need not be at odds with the rejection of marriage and the natal family. Children naturally were everywhere in Antiquity, regardless of Jesus’ stance on marriage, and children modeled the proper acceptance of the Endzeit at the heart of Jesus’ teachings. All of these sayings, which are found in all three Synoptic Gospels, in one form or another go back to Jesus’ own teachings. There are two basic forms of Jesus’ teaching regarding children, one in which the disciples are “Welcoming a Child in Jesus’ Name” and another in which people are “Bringing Children to Jesus.” What is found below are probable reconstructions of the original forms of the teaching as they were brought into the Gospel tradition. (i)

 

Welcoming a Child in Jesus’ Name (A) If you welcome a child in my name, you welcome me (Mk :; Mt :; Lk :);

Horn and Martens : –, –. Horn and Martens : –.



Horn and Martens : .



(ii)

 .  (B) Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin, it would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone (Mk :; Mt :; cf. Lk :); (C) See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for their angels always behold the face of my Father (Mt :); (D) Whoever gives a cup of water to one of these little ones, he will not lose his reward (Mt :; cf. Mk :). Bringing Children to Jesus (A) They were bringing children to Jesus, but the disciples rebuked them (Mk :; Mt :; Lk :); (B) Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, do not stop them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mk :; Mt :; Lk :); (C) Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it (Mk :; Lk :; cf. Mt :); (D) He laid his hands on the children and blessed them (Mk :; Mt :).

The importance of the sayings in (i) is found in the acceptance of children as children and the welcome of children as one would welcome Jesus. Combined with this is Jesus’ plea to safeguard and not harm children. In (ii) the focus is more precisely on becoming like children in order to enter the kingdom of God. The overall sense in these passages is that children are model disciples and models for the disciples. But what makes children models? There are numerous possibilities, such as vulnerability, innocence or dependence on God, but Jesus indicates that it is the child as child which denotes the model disciple. One of the key aspects of childhood is asexuality. A child neither marries nor is an active sexual being. Both of these claims may be disputed depending upon one’s view of childhood, especially in Antiquity when girls (and sometimes boys) married early, and pederasty was an aspect of Greco-Roman life for many boys. Yet, an ideal aspect of childhood is that it is prior to sex, however one defines the cessation of childhood. When we look at this factor, it is possible to read the issues at stake in (i) B and C, “whoever causes one of these little ones to sin” and “see that you do not despise one of these little ones,” in light of Will Deming’s and Raymond F. Collins’ claims that these are prohibitions against sexual use 

Horn and Martens : –, –.

(Why) Was Jesus Single?



of children. In (ii) C, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it,” brings up the question of how one does become “like a child.” One of the elements of childhood is singleness and celibacy. And the Gospel authors often align teachings on children with teaching on marriage, divorce and celibacy. Mark’s passage on marriage has Jesus state that his teaching is bringing us back to “the beginning of creation” (Mk :), prior to marriage and sexuality, before ending with the passage on receiving the kingdom as a child (Mk :). Matthew :– adds the saying on eunuchs and then appends the teaching on receiving the kingdom as a child. Luke’s equivalent passage on children in :– does not come after the teaching on marriage and divorce, but following it is the account of a “certain ruler” who is asked to give up all that he has in order to “inherit eternal life,” a task he is not able to perform (:–). It is at that point that Peter says, “Look, we have left our homes and followed you.” Here Jesus reminds Peter that those who have left their families behind will receive much more in this world, including the spiritual family, and “in the age to come in eternal life” (:–). Children are the model disciples, because they model what disciples will be in the world to come, where there is no marriage, but even in this world, in which the new family is the family of God, and life without the constraints of marriage is the best path. A logion outside of the canonical Gospels makes the connection between childhood and asexuality more complete. This logion might not be dependent upon the Synoptic Gospels, but an authentic agraphon of Jesus. What points to the authenticity of this passage, which proposes a future innocence for Jesus’ disciples, is its occurrence in a number of forms, such as Gospel of Thomas .; Clement :– and Clement of Alexandria, Strom. .–., Gospel of the Egyptians. Gospel of Thomas , which resembles ii) “Bringing Children to Jesus” from the Synoptic Gospels, states: Jesus saw some little ones nursing. He said to his disciples, “These little ones who are nursing resemble those who enter the kingdom.” They said to him, “So shall we enter the kingdom by being little ones?” Jesus said to them, “When you (plur.) make the two one and make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside and the above like the below, and that you might make the male and the female be one and the same, so that   

Deming : –; Collins : –. Ehrman and Pleše : ; Van der Horst : , n. . Gospel of Thomas texts are available in Layton : , . The other texts can be found in Ehrman and Pleše : –, .



 .  the male might not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye and a hand in place of a hand and a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image – then you will enter [the kingdom].”

Jesus proposes a return to the primeval state of the Garden prior to gender or sex – “that you might make the male and the female be one and the same.” To become children points to a spiritual and eschatological transformation beyond sexual division. It is a transformative spiritual state intended for all of Jesus’ disciples. () Relevant Gospel Passages on Sexuality The final passages have to do with sexuality among Jesus’ disciples. They fall into two categories: those concerned with adultery by virtue of divorce (Mk :; Mt :, :; Lk :); and those which warn against lust, adultery and porneia in general (Mk :; Mt :–, :, :; Lk :). There is no clear statement of the goodness of sexuality, such as can be found in the Hebrew Bible or the rabbinic documents, but warnings about its downfalls. Certainly, it is possible to see the “one flesh” passages (Mk :–; Mt :–) as presenting a positive view of sexuality within marriage, even with the provisos discussed above, but nowhere can a discussion be found of the first commandment in the Bible from Genesis :, “Be fruitful and multiply,” from the lips of Jesus or for that matter within the whole New Testament. While the evidence is circumstantial, there are two significant factors weighing in favor of Jesus’ singleness on the basis of the Gospel evidence: virtually all of the evidence speaks against a positive view of marriage, family or sexuality; and though there is no mention of whether Jesus had a wife or children, silence makes sense when there is no wife or family to mention. One or two scholars, most prominently William Phipps, have argued for the marriage of Jesus, but the reasoning takes this unconvincing tack: Jewish males married and it would be abnormal for Jesus as a Jewish male not to marry. Many people in Antiquity, like today, do abnormal things, but we also have examples of Jewish males, and some females, who did choose singleness and celibacy for various reasons. Yet, the fact that “there is a complete silence in the Gospels concerning the marital status of Jesus” and that “no wife accompanies him in his public career, or, for that



Layton : .



Phipps : –; Dykas : .

(Why) Was Jesus Single?



matter, stays at home,” says Geza Vermes, “is sufficiently unusual in ancient Jewry to prompt further enquiry.” Vermes agrees that Jesus’ “voluntary embrace of celibacy . . . becomes historically meaningful,” but is concerned that “due to a total lack of evidence, his sexual situation before his baptism by John, and the significance of a possible perpetual celibacy, must remain outside the realm of historical research proper.” Nevertheless, how can one not ask, why was Jesus single?

 Why Was Jesus Single? Let’s begin with another question: Would Jesus have been in favor of the commandment “be fruitful and multiply” because of his respect for the Torah? The Rabbis stated that nobody could abstain from keeping the law to “be fruitful and multiply” (m. Yeb. :). Jesus does indicate a desire to return marriage to its pristine state in the Urzeit, which he saw partly fulfilled through marriage without divorce, but this is because he saw the coming apocalyptic Endzeit as the time that marriage would be banished (cf. Mk :). Jesus’ eyes are not surveying “the way things are” and accommodating laws for the many necessary legal compromises, including divorce, that are essential to ongoing life, but he surveys “the way things will be,” which means marriage, sexuality and family life play a distant second to the world to come. “Be fruitful and multiply” has no role in the Endzeit scenario. Jesus’ teachings and behavior with respect to marriage and sexuality should be seen within the context of the imminence of the end, which is our first clue when we ask why Jesus was single and why he desired his disciples to be single. There were a number of reasons listed in section () as to why Jews might have opted for celibacy and singleness and we should begin by sorting out which ones do not apply to Jesus’ own life and teaching. While (i) misogyny may be a reason for a particular individual’s rejection of marriage and choice for singleness, it makes no sense of a community’s choice for celibacy, such as the Essenes, who had family groups and women living among some of their communities. Josephus, Philo and Pliny simply get it wrong about the Essenes, whose own documents give us no evidence for misogyny in their midst. As to Jesus’ own singleness, it makes no sense, as he often has women with him, and Luke tells us that women are a regular and supportive element of his entourage (Lk :–). 

Vermes : .



Vermes : .



Collins : –.



 . 

Prophetic celibacy or (h) the vocation of prophecy is more promising as a possibility to explain Jesus’ singleness, as there are examples of celibate prophets in the Hebrew Bible and in Jesus’ own day, if we allow the example of John the Baptist, who has no wife as far as the evidence shows and who was killed for criticizing the marital practice of Herod Antipas. The examples from the Hebrew Bible concern individual prophets, however, not prophets as a community. Though most prophets had disciples, it is not known whether all such disciples of prophets were also called to maintain singleness and celibacy. John the Baptist himself had disciples, and we have no evidence that he also called them to the single life. It is certainly the case that a number of categories coalesce in some ways with the prophetic model, in that they are focused on singleness as a way to prepare to come into the presence of God or fulfill God’s call, either for an entire life or for a short period of time. For instance, Moses’ turn to celibacy, (b) to preserve purity, came when he prepared to be in the presence of God. And though focused on Moses itself, Exodus : is a time-limited directive for all of the men of Israel, and so a communal command. In particular places and times, sex in general is seen as something which defiles and ought not to be in God’s presence. Desire for purity apart from the defilement of sex drives much of this thinking and leads to directives for abstinence from sex for Temple service, (c) to preserve God’s holiness, which applies to all priests, but is also timelimited (Lev :–, :). Since God’s holiness permeates the community life, as at the Temple, it leads the Qumran sectarians to avoid sexual intercourse (CD :–). Yet, (a) study of Torah also led Ben Azzai to forego marriage and to remain single, even though there was no communal aspect to this or rabbinic support for his ongoing choice (b. Yeb. b). On the other hand, Torah study, worship and prayer were at the heart of the Therapeutae, and they lived a communal life. Finally, (d) to prepare for battle in this world would lead consecrated warriors to forego sex, which had a communal aspect, but was also temporally limited by the time of war. What we do find in some Jewish texts is a combination of the communal and eschatological directives we find in the Gospels. In the DSS, celibacy is desired (e) to prepare for eschatological battle, so only men can be present prior to and during the time of battle (QM :–). It is not clear if this single, celibate state will survive this world, but singleness is seen as the necessary preparation for the battle. This, it seems to me, is a 

Van der Horst : –.

(Why) Was Jesus Single?



possibility for understanding the teaching of Jesus for his disciples: they are in preparation for the eschatological battle which will usher in God’s kingdom. Jubilees does not seem to require celibacy in this world, but does indicate that (f ) the eschatological return to Eden will result in the end of sex, due to the holiness of the Garden as the Temple, indeed, the equivalent of the Holy of Holies, and the reality of God’s continuous presence. In fact, as Loader argues, Jubilees sees the return to Eden as the (g) eschatological transformation to childhood. This might also be a key for understanding Jesus’ call for his disciples to become like children or to become like eunuchs. These last three reasons charted above, (e)-(g), found specifically in the DSS and Jubilees, offer reasons similar to what is found in Jesus’ own teaching, but they do not explain all of what we find in the early Christian texts. What Jesus suggests that can be found nowhere else in complete form is that celibacy in this world is preparation for the world to come where no one marries, though Jubilees and the DSS imply it. Also, although there are hints of this in Jubilees, Jesus’ teaching that his disciples should become like children has major connections with the turn to celibacy and singleness and the transformation essential to welcome the Endzeit. The other major difference is that Jesus proposes the disciples as the new family of God who turn away from their natal families to create a new eschatological family. It is difficult ultimately to propose one definitive answer for Jesus’ single and celibate behavior in a culture that affirmed the goodness of marriage and that took seriously the command to “be fruitful and multiply.” But an answer must take account of the communal nature of Jesus’ teaching and its eschatological context. The present-day element of Jesus’ teaching might have characteristics of prophetic celibacy and Temple purity, and so might be considered time-limited in that sense, but the eschatological dimension makes it clear that Jesus is engaging in this heightened sense of preparation and purity to ready himself and his followers for the battle to come, as in Qumran, and the eschaton gives the context for many of his sayings about marriage. It is also preparation for the life in the world to come, in that marriage will no longer be necessary, as Jesus himself says, and his followers will become like children. Indeed, I see parallels here with Jubilees, although Jesus develops this connection between the perfection of 

Van der Horst : –.



 . 

the age to come, celibacy and childhood in an even more pronounced way than other Jewish texts. The dimension of the answer that emerges as most significant for me has to do with a complex of views regarding the preparation for the eschaton. While celibacy or singleness might play into views of sexuality and marriage from the point of view of purity and impurity, there is something profoundly different about Jesus’ view, as it is all about the preparation of a community for the coming end and the establishment of God’s kingdom. We might chart the confluence of reasons for singleness and celibacy in Jesus’ teaching as follows: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e)

To prepare for eschatological battle; Eschatological return to Eden; Eschatological transformation to childhood; To prepare for the world to come where no one marries; To create Jesus’ disciples as the new family of God.

These reasons ultimately coalesce into two eschatological views that explain most fully Jesus’ teaching regarding marriage and celibacy: Jesus is preparing for the final battle with the forces of evil and purity demands the renunciation of sex; and the eschatological kingdom of God does not require marriage, so one should begin the return to Eden now by becoming like children. Although we have no exact parallel for Jesus’ teachings in Judaism, we have hints of such teaching in different strands of Judaism which cannot be discounted. Pronounced strains of celibacy and singleness begin to take hold in the Christian communities founded in the wake of Jesus’ own teaching. This leads to broader questions, such as, Why did celibacy begin to emerge so forcefully at this time? What were the issues that led people to consider singleness and reject the way of the family? Did the communal aspect of the new family of God forge a countercultural and counterintuitive family that allowed people to leave behind old family structures? Without understanding the eschatological perspective in Judaism, it is impossible to understand the move to celibacy and singleness as preparation for the world to come, but why did so many Gentiles find this compelling in the decades and centuries after Jesus? This remains an unanswered conundrum in the midst of perhaps an unanswerable set of questions.  

Dykas : . For a magisterial attempt to answer these questions more broadly in Late Antiquity, see Harper , especially chapter  and, within chapter , pp. –; see also – and –. Missing from these discussions, though, is a discussion about the role that eschatological fervor played in the initial move to sexual renunciation.

 

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple: James, Nazirite Vows and Celibacy Kevin Funderburk



Introduction: Apostolic Celibacy and Its Purposes

As a rule, committed celibacy and the resultant childlessness create serious problems of mutual support throughout the course of one’s life, especially in ancient social contexts. Before the late modern era there were fewer incentives for delaying or foregoing marriage and childbirth, particularly in view of the primacy of families and households for supporting the bereaved, the elderly, the orphaned, the divorced and persons otherwise disappointed or abandoned. Since the early Jesus movement claimed among its most prominent members a number of celibates such as Paul and James the brother of Jesus, it is worth inquiring as to how ancient renunciants addressed the resulting problems of mutual support, as well as how their renunciation contributed to the purposes and reproductive power of their movement. This essay therefore examines early literary witnesses to James’ rule of life within the context of the late Second Temple purity debates so as to understand the political utility of primitive Christian celibacy in Jerusalem. I argue that James practiced lifelong celibacy as part of a modified Nazirite ascetic regime in order to attain a priestly level of purity and authority. This allowed early Jesus followers both to garner popular support and strengthen a cross-party religious coalition whose goal was to reform the Jerusalem priesthood by supplanting the Temple’s ruling families. To accomplish this goal, the apostles 

 

Cf. Winter and Teitelbaum  on modern calculations of procreative risk and political responses; on modern pressures to improvise in defining relationships, as well as general postmodern social alienation and confusion among youths regarding marital obligations and relationships, cf. Archer ,  and Smith . See Laes, in this volume. Cf. Bauckham , Painter  and Mimouni  for biographical treatments. Cf. I Cor :–, : on Paul’s celibacy versus the marriages of “the brothers of the Lord” and couples such as Prisc(ill)a and Aquila – cf. Lk :; Rom :; I Cor :; II Tim :; Acts :–, –; cf. also Bauckham : – on the missionary work of other, married brothers of Jesus, using Julius Africanus apud Eus. HE ...





 

and James’ council of elders developed a redistributive economy that provided better support for singles and solitaries than that offered by the Temple priesthood in the Roman period. They also developed ethnically inclusive biblical hermeneutics that framed this economy as both a restoration of First Temple practices and a rediscovery of primordial divine intent regarding human sexual relations and purity. To fund this effort within Jerusalem’s temple economy, traveling apostles such as Paul and Barnabas gathered tithes and special offerings from diverse and sympathetic persons associated with the Jewish diaspora. The following section provides context for these ascetic behaviors by outlining the complicated purity discourse and attendant factional strife that marked the entire Second Temple period. The next section interrogates biblical sources to show how the apostles sought to intervene in these debates with new hermeneutic strategies. The following section focuses on the evidence regarding James’ life, activity in Jerusalem, Nazirite commitments and judicial killing. I then synthesize the foregoing to argue how and why James and the apostles sought to contest priestly authority during the turbulent last years of the Second Temple. I conclude with a brief meditation on how elements of this apostolic ascetic program were accessed and modified by a wide variety of competing Christian sects in later centuries. By way of a coda, I offer some thoughts on how a fresh social historical focus on ancient ascetic regimes could be helpful for present-day movements concerned with inculcating monastic types of discipline in both celibate and married Christians.

 Second Temple Politics: Legitimacy, Purity and Faction Serious disputes regarding priestly purity in the service of Israel’s God arose shortly after the return of a small portion of Judah’s exiles from Babylonian territory in the late sixth century BC. The Persian era biblical books of Ezra (–) and Nehemiah (:–, :–) claim that a number of returning laymen, Levites, priests and even chief priests were forcibly disqualified from participating in the Second Temple due to their marriages with foreign women. Nehemiah condemned the marital connection contracted by the chief priest J(eh)oiada son of Eliashib with the daughter of Sanballat, a powerful figure in the region’s chief city, the old northern Israelite capital of Samaria. Although the people of Samaria 

Cf. Regev b on the historical reliability of NT sources regarding high priestly prosecutions of the apostles.

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple



could and did claim Israelite descent, Nehemiah and others among the Jerusalem returnees viewed the population of the northern territories, conquered and resettled in accordance with Assyrian policy in the late eighth century BC, as compromised both in cult and heritage, a view comparable in some ways to how many ancient Greeks saw Macedonians in the time of Philip II. The priestly scribe Ezra (:–) thus refused to allow a group of such persons to have any part in rebuilding the Temple or funding its sacrifices. The prophet Malachi (:–) also extended Nehemiah’s criticism of priestly sexual malfeasance to include lay returnees who had divorced their first wives and married local foreigners. On a related matter, Nehemiah had previously condemned Jehoiada’s father for allowing Tobiah the Ammonite, a non-priestly and possibly mixed-descent local dynast, to act as steward over the Temple treasury and its disbursement system; this power he allegedly abused by embezzling rations of grain, wine and olive oil due to the Temple’s Levites and musicians (Neh :–; cf. Mal :–). As a result of these tightened social regulations, Jehoiada and his retinue abandoned Jerusalem and sought Sanballat’s patronage instead, a move that was occasionally reenacted in later generations by other disaffected priests. Jehoiada’s exodus thus offered a new way for Samarians and their confederates to assert a competing Israelite identity, participate in traditional cult and bolster their position in Achaemenid politics against the hostile returnees of Judah. Sanballat’s favors were not insubstantial, it seems. Recent archaeological work has confirmed that a temple was subsequently constructed on the







Fried  compares the situation in post-exilic Judah with the increasingly tight definitions of Athenian citizenship in the sixth and fifth centuries BC, which culminated in Pericles’ citizenship law (– BC) requiring that both parents be Athenian citizens in order to claim citizenship for their children, noting also the characteristically broad enfranchisement of defeated enemies and foreigners in Assyrian, Babylonian and Achaemenid Mespotamia; cf. Ath. pol. ., ; .; Thuk. .., . and Demosth. .,  on Athenian anti-exogamy laws. Cf. Neh :, :–, probably accessing Lev :– on priestly taboos against marrying foreign or divorced women, with Jos. AJ .–; Knoppers : – examines Nehemiah’s fraught interactions with neighboring dynasts; cf. also Wardle : – on Samaritans and Jos. AJ . on priests and Levites seceding from Jerusalem over kosher rules, marriages to unacceptable women or Sabbath commerce. Nehemiah and Ezra delimited Israelite identity by tightening earlier regulations of intermarriage in Mosaic Law and put into practice a concept of “holy seed” that could be adulterated by marital impropriety; cf. Knoppers  on Nehemiah’s controversial reforms and the Israelite identity of Samaritans; cf. Hayes : – and Koltun-Fromm : –, with Hier. : and Ezra : on the concept of “holy seed.” Earlier Mosaic bans on intermarriage had applied only to Canaanites and a few other peoples (Deut :–, :–; Num :–), although royal marriage alliances received harsh criticism, e.g., I Kings :.



 

slopes of Mt. Gerizim in Samarian territory in the late fifth century BC and refurbished significantly at some point in the late fourth century. Inscriptions dating from the late third to mid-second centuries from Delos confirm that worshipers belonging to this alternative cultic community sent substantial tithes and freewill donations. Relations between Jews and Samaritans, as they were later termed, from this point onward oscillated between close collaboration and violent conflict. After the Jewish high priest and commander John Hyrcanus I destroyed Samaria, Shechem and the Gerizim temple between  and  BC, however, relations never recovered – witness Josephus’ story about Samaritans strewing the Temple’s portico with defiling bones during the prefecture of Coponius (r. AD –; Jos. BJ .), or about a rural vigilante war between Galilean Jews and Samaritans in the days of Cumanus (r. AD –; cf. Jos. BJ .–; AJ .). These violent episodes indicate how important were the cultic concerns that continued to develop long after the return from Babylon, a knot of problems involving priestly authority, sexual purity and embezzlement. Like Sanballat, Nehemiah’s other nemesis Tobiah the Ammonite may have had a further role to play in Hellenistic Jewish politics, if he was in fact the progenitor of a dynasty of royal officials who served both the Ptolemaic and the Seleucid dynasties in the third and second centuries BC. Whether or not they were his descendants, the Tobiad family, after achieving intermarriage and alliance with the Oniad clan of chief priests in Jerusalem, supported Antiochus III against Ptolemaic forces in  BC and so transferred Judea to Seleucid control. The Tobiads later supported the efforts of Hellenizing Jerusalem chief priests such as Simon II and Jason, the latter of whom received the chief priesthood as a gift from  



 

Magen . Knoppers :  notes the Samaritan temple’s loss of tax-exempt status under the Seleucids after  BC in I Macc :, Jos. AJ .–; cf. Wardle : –, esp.  with AJ .–, .– on disputes among Israelites in Egypt as to which sanctuary they should contribute sacrifices, and II Macc : on Antiochus IV attempting to convert both the Samarian and Jerusalem temples into Zeus cults. Knoppers : – argues for collaboration between these two temple communities from internal textual evidence from the Samaritan Pentateuch, Dead Sea Scrolls and Old Greek manuscripts. Knoppers : –. The Zenon archive (cf. CPJ , , ) attests to the existence of a Tobias as an early Ptolemaic cleruchic cavalry commander based at Amman, a city near the family’s ancestral Hyrcanus fortress at Tyre; this man married the sister of Onias II, a high priest of Jerusalem, and his son Joseph gained high tax office (prostasia) in Palestine under Ptolemy III (r. – BC), having defeated an Oniad high priest for the office, possibly due to the latter’s Seleucid sympathies. Thanks are due to Dr. Julia Wilker for comments throughout this section.

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple



Antiochus IV Epiphanes in return for conspiring in the deposition and later assassination of his brother Onias III (/ and  BC). This murder sparked an explosive series of violent disputes culminating in the famous Maccabean Revolt (cf. I and II Macc; Jos. AJ .–.). The Hasmonean family rose to power in  BC as the leaders of the revolt and claimed chief priestly authority by virtue of conquest, thereby ending a long series of disputes over the office between leading Judean families and Seleucid officials. This new dynasty eventually claimed sole rights to the chief priesthood and to Israelite kingship after the reign of Arisobulus I (– BC), despite the fact that their founders do not seem to have claimed descent from either David or Aaron, and hailed from an unremarkable village in the Judean hills named Modiin. Theirs was not necessarily an unpopular move, but it was innovative, and it signaled how contestable claims to priestly and royal authority could be in a context of intramural strife and foreign domination. Only after the Maccabean Revolt does any direct evidence surface regarding the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes, the three purity factions involved in disputes over control of the Jerusalem cult in the later Second Temple Period. Broadly speaking, the Pharisees were populists operating in Judea and Galilee who were seeking to gain legitimacy as interpreters of Torah; to do so, they proposed a modified code of moral and ritual regulations applicable to all Jews and derived from oral traditions of Mosaic intent (AJ ., ). Jesus in the canonical Gospels seems to have expected similar Torah obedience from ordinary Jews, although he often targeted Pharisees for inconsistent precision and condemned their   





VanderKam : –; Wardle : –; note also Jos. AJ .– on the chief priest Onias IV as fleeing Jerusalem and constructing another rival sanctuary at Leontopolis in Egypt. VanderKam : – describes the struggles for chief priestly legitimacy during the intersacerdotium of – BC as involving competing high priests, Hasmonean and Oniad. Wardle : ,  n.  and Klawans  note the silence of ancient sources regarding Aaronide-Zadokite lineage for the Hasmoneans, contra VanderKam : , n.  on I Chr :–, Schofield and VanderKam  and Regev : –; both Regev and Klawans rightly point out the lack of evidence for popular reactions against the overthrow of the Oniads. Jos. BJ .–; AJ .–, .–; cf. Wardle : – with references to the prehistory of the sects and possible relation to Hasidic or Enochic circles in Judea and the Hellenistic Diaspora. As a rough scale of factional influence, Josephus (c. Ap. ., .) mentions some , Jerusalem priests and elsewhere (AJ ., ., ) estimates about , Essenes, over , Pharisees and only a few Sadducees, not all of whom were necessarily priests; cf. Phil. prob. ; Hypoth. ., with Taylor : . The unaffiliated among the priestly courses, not to mention those among the populations of Judea, Galilee and the Diaspora, were thus numerous. Sanders : –; Neusner and Chilton ; Wardle : –; cf. also Himmelfarb  on broader conceptions of Israelite priesthood in Hellenistic Jewish and rabbinic literature; cf. Jos. AJ .– on the violent dispute between Pharisees and Sadducees regarding John Hyrcanus I’s priestly qualification and descent.



 

scribes and legal experts for not helping common people meet the demands of the rulings and requirements they proposed (cf. Mt :–; Lk :–). His criticisms focused on pharisaic laxity regarding inner self-control (Mt : on lust), neglect of filial piety (Mk : on korban and parental support) and support for serial monogamy (Mk :– and Mt  on divorce and remarriage). The smaller amount of evidence for the Sadducees suggests that they originated either as opposition to the Hellenizing push under the Seleucids or as followers of an influential chief priest named Zadok. Josephus tells us that they laid claim to wisdom traditions, and denied the existence of angels, the validity of pharisaic oral traditions and the immortality of the soul; they also lacked popularity for some reason and were forced to follow pharisaic procedure when inaugurating their priests (AJ .–). The Sadducees nonetheless gained a tight hold on the chief priestly offices in the Hasmonean period and kept that hold into the Roman period, all the while insisting upon strict codes of purity, sacrificial protocol and moral behavior, but only for priestly families. Certain disaffected members of this group appear to have joined Essene communities like that of Khirbet Qumran near the western shore of the Dead Sea. Essenes differed in that they proposed that their members should also undertake a number of strictures beyond the basic rites of purity required for Temple participation, strictures that were generally more rigorous than those of the Pharisees (cf. Jos. AJ .–, .; Mt :). Much of the fragmentary literature recovered from the settlement’s nearby caves regulates communities, located both in cities of the Levant and in the Judean desert, designed to worship God in voluntary 

  

The book of Jubilees attests to similar and growing discomfort with sexual practices in the Hellenistic period, although the precise nature of any social changes since the Persian period is unclear. Note also the beheading of John the Baptist in the gospels, attributed to his public rebuke of Herod Antipas for his second marriage to his half-brother’s first wife. Herodias in Mt :–, Mk :–, Lk :–, with Martens, in this volume. Klawans  notes that Sadducees are nowhere attested as having connections to traditional chief priestly families descended from the Zadok who officiated in the time of Solomon. Lange  traces links between Qumran and earlier Jewish wisdom sects that may have disputed the Hasmonean and Sadducean appropriations of that genre. The Pesher Habakkuk and certain other DSS reveal close ideological and personal links between Essene communities and hardliner priests who may have been part of either the Sadducee or Pharisee camps; cf. Wardle :  on “sons of Zadok” dwelling in the communities described in the Qumran scrolls, noting QS ., ; .; QSa .; QSb .; CD .; QFlor .; Schiffman : –; Regev ; Levine : –; Sanders : –; cf. VanderKam : – on various proposed identities of the Teacher of Righteousness and his nemesis, the Wicked Priest; on affinities with other factions, cf. Newman : – on AJ .; on affirming the linkage between the scrolls, Qumran and the Essene community, cf. Taylor : –.

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple



exile from Jerusalem and in protest against the Hasmonean system (cf. Is :; QS .). These texts portray such covenanted communities as composing a quasi-temple whose members all counted as priests in some fashion. The membership through the rigors of their discipline absolved themselves of blame for involving themselves in what they termed the “three nets of Belial.” These nets were charges against the Hasmoneans that encoded condemnation for lax sacrificial protocols, fornication (including incest, polygamy and possibly remarriage) and ill-gotten wealth; the term thus neatly encapsulated certain developments of cultic problems identified already in the Persian period. To avoid sharing in such guilt, the Essenes insisted on strict codes of behavior and set a high bar for initiation into their purified society. Many of these renunciants, according to classical literary sources, were vowed celibates, and all swore to forego certain private property rights, to donate a substantial portion of their income to a common fund for the support of poorer members and to keep a shared sacred meal. Essenes did not, however, necessarily believe that the Temple irrevocably profaned, nor did they utterly abandon Temple worship or the debates over purity and control of the Temple’s economy. On the contrary, certain scrolls offer protocols for visiting Jerusalem, for presenting sacrifices and for joining in other Temple worship activities. Josephus in fact reports that Essenes had their own cadre of priests working within the Temple courts according to their own distinctive purity regulations and sacrificial protocols. The Essenes therefore offered a multipronged solution to Jerusalem’s knotty problems through their stringent sexual 







Like Paul in I and II Corinthians, certain passages in the scrolls (e.g., CD .) redefined the word “temple” figuratively as a federation of true, purified Israelites. Cf. QS .c–a; Jos. BJ .; Phil. quod omnis  and Eus. PE .– on Essene urban and village presence. Taylor : – identifies medicine production as a primary industry at both Qumran and the similar settlement of Ain-Feshka to the south, which may well have helped finance Essene priestly activity in Jerusalem. CD .–. with Wardle : –, –; note the intensive procedure for initiation conducted by the overseer (mebaqqer) of the community. CD .–. forbids community members from marrying a second wife while the first is still alive, which may either prohibit serial monogamy or may only limit the prohibition to polygamy practiced according to Davidic precedent; in the latter case, however, the contemporary target of the author’s criticism is unclear; cf. Ilan : – for an overview of the question. On the sacred meal, cf. QS .–; cf. Taylor  for classical sources on Essene celibacy, including Philo and Josephus; Regev  notes that celibacy is not clearly mentioned the DSS but ignores other literary sources in favor of comparative ethnographic evidence of questionable relevance; Klawans  provides an overview of DSS purity regulations. Wardle : ; cf. CD .–., .; also .– on Sabbath altar offerings; on Essenes priestly shares, Jos. AJ .–; on separate Essene courts, cf. BJ .–, and . on Essene priestly procedures.



 

discipline and economic system. They combined this with an alternative, reconceived priesthood that could function both inside and outside the Jerusalem establishment and also maintain a network of renunciant colonies in urban and rural contexts. The nature of these factional disputes underwent key changes after the fall of the Hasmonean dynasty, which occurred due to family discord that had been amplified by Pompey’s conquest of the Eastern Mediterranean in  BC. After a convoluted series of factional maneuvers and switches of allegiance by his father, Antipater, and himself, Herod the Great gained the favor of Octavian after the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra and so became the king of Judea. In the course of his rise, Herod absorbed many Hasmoneans by marriage alliances or eliminated them in court intrigues, and introduced a few important cultic innovations. Since Herod could not plausibly claim the high priesthood due to his Arabian maternal and Idumean paternal heritage, and since other aristocratic priestly families of the city represented a potential threat, he invited other families from Babylon and Egypt to replace the last Hasmonean chief priest, who was drowned at Herod’s orders in  BC. The chief priesthood as a result became an appointed office, although preferment was not based primarily on dynastic claims, as it had been under the Achaemenids, Ptolemies and Seleucids. Instead, the chief priesthood became a rotating magistracy available only to a small set of families who were dependent upon Herodian favor, families who could not establish any clear traditional claims to the office, families who had few social connections in Jerusalem. These disadvantages – compounded by accusations from Essenes, by the greater populist appeal of Pharisees, by the rise of new factions such as the Jesus movement and zealot revolutionaries of the Roman period – seriously compromised the authority of the Sadducee chief priests in the eyes of many lower-ranking priests and common Jews in the final century of the Second Temple’s existence. 



On the assassination of Aristobulus III, cf. Jos. BJ . and AJ .–; cf. AJ . on Herod’s lack of priestly authority to enter the rebuilt Temple precincts; Rocca : – on Herod’s dynastic claims; Regev a on Herod’s self-presentation as an observant Jew; VanderKam : – and Goodman  on the appointees’ social positions (Jos. AJ .– and .). Herod’s subsidy of the Essenes may also have functioned to divide priestly power – cf. Taylor : – on “Herodians” and Jos. AJ .– on Menahem the prophet. On Jewish revolutionary ideology, cf. Hengel ; on revolutionary priests, cf. Price : –, with Jos. AJ .. The commissioning of Paul to arrest Jesus followers in Damascus (Acts ) as well as the difficulties he and his friends suffered during their missionary journeys (e.g., at Thess :–) suggest that popular support for the chief priestly families may have been greater in certain regions of the Diaspora than in Judea or Galilee.

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple



By way of raising the stakes still higher, Herod initiated a construction program of palaces, fortresses and urban foundations, the crown jewel of which was the renovated Temple itself. The revenues of the Temple rose by an order of magnitude as Diaspora Jews sent larger voluntary contributions along with their usual tithes and payment of the Temple poll tax. As a consequence, the pilgrimage economy established under the Hasmoneans expanded to include hundreds of thousands of visitors to Jerusalem for each of the three annual Mosaic feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. To give some idea of the size and importance of these transfers of money, the twin cities of Nisibis and Nehardea on the Euphrates housed a number of banks into which Mesopotamian Jews deposited their offerings for armed transport at Passover. The deposits thus conveyed to Jerusalem were sizeable enough to attract Parthian raiders who jeopardized the convoy on a number of occasions, and so Herod’s military engineers built caravan outposts and fortified a midway point near Trachonitis to ensure safe transport (Jos. AJ ., –). Cicero (Pro Flacco –) and Tacitus (Hist. ..) bear further witness to the importance of this revenue by noting occasional proconsular confiscations of hundreds of pounds of gold earmarked for delivery from Apamea, Laodicea and Hadramyttium. Huge flows of wealth therefore washed into the Temple’s treasuries each year, sieved through the hands of the chief priests. This increased investment unfortunately seems to have worsened the long-standing problems created by the returnees from the Babylonian Exile, and so we should now turn to consider how the early Christian community attempted to solve them.



Apostolic Responses and Concepts

The early Jesus movement proposed three interrelated concepts as part of their intervention in late Second Temple discourse. These concepts helped them create a coalition from members of the various Hellenistic purity factions that could make a serious bid for broad popular support and    

Goodman a, b. Levine : –; Rocca : –; cf. Regev : – on the Temple tax and pilgrimage economy in the Hasmonean period. Jos. AJ .– notes monies sent by Jews of Asia Minor for safekeeping to Cos due to fear of Mithridates in  BC; cf. AJ .– for Roman decrees regarding the Temple tax and tithes. The two-drachma Temple tax paid the overhead costs for public sacrifices and maintenance; tithes supported the service of priests, Levites and their dependents when converted into sacrificial portions and stipends; cf. Sanders : –; cf. Jim : – on similar tithes as marking identity and loyalty in Greek temples.



 

control of the Jerusalem Temple in its last decades. The first concept addresses long-standing concerns of tithes and embezzlement by proposing a voluntary redistributive economy to support committed members, a scheme already employed on a small scale during Jesus’ itinerant ministry and later augmented to support his increasing following in Jerusalem (Acts :–, :–, :–). This paralleled the system of redistributing tithes, freewill offerings and alms already established in the Jerusalem Temple, especially the “poor tithe” in which each third and sixth year’s tithe revenue in a seven-year cycle was to be kept back from the Temple coffers and instead distributed locally to landless Levites, foreigners, widows and orphans (Deut :–, :). We may read these certain Gospel passages as suggesting a need for a reformed redistribution system, as when Jesus during his final Passover week expatiated on the generosity of a poor widow who donated her two bits to the Temple treasury. This vignette encodes a harsh and ironic criticism of the chief priests, since that widow should have been receiving a share of the poor tithe, not giving her whole substance toward that fund (cf. Mk :–; Lk :–). The apostolic economy was also likely established with an eye to Qumran and the Essenes since the latter also supported a common purse and distributed monies gathered from a minimum monthly contribution of two days’ wages to needy members. Such a redistributive economy thus allowed the apostles to surpass the Pharisees in rigor since they could propose tough standards of moral, and especially sexual, purity while also offering an economic support system to accommodate members potentially disadvantaged by such strictures. Those strictures, as Jesus taught in his Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere, put divorce in a dim light and forbad remarriage after divorce among his followers as contrary to 





Note also the criticisms of the Temple economy implied by Jesus’ overturning of the Temple’s tables and dove cages (Mt :–; Mk :–; Lk :–; Jn :–) and the tight linkage of malfeasance in Christian donation to improper Temple sacrifice implied in the story of Ananias and Sapphira of Acts ; cf. Buth and Kvasnica  on Jesus’ criticism of the Temple in the Parable of the Vineyard and the wicked tenants (Mt :–; Mk :–; Lk :–; cf. also Mt :–). Anderson : –; Sanders : –; cf. Gardner : – on this and other biblical redistributive ventures as reconceived in rabbinic sources, esp. m. Pe’ah :– and t. Pe’ah :–. Jesus’ teaching against divorce and remarriage may have been intended in part to stabilize unions within the community and so reduce costs within this redistributive system; note also I Tim : and :– against prohibiting young widows to remarry. CD .–. There is no clear, direct link between the Essene communities and the early Christians, although the desert sojourns and ascetic practices of John the Baptist, as well as Paul’s two-year desert sojourn after his conversion and escape from Jerusalem (Gal :) suggest affinities of theology and praxis; cf. Frey : I:–; Taylor : –, –.

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple



primordial design and divine intent (cf. Gen :–). This parallel sacred economy could therefore benefit especially the bereaved, the orphaned, the abandoned, the divorced if somehow their relationships with family, synagogue or Temple were compromised, and all without engaging in the serial monogamy typically allowed by Jewish, Egyptian and Roman legal systems. A second apostolic concept took up certain traditional ideas of Israel as a royal priesthood (Ex :; cf. I Pet :–) and introduced a couple of new features. The first feature is a hermeneutic operative in a number of Gospel texts that subordinate the Levitical priesthood to monarchical authority. Matthew and Luke famously claimed Davidic lineage for Jesus in their genealogical lists and birth narratives, and early speeches in the book of Acts attributed to Peter attest a way of reading certain Psalms that presents the resurrected Jesus as greater than his progenitor. Building on that theme, the letter to the Hebrews elevated Jesus above his progenitor by using the Psalms to link him, by right of conquest, to the shadowy figure of Melchizedek, king of (Jeru)salem, priest of the Most High God, coeval of the patriarch Abraham (cf. Gen :–; Ps :; Hebr –). In addition, Jesus himself accessed one of many examples in the biblical historical books of David acting as chief priest or governor of Israelite cult in order to claim that same authority and thereby to answer pharisaic questions regarding the propriety of plucking grain on the Sabbath for food. We could label this as the First Temple or monarchical hermeneutic principle, one that accessed earlier royal









Mt :, :–; Mk :–; Lk :; I Cor ; I Tim :, ; cf. also Jn :– on the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well near Sychar as an example of a serial monogamist seeking purification and support through association with Jesus; on the primary importance of combating fornication (porneia, zenuta) in both primitive and patristic Christian teaching, cf. Hayes  and Harper b. See also Martens, in this volume, p.  on Jesus’ usage of Genesis in regard to this issue, and Evans Grubbs, in this volume, pp. – on the lex Julia de adulteriis coercendis regarding charges of lenocinium. I suspect similar concerns of pimping wives to new husbands underlies the ruling of Deut :–, and that the word porneia in the exception clauses of Mt : and : refers primarily to fraud and wife-trading and by extension to other Levitical restrictions, e.g., consanguinity; cf. Martens, in this volume, p. . See Huebner, in this volume, p.  for references on the permissive divorce regime of Roman Egypt, and ibid., p. , calculating from the census returns on papyrus that two out of five adults were single at any given point in Roman Egypt. Ps :– and :, with II Sam :–; cf. Peter’s speech in Acts :–, with Mt :; Mk :; Lk :–; Hebr :. The poetic puzzles seem to have arisen in part from assumptions that David had authored each of these psalms and had written them wholly in the voice of narrator. Mt :–; Mk :–; Lk :–; cf. I Sam :– and Lev :,  on the priestly use of shewbread.



 

practices and systems of cultic organization in order to solve Second Temple problems of priestly authority. The NT writers also accessed Israelite monarchical precedent to propose that an important kind of purity, one resembling Levitical purity but deriving from royal and military association, could be bestowed on gentiles willing to submit to strictures of moral purity. This purity theme intertwines closely with the first and can also be traced back to the Hebrew Bible’s historical books. I Samuel :–, for instance, speaks of Saul as hosting new moon festivals for ritually purified courtiers. The shewbread episode that Jesus accessed when arguing about Sabbath observance also contains a sidenote concerning an Edomite named Doeg, as a chief shepherd, as some sort of detainee within the Tabernacle’s precincts, as an informant against priests loyal to David and as a warrior in Saul’s retinue (I Sam , ; Ps ). More famously, Uriah the Hittite was one of many foreign retainers numbered among David’s elite forces who guarded their ritual purity while on campaign. It was for this reason that Uriah, acting as courier and herald for his king, avoided even entering his own house or visiting his wife, Bathsheba, while in Jerusalem so as to be fit to rejoin the army camp and the Tabernacle that accompanied the army and housed the ark of the Covenant (II Sam :–). Uriah’s punctilious observance led to his destruction at David’s orders, of course, but that only serves to highlight the moral purity of the gentile in contrast to an adulterous Israelite couple. Jesus’ willingness to enter the houses of 









Similarly, the gospels and Acts frequently lay claim to the prophets as inspiration for apostolic practice and may thereby refer implicitly to itinerant groups of prophets such as those encountered by Saul, Elijah and Elisha; see Martens, in this volume, p. . Note also the acceptance of Gibeonites as a servile class after the conquest of Canaan in Josh –, with II Sam :– on David favoring their suit for vengeance against Saul; cf. Edelman  with I Chr  and  on Saul’s genealogy and close relationship to Gibeon; I Kgs  and II Chr :– even locate the Tabernacle in their city. I suspect these strictures were designed to counteract problems of loyalty similar to those addressed by institutions such as the Spartan agoge, the Theban Sacred Band or the Augustan ‘marriage ban’; see also Martens, in this volume. For gentiles as part of Temple worship, note the repeated refrain of the people of Israel, the house of Aaron, and “those who fear the LORD” in Ps :–, :– and :. Cf. II Sam : (MT) listing David’s sons as priests and an Aaronic priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, as chief of the Kerethites and Pelethites, probably mercenary bodyguards from Crete and Philistia (cf. :); note also David dancing before the ark as a priestly action, an action likely paralleled by John the Baptist’s leaping in the womb at the presence of pregnant Mary; cf. II Sam :; I Chr :; Lk :. Cf. James’ response to Paul, Barnabas and Peter regarding their testimony to the loyalty of many gentiles to Christ, where he accessed prophecy (Amos :–; Acts :–) to propose that the ingathering of gentiles somehow reestablished “the fallen tent of David” that was itself destroyed in large part by poor sexual behavior.

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple



Roman officers, to touch dead bodies and diseased menstruants, to enter graveyards and confront the devil-possessed, to heal Romans slaves and foreign children, to cleanse Samaritan lepers, to laud the good faith of gentiles and to eat with tax collectors, indicates that he held a similar conception of purity. Certain appropriations of these texts in the New Testament suggest that the Jesus movement not only appreciated Davidic priestly prerogatives and tendency toward inclusivity, but also conceived of their purity as broader, infectious and available to all who were willing to submit to their communal standards. Like the Pharisees and Essenes, then, the early Jesus movement proposed a priestly level of moral purity that should be obtained by all its members and, in order to lend credibility to this idea, construed earlier biblical concepts of military purity as applicable to loyal gentiles generally. Their tightened strictures of sexual purity provided a way of escape from the first net of Belial, i.e., certain priestly marital habits condemned as acts of fornication. As we have seen, this was an old and contentious problem, one that involved not only post-exilic Judahites and Samaritans but latterday Jewish sages such as Hillel and Shammai; these two famously argued over legitimate reasons for divorce and remarriage with reference to the Mosaic procedure for granting divorce certificates tersely related in Deut :–, a debate which framed some of the dominical sayings on the subject already noted. The apostolic redistributive economy also disentangled the faithful from the second net of corrupt wealth, while their messianic hermeneutic allowed for a royal arbiter to address problems of 





Cf. Mt :– and Lk :– on the Roman centurion’s servant; Mt :– and Mk :– on the diseased menstruant and the daughter of Jairus; Lk :– on the Samaritan leper; :– on Elijah and Elisha as preferring to bless gentiles instead of Israelites; Mt :–; Mk :–; Lk :– on the Gadarene demoniac(s); Mt :– on Levi-Matthew and Lk :– on Zacchaeus as penitent tax collectors; cf. also Peter’s dream and Cornelius in Acts :–: on food impurity laws as ethnically limited and Mk :– for impurity by kosher transgression as inherently temporary and not necessarily equivalent to moral impurity. The parable likening the Kingdom of God to leaven spreading through three measures of flour in Mt :– chimes with the idea of contagious purity and is further contrasted in its multiplying effect in the feeding of the crowds of , and , with the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees in Mt :–. Similarly, note Hayes : – and Hodges : , nn. – examining Paul’s ruling in I Cor :– that recent converts stay with their unbelieving spouses since their fidelity sanctifies the couple’s children; cf. also I Cor :– condemning social contact with immoral believers (also Mt :–; Hebr :–; I Cor :) but affirming contact with pagans, implying that transferable impurity requires complicity, not physical intimacy. Note the ongoing apostolic concern for integration of Samaritans displayed in the confrontation between Peter and Simon Magus in Acts :–; Simon was a Samaritan who was baptized but later sought to purchase control of the Holy Spirit from Peter and gain apostolic authority (cf. Acts :), and so was rebuked for harboring a defiling bitterness and cupidity; cf. also Lk :– on the Good Samaritan and : on the Samaritan leper.



 

priestly legitimacy by including many disenfranchised persons, even gentiles, within a larger royal priesthood reconceived along First Temple lines. With this in mind, we can now investigate how celibates generally, and James particularly, contributed to the larger apostolic project in the Roman period.

 James and Jerusalem Aside from the birth narratives and a few encounters recounted in the Gospels during his Galilean ministry, we first encounter the family of Jesus alongside the disciples just before Pentecost (Acts :–). After establishing an early version of their communal redistribution system, the community as a whole by some unknown process selected deacons to distribute the sales proceeds donated to the common purse by wealthier members (Acts :–). Some years later, persecution by chief priests and Pharisees, such as Saul alias Paul of Tarsus, scattered the many thousands of adherents won up to that point. This dispersion did little to stamp out the movement, it seems, and even pushed the apostles remaining in the city to make circuit visits to their scattered followers and thus evangelize locales such as Lydda, Caesarea Maritima, Samaria, Cyprus and Antioch (Acts –). James at some unknown point around this time became the chief “pillar” of the Jerusalem community (Gal :), and so probably oversaw the distribution of Judean relief funds that Paul and Barnabas collected from Antioch in response to prophetic warning of a famine in the reign of Claudius (Acts :–). Years later, according to Acts , James hosted the first council to address disputes regarding circumcision and purity regulations for those gentile followers who had joined in numbers since the dispersion caused by Stephen’s stoning. James gave the final word of this council and crafted four purity prohibitions applicable to gentile believers, prohibitions which renewed two commandments regarding food originally delivered to Noah, one derived from Leviticus, and a particular commandment forbidding porneia, or sexual impurity (:–; cf. Gen :; Lev :, :–). James last appeared in Luke’s narrative during the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem as a recipient of the money collected and delivered by Paul and his retinue, monies  

Cf. Painter : – on familial support for Jesus and on James’ early leadership in the movement. Additionally, Peter ordered John Mark’s household to inform James of his flight from Jerusalem once he had escaped from the prison of Herod the Tetrarch of Galilee (Acts :–).

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple



designated to support some thousands of Torah-observant Jewish believers about three decades after Jesus’ crucifixion (:; ). In this final episode, James and his council of elders advised Paul to join four other Jews who had sworn to fulfill the ascetic rigors of Nazirite vows so as to prove that Paul, by paying the costs of the necessary sacrifices, also honored Moses and did not preach that Jews abandon Torah (Acts :–). Nazirites in Mosaic law were persons who desired to undertake temporary vows to abstain from alcohol, contact with the dead and adorning their hair (Num :–). By the Second Temple period, the term covered a range of vowed ascetic practices and purifications undertaken for a minimum of thirty days, often by poorer Jews. Those so engaged would typically then fulfill their vows in the Temple by incubation over a few nights and by presentation of eight separate animal sacrifices. The biblical stories of Samson and Samuel add to this picture somewhat by portraying Israelite parents as offering children as a kind of first fruits sacrifice, after which the children became lifelong devotees and even gained peculiar powers and special divine access in return. Of particular note is the fact that, in Samuel’s case, this ascetical regimen qualified a mere devotee to succeed his patron as chief priest of the Tabernacle of the LORD at Shiloh despite his lack of Aaronic descent. Likewise Philo of Alexandria and certain rabbinic sources equate Naziritic discipline with priestly regimes and assert that such practices could make









I Cor :–; II Cor ; Rm :–; Gal :. Georgi : – notes previous work that likened the Pauline collection to the Temple taxes and tithes but pursues the idea no further; Downs : –, – seeks to dissociate the Pentecost visit from delivery of the collection due to the lack of direct reference in Acts and unease with synthesizing Acts with Paul’s letters, but neglects the possibility of political motives for the collection and the difficulties of surviving in Jerusalem outside of the Temple’s economy. Longenecker : – seeks to sever the link between the Jerusalem “poor” and the collection in Gal : but argues purely from silence in commentaries by Clement, Tertullian and Origen regarding the connection. Chepey ; cf. Eus. HE ..–, ..– and Epiphanius Pan. .– with Bauckham : – and Painter :  on James’ council of elders as resembling a chief priestly council and that of the Damascus Document. On the tenability of Luke’s portrayal of apostolic unity, note Dunn and Charlesworth  as a recent reconsideration of the relationship between works of the law and pistis in primitive Christian thought. This does not include the purifying sacrifices required if a Nazirite should come into contact with the dead during the time in which the vows are effective; cf. Num :–, which requires eight days of purification, two doves and a lamb. Chepey : – examines I Sam :,  (LXX) to propose Samuel as generally understood as a Nazirite in Second Temple biblical criticism; note also Ps : which groups Samuel with Moses and Aaron as one who called on the name of the LORD, but specifies that he was not a priest; cf. also Judg :, : on Samson as a lifelong Nazirite devotee but not an inmate of the Tabernacle.



 

ordinary Jews equal to priests. Eusebius (HE ..–) preserves a fragment from the second-century church historian named Hegesippus on James suggestive of how certain additional practices could further amplify this practice’s generally sanctifying force: James, the brother of the Lord, the one named “the Just” by everybody since the years of our Lord and up till our own time (since many are called “James”), succeeded to (control of ) the assembly along with the apostles – and he was holy from his mother’s womb: he did not drink wine or liquor nor did he eat animate flesh, a razor never shaved his head, he did not anoint himself with oil, and he never used a bath house. To him alone it was permitted to enter the holy precinct since he wore no woolen garments but only linen; he alone entered the Temple and could be found on his knees begging remission (of sins) on the people’s behalf such that his knees grew calloused like a camel’s due to his kneeling in obeisance to God and begging remission (of sins) for the people. He was in fact named “the Just” and “Oblias” – which in Greek translates to “bulwark of the people” and “righteousness” – on account of his superfluity of righteousness, as the prophets declare concerning him. (Tr. Painter : , adapted)

Epiphanius of Salamis later in the fourth century specified these behaviors as Naziritic (Pan. ..–.) and specifically claimed that James was of priestly rank, that he was a dedicated celibate from his birth (“holy from the womb”) and even that he mimicked Elijah by effectually praying for rain during a drought (Pan. ..–; cf. Jm :–). James was therefore remembered in early Christian historiographical tradition as going above and beyond the renunciations normally expected of Nazirites through his

 



Phil. leg. spec. .–; cf. generally Chepey . Διαδέχεται τὴν ἐκκλησίαν μετὰ τῶν ἀποστόλων ὁ ἀδελφὸς τοῦ κυρίου Ἰάκωβος, ὁ ὀνομασθεὶς ὑπὸ πάντων δίκαιος ἀπὸ τῶν τοῦ κυρίου χρόνων μέχρι καὶ ἡμῶν, ἐπεὶ πολλοὶ Ἰάκωβοι ἐκαλοῦντο, οὗτος δὲ ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς αὐτοῦ ἅγιος ἦν, οἶνον καὶ σίκερα οὐκ ἔπιεν οὐδὲ ἔμψυχον ἔφαγεν, ξυρὸν ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἀνέβη, ἔλαιον οὐκ ἠλείψατο, καὶ βαλανείῳ οὐκ ἐχρήσατο. τούτῳ μόνῳ ἐξῆν εἰς τὰ ἅγια εἰσιέναι: οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐρεοῦν ἐφόρει, ἀλλὰ σινδόνας. καὶ μόνος εἰσήρχετο εἰς τὸν ναὸν ηὑρίσκετό τε κείμενος ἐπὶ τοῖς γόνασιν καὶ αἰτούμενος ὑπὲρ τοῦ λαοῦ ἄφεσιν, ὡς ἀπεσκληκέναι τὰ γόνατα αὐτοῦ δίκην καμήλου, διὰ τὸ ἀεὶ κάμπτειν ἐπὶ γόνυ προσκυνοῦντα τῷ θεῷ καὶ αἰτεῖσθαι ἄφεσιν τῷ λαῷ. διά γέ τοι τὴν ὑπερβολὴν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ ἐκαλεῖτο ὁ δίκαιος καὶ ὠβλίας, ὅ ἐστιν Ἑλληνιστὶ περιοχὴ τοῦ λαοῦ, καὶ δικαιοσύνη, ὡς οἱ προφῆται δηλοῦσιν περὶ αὐτοῦ. Chepey : – qualifies Hegesippus in that he believes this passage describes popular practice in the apostolic generation, but doubts that James could enter the Temple alone and pray as high priest. This position, however, does not explain alternative Samaritan, Oniad and especially Essene priesthoods; cf. also Painter : –. Cf. Painter : –; Neusner : ; cf. also Taylor : , n.  on John the Baptist and Bannos as Nazirites (Jos. AJ .; vita ).

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple



abstention from meat, olive oil, bathing and all sexual relations, an amplified purity regimen that had become closely linked to claims of priestly authority. If we accept that members of the apostolic community like James and his fellow Nazirites presented themselves as an alternative priesthood to the Roman period’s establishment, we should ask how they supported themselves and their claims against the chief priests. From both literary and archaeological evidence it seems that practically the whole of Jerusalem’s production was devoted to the service of the Temple cult, and so longterm residents in Jerusalem either had to tap into or bypass that sacred economy in order to maintain residence. Alternatives probably had to be found very quickly since the earliest Jesus believers included many Galileans and others from the Jewish diaspora, some of whom spent much of their substance in donations, as when Barnabas of Cyprus sold a parcel of his own real estate for the apostles’ common purse (Acts :–). Then again, if we take seriously the description of the origins of Peter’s first audiences (Acts :–, ; :), most of those few thousand people who joined the apostles before the deacon Stephen’s martyrdom were permanent residents elsewhere and probably did not have sufficient income to support another residence. Much the same would have gone for the several thousands of Torah-observant Jewish believers whom James claimed among his number in Jerusalem at the time of Paul’s fateful Pentecost visit in Acts . We should also recall Luke’s statement that a large number of Jerusalem priests joined the Jesus movement after the election of the seven deacons, who were themselves charged with distributing donations among the apostolic needy after a dispute arose between advocates for the 



We might even take the gospel’s storyline of John the Baptist as proposing the subjection of Aaronide chief priestly claims to Davidic prerogative; cf. Lk :– on Mary attending as accoucheur for her cousin Elizabeth, a “daughter of Aaron,” wife of a priest named Zechariah, and mother of John the Baptist. Note also that the second-century Protevangelium of James (esp. –) still more clearly characterizes Zechariah as a chief priest. Similarly, cf. Fonrobert  on how the structure and didactic qualities of the letter of James in the New Testament function like the ruling in Acts  as a series of reflections and rulings that could function as a mishnaic manual of teaching and practice, a genre known from the DSS as produced by priests for scattered adherents to their traditions; cf. also Bauckham  with Klawans  on authorship of the NT letter of James and its use of priestly wisdom literature, especially the Wisdom of Ben Sira. Cf. Levine : –; Sanders : –; Jeremias : – notes the low export profile of Jerusalem and the apparent direction of all Judean manufacture and commercial development to Temple service; cf. Jos. AJ .– on the , workers employed for Herod’s renovations, as well as AJ . on the need to continue employment for those people ca. AD – through a street paving scheme funded by the Temple treasury; cf. QpHab .–, QM .–; Q .–, . on Essenes also as “the poor,” with Bauckham  on later sectarian usage of similar titles.



 

Hebrew- and Greek-speaking widows (Acts :–). Since lower-order priests typically depended in part on stipends derived from the Temple’s tithes, it seems only reasonable that they would depend to a significant extent on the new primitive Christian economy. It therefore seems probable, or even necessary, that James and his council of elders used collections like Paul’s to maintain solitary, displaced and otherwise disadvantaged urban followers, to afford a public presence through sacrifices, and to offer alternative support to celibates, Nazirites and lesser priests in Jerusalem. The importance of this project in the view of competing Jewish factions may be measured from the violence and multiple trials and transfers resulting from Paul’s visit to the Temple after delivering collected monies to James. In this scene, which determines the storyline for the last third of the book of Acts, Paul conducted the sacrifices required for four Nazirites who belonged to James’ community, but was arrested in connection with a violent riot that broke out due to rumors that he had brought a gentile friend of his into the Temple precincts (Acts :–). The chief priest Ananias (r. –) and a certain zealot faction were determined that Paul should be killed, whether judicially or otherwise, although interference from pharisaic priests within the Temple’s ruling council (Sanhedrin, cf. :–) and from Roman magistrates and army units prevented them from succeeding (:–). Similar chief priestly resentment was evident in the story Josephus tells about the judicial killing of James in the year . From its placement in the larger narrative, and because of the shared mention of Ananias, there is good reason to believe that conflicts between lower-order priests and chief priests were a critical factor in both the arrest of Paul and of the murder of James. As Josephus reports (AJ .–): Now the high priest Ananias daily advanced greatly in reputation and was splendidly rewarded by the goodwill and esteem of the citizens, for he was able to supply them with money – at any rate, he daily paid court to (the procurator) Albinus and the (current) high priest with gifts. But Ananias had slaves, utter rascals, who, combining operations with the most reckless men, would go to the threshing floors and take by force the tithes of the priests; nor did they refrain from beating those who refused to give. The high priests were guilty of the same practices as Ananias’ slaves, and no one could stop them. So it happened at that time that those of the priests who in olden days were maintained by the tithes now starved to death. (Tr. Feldman , adapted) 

ὁ δὲ ἀρχιερεὺς Ἀνανίας καθ᾽ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν ἐπὶ μέγα προύκοπτε δόξης καὶ τῆς παρὰ τῶν πολιτῶν εὐνοίας τε καὶ τιμῆς ἠξιοῦτο λαμπρῶς: ἦν γὰρ χρημάτων ποριστικός: καθ᾽ ἡμέραν γοῦν τὸν

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple



This text mirrors a slightly earlier passage (AJ .–) and brackets a number of stories of intramural Jewish strife that arose during the interregnum between two Roman prefects. The last and longest story within this unit relates the execution of James at the hands of a brash young chief priest. This chief priest, named Ananus, took advantage of this political interruption to convene a kangaroo court that condemned and executed James for having broken Mosaic Law, even though strict members of the other purity factions vehemently opposed this maneuver and quickly deposed him. The position of this account between two notices of high priestly embezzlement, the opportunism, the reputation of James’ community as strictly Torah-observant, and the New Testament evidence for the apostles sending money to Judea on multiple occasions, indicate that Ananus succeeded where Ananias failed: that is, he succeeded in killing James, and thereby destroyed a chief member of a rival purity coalition and compromised the flow of donations diverted away from the Temple’s treasuries. This program, thanks to the fund-raising efforts of mobile apostles such as Paul, connected Diaspora believers with others who were attracted to Jesus’ following, people belonging to the whole range of Second Temple factions. This broad appeal was based on a modified sacred economy that was funded by a growing network of adherents among the constituency traditionally associated with the Jerusalem Temple, and also on a shared discipline of life outlined by a set of scriptural hermeneutics that involved an innovative usage of Israelite royal traditions. These qualities, when combined with the ascetic regimes practiced by James and certain other early Christians, allowed this purity coalition to challenge the chief priestly establishment in Jerusalem with some appreciable success for at least a few decades.



Ἀλβῖνον καὶ τὸν ἀρχιερέα δώροις ἐθεράπευεν. εἶχεν δ’ οἰκέτας πάνυ μοχθηρούς, οἳ συναναστρεφόμενοι τοῖς θρασυτάτοις ἐπὶ τὰς ἅλωνας πορευόμενοι τὰς τῶν ἱερέων δεκάτας ἐλάμβανον βιαζόμενοι καὶ τοὺς μὴ διδόντας οὐκ ἀπείχοντο τύπτειν, οἵ τε ἀρχιερεῖς ὅμοια τοῖς ἐκείνου δούλοις ἔπρασσον μηδενὸς κωλύειν δυναμένου. καὶ τῶν ἱερέων τοὺς πάλαι ταῖς δεκάταις τρεφομένους τότε συνέβαινε θνήσκειν τροφῆς ἀπορίᾳ. Cf. Painter : –; for similar factional disputes, cf. Jos. AJ .–, –, also Begg  and Cook  on earlier Levitical protests against Aaronide dominance. Painter : – also examines the different martyrdom narrative in Hegesippus apud Eus. HE ..– (cp. Epiphanius Pan. ..–), in which Pharisees and scribes, and not the chief priests, orchestrated a three-stage execution of James in retaliation for his response to their public query concerning “the door of Jesus.” In connection with the theme of persons qualifying for the priesthood despite their lineage, note that in this episode a Rechabite protested and identified James as “the Just”; cf. Jeremiah  on Rechabites as men of the tribe of Benjamin who had apparently been included within the Aaronide priestly ranks by virtue of their vow to abstain from alcohol.



 

 James Remembered, or The Uses of Discipline Unfortunately, the violent deaths of Paul, James and Peter all occurred in quick succession and were themselves soon followed by the destruction of the Temple by Titus in the course of the First Jewish Revolt (AD –/). A second revolt that occurred during Trajan’s Parthian campaign (ca. –) seems to have seriously depleted the Jewish populations of Egypt, Cyprus and Cyrenaica. Later, the Bar Kokhba revolt (–/) similarly depopulated Judea of Jewish inhabitants and put an end to the line of Jewish Christian bishops in Jerusalem, an event which must have compromised, if not severed, lines of tradition regarding apostolic intentions within the factional discourse of their day. We should therefore consider the practices of celibacy of judaizing sects such as the Ebionites and also of gnostic or anti-Jewish sects such as the Marcionites as the result of partial memory loss, as instances of misremembering the political utility of primitive Christian celibacy as a weapon in a particular kind of discursive warfare. Prohibitions against marriage of varying intensity may also be found among encratites – in whose ranks Eusebius and Jerome (Chron. ad annum ) included Tatian, author of a Syriac Gospel harmonization – or among Montanists such as Tertuallian of Carthage (Epistula ad Uxorem .; cf. I Tim :,  against :, :–). We can also discern discomfort with Christian sexual relations in the Apocryphal Acts of Thomas, in which novelette the apostle disrupted many marriages and betrothals and converted the women of these unions to committed celibacy as a necessary element of conversion. We might similarly characterize the pre-monastic Syrian traditions of angel-like wandering desert ascetics and the sworn celibate groups who served as the beating heart of urban Christian congregations in Edessa and elsewhere, although these persons are not known to have rejected certain apostolic writing, nor did they reckon that Jesus and the apostles were divided into irreconcilable theological camps, as Marcion did. Much the same could be said for later Egyptian anchorites and cenobites such as Anthony and Pachomius, as well as Western admirers such as John Cassian   



See Horbury  for a recent treatment of both this and the Hadrianic revolt. Cf. Eus. HE . on the change from Jewish to gentile bishops after Hadrian; cf. also Eck  and Geiger . Note for example the exalted characterizations of James as dominant over Peter and opposed to Paul in Gospel of the Hebrews, the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions and Nag Hammadi texts – cf. generally Painter . Cf. Ashbrook Harvey ; Brock .

Contesting the Jerusalem Temple



and Benedict of Nursia, although these persons may have resembled apostolic practice more closely in their communal economic organization. In other words, we should understand later Christian groups as partially remembering and variously repurposing elements of apostolic practice with more or less accuracy. These practices, then, after their developers such as James became obscure figures and precise knowledge of their original competitive goals and discursive context faded, became “free radicals,” unstable particles that could react and combine with a great number of conflicting sectarian claims and purposes for centuries to come. An important difference among these groups, however, was whether they would formulate their ascetic concepts through harmonizing possibly contradictory texts reckoned as genuinely apostolic (hence katholikos, “according to the whole”), or whether they would choose favored authors and ideas among those texts (hence haeresis, “choice”), as if the earliest Christians belonged to miniature internal factions more than to a coalition. In considering the larger comparative prospects of this volume, I submit that intensified scholarly focus on the kinds of mutual support and political utility offered by various types of premodern celibates would present useful contrasts to our late modern stories and trends of solitariness, childlessness, sexual dis-orientation and social alienation. Such a focus seems all the more potentially fruitful in view of the growing popularity among many traditional Christians in the US of ideas such as the one termed “The Benedict Option.” This term in fact expresses not so much a choice but an imperative that pushes traditional Christian laypersons toward setting aside American middle-class norms and reintegrating married and celibate living through shared disciplines of life derived from writings such as Benedict’s famous Rule. In this model, a parish’s life would properly be centered on a monastic establishment that would act as the hub of a congregation’s daily activity and that would be anchored by a small circle of vowed celibates. All members of such parishes or congregations, whether single or not, would also make large and significant common investments in commensality, hospitality, shared housing and transportation, medicine, education and engagement in small politics, all at the local level. There are a number of reasons why such a renewal and extension of monastic discipline makes good sense – consider, for example, the rise of modern sex trafficking to public visibility since the late s. As Kyle Harper (, , ) has recently argued, early 

A term coined in Dreher ; cf. more particularly Dreher .



 

Christian opposition toward porneia broadly defined was critical toward the downfall of the late ancient Mediterranean slave trade, of which trade both master–slave sexual relations and prostitution were crucial components. Perhaps such a renewal could again disrupt such commerce, and possibly also work to solve certain problems of alienation, familial breakdown, overtaxed social welfare programs and failures of basic mutual support that mark many populations even in our postindustrial world. I would like to think that scholars of premodern ascetic practice could make some fitting contribution to, or evaluation of, such efforts. If nothing else, we could help interested people count the problems and costs involved in such present-day renunciation.

Late Antique Christianity: The Rise of the Ideal of Being Single

 

Singles and Singleness in the Christian Epigraphic Evidence from Rome (c. – CE)* Thomas Goessens

 Introduction Being single is not a modern invention, it is a historical phenomenon worthy of study alongside the situation of being married or the institution of marriage. Today, at least in Western society, a single lifestyle is considered a viable alternative to married life. Until recently, however, the acceptance of not being in a spousal relationship had been heavily undermined by social and cultural traditions, as well as economic and legal disadvantages. In many cultures, there was one particular exception for which a single lifestyle was not only generally accepted, but in many cases even required: religious celibacy and asceticism. Thus, singleness as a social situation or identity can be broken down into a voluntary and involuntary choice. The former is often religiously motivated, whereas the latter is in most cases caused by forms of social exclusion. Voluntary singleness in the Graeco-Roman world is documented in the surviving literary evidence, and it has been extensively studied by modern scholars working on the pagan and the Judaeo-Christian traditions. Involuntary singleness, on the other hand, is underrepresented both in literary texts from Antiquity and in the modern study of this period. * I am grateful to Ray Laurence and Anne Alwis for their recommendations on an earlier draft of this chapter and for improving the English text. I would also like to thank the two anonymous referees for their constructive comments, which greatly contributed to improving this chapter. Naturally, all remaining errors are my responsibility. Most importantly, I would like to acknowledge the groundbreaking work by the late Ilse Mueller, which paved the way for the use of epigraphic documents as a source for assessing singles in the Roman world.  Brown  is still standard literature on the matter of asceticism in the ancient world. More recent studies include Finn  and Vuolanto . On the history of celibacy, see Abbott  and Hunter .  Notable for their primary focus on epigraphic documents are Janssens  and Mueller . The former’s focus is on the Christian inscriptions from Rome (ICUR volumes I–VII). Although Janssens excludes singles as a specific category, his work still remains standard literature on the Christian family, and it highlights groups of potential singles. Mueller’s study is based on a large sample from CIL VI and analyses the commemorative patterns of women below the senatorial and equestrian ranks.





 

Within the extensive epigraphic evidence from Antiquity, there lies an untapped resource for the study of singleness – voluntary or involuntary. The focus of this chapter is upon the early Christian funerary inscriptions from the city of Rome, with a view to recovering the time-depth of singleness. The number of inscriptions allows for a quantitative and statistical study of ‘singles’ within the context of a wider study of familial commemoration in early Christian Rome.

 The Christian Epigraphic Evidence from Rome The early Christian inscriptions from the city of Rome constitute a unique archive of epigraphic documents. It is the major underlying source of evidence in a number of groundbreaking studies. Over , inscriptions survive – either integrally or fragmentarily – through which Rome’s social, cultural and political history during the transition from the pagan intellectual centre to the heart of the Christian West is reflected. The vast majority of this epigraphic evidence consists of funerary inscriptions, dedicated to one or more individuals. In almost , epitaphs, in addition to the name of the deceased, it is possible to identify biometric indications (age at death, length of marriage), and/or chronological indications (date of death, date of birth), and/or relational indications (commemorator, other family members). The presence of these details allows for a reconstruction, at least partially, of an individual’s familial status at the time of death and can be extended to identify the key features of singleness. 







This chapter represents an extension and application to the copious surviving Christian epigraphic evidence of Laes’s terminological study in this volume. At the same time, it provides a parallel demographic analysis to Huebner’s research on the Roman census papyri. For demographic studies using the large ICUR sample, see Nordberg  and Carletti  (age at marriage), Janssens  (family structures and religious life) and Harper  (seasonality of death). All the Christian inscriptions of Rome have been edited in the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Anteriores: Nova Series (ICUR). A first series of Christian inscriptions from Rome was edited under the same title by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in two volumes between  and  with a supplement edited by Giuseppe Gatti in . The nova series was edited between  and , and is organised geographically according to the ancient roads leading to Rome. Volumes I () and II () were edited by Angelo Silvagni, volume III () by Silvagni and Antonio Ferrua, volumes IV to VIII (, , ,  and  respectively) by Ferrua, volume IX () by Ferrua and Danilo Mazzoleni and volume X () by Mazzoleni and Carlo Carletti. A number of Christian inscriptions have also been edited in the sixth volume of CIL, yet they were subsequently included in the nova series. This is also the case for inscriptions originating from Rome in Diehl’s Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres (ILCV). The following data has been obtained through the analysis of a custom-built database. It contains all the relevant Christian inscriptions from Rome which have at least one of the following elements: the

Singles and Singleness



The provenance of these inscriptions is almost exclusively from the numerous catacombs located along the major roads leading to the city. The fact that these burial complexes were mostly underground and were at a later stage turned into places of worship, often accompanied by the construction of churches, has contributed considerably to their survival in such large quantities. As a result, this epigraphic sample offers an insight into the commemorative patterns and family structures of Rome’s early Christian communities. Chronologically, the inscriptions range from the beginning of the third to the middle of the seventh century CE. The vast majority, however, can be dated to a rather limited period, from the death of Constantine the Great to the first decades of the fifth century. As a result, it is possible to observe changes in family structures in the Late Antique metropolis, and at the same time reconstruct the social dynamics of the Christian communities during this period. Finally, and most importantly, the age of the deceased at the time of death is more frequently present in Christian inscriptions than in their non-Christian counterparts. Combining these biometric indications with the commemorative relationships enables us to reconstruct not only family structures but also at the same time the life course of both individuals and communities alike. This is vital with regard to the identification of singles in the epigraphic record, for the reconstruction of an ‘average’ life course allows for some cases that do not conform to the general pattern to be highlighted. There are, on the other hand, two important caveats that need to be considered in terms of the quantity and quality of the surviving epigraphic evidence. Looking at the numbers, though impressive at first glance, it is difficult to determine how representative this sample is for the city’s population, as it only reflects a fraction of the total epigraphic production from that period. The members of the social elite, who often opted for a



age at death, a commemorative relationship or the date of death. These are the three most common indications found in the Christian funerary evidence from Rome, besides the deceased’s name. If an inscription contains only the name of the deceased – whether or not with indications other than the three mentioned – it has been disregarded. The dataset itself contains , Latin, Greek and bilingual inscriptions. In total , individuals can be singled out in the surviving Christian funerary inscriptions from the city of Rome about whom at least one of the three elements – age, date of death, commemorative relationship – has survived. The vast majority of the inscriptions are in Latin (, = .%), a small number are in Greek (, = .%) and a handful are bilingual ( = .%). See Chart . The dramatic drop in numbers from  CE onwards is caused by the fact that catacombs were gradually abandoned. The traumatic Visigoth siege revealed that their location outside the Aurelian Walls was unsafe. Furthermore, there were more aboveground burials as a result of which the epitaphs were more prone to reuse and destruction in later times. See Mazzoleni : .



 

private burial location rather than inside the catacombs, are underrepresented. Slaves and freedmen are invisible due to the new Christian epigraphic habit, which would not emphasise the social status of the deceased. This difficulty of ascertaining the deceased’s social status is further hampered by the changes in onomastic habit, with many of the deceased having only one name instead of the tria nomina. In other words, except for those epitaphs that explicitly mention social status, the only possible deduction is that the commemorators were able to pay for both a burial place (loculus) and an epitaph (titulus). The second and perhaps most important point of attention is that funerary inscriptions should always be approached in terms of their primary function as a commemoration of the deceased. They contain only the specific information which the commemorator wanted to be remembered. They are snapshots of people’s lives at the precise moment of their deaths, which at best only allows for a partial reconstruction of the deceased’s life course and family structure. ‘Private’ epitaphs will thus never be on the same level as ‘official’ census documents. Ultimately, it was the privilege of the commemorator to include whatever information was deemed worthy of being inscribed and thus being eternalised. Finally, as a result of the nature of the epigraphic evidence, it is necessary that the terms ‘single’ and ‘singleness’, as intended in this chapter, are properly defined. Their usage is limited to those individuals of a marriageable age or older who were not in a spousal relationship at the time of their deaths, regardless of the state of singleness being voluntary or involuntary. The reason for this specific definition lies in the nature of funerary epigraphy. The relatively limited information contained within inscriptions means that certain categories of ‘singles’, such as divorcées, are virtually undetectable. This is due to the clear emphasis on marriage and a striking absence of indications about separation, divorce and remarriage. It should also be mentioned that in all but a few rare instances, it is impossible to ascertain the reason behind an individual’s state of singleness. Therefore, the focus will concentrate on people who deliberately, or for reasons beyond their control, were unmarried at the time of death. 





The only exceptions are inscriptions in which the deceased is styled as vir clarissimus, used to designate men of senatorial rank. Related forms were also bestowed upon their family members (e.g. clarissima femina). On the usage of the title, see Löhken  and Groß-Albenhausen . Kajanto . The gradual disappearance of the tria nomina in favour of an ‘einnamig’ onomastic formula had begun in the third century CE and was by no means a Christian novelty. See also Mazzoleni : –. See Huebner, in this volume.

Singles and Singleness



 Identifying Epigraphic Singles .

Maximilla, Sophrosyne and Vindicia

As a starting point for the analysis of singles present in the early Christian funerary inscriptions of Rome, it is worthwhile looking at three specific examples. The inscriptions of Maximilla, Sophrosyne and Vindicia reveal that all three women nowadays qualify as ‘singles’. This is evident from the details about their respective lives, recorded in their epitaphs. As a result, we are able to reconstruct the structure of their families and their life course, as well as to positively identify them as singles. A closer look at the inscriptions reveals the elements within their epitaphs that make such an assumption compelling. Maximilla’s tomb was located in the Catacomb of Saint Sebastian and can be dated to the year . The accompanying epitaph contains the eulogy for the fifty-year-old woman. She was Pannonian by birth and the daughter of a diaconus. Her commemorator, Lucceia, styled herself as the daughter of Viventius, a man of senatorial rank, former urban prefect in Rome and praetorian prefect of Gaul. Lucceia could also claim Pannonian origin through her father. Out of friendship and admiration for the deceased, she took it upon herself to bury Maximilla along with her mother, Nunita, who had passed away at the age of seventy. Maximilla is described as a ‘virgo’ and an ‘ancilla Dei’. In the inscription, she is also remembered for having professed an extraordinary faith in God and for having led an exemplary Christian lifestyle. Both these indications and the absence of a spousal commemorative relationship allow us to deduce



 

CIL VI,  = ICUR V, : Maximilla poten[s servare federa C]˹rh˺isti propositumque fidem mors abstulit omnia vitae sed melius vivit vitam Cristi qui sperat eternam si animo recolat fidem / datam omn[ibus] unam tunc poterit mors ipsa mori cum tempore toto vita perennis eri˹t˺ veniam dabit omnibus unam sed meritis / [ve]˹c˺etans su[per h]anc Lucceia fecisti nam m˹e˺mor ipsa tui cum reddis vota sepulcri ostendes mentem religiosa vita repleta mirae fide / et innocentiae optimique propositi Maximilla virgo ancilla dei civis Pannonia que / vixit annis n(umero) L huic sepulturae condita est a {L} Lucceia c (larissima) f(emina) filia Viventi c(larissimae) r(ecordationis) v(iri) ex praefecto / pretorio et urbis aeternae prop˹te˺r amicitiam sibi coniuntam que diem clusit una cum matre / sua pariter Nunita que fuit matrona diaconis et vixit annis n(umero) LXX die IIII Non(as) Octobr(es) FFll(aviis) / Timasio et Promoto vv(viris) cc(larissimis) conss(ulibus). PLRE I s.v. Viventius. Brown : – as an example of a consecrated virgin known to us solely through the epigraphic evidence. Note that Brown has the name of the commemorator incorrectly rendered as Ucceia and refers to her wrongfully as the wife of Viventius; Borg :  on the so-called Mausoleum of Viventius; Sághy : – on the existence of a Pannonian cemetery in the Catacomb of Saint Sebastian.



 

that she had never married during her life, but instead had opted for a life of consecrated virginity. The example of Sophrosyne and Vindicia is less well known, yet it reveals two singles within the same family. Originally located in the Catacomb of Praetextatus, the epitaph can be dated to the year . It contains, in the form of a metrical inscription, a commemoration by Cassia Vindicia, the daughter of Cassius Vindicius. She fulfilled the last wishes of her aunt, Cassia Sophrosyne, to bury her remains next to those of her brother, Vindicius. Her aunt wanted this because she deeply admired her brother’s conduct in life. Vindicia styled herself as a ‘virgo Deo dedicata’, her aunt as a ‘virgo sacra’ and respectable for her abstinence. Although there is no indication regarding the age of the deceased, it seems probable that Sophrosyne was already past the age at which she would have been sought-after as a bride. As it appears, both Sophrosyne and her niece, Vindicia, had voluntarily opted for a life of consecrated virginity in the service of God. These three cases of single individuals are, without any doubt, invaluable. They offer us insights into the lives of three single women living in the city of Rome at the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth century CE. Unfortunately, these examples of detailed funerary inscriptions are exceedingly rare, even in this vast epigraphic sample. Furthermore, all three are distinctly similar to one another, but also to the more illustrious single women mentioned in the literary tradition. We are clearly dealing with single females whose choice of being single appears to have been largely based upon religious motivations. In addition, all three were members of the social and economic elite. In a way, Maximilla, Sophrosyne and Vindicia were not that different from Paula, Marcella or Demetrias, yet they had ‘no Jerome to make [them] famous’. It seems almost unfair that their absence from the latter’s ascetic propaganda has denied them a place in history. The cases of Maximilla, Sophrosyne and Vindicia reveal that the most visible examples of singles in the Christian epigraphic evidence are 

 

ICUR V, : Hoc tumulo continetur religiosa germa/nitas Cassiorum Vindici vite probabilis / et Sofrosynes sacre virgines venerabilis / continentia deniq(ue) vix frater ad ma/turitatem veniens annos institu/to superavit adeo ut suos cinere/s soror laude precepua sepulcro / eius poscere adgregari quod san/ ctum et spiritale desiderium post obi/tum utriusque parilis propositi deo dica/ta virgo Vindicia patris et amite procu/ravit die pr(idie) Idus Aprilis dd(ominis) nn(ostris) Arcadio V / et Ho(no)rio V.  Janssens : . Brown : . Kurdock . This was the case with Anicia Demetrias, whose mother and grandmother sought the advice of both Jerome and Pelagius on the practical aspects of becoming and being a virgin dedicated to God. Similarly, Katz  on the education of the young Paula.

Singles and Singleness



consecrated virgins belonging the social elite. It proves, however, impossible to generalise about this particular form of single life among the other social strata of Rome’s population in the fourth and fifth century CE. On the other hand, their scarcity and apparent homogeneity notwithstanding, these examples are of paramount importance for illustrating how singles or potential singles can be identified in the epigraphic evidence. In all three cases, a number of words or indications are found that are undeniably associated with single life. Furthermore, any reference to a spousal relationship is absent. The level of detail present in both inscriptions suggests that if Maximilla, Sophrosyne and Vindicia were married, there would be an indication of their marital status, either implicit or explicit. Therefore, if we want to ascertain the presence of other single individuals in the epigraphic evidence originating from the Roman catacombs, both these elements need to be analysed in detail. . Less Is More: Epigraphic Brevity and Self-commemoration The fact that an individual was single can be mentioned both explicitly, through the use of specific terminology, and implicitly, through the absence of a spousal relationship. The latter is by far the more numerous. Many epitaphs contain only the name of the deceased, and thus implicitly also their gender, along with other funerary terminology or formulaic expressions. The majority lack an explicit indication of the relationship between deceased and commemorator or other individuals. The premise that this absence of commemorative relationship indicates that the deceased was single at the time of death is, of course, unsustainable. It rather implies that the commemorator considered additional information irrelevant and not worthy of mentioning. Although it cannot be excluded that among these inscriptions there are actual singles, the impossibility of ascertaining the marital status of the deceased due to the lack of additional indications renders these cases unsuitable for the present study. An interesting group of inscriptions reveals that the deceased could have made arrangements for their own commemoration. These selfcommemorations are indicated by the presence of sibi and/or se vivus/a. These arrangements could sometimes also include one or more relatives of



ICUR I,  (= ICUR VI,  = ILCV ) Possibly ICUR V,  and e, although in both inscriptions the age has not been preserved.



 

the self-commemorating individual. In most cases, however, there is no trace of other individuals and their relationship to the deceased, nor of their involvement in these funerary arrangements. In the Christian epigraphic evidence from Rome, there are eighty-eight such cases of male and sixty-five cases of female self-commemoration. It would, of course, be tempting to identify these individuals as singles. The question whether this is the case is problematic due to the lack of additional information. Most importantly, the age at death is hardly ever mentioned in these inscriptions. This should not come as a surprise, as these inscriptions were made before the deaths of these selfcommemorating individuals. Planning one’s own funeral and burial implies that one had reached the age at which such arrangements could be personally made. Furthermore, it is conceivable that the selfcommemoration was driven by the fact that there was no one else to perform these arrangements. One of the possible reasons for this is that the deceased was single at the time of death. However, without any certainty regarding the true motive for taking matters into one’s own hands, these cases ought to be considered with the greatest caution. The presence of singles in these cases of individual self-commemoration can neither be excluded nor confirmed. . Terminological Approach The search for implicit singles has thus far proved rather disappointing. The examples of Maximilla, Sophrosyne and Vindicia illustrate that there is an alternative approach. Specific terminology which is either intrinsically associated with or which can hint at the individual being single could potentially reveal a number of single individuals. The difficulty of this method lies in determining what terms indicate a ‘single’ person. If a commemorator wanted to highlight that the deceased was single, what terminology would have been available to express this social situation? The most obvious choice, to begin with, is the use of the word caelebs. Although it is frequently encountered in legal sources, its use in nonChristian inscriptions is almost exclusively limited to military diplomas. Among the privileges granted to veterans, it appears in the formula   

An example of this habit is ICUR V, . In this particular instance the dedicator, Aurelius Sosibius, made the monument for himself, his wife and his daughter. As has been convincingly evidenced by Laes in his introduction to this volume. On the definition and use of caelebs by ancient authors, see Laes, in this volume, pp. –.

Singles and Singleness



conubium cum uxoribus quas tunc habuissent cum est civitas iis data aut si qui caelibes essent cum iis quas postea duxissent. In the surviving Latin Christian inscriptions, it only appears twice: in a dedicatory inscription from Spain from the mid-sixth century in which the bishop Justinianus is described as being ‘caelebs’, and in a funerary inscription from Southern Gaul, for a young woman named Celsa, dated to  CE. There are, however, no occurrences of this term among the Christian funerary inscriptions from Rome, which seems to suggest that caelebs was not a term utilised in funerary epigraphy from Rome. This absence is duplicated in the use of the Greek equivalents, agamos/ἄγαμος, anandros/ἄνανδρος and eïtheos/ἠίθεος. The feminine vidua can also be used in order to denote an unmarried woman, as is clear from passages in Livy and Seneca, and from the Digest. In Christian epigraphy, it is nearly impossible to assess whether vidua is to be interpreted in the particular sense of ‘unmarried’. Of the thirty-six viduae present in the surviving evidence, there are eleven women whose age is mentioned, ranging from  to . In most cases, the viduae are over  years old. For over a third of the viduae, there is a reference to a spousal relationship in the form of the length of marriage, the use of univir(i)a, or the relationship between deceased and commemorator, e.g. children commemorating their deceased widowed mother. For the other ‘widows’, a marriage reference is either lacking, or the inscriptions have survived in a fragmentary state. There is only one case where a vidua might be single. This leads us to conclude that the term reflects the fact that the women in question lived to a considerable age and suggests, either explicitly or implicitly, that these widows would not remarry. The legal    

 



Phang , for a detailed study on the military diplomas and the implications of the status of caelebs. In Greek diplomas, the term agamos/ἄγαμος is used. CIL II/,  = ILCV  = CLEHisp : . . . Iustinianus caelebs pontifex sacer[dos] . . . CLE  = ILCV : . . . nomine Celsa hic / corpus caelebem nam / spiritum caelo refudit / almo . . . Liv. ..: se rectius viduam et illum caelibem futurum fuisse contendere quam cum impari iungi; Sen. Her. Fur. –: non vicit illum caelibis semper tori / regina gentis vidua Thermodontiae. From these passages it seems that vidua would be the female equivalent of (the masculine) caelebs; Dig. ...: (Labeo): “viduam” non solum eam, quae aliquando nupta fuisset, sed eam quoque mulierem, quae virum non habuisset, appellari ait Labeo: quia vidua sic dicta est quasi vecors, vesanus, qui sine corde aut sanitate esset: similiter viduam dictam esse sine duitate. See Table . There are only four examples of younger widows who are styled as such (ICUR I, ; ICUR II, ; ICUR V,  and ICUR VII, , aged , ,  and  respectively). Of these four examples, two were married, whereas for the other two any implicit or explicit indication is missing. ICUR I, : The deceased is styled as a vidua Dei; however, due to the destitute content of the epitaph it is unclear whether this should be interpreted as ‘having been married, but dedicated her life to God after having been widowed’ or as ‘never married, thus “single” and dedicated to God’. Furthermore, this inscription is the only known occurrence of a vidua Dei, and it is therefore even more problematic to unravel its true nature.



 

sense of vidua as the feminine equivalent of caelebs is unattested in the Christian epigraphic evidence. It should be noted that the Greek equivalent chera/χήρα has only one occurrence in the ICUR and refers to an actual widow commemorated by her daughter. Finally, it is worth pointing out that the masculine form is found if rarely, but relates only to men ‘bereft of their spouse’ (i.e. a widower). Thus, this term in epitaphs refers to singles who had been married, but whose spouse died before them – a usage rather different from that found in the literary texts, which use this word to refer to a caelebs. Since there is no one-to-one accordance of a specific term with the notion of ‘single’, other terminology needs to be considered. It is necessary to broaden the search by looking at concepts that are closely related to that of singleness. One of these concepts intrinsically associated with single life is that of virginity. The Latin virgo often appears in the Christian evidence, mostly for women but also for a small number of men. Its Greek counterpart parthenos/παρθένος, on the other hand, is only attested for women. In the epigraphic record, virgo occurs as a qualification for girls and young women up to the age of , with a few notable exceptions. In total, there are seventy-two female virgines, of whom only three can be ascertained to have been married. If both age at death and the commemorative relationship are combined, it is possible to identify a number of cases in which these virgins are almost certainly singles. The number of male virgines totals eight, and they are aged between  and . One of them was married. These figures suggest that in most cases the virgines are      



ICUR IX, : [Φλαβί]α ᾿Αρκὰς χήρα ἥτις / [ἔζησε]ν αἴτη πε´ μετρὶ / [γλυκυ]τάτῃ Φλαβία Θεοφίλα θυγάτηρ ἐποίησεν. In fact, there is only one widower attested (ICUR IV, ) in the Christian inscriptions from Rome. It is much less frequently found in non-Christian Latin inscriptions. On the semantic evolution of virgo in Classical Latin prose and poetry, see Watson . See Table . ILCV ; ICUR II,  and ICUR V,   (the virgines are aged ,  and  respectively). The most remarkable is ICUR II,  = ICUR VI, , which contains a commemoration for the -year old Victoria by her parents. She is styled both as virgo and sanctissima filia. It seems very likely that Victoria was in fact single at the time of her death. For the other remaining older virgines (ICUR III, a (aged ); ICUR IX,  (aged ); ICUR VIII,  (aged ) and ICUR VII,  (aged )), with the exception of Maximilla, there is no commemorative relationship mentioned in the inscription. Therefore, it is impossible to determine whether virgo should be interpreted as ‘single’ in these cases. ICUR IV, : Dilectissimo marito anime dulcissime Alexio lectori / de Fullonices qui vixit mecum ann(os) XV iunctus mihi ann(orum) XVI / virgo ad virgine cuius nunquam amartudinem h(a)bui / cesce in pace cum sanctis cum quos mereris / dep(ositus) VIIIX Kal(endas) Ianu(arias). Note that the widow describes herself also as a virgo.

Singles and Singleness



indeed singles and that their denomination as ‘virgins’ highlight the fact that they never were in any form of relationship. Yet, given the presence of married virgines, it cannot be excluded that this term could also be used as an epithet underlining the chaste, albeit married, lifestyle of the deceased. Closely related to virgo are the Latin terms virginius and its feminine counterpart, virginia. Both, however, refer almost exclusively to married people. Their use is very rare in pagan inscriptions, and both terms seem to be a novelty introduced into the epigraphic tradition by Christian communities. The term virginius/a is used as a synonym for coniunx, compar, maritus and uxor, which seems to stress, or at least clearify, that the deceased or commemorator had been a virgin at the time of marriage. In other words, for the deceased or the commemorator, it was the first marriage. The same also applies to the Greek parthenikos/παρθενικός and parthenike/παρθενική. A specific category are the virgins dedicated to God, the so-called virgines Dei. This group consists exclusively of women who dedicated their lives to God, whilst abstaining from any other relationship. The examples of Maximilla, Sophrosyne and Vindicia fall in this category. They are not styled as mere virgines, but as a virgo Dei, virgo Dei dedicata and virgo sacra respectively. Yet, unlike the ‘ordinary’ virgines, those explicitly committed to God are relatively rare. Besides the already mentioned examples of Maximilla, Sophrosyne and Vindicia, there are only five other identifiable consecrated virgins whose age at death is known. Perhaps the most interesting among these is the epitaph of Lucilla. Though only fragmentarily preserved, it reveals a virgo Dei who died at the age of  and is described as an unica parens pauperum. In other words, she was not only unmarried, but she cared as a mother for the poor. The inscription is remarkable in that Lucilla as virgo Dei rejected traditional family life, yet at the same time, she fulfilled the role of parens for the poor, renouncing the riches of this world. Although the evidence suggests that the dedicated virgins were styled as such only after they had reached a certain age, the example of Capitolina Concordia seems to contradict this notion. Her age is not recorded, but she is described as both a totius innocentiae puella and a virgo Dei, which    

See Janssens : –. Laes  offers a detailed studied of the presence of male virgins in the surviving epigraphic evidence. See Table . ICUR VII,  = ICUR VII, : benemerenti Lucilla[e virgi]/ni dei quae fuit in corp[ore suo] / ann(is) XXXVIIII unica par[ens paupe]/rum et [—] / [—]



 

possibly reveals a more affectionate usage of the latter. Perhaps the most astonishing inscription is that of Ioviniana, who is described as a virgo sanctae memoriae, but at the same time was a mother and a wife. Both these cases suggest that although the majority of dedicated virgins were indeed singles, there is in some cases a less strict definition of a virgo Dei. Similar to the ‘virgins of God’ are the deceased styled as servi or ancillae Dei or Christi. The evidence, however, suggests that this epithet is referring to the religious devotion of the deceased, rather than to the conscious ascetic lifestyle associated with the virgines Dei. This is noticeable in an inscription by Pope Damasus in which he styles himself a servus Dei when piously remembering a group of martyrs. Of the twenty-one servi Dei present in the ICUR, the age has been preserved for three of them. Only one of these three can be ascertained to have been married. For the other seventeen individuals, it cannot be established whether these cases should be considered as potential singles, or if the indication servus Dei is a purely commemorative epithet, with no reference whatsoever to the deceased’s marital status. The occurrences of the feminine ancilla Dei are more revealing in that in three of the thirty-six cases the deceased women are actually married. Furthermore, in twelve instances the age of death is mentioned, telling us that the term was used almost exclusively for an adult  





 



ICUR III, : Capitolina Con/cordia totius / innocentiae / puella virgo d(ei). ICUR V,  = ILCV  = AE , : [Redem]pto(?) fil(io) q(ui) vix(it) an(nos) p(lus) m (inus) XI d(epositus) in p(ace) / [co]ns(ulatu) Marcellini et Probini item Io/[viniana sanctae m](e)m (oriae) virgo que vix(it) an(nos) p(lus) m(inus) XLI fuit mihi / in con[ducto an(nos)] p(lus) m(inus) XXIIII d(eposita) in p(ace) d(ie) VI Kal(endas) Mart(ias) cons(ulatu) / Aman[ti et Al]bini. It should, however, be noted that the epithet sanctae memoriae is usually reserved for priests (presbyteri) and bishops (episcopi). ICUR IX,  = ILCV a: [Beatissi]morum martyrum cultor / [inc]ola nunc Christi fuerat Carthaginis an[te] / tempore quo gladius secuit pia viscera matris / sanguine mutavit patriam nomenq (ue) genusq(ue) / Romanum civem sanctorum fecit origo / mira fides rerum docuit post exitus ingens / cum lacerat pia membra fremit Gratianus ut hostis / postea quam fellis vomuit concepta venena / cogere non potuit Chr(istu)m te sancte negare / ipse tuis precibus meruit confessus abire / supplicis haec Damasi vox est venerare sepulcrum / solvere vota licet castasq(ue) effundere preces / sancti Saturnini tumulus quia martyris hic est / Saturnine tibi martyr mea vota rependo / Damasus episcopus servus dei. ICUR II, ; ICUR II,  and ICUR VIII, . The first two examples are infants (aged one and two respectively), whereas the third one is a twenty-four-year-old, commemorated by his father without any mention of marriage in the epitaph. Therefore, it is impossible to ascertain whether this individual was single or not. ICUR II, : the inscription contains a reference to the deceased coniux. The indication servus Dei is sometimes used in inscriptions left by late antique and early medieval worshippers. In these cases, of course, this concept refers to a purely devotional relationship and does not allude to a single state of the individual. ICUR II, ; ICUR I,  (= ICUR VI, ) and ICUR I,  (= ILCV  = CLE ). For the first two cases, the age at death has been preserved ( and  respectively), as well an indication of their marital status. The third example can only be identified as having been married (or at least not having been single), as there is a mention of a child whom she is leaving behind.

Singles and Singleness



woman aged  or older. The lack of other indications regarding the marital status of the majority of these servants of God makes it difficult to identify these woman as singles. The sole exception seems to be Maximilla, described as both a virgo and an ancilla Dei. The occurrences of the Greek doulos theou/δοῦλος θεοῦ and doule theou/δούλη θεοῦ are rare, but they confirm the religious connotation of the concept, rather than hinting at the marital status of the deceased. Similar to the ‘servants of God’ is the concept of clerical celibacy. A life dedicated to serving God within the framework of the Church could imply that one had to abstain from marriage and from having one’s own family, and is, therefore, to be considered single. The present-day concept of celibacy is based on the assumption that a cleric never engages in a (sexual) relationship. In the fourth and fifth centuries, the situation was rather more complex. In Rome and Italy in general, marriage was not formally prohibited for members of the clergy. Celibacy, intended as sexual continence for both married and unmarried clergymen, was promoted through the works of many Christian authors of the time. However, at no point in time during this period was there any attempt to ban marriage for all members of the clergy. This picture also emerges from the surviving inscriptions from Rome. A number of clergymen are indeed commemorating their deceased wives or children, but for the majority of the presbyteri and diaconi known through the epigraphic record, no such indications were included or survived. Their absence, however, does not necessarily imply that they were single. There is no indication whatsoever in a number of surviving cases that the commemorative pattern for clergymen was substantially different from the other social groups living in Rome at that time. As a result, the fact that the deceased served as a member of the clergy cannot help to identify singles present among the Christian inscriptions from Rome. If we move away from the religiously motivated forms of singleness, evidenced in the epigraphic documents, it becomes apparent that other terminology also needs to be considered. One concept that is regularly opposed to married adult life is that of innocent youthfulness. There are



 

Seven men (ICUR III, ; ICUR IV, ; ICUR V, ; ICUR IX, ; ICUR VII,  and ICUR X, ), of whom one was married (ICUR IV,  (=ICUR IV, )), and three women (ICUR I, ; ICUR I,  and ICUR IV, ).  Brown  and Abbott . Hunter  offers an excellent overview on the matter. See Table . Note that in most instances it is the commemorator who styles himself as a member of the clergy whilst remembering the deceased member(s) of his family.



 

quite a few inscriptions in which the deceased is described as puer or puella, and to a lesser extent as iuvenis. In most cases, it appears as an epithet for children commemorated by their parents. There are, however, instances in which the terminology is used for adults. In the ICUR there are sixty-seven pueri with a recorded age at death, of whom fifteen are over  years old. The eldest is  years old and, interestingly, is the only case of a married puer. Of the fifty-six puellae with recorded ages, almost half are older than  years of age and a third older than . The oldest was  years old at the time of her death. There are six cases of married puellae. These figures suggest that puer was limited to young boys, save a few exceptions, whereas the use of puella could also be extended as an affectionate epithet for young women, either married or single. The occurrences of iuvenis and the concept of iuventus in the Christian inscriptions are rare and limited to men. There are only six instances where the age at death has been recorded, yet it is uncertain whether these individuals were married. In four instances iuvenis is used for young men aged between  and . The other two cases are striking in that the term appears for mature adult men, aged  and  respectively. The former is being commemorated by his parents, and it thus seems plausible that he was actually single. In Greek inscriptions, epithets referring to children are, with the exception of teknon/τέκνον, relatively rare. Pais/παῖς, the equivalent of the Latin puer / puella, is only attested once with age at death for a one-year-old girl. Furthermore, there are no occurrences of neanias/νεανίας among the Greek inscriptions. The analysis, however, of the tekna/τέκνα with recorded age at death reveals that this term was not exclusively used for young children, but in some cases also for young adults. In all, there are five such cases of older ‘children’, aged between  and . All seem to   



  



 Laes and Strubbe . On the semantics of puella, see Watson . Laes . See Tables  (pueri) and  (puellae). ICUR VII, : Flaviis Lupicino et Iobi/no conss(ulibus) VII Idus Iunias / decesset de seculum / puer Victorinus qui / bixit annus XXXVII m(enses) X / d(ies) X et cum uxsore / fecit anus II m(enses) III / d(e)p (ositus) V Idus Iunias vene/merenti in pace. ICUR I, : puella Porfyria que vixit / annos XXXIII menses VI / dies XXVI quiescit in pace. Unfortunately, no commemorative relationship or other details have been recorded in order to determine Porfyria’s marital status. ICUR I,  (aged ); ICUR V,  (aged ); ICUR III,  (aged ); ICUR II,  (aged ); ICUR I,  (aged ) and ICUR V,  (age not preserved).  See Table . ICUR III,  and ICUR III, . ICUR V, : Συνφέρουσ[α παῖς] / ἐνιαυσία γεν[ομένη] / κ(ὶ) εἰοῖς αὐγ[ούστ(αις)] / ἀπέδωκεν [γ]λυκυ/τάτη μου. It should be noted, however, that no evidence is provided for the supplemented text. See Table .

Singles and Singleness



be commemorated by their parents, and one teknon/τέκνον is actually married. The presence of this married child suggests that the use of the term can have an affectionate connotation, rather than implying that the deceased is single. This terminological search has offered some promising results, but at the same time has revealed the limitation of such an approach. We are unfortunately at the mercy of the commemorator’s ‘goodwill’. Only a specific reference by the latter, whether deliberate or not, enables us to identify the deceased as a (potential) single. Yet in most cases, the terminology is vague and ambiguous. Apart from a mere handful of other examples, it illustrates that consecrated virgins, elderly women styled as virgins, and widows are the only single individuals discernible in the epigraphic evidence. These findings are in line with the above-mentioned examples of Maximilla, Sophrosyne and Vindicia. Given the rather modest number of identifiable singles – almost exclusively women – it is clear that this can only represent a fraction of the total number of singles that are present, yet hidden in the epigraphic evidence. If better results are to be obtained, a different method needs to be considered in order to establish the presence of groups of individuals that were likely or almost certainly singles at the time of their deaths. . Demographic Approach The previous paragraphs have revealed that singles are either referred to obliquely, or remain hidden among the surviving inscriptions. There is another angle to approach the question of how singles can be identified in the epigraphic evidence. Rather than searching for the presence of specific terminology, we should focus our attention to the commemoration of married individuals. Familial relationships of the deceased and biometric indications are both commonly present in early Christian funerary inscriptions. Based on a quantitative study of all the Christian inscriptions from Rome containing both these elements, the average life course of both married men and women can be reconstructed. Once these patterns have been established, it will be possible to apply this to all inscriptions 



ICUR IV, : Χρυσάνθη τέκνον / γλυκύτατον / ἐτῶν κβ´ καὶ μη/νῶν ε´ / [ἐ]ποίησαν γον[εῖς] / [κα]ὶ σύμβιος. As is clear from the inscription, Chrysanthe was commemorated both by her parents and her widowed husband. In the data set used for this study, the age at death has been preserved in the funerary inscriptions of , individuals, whilst the commemorative relationship appears in , cases. The presence of both these elements is attested for , individuals.



 

containing at least one of these elements. It will allow us to determine the likelihood of having been either married or single, based on the fact whether an individual or group of individuals meet specific criteria. This can be achieved by taking the definition of singleness, intended in this chapter as ‘not being in a spousal relationship at the time of death’, as the starting point. From this definition two necessary requirements can be deduced which potential singles need to meet: (a) having reached or passed the marriageable age at the time of death, and (b) not being in a spousal relationship at that time. Thus, the chances that an individual is likely to have been single at the time of death increase considerably if the latter’s funerary inscription (a) lacks any reference to a spousal relationship, (b) contains a biometric element evidencing the fact that the marriageable age has been reached or passed, and (c) preferably contains other non-spousal relationships to the commemorators. In terms of identifying potential singles, it is necessary to define the atfirst-glance vague concept of ‘marriageable age’. In other words, it needs to be established from what age an individual is more likely to have been ‘(un)happily single’, rather than ‘not having found the right person yet’. In order to achieve the reconstruction of the average life course, it is necessary to determine the ages between which marriage would usually take place for both men and women. The starting point of this approach is the mean age at marriage for both men and women in the Roman world. Much ink has been spilt in the scholarly debate on this subject matter. Keith Hopkins’s groundbreaking study proposed a very young age for the first marriage for girls, very close to the minimum legal age of twelve, as described in Roman law. On the other hand, a later age has been suggested, since the epigraphic evidence reveals that marriage did not always occur at these early ages. Saller was the first one to claim – using a large epigraphic sample from Rome – that for men it occurred later in life than had previously been assumed. The social status of the bride and groom played a major role, as a younger age was more common among the elite, whereas marriage occurred at a later age in the lower social classes. In recent years, however, the methodology of such demographic studies has been criticised, and a younger age has

  

With regard to early Christian Rome, the debate has focused both on the surviving legal sources (Evans Grubbs  and Nathan ) and on the epigraphic evidence.  Hopkins . Shaw ; Treggiari b; Harlow and Laurence . Saller .

Singles and Singleness



again been proposed for both men and women. The debate, however, is by no means settled. With regard to the Christian inscriptions from Rome, the study by Carletti is still the standard. It is suggested that for women, marriage would take place between the ages of  and , and for men between the ages of  and . Carletti’s study predates the publication of four ICUR volumes (VII to X). If all volumes are included, the analysis of all the inscriptions in which both the age of death and the length of marriage are mentioned (excluding those inscriptions in which one or both of these biometrical indications have been partially preserved) offers the following results. The mean age at which women were married was . years (Carletti: . years), whereas men got married at . years (Carletti: . years). If the mode is taken into account, half of all women in the sample were married before the age of , whereas for half of all men this would be the case by the age of . If only those inscriptions with both age at death and length of marriage are considered, the numbers for both women and men are rather low. This scarcity reduces the statistical value of these inscriptions considerably. One of the consequences is that the rounding of numbers, frequently found in biometric indications, to multiples of five and ten has a major impact. In order to reduce this effect, a curve denoting the floating average can render the spread more evenly. The data thus reveals that women would, in general, marry between the ages of  and . Almost nine out of every ten married women would have done so by this age. For men, the time span is situated between the ages of  and . Almost % of married men would be married by that age. From these figures, it is clear that the ‘window of opportunity’ for men and women would have been a  





 Lelis et al. . Scheidel  provides an excellent discussion on the matter. Carletti . It should be mentioned that this study is restricted to the Christian inscriptions from Rome. For his study Carletti has used the first six volumes of the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae nova series (ICUR ns), E. Diehl’s Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres (ILCV), including the supplement by J. Moreau and H. I. Marrou, and the Sylloge Inscriptionum Christianarum Veterum Musei Vaticani by H. Zilliacus. An earlier study by Nordberg (), using the inscriptions from the first three ICUR ns volumes, has generated the same results. One major drawback in Carletti’s contribution is the lack of any selection criteria for the inscriptions that have been included in the data set. There are  inscriptions for women and  for men based on these criteria. These numbers are actually lower than Carletti’s totals (women T=, men T=), even though his sample is smaller than the one used for the current study. As already mentioned, Carletti did not explain on what basis an inscription was included in the data set. The fact that the complete list of inscriptions is not included in his contribution makes it impossible to ascertain which criteria have been adopted by Carletti. See Chart .



 

period of about fifteen years. Furthermore, it also reveals that on average there would have been an average age difference of about seven years in most marriages. The figures obtained through the analysis of this small sample of inscriptions do not include those cases in which only the age at death of married individuals is mentioned. These inscriptions are, of course, far more numerous than the ones with both length of marriage and the age at death. It is possible to analyse the proportion between commemoration by one or both of the parents and commemoration by the surviving husband or wife. The pattern shifts towards a majority of spousal commemoration for women by the age of , which is two years earlier than the mean age of marriage. For men, this transition would occur by the age of , which coincides with the mean age of marriage. The shift towards an almost exclusive spousal commemoration takes place more quickly for women than it does for men. There is an important caveat which concerns the shift in commemorative patterns. Husbands who died in their late teens and early twenties were more likely to be commemorated by their parents (or another relative) given the probability that their wives would have been very young. A number of young men could, as a result, be wrongly considered to be singles. This phenomenon would have been rare for young wives because their husband was older and more likely to have been well placed to create a tomb or epitaph. The question remains, however, whether this data means that the mean age of marriage should be lowered to  for women whilst being maintained at  for men. The problem is that those inscriptions with only the age at death are not to be interpreted as ‘married at that age’ but as ‘married by that age’. It is thus impossible to assess whether, for example, a husband who passed away at the age of  had been married for one year or for ten years. This, of course, means that the mean age of marriage, or what was socially regarded as the appropriate age for marriage, must have been lower than that derived from the analysis of those inscriptions with both the age at death and the date of marriage. A final step that allows us to reach the mean age at marriage of women and men as closely as possible is to calculate how many years, on average, people were married around the age at which the aforementioned  

See Chart . The major shift starts at the age of  and tends to stagnate at . This seems to suggest that the window of opportunity was a period of ten years. See also Chart . See Chart . The data suggests that the most likely age to get married was between  and . In other words, men seem to have had more time to commit themselves. See also Chart .

Singles and Singleness



commemorative shift appears. For women, the data suggests that the deceased - to -year-old spouses had been married on average for one and a half years. Therefore, the mean age for women would have been  to . For men, the amount of data for the - to -year-old is too insignificant for any solid claim, but it should be assumed that it was at least as high as the one and half years for girls, thus putting the mean age of marriage at  to , but possibly earlier. From the above-mentioned data, however, it can with a fair amount of certainty be assumed that girls married in their mid- to late teens, whereas boys would marry in their early to mid-twenties. However, a specific age is needed in order to determine which individuals whose epitaph has survived are likely to have been single, or at least for whom the probability would have been relatively high. The three methodological approaches (age at marriage, shift in commemorative pattern and length of marriage at death) described above have each resulted in different mean ages of marriage, as well as a lower and an upper limit. It is necessary to look at the lowest estimated mean age of marriage, based upon the largest number of inscriptions (age  for women, age  for men). Then, the mean age at marriage as derived from those inscriptions with both the age at death and the length of marriage should be considered (age  for women, age  for men). Finally, the upper limit denoting the age at which the vast majority of individuals should have been married needs to be looked at more closely (age  for women, age  for men). If these ages are applied to the commemorative pattern mentioned in the epitaphs, a number of potential singles can be identified if (a) they are older than the mean age of marriage, and (b) they are commemorated in a non-spousal relationship, i.e. by anyone other than their spouses or direct descendants. The data suggest that for the lower estimate (women aged over  and men aged over ) almost two out of every ten women and nearly three out of every ten men could have been single at the time of death. The middle and upper figures result, of course, in lower percentages. For a mean age at marriage of  years for women and  for men, one out every seven women and one out of every four men were commemorated in a non-spousal relationship and were therefore more likely to have been single at the time of death. Finally, if the conservative upper limit of age  for women and age  for men is considered, one in ten women and one in seven men was commemorated by someone other than their spouse or direct descendants. 

See Tables  and .



 

In the case of singles, we can disregard the numbers for the lower and middle estimates. Not having been married by the mean age of marriage does not equate with being single. The focus should be on those men and women who were not married by the age at which most of their peers would have been in a spousal relationship. Among the % of women and % of men in a non-spousal commemorative relationship, there will have been, without any doubt, a number of singles. Some never got married, others were divorced and did not remarry. There are most certainly also widows and widowers not described as such in their funerary inscriptions. It is, however, clear that a number of singles will remain ‘hidden’ among the thousands of surviving inscriptions, since most are lacking the necessary information in order to determine the deceased’s marital status. On the other hand, in this group of individuals with a non-spousal commemorative relationship above the upper age limit of marriage, there will be some married individuals who were being commemorated by someone other than their spouses or direct descendants. Unfortunately, when trying to determine how large that number might have been, we hit the limitations of the epigraphic record. The main aim of a funerary inscription was not to inform relatives or occasional passers-by of the marital status of the deceased, unlike census returns. Therefore, we can only make assumptions about the deceased’s lives, with the odd exceptions of Maximilla, Sophrosyne and Vindicia, and the other specific examples discussed in this chapter. The absence of surviving census-related documents for Rome makes epigraphy ‘the next best thing’, despite its limitations.

 Conclusion This chapter has tried to identify singles present within the surviving Christian epigraphic evidence from Rome. A number of different approaches have been applied to this large sample, with varying success. The lack of spousal commemoration by itself and instances of selfcommemoration, even when combined with biometric indications, are by no means a condicio sine qua non for classifying an individual as ‘single’. Though more promising from the onset and more successful, a specific keyword-based search in order to achieve the identification of singles has similarly proven to be unsatisfactory. This is due to the lack of proper terminology covering the concept of a ‘single’ as a man or woman at a marriageable age or older, yet unmarried at the time of death. Only the analysis of the virgines and ancillae Dei, the elderly virgines and

Singles and Singleness



widows within the epigraphic record has revealed, with a reasonable amount of certainty, the presence of a number of female consecrated virgins living as singles within the city of Rome. These individual cases supplement other similar examples that have been handed down through literary traditions. It would, however, be a step too far to generalise this form of singleness as the only viable alternative to married life in early Christian Rome. An alternative demographic approach has been proposed and explored in this chapter. Its starting point is the reconstruction of the normal life course from youth into adulthood, with marriage being the point of no return. A statistical analysis of inscriptions containing the age at death and the length of marriage has made it possible to determine an accurate estimate of the average age at marriage for both men and women in the city of Rome during the fourth and fifth century CE. As a result, it has been possible to highlight those records that do not seem to fit the general pattern. These are individuals in a non-spousal commemorative relationship past the average age at marriage. This leads to the creation of a pool of potential and likely singles. Even though it is impossible to ascertain for each individual whether they were, in fact, single, this demographic approach has outlined the biometric and commemorative profile of deceased individuals with a high probability of having been single at the time of death. The presence of other singles is thus evidenced, and therefore offers a new view on singleness among Rome’s populace at that time.

Appendix

a) Charts Chronological Distribution of Dated Inscriptions 35

30

Frequency

25

20

15

10

5

0 250 260 270 280 290 300 310 320 330 340 350 360 370 380 390 400 410 420 430 440 450 460 470 480 490 500 510 520 530 540 550 560 570 580 590 600 610 620 Year Absolute Numbers

Chart 

Moving Average per Decade

Chronological distribution of dated inscriptions





Singles and Singleness Age at Marriage

18

Age at Marriage - Female n = 82 Mean = 19.82 years Median = 17 years Mode = 17 years SD = 7.07 years

16 14

Percentage

12

Age at Marriage - Male n = 50 Mean = 26.16 years Median = 25 years Mode = 23 years SD = 7 .96 years

10 8 6 4 2 0

9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 Age at marriage Female - Absolute Figures

Chart 

Male - Absolute Figures

Female - Floating Average

Male - Floating Average

Age at marriage in Christian funerary inscriptions from Rome

Parental vs Spousal Commemoration - Females 100% 90% 80%

Percentage

70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 0

5

10

15

20 Age Parental

25

30

Spousal

Chart  Females – parental vs spousal commemoration

35

40



  Parental vs Spousal Commemoration - Males

100% 90% 80%

Percentage

70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

Age Parental

Spousal

Chart  Males – parental vs spousal commemoration

Commemorative Patterns - Females 60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0% Female over 16

Female over 20 Spouse / Parent

Other

Female over 27 Unknown / Self

Chart  Female commemorative patterns

40



Singles and Singleness Commemorative Patterns - Males 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Male over 24

Male over 26 Spouse / Parent

Other

Male over 34 Unknown / Self

Chart  Male commemorative patterns

b) Tables

Table . List of viduae R

M

A

T

ICUR I,  ICUR I,  ICUR I,  ICUR I,  ICUR I,  ICUR I,  ICUR II,  ICUR II,  ICUR II,  ICUR II,  ICUR II,  ICUR II,  ICUR III,  ICUR IV,  ICUR IV,  ICUR IV,  ICUR V,  ICUR V, 

Y Y N? U U Y Y U U Y Y Y U U Y Y Y U

U U U U  U  U U  U  U U + U U U

   D               



  Table . (cont.)

R

ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR

V,  V,  VI,  VI,  VII,  VII,  VII,  VIII,  VIII,  VIII,  IX,  IX,  IX,  X,  X,  X,  X,  X, 

M

A

T

Y U U U Y U U U U U Y U U U Y U U Y

 U  U  U  U U U  U U U U U  U

                 

Table . List of virgines with known age at death R

T

A

G

R

ICUR I,  ICUR VII,  ICUR VI,  ICUR V,  ICUR I,  ICUR I,  ICUR II,  ICUR IV,  ICUR III,  ICUR VIII,  ICUR VII,  ICUR III,  ICUR VI,  ICUR V,  ICUR III,  ICUR VI,  ICUR VI,  ILCV  ICUR I, 

                  

                  

F F F F F F F F F F F F F F F F F F F

U U D U D U D U U U U U U U U U D W U



Singles and Singleness Table . (cont.) R

T

A

G

R

ICUR V,  ICUR IV,  ICUR II,  ICUR II,  = ICUR III,  ICUR VIII,  ICUR I,  ICUR V,  ICUR VI,  ICUR I,  = ICUR VII,  ICUR VII,  ICUR II,  ICUR III,  ICUR VIII,  ICUR III,  ICUR X,  ICUR IV,  ICUR IV,  ICUR VII,  ICUR III,  ICUR IV,  ICUR VIII,  ICUR VII,  ICUR I,  ICUR VII,  ICUR II, 

   

   

F F F F

U U U D

    

    

F F F F F

D U U U U

               

               

F F F F F F F F F F F F F F F F

ICUR VII,  ICUR I,  ICUR VII,  ICUR II,  ICUR II,  ICUR IV,  ICUR III,  ICUR IV,  ICUR VIII,  ICUR VII,  ICUR II,  ICUR IV,  ICUR IV,  ICUR I,  = ICUR VII,  ICUR III,  ICUR III, 

             

             

F F F F F F F F F F F F F F

D U U U D D D U U U D D D U U W; D U D U U U D U S U U U U U U

 

 

F F

U U



  Table . (cont.)

R

T

A

G

R

ICUR IX,  ICUR X,  ICUR X,  = ICUR X,  ICUR II,  ICUR IX,  ICUR III,  ICUR II,  = ICUR VI,  ICUR I,  ICUR III,  ICUR IX,  ICUR IX,  ICUR VIII,  ICUR VII,  ICUR I,  = ICUR IV,  ICUR VII,  ICUR V, 

  

  

F F F

D D D

   

   

F F F F

U U D D

      

F F F F F F F

U U U U U U U

       

 

F F

U W

   

F M M M

F S S S

  

  

M M M

U U S

 

     

M M F F F F

H U U U D U

ICUR V,  ICUR VIII,  ICUR IX,  ICUR I, ; ICUR VII,  ICUR II,  ICUR IV,  ICUR I,  = ICUR IV,  ICUR IV,  ICUR I,  ICUR III,  ICUR I,  ICUR VII,  ICUR VI, 

      

D  D D

ΠΑΡΘEΝΟΣ ΠΑΡΘEΝΟΣ ΠΑΡΘEΝΟΣ ΠΑΡΘEΝΟΣ

Table . List of “servants of God” with recorded age at death R

M

A

T

ICUR VI,  ICUR IV, 

N U

 

 D  D



Singles and Singleness Table . (cont.) R

ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR

VII,  VIII,  I,  = ICUR VI,  II,  II,  II,  X,  IV,  V,  VII,  II,  II,  VIII, 

M

A

T

U U Y U Y U U U U U N N U

            

 D  D  C  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D

Table . List of married members of the clergy R

ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR

II,  II,  III,  IV,  IV,  V,  VII,  VII, - VIII,  VIII, ? VIII,  II,  III,  IX, 

D

C

S  S S  S D   D D S  R S S S S S  S S, S  S

   S S       ΠΡΕΣΒΎΤΕΡΟΣ ΠΡΕΣΒΎΤΕΡΟΣ ΠΡΕΣΒΎΤΕΡΟΣ

Table . List of pueri with recorded age at death ( years of age or older) R

M

A

T

ICUR IV,  ICUR IV, 

U U

 

 



  Table . (cont.)

R

M

A

T

ICUR VII,  ICUR I,  AE , ; AE ,  ICUR III,  ICUR VIII,  ICUR VIII,  ICUR I,  ICUR III,  ICUR I,  = ICUR X,  ICUR I,  ICUR II,  ICUR IV,  ICUR I,  ICUR VII, 

U U U U U U U U U U U U U Y

     +     +   

             

Table . List of puellae with recorded age at death ( years of age or older) R

ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR

VII,  IV,  VII,  IX,  I,  IV,  I,  VII,  II,  I,  VIII,  VII,  IV,  VII,  VIII,  VIII,  V,  II,  III,  IV,  VII,  I,  II, 

M

A

T

U U U U U U Y U U U U U U U U U Y U Y U U U Y

    +                  

                      



Singles and Singleness Table . (cont.) R

ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR

VII,  II,  VIII,  I,  III,  I,  III,  I,  V, 

M

A

T

U U U U U Y U U Y

        U

        

Table . List of iuvenes with recorded age at death R

ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR

III,  I,  = ICUR X,  III,  IV,  III,  III, 

M

A

T

U U U U U U

     

     

Table . List of tekna/τέκνα aged over  R

ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR ICUR

III,  VIII,  VI,  IV,  I, 

G

A

C

M M M F M

    

P P P? P / H M?

Table . Commemorative Patterns Females: Spousal vs Non-Spousal

Spouse / Parent Other

>  Total

>  %

>  Total

>  %

>  Total

>  %

 

.% .%

 

.% .%

 

.% .%



  Table . Commemorative Patterns Males: Spousal vs Non-Spousal

Spouse / Parent Other

>  Total

>  %

>  Total

>  %

>  Total

>  %

 

.% .%

 

.% .%

 

.% .%

 

Different Ways of Life: Being Single in the Fourth Century CE Raffaella Cribiore

 Introduction The startling increase in the number of adults living alone is a fascinating contemporary social trend. As a rule, these individuals are not withdrawing from society nor are they inspired by a reclusive desire to commune with Nature or God. On the contrary, they reach out, rely on easy access to social media, trust large networks of friends and apparently have full lives. This explosion of solo living stems from different causes and displays a different gender breakdown than earlier patterns of solitary life. For young people in cities, living alone has become a frequent rite of passage. When education is over, after dwelling initially with roommates, young males and females sign their first lease. Moreover, a good number of elders choose to live alone and not to remarry after the death of a spouse. Sixty years ago the typical single was a migrant male laborer out West, but now there is great diversity. Modern sociologists agree that this trend is less stigmatized today than in the past and suggest that it is a privilege that also derives from soaring divorce rates and from modern tendencies to embrace alternative living arrangements. If we take a step back into the nineteenth century, most often people then met their personal needs in the family. In the countryside, reasons for traditional cohabitations were compelling, and exceptions were usually due to the demise of a partner. Yet in cities, economic conditions caused trends that already suggested a transition from traditional to more modern families. Industrialization led to an increase of  

 

Henry David Thoreau in  built his cabin on Walden Pond to enjoy solitude and nature. These are the conclusions of Klinenberg  who interviewed young professionals, divorced middle agers and independent seniors. This professor of sociology at NYU argued that it is important to make a distinction between living alone and being alone. He also stated that the majority of singles are women, but this imbalance may be due in part to women’s longevity. So some people start living together with a partner, decide to live alone, then meet another partner and so on. See Burr Lichfield . See also Hajnal .





 

later marriages and of the numbers of both men and women living alone and independently employed. Of course such conditions of living and working were not known in Late Antiquity, but it is interesting to identify causes and patterns of living alone, to see how general stigmatization was and if there were repercussions for children born out of wedlock and condemnation of a lack of children. In a period when Christians were on the attack and pagans were licking their wounds, it will be interesting to try to identify religious influences upon and religious condemnations of such living arrangements. Following Darwin, I have only relative faith in anything short of actual measurement. I am aware that attempts to extrapolate sound information from literary evidence are risky. It is difficult to reconstruct what we do not know from individual test cases in Antiquity and to glimpse the larger picture thereby. Yet, in this paper I will mostly investigate the patterns of singleness of three male figures, living in different environments and of completely different social status. Whether one can safely generalize from these cases must remain uncertain. Libanius was a leading professor of rhetoric in Antioch; Julian was Roman emperor from  to , the year when he died; and Olympius  (PLRE I) was a very dear friend of Libanius who also resided in Antioch. In addition and in a brief compass, I will focus on a few women who appear in the writings of Libanius. They were mothers of his students, and it is in his capacity as professor of rhetoric that he met them as they had to cope with the disadvantages of single life. It will be interesting to verify, even though only from these few cases, whether society treated single men and women who belonged to the upper class in an identical way. It will be mostly through Libanius’ eyes, therefore, that we will look at very different living arrangements, his own and those of others. Libanius In his Autobiography Libanius, who was born in , discloses that after completing his education in Athens he lived and taught in Constantinople. There his close friend Crispinus regaled him with many much-desired books and the offer to marry Crispinus’ only daughter. The sophist was elated about the books but refused the marriage proposal saying firmly, ‘my bride is my art’. Libanius redacted the first part of the narrative of his  

“I have no faith in anything short of actual measurement,” letter to W. D. Fox (). Or. .. All translations are my own unless otherwise noted.

Different Ways of Life



life many years later, in . He may not have uttered the words proclaiming his passion for his discipline upon the occasion itself, but certainly he became very soon a devotee of rhetoric. The refusal of a bride, moreover, was also dictated by the fact that there had been some negotiations to have him marry the daughter of his uncle Phasganius, and in , when he was allowed to go back to Antioch for a short period, he was formally betrothed to his cousin. As he was making preparations for another temporary return, however, he received the grievous news that the young woman had died, so that he lost any desire to go back. He declared: ‘Despite my wishes I could not live in the city where I was going to see the tomb of this woman instead of herself.’ After much pressure from his uncle, he returned to Antioch but ‘full of dejection and sadness’. It remains uncertain whether this was the truth. In the narrative of his life, Libanius was susceptible to many influences and attempted to construct his version of the image of a ‘holy man’, who encountered many obstacles but preserved his virtue. We cannot rule out that this public and late manifestation of desperation at being alone served some purpose. The loss of his bride-to-be shielded him somewhat from criticism that he had decided not to marry again. It was probably easier to pass as an inconsolable lover who did not search for another stable companion of the same social status than as someone who deliberately refused the married status. The social and cultural expectations for privileged males in Late Antiquity included marriage even though remaining celibate started to be an option. And yet Libanius was not alone. He had a relationship with a woman of low origin who lived in his household and bore him a son, Cimon, otherwise called Arrabius. The fact that the identity of this woman (a servant and originally a slave) is obscure confirms her negligible social status and Libanius’ desire to obfuscate this liaison. He mentioned her in Or.  only after her death by calling her ‘a good mother’ and ‘worthy of many a servant’. He affirmed that her death after a long illness brought him pain but immediately disclosed his personal discomfort: now he had to call in need upon another servant, while before she always ran spontaneously to his side. The letters as usual give a more intimate and less guarded version. Recommending his son to a governor, he said that the     

 He was able to go back to Antioch permanently in . Or. ..  Cribiore : –. Cf. Vuolanto, in this volume, pp. –. He says in epist. ., Norman , letter no. , that she was not of free status. See or. .. On the generic difference between letters and orations in Libanius, cf. Cribiore : – and passim.



 

young man was born of a woman ‘of such character that I esteemed little the wealth of many fathers with marriageable daughters’. And yet his words speak more of his desire to present his son in the best light than of authentic disregard for this woman’s low origin. Libanius strove at all times to strengthen the status of his illegitimate son. From the moment of his birth, Cimon’s position was ambiguous, but Libanius did not spare any energy to educate him well, to help him obtain a position in life and to make him fit to receive his inheritance. His efforts are noteworthy, but were ultimately in vain. After receiving an elementary education at the hands of his father and of Calliopius, an assistant teacher of Libanius, Cimon learned rhetoric at the school. The sophist then enrolled him among the advocates, and he was attached to the court of the consularis in , when Icarius occupied that position. In an oration against Icarius, Libanius says that his son was blamed for not intervening promptly in a situation so that he may not have been very effective in that position. In a letter to a governor he declared that he had always wanted for Cimon to become an orator because he had ‘the gift of eloquence’ and because of that he later won lots of praise even from those who were his opponents. In a later letter concerning the athletes for the Olympic games, he gave some personal and affectionate details about his son: ‘I, too, have a youngster who is good at running and speaking and deserves both the victor’s crown and the scholar’s gown.’ As in the case of Cimon’s mother, the most touching testimonials of Libanius’ love for his son came after the young man had died – without ever obtaining an official position. The image of father-teacher and teacher-father defining pedagogic relationships often appears in Late Antiquity to illustrate the closeness of a student to his teacher and mutual feelings of affection. The letters disclose that Libanius was joyful at his students’ successes, helped arrange their marriages and tried to enroll their children. In a letter to a former governor who had previously helped a ‘child’ of his, that is, a student, he expected the man to support Cimon ‘since he too is my child, and even  

   

Epist. ., Norman , letter no. . He finally did, but to his and his father’s chagrin was barred from the Senate. On the reactions to the law of Constantine on children born from lowborn or disreputable women, see Evans Grubbs , particularly pp. – on Cimon’s status. Calliopius , PLRE I. Icarius  in PLRE I. This rank applied to governors of the most important provinces.  See or. .. See epist. , Norman , letter no. . See Kaster : –. Himerius or. . and .. Them. or. c and a. The image continued to be used in Christian times. Cf. Cribiore : –.

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more than Eusebius, for he is connected by eloquence too but there is no blood connection with Eusebius’. And yet, Cimon’s status prevented Libanius from considering him to be entirely or truly his son. In a late letter from  to the father of a student from Pamphylia, Libanius disclosed his admiration for that young man’s qualities by saying that after accepting him he felt like accusing the gods who had deprived him of children. He was aware that he would have them if he had not failed to marry and thus offended Aphrodite. This was a harsh statement that erased Cimon at a stroke. In a previous oration, Libanius had written that ‘the passion of Aphrodite only existed in order to have children’. The goddess had punished him for going through life without a lawful companion and had deprived him of an heir: children born out of wedlock did not enjoy the same status as legitimate offspring. Yet, of course, Libanius was ambivalent. When Cimon died later that year, in fact, he protested his love for his son, saying that the mother he had did not prevent him from being related to him by blood.

 Julian the Apostate Accusations of and recriminations for someone’s refusal to marry and failing to produce a legitimate heir were most justified when that man was the ruler of the Roman empire. And yet the emperor Julian, after submitting to his marital duty initially, refused to marry again after the death of his wife and spent the rest of his few years as a single man. In  when he became Caesar, he had married his Christian cousin Helena, the daughter of Constantine I and Fausta. It was a marriage of political convenience in which personal feelings were not involved. The fact that Julian wrote to his uncle saying that all the letters he sent to Helena were such that they could be broadcast to the world seems to be evidence of their lack of emotional attachment. When married, Julian had tried to be a dutiful husband by impregnating his wife. Ammianus revealed all the machinations of the empress Eusebia, who was childless, to prevent Helena from producing an heir. A midwife was bribed so that     

See epist. , Norman , letter no. . He wrote several letters for Eusebius  to help him in an obscure affair. Aphrodite, that is, not love but a proper union. See epist. , Cribiore , letter no. ; see also no. .  Or. ., Hymn to Artemis. Epist. .: Cimon was born from him, and so had his blood.  Helena , PLRE I. Epist.  Bidez. Amm. ..–. One cannot tell if instead the miscarriages occurred spontaneously.



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she cut the umbilical cord of a baby born in Gaul in such a way that it was killed, and later Helena was given a potion to induce miscarriages. She never bore an heir. After Helena died in Paris in , Julian never remarried and lived in total chastity (inviolata castitas). Ammianus commented that Julian kept in mind what he read in Plato’s Republic about Sophocles, who in his old age was glad to have escaped from cruel and mad passion for women. The whole passage in Plato concerns the contentment of old age. Julian, however, was in his early thirties and yet imposed on himself a sexual abstinence that went together with a frugal life devoid of any luxury, with scanty food, little sleep and incessant work. In the Epitaph for the emperor, Libanius commented that in the long winter nights when people concerned themselves with Aphrodite, Julian devoted himself to books. He never enquired if any man had a suitable and beautiful daughter but maintained a solitary life. ‘If the goddess Hera had not bound him in the rites of marriage’ – Libanius wrote – ‘he would have ended his days knowing only from others what sexual intercourse was.’ Julian never had another woman before or after his wife. The comment of Ammianus that Julian avoided sexual relations to the extent that not even one of his closest attendants could (as sometimes happens) reveal ‘any suspicion of lustfulness’ seems credible and confirms this reading of the situation. All sources agree on this point. Libanius’ explanation was that the emperor had a natural predisposition to continence. The polarity of the ancient sources (Christians and pagans) and the fact that Julian died so young on an expedition against Persia in  make him elusive and render his reasons difficult to grasp. Claudius Mamertinus, who was made consul by Julian in , pronounced a panegyric of the emperor at the New Year in which he focused on his qualities as a statesman. He lauded Julian’s abstinence from the pleasurable life and the fact ‘that his bed was free even from legitimate and permissible pleasures, being chaster than the couches of the Vestals’. Mamertinus explained the emperor’s avoidance of sexual activities as ‘his desire to offer violence to none and not to harm the reputation of any maiden’. Of course  



 Amm. ... Amm. .–. Plat. rep. .b-c. Lib. or. .. If we judge from or. .–, which he wrote to defend his friend Aristophanes who had fallen in disgrace, Libanius would have easily justified a sexual liaison for Julian with an actress or a prostitute. He wrote to the emperor that Aristophanes was young, and therefore his sexual desires were rampant, but he never had any relation with a married woman. He relieved his desire ‘with women devoted to Aphrodite’.   Cf. or. .. Amm. .. Mamertinus Panegyric ; see Lieu : .

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sexual activity does not necessarily consist of rape or clandestine liaisons, and a new legitimate relationship would have been presumably free of such coercion. The repercussions of Julian’s solitary and chaste life were not only personal. He was the last scion of the house of Constantine, and that line ended with him because he did not leave an heir. In his Address to Julian as consul, Libanius naturally wished for progeny worthy of the emperor: ‘May your children, your children’s children and those who come from them for ever be your rivals and your heir.’ In a letter addressed to the emperor in , he said that he prayed for this without telling Julian, because he was afraid that he would do the opposite – a statement difficult to interpret. In his Monody over Julian, the sophist lamented that the emperor had died still young without being a father. Other heroes had died a violent death but at least ‘Cyrus had sons to succeed him’. In his Funeral Oration written a little later in , Libanius looked for some explanation and mentioned not only Julian’s natural continence but also his preoccupation with soothsaying: In this he spent his time using the best soothsayers, and being second to none in this art so that the soothsayers could never mislead him because his eyes too scrutinized the omens. At times he surpassed specialists in this subject so wide and all bearing was the intellect of our emperor and he discovered some things with his own intellect and others through his communion with the gods.

The emperor apparently was constantly occupied with soothsaying and had reached a notable expertise that allowed him to interrogate the gods. Did Julian see something in the omens that prevented him from getting married? The sophist did not say so explicitly, but I think that his wording before and after this passage hints strongly that the emperor was afraid. Before this passage Libanius had mentioned that Julian went into mourning for his wife and after that never touched another woman also



  

Amm. .. mentioned that in Mesopotamia Julian handed his purple mantle to his relative Procopius  with the injunction to assume the role of ruler if he heard that Julian had died. Procopius was executed in  under Valentinian and Valens. On Julian nominating him, see Wiemer : –.   Or. .. Lib. epist. ., Norman , letter no. , written in . Or. .. Or. .. Libanius used astrologers himself but showed an ambivalent attitude toward them in or. . He accused his friend Polycles who asked from the stars assistance in fundamental matters such as marriage and offices. The sophist was more moderate and called astrologers ‘men who in the daytime lie asleep for the ruin of many but at night think fit to give orders to divinities’ (.).



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‘because of his preoccupations with soothsaying’. In the next paragraph (.) he maintained that his close friends tried to persuade him to beget children who could succeed to the throne but he replied that he was afraid to do that lest his children, if degenerate, becoming legal heir to the empire would ruin it suffering the fate of Phaeton. So he judged that his own childlessness was easier to bear than ruin to the cities.

Libanius’ general comment that Julian thought first of the welfare of the empire suggested that the emperor missed not having children, but this may have been the sophist’s supposition. The reasons for the emperor’s sexual abstinence and choices were personal, concealed and are hard to fathom. Homosexuality is probably not the answer, because there is absolutely no trace of it in all his writings, orations and letters. That a Roman emperor should choose to live a single life with no issue was bound to be stigmatized. Libanius’ Oration  reveals that after Julian’s death rumors were circulating that he had poisoned his wife. Two men maintained that Julian gave the court doctor a jewel that had belonged to his mother, Basilina. The accusation does not find an echo in other sources. Libanius couched this oration as an invective against the men who made it. He also considered the accusation rationally. Constantius would never have tolerated such a deed against his sister and would have deprived Julian of power. Julian himself, who was so devoted to the divine, would have never plotted against the gods of marriage. The extreme slander against the emperor must have derived from those defamatory Christian claims that circulated after Julian’s death, that people were immolated for the purpose of divination and that some boys, girls and infants were cut to pieces and sacrificed. Thus the pagan Julian, childless and single, had ‘sacrificed’ his Christian wife in order to live his life without the burden of marriage.

 Olympius The third figure I will consider emerges from Libanius’ letters, his Autobiography, Or. .– and especially from Oration , which was 

 

To my knowledge, no one has interpreted Julian’s reticence in this way. Libanius does not make a very close connection between his two statements, but he seems to hint that Julian had received some divine revelation.  Bringmann :  rules out homosexuality. Cribiore . Socr. Hist. eccl. ..–; Greg. Naz. or. ..–; Ioh. Chrys. Homily on St. Babylas  and Theod. Hist. eccl. .–.

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essentially unknown until I studied it in my last book, Libanius the Sophist: Rhetoric, Reality, and Religion in the Fourth Century. Olympius  was a childhood friend of the sophist who made Libanius his heir. Because of this, scholars always assumed that Olympius was a pagan, but a close inspection of Oration  revealed that not only was he Christian but his younger brother, Evagrius, was briefly bishop of Antioch. Libanius wrote Oration  to defend the memory of his friend and to show that the naming of himself as Olympius’ heir was no injustice. It appears in fact that the trial, which presumably resulted when Evagrius contested the inheritance, was a major event in the city, and in the end Libanius declared that he had not gained anything but actually had lost money to hire lawyers. What concerns us at present is Olympius’ unusual living arrangements. He had never married and was much closer to his mother than his two brothers, the older Miccalus, who was married, had children and died before Olympius, and the younger Evagrius, who had a family and then became a priest. Letters reveal that Olympius always worried about his mother and did not want to leave Antioch because of her. This strong mother–son attachment was the origin of much trouble. ‘The mother’ – said Libanius – ‘finding that Olympius buttressed the household while Miccalus did not – it is enough to say as much – gave more to the one and less to the other without adding any clause to the legacy and without offending the heir [Miccalus] by this but leaving him free to use the gift as he wished.’ The clause ‘it is enough to say as much’ may refer not only to Miccalus’ financial inability but also to family discord. Libanius’ interpretation of the relationship between the two brothers is not entirely reliable. He says that Olympius treated his brother like a son, a paternalistic attitude that probably did not please the older Miccalus, who was full of resentment, beat Olympius repeatedly and provoked his anger with words. Yet the sophist also admitted that Olympius had mistreated his brother too. Besides the matter of the unfair inheritance, Olympius’ unusual living arrangements widened the brotherly rift. Miccalus could not tolerate the fact that Olympius employed in his household, instead of male servants, some ‘women who were inexperienced in Aphrodite’, that is, virgins and 

 

Evagrius . Probably a student of Libanius, he became governor but was dismissed. He became a priest after that and was close to Jerome. In the schism of Antioch, he was elected bishop when Paulinus died, but he also died soon after that.  His literary rhetoric was not very useful in court. Cf. Epist.  = N,  = N. See epist.  = N and  = B.



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not prostitutes. He claimed that these women ‘indulged in shameful pleasures, potions, and all-powerful incantations’. Miccalus was not the only one to oppose the arrangement called ‘spiritual marriage,’ which was criticized by both Christians and pagans. These women were called subintroductae or syneisaktoi or agapetae and lived in chaste cohabitation with one or more men (not only clerics). Although at least six church councils of the fourth century banned this practice, it lasted until the Middle Ages. Some people reacted strongly to this way of life because of its supposed immorality, and Jerome for example (Epist. ) condemned these women as lustful harlots. This custom, however, was intended to help widows or young women who were not supported by their families. But Olympius was even guiltier in Miccalus’ eyes. According to Libanius, this single man missed children and so adopted two little girls who may have been the daughters of servants or of women in his household who perhaps had been abandoned. This apparently increased Miccalus’ fury, and he launched every kind of threat against the girls. He menaced them with ‘prison, pain and torture,’ things that would happen immediately after Olympius died. Why was Miccalus so distressed? The two girls were not legitimate daughters of Olympius, but Miccalus might have feared that his brother would diminish his patrimony by leaving money to them. Though he ended up dying before his brother, he was probably hoping that upon Olympius’ death the family money would revert to his own children. Olympius was a wealthy man who could administer his finances well, was the bosom friend of the influential Libanius and was part of his circle of pagan and Christian friends, to which belonged such powerful men as the philosopher Themistius, who had much influence in Constantinople, and the governors Domitius Modestus  and Datianus . With the help of Olympius and a prefect, Miccalus had obtained two offices but had quickly forgotten his debt of gratitude. He knew full well that Olympius was a man who dared to challenge custom, and thus he was afraid.



Cf. John Chrysostom’s two treatises on the subintroductae: Contra eos qui subintroductas habent virgines (‘Against those men who have virgins brought into their homes’) and Quod regulares feminae viris cohabitare non debeant (‘That women under ascetic rule ought not to cohabit with men’). See Dumortier ; Leyerle  and Alwis . See also Jerome. The indictments of this custom centered on the possible immorality of these cohabitations. The accusation of magic uttered by Miccalus was a commonplace with regard to ‘seductive’ women, who supposedly manipulated the sexual behavior of men. John Chrysostom also alluded to pharmaka/φάρμακα. Against the prevalent opinion, Dickey  argued that in Greek and Roman literature it was not only women who practiced love magic. Cf. Vuolanto, in this volume.

Different Ways of Life

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Olympius also looked threatening to the community because of another issue. People who had expected some money in his will were indignant that he had left some funds to two “worthless” men. Not much is known about these individuals who may have been servants or were in any case men of the lower classes. They lived in Olympius’ household and provided companionship and help when Olympius fell ill and ultimately died. ‘They were’ – says Libanius – ‘a haven for Olympius, a refuge, a distraction, a consolation, an occasion to be cheerful, and a remedy against pain’ (). He adds () that these men neglected their affairs and devoted their lives entirely to Olympius, surpassing ‘everything that is expected of parents, children, brothers, and of his household slaves as well’. They took pleasure in his joys more than in their own and so Olympius delighted () in their ‘affection, efforts, sleepless nights, and distress’ and did not neglect them in his will. The many sections in Or.  (–) that Libanius devotes to these two men suggest that he considered the issue most important and strove to defend his friend’s conduct. To be sure, the role, identity and social status of these men are far from certain. The sophist recognized that they had a modest subordinate role, one taking care of the household and the other entirely devoted to Olympius, responding to his calls day and night, and assisting him in everything. Interestingly the word Libanius uses for their relationship with Olympius is agapē, a term employed in Christian texts to mean the reciprocal ‘love’ of God and men, which could also indicate ‘brotherly love’. This might suggest that Olympius, the two men and the women lived together in a community of spiritual love. The Christian Olympius seeems to have created in his house a group of religious observance. And yet another hypothesis cannot be entirely discarded. Was Olympius involved in a homosexual relationship with one of the men? The prude Libanius appears to make every effort to defend his friend’s reputation. This may have been an issue in the great turmoil in Antioch that followed the opening of the will when people started to launch insults against the dead. What might support this idea is that in section  of this speech Libanius evokes the mythological example of the strong friendship of Achilles and Patroclus. Though in the Iliad Homer never openly alluded 



So for example both St Basil and John Chrysostom employed this word numerous times with both meanings (Bas. epist.  and ; Ioh. Chrys. ad populum Antiochenum vol. , p. .; see also I Cor :). See Hom. Il. .– on the friendship of Achilles and Patroclus. Cf. also Lib. or. .–, where Patroclus in his close relationship with Achilles is reproaching him for not helping the army.



 

to pederastic love, the later classical tradition (for example Aeschylus, Plato, Plutarch and Lucian) and then modern scholars have concluded that Achilles was the lover while Patroclus was the eromenos in the relationship.

 Single Women in Libanius’ Epistles Finally, after covering the struggles for acceptance of these upper-class single males, it is helpful to consider, however briefly, the condition of a few upper-class women who had lost their husbands and tried to cope with bringing up their children as single parents. I have already mentioned women, mostly from the lower classes, who chose to live as singles in spiritual marriage. The women I am considering now were of comfortable means and had legitimate sons who studied rhetoric in Antioch. These examples will show how complete was society’s acceptance of single widowed women who refused a new marriage. Women called subintroductae attracted the open criticism of all, pagans and Christians, for defying convention. Single men who chose not to marry and renounced having legitimate children were often blamed and denounced. These widows, however, elicited people’s admiration for their loyalty to their former husbands and their decision to leave the family property intact without introducing extraneous individuals. The ultimate model of motherhood and womanly virtue for Libanius was his own mother, who had lost her husband at a young age. She brought him up with the help of her brothers, was very attached to him, was in fact ‘everything’ to him (ta panta) as he remarked. Though she rarely appears in his writing, her presence can be felt behind the scenes. Most of the widows in Libanius’ epistles conform to this ideal. The benevolence and even admiration of the sophist for most of the widowed mothers of his students seems a function of his affection for the boys attending his school and his fear that they might drop out, aggravating the crisis of rhetoric. Orphans needed continuous injections of funds and had to rely on relatives and friends of the family. Fathers usually wrote letters of introduction for their sons when they began their rhetorical studies, but if the father had died, male relatives, uncles or grandfathers,    

See, e.g., Plat. symp., speech of Phaedrus; Halperin : –, chapter : ‘Heroes and their Pals’.  Patroclus did the cooking, and fed and took care of the horses. See Schouler : –. Cf. Cribiore :  and see or. .. On Libanius’ care of orphan students, see Cribiore .

Different Ways of Life



represented the family by performing this duty. Mothers, however, were apparently not acceptable recommenders even though some had an education and did not receive progress reports. Some officials were also involved in supporting an orphan child, as in the case of Epist. , which portrays the exceptional dedication of a widowed mother: His mother brought Letoius, a young man from Armenia, here and entrusted her only son to me. I was pleased with him because he was ready to receive rhetoric—this colt is sharp—but I marveled at the mother who was not looking for a second marriage, even though she has only one child, and who went on such a journey. She thought that everything would turn out better for him if she were there to take care of things at the beginning. It will be the god’s concern and ours that he belongs to the Greeks, but the preservation of his household will be the concern of his mother and of Eusebius too.

Eusebius had been a schoolfellow of Libanius. He lived in Armenia and was a natural supporter of this student. The journey from the distant province of Armenia was long and arduous, but this mother cared to organize her freshman son from the very beginning. Another widowed mother wished to follow closely her sons’ progress. Living in Cilicia, she relied upon her brother and another relative, the poet and rhetor Acacius, in order to communicate with Libanius concerning her son Philoxenus and his brother. Libanius reassured everyone that Philoxenus had a good predisposition for his studies and cared for rhetoric. At the end of a letter that appears a bit exasperated, he wrote to Acacius: ‘Tell the mother of the two boys that it is summer here too and a moderate wind blows’ (no. ). This mother was anxious to have her sons back home and must have alleged that Antioch’s climate was excessively hot. Libanius found the whole thing ridiculous. Some mothers naturally continued to concern themselves with the welfare of their sons after their education was completed. Libanius cherished Albanius of Ancyra because he did not have any other teacher of rhetoric before or after himself. He did not attend the school for the number of years the sophist had hoped, because his mother, who was presumably a widow, had pulled him out with much ‘crying and begging’.    

Cribiore : –. Previous teachers of rhetoric might write letters. Cribiore , letter no. , which was addressed to Maximus , who became governor of Armenia. Eusebius x in the prosopography of Seeck . Cribiore , letter nos. , ,  and . They allow us to follow this student from  to .



 

Dianius, a ‘poor’ student, was unable financially to undertake a liturgy and to avoid doing so, he did not want to return to his own country. He was torn, however, because his mother insisted on reclaiming him. Eusebius was a beloved student who knew ‘more of the ancients than anyone else and makes discourses similar to theirs’. Libanius had conceived the hope that he might become a sophist and educator, but he chose to be a lawyer. Apparently, his widowed mother and uncle persuaded him to embark on that career, probably for financial reasons. Mothers who continued to support their sons emotionally and financially after the demise of their husbands had a good influence on them. Libanius’ epistles show that all these young men became successful members of society, with the exception of one. It is telling that in this case a disgraceful mother was involved. The dossier of letters concerning Dionysius informs us of the vicissitudes of this troubled young man. After robbers murdered his father, Dionysius’ mother had remarried, was able to deprive the youth of his patrimony and lived ‘luxuriously with her new husband’ while Dionysius ‘lived in destitution’. Dionysius ran away from home and obtained the protection of Libanius, who maneuvered to arrange the equivalent of a scholarship for him. Through his knowledge of rhetoric, he was able to reclaim his land and in gratitude sent a horse to the sophist. He then refused to accept a position as an advocate in the retinue of an official and took refuge in the country choosing ‘his trees and the birds in them’. His land, however, was almost fatal to him since ‘he had chosen to tend goats rather than practice rhetoric’. He abducted or raped a girl and this crime of harpagē (raptus) put him at risk of losing his head. A frantic Libanius was able to arrange his release through a chain of officials he knew. If we believe the sophist who disliked the country and strongly preferred an urban atmosphere, the pleasures of country life corrupted Dionysius, but what seems to have ruined him was his mother’s betrayal and his emotional distress.   

   

Liturgies (in Latin, munera curialia) were civic services for which the decurions were personally responsible. They were usually compulsory by the fourth century. Epist. , Cribiore , letter no. . Eusebius , PLRE I. Epist. , Cribiore , letter no. . Section  of this letter mentions that his family was greatly damaged by an obscure affair involving a certain Prophetius and lost a great amount of money because of it. There is no way of knowing whether this widowed mother had been somehow involved with this man.  See epist. , Cribiore , letter no. . Cribiore : , , – and –.  Epist. , Cribiore , letter no. . See epist. , Cribiore , letter no. . Epist. , Cribiore , letter no. . On the crime of raptus, cf. Evans Grubbs ; Beaucamp – and Karlin-Hayter .

Different Ways of Life



 Some Conclusions The examples that I have studied in this essay suggest that there was a great variety in patterns of single living in Antiquity, more or less as there is today. The individuals I have considered did not withdraw from society but were fully part of it. Their social and economic status allowed them to defy convention and to escape from traditional cohabitations. They relied on a strong network of relatives and friends for support and acceptance. While the single, virtuous women whom Libanius mentioned elicited admiration for their steadfast determination not to remarry and for the sacrifices they made for their offspring, the men I considered could not escape stigmatization and had to buttress their position. They did so in various ways, but always eliciting disapproval from others. Libanius used the death of his fiancée as an excuse for avoiding a legitimate relationship, but then spent a lifetime trying in vain to shield his illegitimate son. His desire for legitimate offspring resurfaces sometimes in his writings. In theory Julian as an emperor was best placed to defend his personal choices, but had to wait for his wife’s death to live alone and later incurred strong criticism for not leaving an heir who would uphold the empire. Thus all his many efforts to establish a strong pagan society were ultimately nullified, and he could not prevent a series of Christian emperors from taking the reins of the empire. A suitable station in society, abundant means of life, reliable friends and a position in the Christian community allowed Olympius to avoid marriage. It is impossible to know if the violent criticism of his brother, Miccalus, and probably of his younger brother, Evagrius, had an equivalent in the Antiochene society at large, but certainly condemnation was rampant after he died. At that point his relationship with the women and the two men who lived with him and his adoption of two girls were denounced. While it is impossible to gauge solely from these examples of male singles the frequency of patterns of solo living in Late Antiquity, it is clear that stigmatization for not conforming to traditional models and repercussions for illegitimate offspring were strong. Another factor should not be overlooked since it may have been significant in the decision of these male figures not to establish permanent legitimate relationships: the strong bonds they had with their deceased mothers. I have already remarked on the attachment of Libanius to his mother and on the strong affection of Olympius for his mother that had conditioned his difficult relationship with his brothers. In addition, Basilina, the mother of the emperor Julian, had played a strong role in his



 

life. She was a woman of noble birth who died a little after Julian was born. He idealized her in the Misopogon, remarking about her knowledge of Homer and Hesiod and showing her implicit influence in his cultural upbringing through the education he received at the hands of Mardonius, a eunuch, the same tutor who had brought her up. Julian named a town, Basilinopolis in Bithynia, after her. Of course it is extraordinarily difficult to capture the personal motivations and mental states of figures from Antiquity, but some continuity of human experience may be claimed here. In modern times, unusual closeness to a mother appears sometimes at the heart of some men’s difficulties in establishing durable and strong rapports with female partners. I mentioned briefly at the beginning how the great increase of solo living and avoidance of permanent ties in the modern world attract less stigmatization than in the past and are more accepted in many circles. This is a dramatic transformation and a major demographic shift. Singles nowadays are not restricted by the demands and obligations of a family and theoretically are free to pursue their own interests and choices and to strengthen individual self-worth. And yet, is this life arrangement a privilege that brings authentic satisfaction, or can we identify issues that still hamper modern singles? The twenty-first-century urban singles interviewed by Klinenberg had to face some of the issues that plagued people in Antiquity, lack of permanent relationships, unfulfilled desire for children and fear of illness or of dying alone. In addition, those who live alone not by choice but because of circumstances (the poor, the ill and often the elderly) do not enjoy at all the positive aspects of single life but have to confront the painful burden of solitude. Two books on the single life of young and seemingly privileged males and females were recently published in New York to great acclaim and confirm that there are challenges confronting singles. Katherine Heiny in her book of short stories whose protagonists do not have permanent and positive relationships is pessimistic to a degree. In spite of its title, Single, Carefree, Mellow, her book

  



 See Amm. ..; Lib. or. .. Iul. mis.  B. Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum II . (ed. E. Schwartz). As Guthrie :  wrote: “The Greeks remain in many respects a remarkably foreign people.” This observation does not concern only great philosophers. Common people who appear in the sources are sometimes a mystery to us too. Heiny .

Different Ways of Life



centers on singles who appear far from carefree and neurotically search for more balanced and meaningful relationships. The point of view of Kate Bolick in Spinster is somewhat different. In recounting personal circumstances, after going through a series of unsatisfactory boyfriends as a single woman, Bolick retreats into the joys of solitude. 

Bolick . See also Traister .

 

Single Life in Late Antiquity? Virgins between the Earthly and the Heavenly Family Ville Vuolanto



Introduction

By the end of the fourth century CE, more and more Christians remained unmarried. Earlier in the Greco-Roman world, girls, especially the highborn, would have had no future outside marriage. Virginity was ‘a laudable state prior to marriage’, but certainly ‘not an end in itself’. Even if asceticism as such was nothing new in the context of the Christian traditions, during the fourth century elite families began to promote their offspring as ascetics. The task in this chapter is to track how far and in what sense the ascetic lifestyle, especially that adopted by females, can justifiably be called ‘single life’. What were the practical consequences of the shift in the ideals and social practices? The Greco-Roman elites of the late fourth and earliest fifth centuries shared the common status culture around the Mediterranean, and I use here material from both the Eastern and the Western parts of the empire. This time period, the golden age of patristic literature, certainly can furnish us with plenty of information on family history; but here I will concentrate on elites, given the paucity of sources concerning the dynamics of asceticism among the common people. I build upon the flourishing literature on early Christian asceticism; in particular, elite women ascetics have received much attention in scholarly work. Recently, the research has concentrated on questions of body and gender, and the secular, political and spiritual power of the ascetics. Studies by the previous generation of researchers, who were more interested in the social historical aspects of fourth- and fifth-century elite women and asceticism, have been more useful for the

  

Quotation from Nathan : ; see also Arjava : . On the shared cultural context for late antique elites, see Salzman : –, –. See Chin and Schroeder , Wilkinson  and Harper , with Finn  and Rousseau  on earlier studies.



Single Life in Late Antiquity?



present chapter. However, although earlier scholars have acknowledged, and even highlighted, the phenomenon of asceticism as offering a possibility of new lifestyle especially for women, there have not been any studies that explicitly take singleness as a way of life as their point of departure. In what follows, I start with the background to ascetic life: what the function of marriage was in the Roman world, and how the decision to adopt this lifestyle was made in the elite families. I then analyse the life of virgins in the context of ascetic communities and households from the perspective of singleness. I will concentrate on female virgins at the end of the fourth century and at the turn of the fifth, occasionally referring to male ascetics in order to offer a comparative perspective. Widows or couples who assumed their ascetic lifestyle later on in life are not the focus of my attention here. I am dealing here solely with permanent and vocational singleness, that is, with people who never married and never intended to do so.

 Choosing a Single Lifestyle? The cultural and social significance of getting married in the Roman world cannot be overestimated. For elite girls in particular, it was marriage which functioned as the rite of passage to adult life with the new household. For them, there was nothing similar to the boys’ taking the toga virilis to mark the end of childhood in the Roman traditional culture, although there may have been specific occasions to celebrate locally the emerging new status of a girl who had reached puberty and the marriageable age, like the therapeuteria in Roman Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. Roman elite girls were supposed to be virgins at marriage. Sexual integrity was at the centre of female virtue, and women were already expected, in the preChristian context, to stay at home and to be modest (pudica) and chaste (casta) – and this ideology did not change in Late Antiquity. Young men, 

 



See esp. Elm  and Arjava : – for further studies. To these may now be added Vuolanto  on children, asceticism and family dynamics. All these are much indebted to the work of Elizabeth A. Clark; see, e.g., the essays in Clark . On the terminology, see Laes, in this volume, pp. – and –. For boys and the toga virilis, see McWilliam : – – here too, there were local variations, like the well attested epikrisis registration and a more obscure mallokouria (probably with the ritual cutting of a boy’s childhood hair) festivities in Roman Egypt. For therapeuteria, attested only in Roman Egypt, see P.Oxy.   and ; P.Oxy.Hels. , l.  (all third cent. CE). On these festivities, see Laes and Strubbe : –, with Montserrat  for especially the Egyptian rites of passage. Huebner  proposes plausibly but with no specific evidence that therapeuteria were specifically linked with female circumcision. Wilkinson : –; Harper : –.



 

in contrast, were expected to be introduced both to public life and to sexual life well before their marriage. But for men too, marriage was the predominant cultural expectation in the pre-Christian Roman world – and even after remaining unmarried became an option in Late Antiquity, this did not mean that those men who opted for this were sexually inexperienced, as the biographies of men such as Libanius or Augustine show. The rise of ascetic forms of Christianity did not change the fact that, especially for the upper echelons of the society, marriage was the central device in kinship alliance and family strategies. In Late Antiquity, a marriage arranged by the parents was the standard situation, with the head of the family (the father if he was alive) responsible for the marriage arrangements. Moreover, legally, his consent was needed for the marriage. Especially among the elites, marriage constituted a contract between two families. It would be naïve to think that, as a rule, the unmarried state would have been chosen freely by the young ascetic recruits themselves: the decision to remain single and choose asceticism was not an individual decision, but a family issue. The younger the ascetic recruit was, the more this would have been the case. At one extreme, children were promised to God at their birth – or even before that. It was a question of elite families deciding to abandon conventional family strategies by preferring their children to link themselves and the whole family with the Church and the heavenly family of Christ. The choice to stay ‘single’ had to be made before marriage. At the latest, the discussions concerning asceticism had to take place in the families at the same time as the discussions of the married future of the offspring would have taken place – and with the same possible profits and risks in mind. For girls of the elite, among whom the age of marriage was at its lowest, that would mean that they would have been still in their early teens – if not still nearer to ten. Thus, for these girls, the decision to enter the ascetic life had to be made already when they were underage – therefore, children even by Roman standards. For lower-status girls, there was more time, at least until their late teens. Unfortunately, however, we have little information about how the decision-making process would have taken place among the ordinary people – or, indeed, if ordinary girls or young women chose virginity independently except in very exceptional 

 

Harper : –. Both Libanius and Augustine remained unmarried, but had many relationships in their youth and one long-lasting relationship from which a son was born. See Vuolanto :  and Cribiore, in this volume. Kuefler : –; Nathan : –; see further the articles in Badel and Settipani . Vuolanto .

Single Life in Late Antiquity?



cases. After all, they would not have been able to merit (and show their virtue) by abstaining from property, good marriage and exquisite foods. Its seems that there was a constant tension between practical views (parents making the decision when it suited them, usually when the girl was reaching puberty) and more theological or psychological views (stressing the need of free will on the part of the virgins) on the proper age for taking the final, binding vows of chastity, with a span from the age of ten or twelve, or ‘marriageable age’ more generally (Ambrose), to sixteen or seventeen (Basil of Caesarea) or even forty (Council of Saragossa). For the sons, to stay single was more of a free option, since the considerations of marriage started to become relevant only in their very late teens or early twenties. Even if some senatorial boys married already in their teens, it was no catastrophe for the family if the marriage had not taken place in their late twenties. Whereas nearly one half of young men had lost their fathers (and one in four their mothers) when they had reached the age of twenty-five and they had to start pondering their marriage, only one quarter of the elite children had lost their father (and one fifth their mother) at fifteen, the age when elite girls were entering into marriages. Thus, when the time came to decide about asceticism, sons were considerably older than daughters, and it was more probable that the fathers of the boys (or rather, young men) had died. Because of their experience, they were more able to defend their position; moreover, as a rule they seem already to have lived on their own, during their student years. Nevertheless, there were problems: a case in point is Stagirius, a rich young man and a friend of John Chrysostom. When he wanted to begin the monastic life, his father was firmly against the idea. However, Stagirius moved away from his home, ostensibly to start his studies in Antioch, but in reality to join an ascetic community. He also made a deal with his mother to conceal from his father what he had done. Even in this kind of case, there was to appear no open rebellion against paternal authority; the primary option was incontestably the preservation of traditional family life and familial hierarchies. 

 

Vuolanto : – with e.g. Hier. epist.  on Asella, who was promised to God before birth. She took her vow at the age of ten, and began her more rigorous ascetic practices at the age of twelve (cf. Greg. Nyss. vita Macr. – on Macrina making the decision at the age of twelve to stay unmarried); Ambr. de virginit. –; Bas. epist. . and reg. fus. tract. ; Council of Saragossa ( CE) canon . See further Undheim : –, also for epigraphical evidence. See e.g. Nathan :  and Vuolanto :  and , following Saller : – (tables),  and . For the problems and applicability of model life tables, see e.g. Scheidel . Ioh. Chrys. ad Stag. .. See also Ioh. Chrys. adv. oppugn. vit. mon. . and ..



 

Despite this, in Late Antiquity there circulated a number of hagiographic stories about children who had opposed the will of their parents by remaining celibate, with the rhetorical discourse of the independence of the young ascetic recruits. These would seldom have had any real-life background. The ideals of spiritual life and free will led to the highlighting of individuality and the need for children to overcome parental opposition in their yearning for the ascetic life and dedication to God. There may have been family conflicts, but these could hardly ever have become public, and in any case the children had virtually no possibility of successfully opposing their parents’ will. In a society like the Late Roman Christian world, where obedience and devotion (in one Latin word: pietas) towards one’s parents was a value that was unquestionable in principle, remaining single was necessarily a decision which involved the whole family, and if the parents were alive, their word would have counted much more than the opinion of the would-be ascetics themselves.

 Asceticism at Home In order to be able to assess the nature of the ascetic lifestyle of the young recruits as the ‘single life’, it is necessary to study what kind of arrangements this would have implied in the late fourth-century context. In general, three major trends of ascetic practice were emerging: the eremitical mode of life of the rigorous ascetics who completely rejected society, ascetics who practiced the ascetic life in the context of their homes and families, and organized ascetic communities. It seems that by the end of the fourth century, the majority of elite ascetics did not live in monastic communities, and certainly not as hermits or anchorites. For young female virgins in their early teens in particular, the first mentioned alternative was not an option, and the dividing line between the second and third forms of asceticism is by no means self-evident. Instead, young virgins lived in close contact with their families, as a part of the original household structure. This ‘home-asceticism’ was the dominant form of elite female asceticism, especially in the Western part of the empire. In the West, there are no  

  Vuolanto . Vuolanto : –. Elm : . On the importance of home asceticism, especially for women in the fourth-century West, see Clark : – and Caseau : –. For Egypt and the Middle East, see Wipszycka  with Elm : –, –, , –. Wipszycka especially downplays the possibility of women choosing anchoritic monasticism. See, however, Schroeder  on the variety of women’s ascetic experience in Roman Egypt. Still, it seems the more solitary forms of female asceticism were restricted to women of rather modest economic background.

Single Life in Late Antiquity?



unambiguous references before the sixth century to little children being vowed to God, separated from their families and given to the monastic settlements to be brought up as ascetics. Thus, for elite girls in their early teens, the ascetic vow seems not to have prompted them to leave home or the supervision of relatives outside the original household. Female virgins were expected to cultivate domesticity, modesty and restricted spatial movement in their way of life. They were expected to be in public view as little as possible. An elite virgin was virtuous if she indeed lived with her relatives, secluded in her parents’ home, or at least took refuge in a community led by an older female relative. In these early phases of asceticism, the home was outside the world and its perils, a safe bastion in the battle against earthly passions. The contacts with the outer world were to be reduced to a minimum – even the maid attendants should be separated from all worldly associates as carefully as possible. On the other hand, in the uppermost echelons of the society, this modesty as such developed into a spectacle. Not only were virgins expected to receive (but only some and carefully selected) visitors, and to go out to church, but, as Kate Wilkinson points out, a virgin ‘must outdo the ordinary noblewoman in her womanly virtue’ and in her ‘superlative domesticity’. Indeed, paradoxically, they were socially highly visible, and the fact that they did not frequently appear in public constituted a public spectacle as such. To live unmarried under parental supervision was not always easy, even if our sources often tend rather to highlight the saintly aspects of this kind of life. Augustine, however mentions a nun, a sanctimonialis, who lived in the household of her parents. In the middle of the night she woke up a presbyter who, because of his duties, had stayed overnight at the house. According to the presbyter, the nun started to complain about her parents, and continued until he got too upset and left the room, fearing damage to their reputations. He was right – damage followed. The position of virgins with regard to their families of origin can also be seen in the public reactions to them. Fourth- and early fifth-century 



 

See, however, Ger. v. Mel. (Greek) , mentioning a girl given to the monastery by her mother ‘at the altar’. It may be significant, however, that the surviving Latin (i.e. Western) version of this text does not mention this case at all. See e.g. Ambr. de virg. .., inst. virg. .; Greg. Nyss. vita Macr.  and ; Ioh. Chrys. fem. reg. , de sac. . with Arjava : –. On the need for the seclusion of elite girls and women: Hier. epist. .–, ., . (both letters written in  CE),  ( or  CE), .–. Wilkinson : –, –. Aug. epist. *: de parentibus suis nescio quas querelas immurmurantem.



 

legislation reacted to the enhanced independence of ascetic women by trying to regulate their independent economic activity. In , Valentinian I decreed that clerics or monks were not allowed to visit widows or fatherless girls (pupillae) or accept any transfers of property from them (seemingly in fear of legacy-hunting). This, however, is the only law which mentions girls; all other legislation reflects concern about widows. They were potentially much more threatening to the family property than were young virgin daughters, most of whom still had a father to take care of such issues. Even later in their lives, virgins who resided with their relatives would not have had the possibility to learn independence. More distant kinship relations were not necessarily any easier. A woman who had no parents and no husband could still not live alone, and if she was not a member of an ascetic community, there was not much choice. The case of Indicia, as told by Ambrose, depicts a young elite virgin who has problems due to these circumstances. A man, Renatus, who once had wanted to marry her but was turned down, accused her of having abandoned her new-born child in order to conceal her loss of virginity. Indicia was living in the household of her sister and brother-in-law. In this situation, the brother-in-law, Maximus, built a wall separating his and his wife’s quarters from those of Indicia to avoid shame for the family. The reaction of Maximus shows the ambivalent attitude towards the virgin. On the one hand, in the context of the Church, to have a virgin living in one’s household brought honour and spiritual rewards, but on the other hand, Maximus was quick to accept the accusations against her and took measures to protect his and his wife’s reputation by cutting Indicia out of their fellowship – maybe also to get her property under his control. A virgin, like any other upper-status Roman woman, represented her family, its fame and honour, wherever she went, and whatever she did. Whether in their homes or in communities, virgins were not completely secluded: they were to act as examples of a pure life in their communities. They had a public position, regardless of their original social background. After the decision for asceticism, the ‘single life’ of these young household ascetics was far from being as independent – or single in the sense of living alone – as one might have expected.

  

Cod. Theod. .., with Arjava : –. Ambr. epist. , with Uhalde : , –. See also Elm : .



Wilkinson : –.

Single Life in Late Antiquity?





Young Virgins, Families and Ascetic Communities

The third alternative for female asceticism, ascetic communities, was only gradually emerging during the late fourth century. As Susanne Elm points out, the process whereby elite households developed into ascetic households and finally ascetic communities was a process of gradual transformation of the traditional family structures. The household of Basil the Elder and Emmelia in Cappadocia is the best-documented case. Their daughter Macrina was the first to start living in personal poverty with household work, a specific habit and spiritual exercises; then other household members, first her mother, Emmelia, followed her example; this was followed by the widening of the inner circle to include the former household slaves as equals in principle, and finally, ‘outsiders’ were received as community members. The same widening circle can be detected, for example, in the household of Melania the Younger in Rome. In this process, the household structure may have been transformed almost beyond recognition, but the household ideology with mother and children, brothers and sisters persisted. Similarly, many functional features of the household remained, such as the shared use of the property, relative economic independence, specific internal hierarchies and continuity. A monastic community was to be a new household, oikeia. For the young people of the elites, this kind of asceticism seems to have taken two main forms at this early stage. Firstly, there were the ascetic communities which had as their starting point the activity of the ‘older generation’: these often had grown up around a core of a couple, sometimes with their children, or around a (widowed) mother with her daughter. Elite children could end up in this kind of community when they joined them with their parents or other older relatives who aimed at starting a new life. These communities may later have expanded further through relatives and acquaintances with their own children. Well-known examples of this kind of community are the household of the Anician widows in Rome, which later included young Demetrias as a virgin; the household of Paula the Elder; the community which formed around Paulinus and Therasia in Nola; and, somewhat later, the more   

Elm : , –,  and  on Basil of Ancyra, . For Macrina, see Greg. Nyss. vita Macr.; for Melania the Younger, see Gerontius vita Melaniae (Greek) – and Pall. Laus. .–. Elm : . This was especially the case among the elites. It is only in hagiographic stories regarding the common people that we meet also (widowed) fathers with their sons retiring to a monastic community. See e.g. Cassian. inst. .; Soz. ..



 

institutionalized community of Lérins in Southern Gaul, which welcomed, for example, Eucherius of Lyon with his children. Some other children arrived with their parents, who sought help and protection, while other children were to be educated in these communities. In more general terms, bishops, priests and ascetics were supposed to take care of orphans and foundlings: for example, Basil of Caesarea, in his monastic rules, not only urged monastic communities to take in orphans and raise them, but also assumed the continuing presence of children in his monastic foundations – and this did take place at least on some occasions. But this did not mean that these children would stay in these circumstances for the rest of their lives. Not all the children in the ascetic communities were to be counted as dedicated ascetics, as they formed separate groups to be brought up and educated. Only some of the children raised in monasteries would have ended up ascetics and thus remained permanently single. Another context in which young people or children began the ascetic life in their households was when they themselves were promised to be brought up as gifts to God. As pointed out above, this was still a family decision, taken at the earliest even before their birth. A more common alternative in this first phase of elite asceticism, however, was for a child’s vow to be taken only later on, when the children were at marriageable age. In all of these situations, the virgins would be living with their parents, often in an otherwise ‘secular’ household, and when the parents had died, with other relatives. Parents were encouraged to propagate these forms of asceticism in their households: ‘In every Christian household it is needed that there is a virgin.’ Asella is an example of a girl promised to God









Demetrias: Hier. epist. ; Aug. epist.  and ; Pelag. ad Demetr.; Paula the Elder and her daughters: Hier. epist. , ,  and . Nola: see e.g. Paul. Nol. carm.  with Alciati , esp. – (also on Sulpicius Severus’ Primuliacum); Paul. Nol. epist. .–, on Eucherius and his sons at Lérins. For other ascetic families with children, see e.g. Hier. epist. ; Pall. Laus. .; Salv. epist. . See also Pudsey  and Schroeder  on children in the ascetic communities of Roman Egypt. On education and security: Ioh. Chrys. hom.  eph. , adv. oppugn. vit. mon. . and ; Aug. epist. –, epist. *., in which the mother with her boy and his stepfather were seeking help, not the spiritual life. See also Miller : – with Kalogeras . On orphans and foundlings: Bas. reg. fus. tract. .; Greg. Nyss. vita Macr. ; Aug. epist. .; Ps.-Athan. can. . See also Athan. vita Ant. – (–) for Antony giving his orphan sister to a monastery of nuns to be brought up. Bas. epist. . and reg. fus. tract. , with Caseau : –. For example the girl referred to in Augustine’s letters as having lived in his monastic settlement was certainly not a dedicated virgin: Aug. epist. –. See also Millar : –. Quotation: Ps.-Athan. can. ; see also can.  and .

Single Life in Late Antiquity?



before her birth. She took her vows at the age of ten, and later joined, with her sister Marcella, the ascetic household of Albina and her likewise widowed daughter Marcella in Rome. Indicia, as we have seen above, was living as a virgin in the household of her sister and brother-in-law. In Gaul, Ausonius implies that his maternal aunt Aurelia Hilaria, a dedicated virgin, lived either in the household of her parents, or at least in close proximity to it, all her life. Ausonius’ paternal aunt, Julia Cataphronia, also a consecrated virgin, did not live in a monastic community, nor had she given away her patrimony – and both aunts stayed intimately in contact with their nephew. In some cases, if other family members too would take the ascetic habit and recruit ‘outsiders’, the household could develop into an actual monastic community, as in the case of the household of Emmelia and Macrina. The domination of the ascetic discourse by family ideals meant that various forms of household asceticism, many of which were discouraged by the mainstream ecclesiastical writers, were still flourishing in the fourth century. If natural children were lacking, childless people were even encouraged to adopt ascetics as family members. Jerome, on the other hand, mentions disapprovingly the possibility of a widow ‘adopting’ a spiritual son as a family member. As one more logical step forward, there also developed different forms of asceticism imitating married life, such as a tiny group of Abeloim near Hippo, who were married but disapproved of intercourse and thus adopted their children from outside of the community. A more frequent, and in some places seemingly even popular, way of arranging the ascetic lifestyle was spiritual marriage. These syneisaktai, subintroductae or agapetae, as they were called, lived with ascetic men or clergy in a pseudo-marriage. This practice was strongly criticised by the mainstream Christian writers. Some, especially Jerome, were worried about the motivations of the agapetae and their actual sexual purity, with accusations of making chastity a show, a public performance. Nevertheless, although their purity was not necessarily a priori suspect, the problem was that their conduct would be seen as dubious and open to misinterpretation, especially outside of the ascetic Christian circles – and that it was unacceptable that these women would serve their male companions in  



Hier. epist. . and , .. See also Clark :  and Vuolanto : . Another example of a girl promised to God at birth was Paula the Younger (Hier. epist. ). Aemilia Hilaria: Auson. parentalia ; Julia Cataphronia: Auson. parentalia , with Laes and Vuolanto a: –. For widowed mothers with their virgin daughters, see e.g. Aug. epist.  and Theod. Hist. rel. .  Ps.-Athan. can. ; Hier. epist. .. Aug. de haer. , with Vuolanto : .



 

ascetic households, as subintroductae were understood to do. This subordination would endanger their ability to shine as perfect examples of purity and dedication to the heavenly spouse, Christ, which was expected from them by these ecclesiastical writers. Moreover, this kind of living was no longer life in seclusion and modesty, not ‘virginity’ as a certain socially and culturally defined way of life. Thus, paradoxically, Chrysostom can call these virgins (whose physical virginity he does not deny) prostitutes. Marrying in the traditional way, but later taking the ascetic vow by mutual consent was a way of organizing this in an orthodox manner – even if, naturally, these people would not be counted as virgins. In these circumstances, and especially when couples or siblings were the initiating nucleus of the ascetic community, the family relations would include wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, or widows with sons. Thus, quite naturally, the ascetic communities ended up by including people of both sexes, also in cases where the community as such was not (or no longer) built around a family or household nucleus. This was the case especially in the East, before the end of the fourth century. These communities resembled actual households, and they were also conceptualized as such: the aristocratic notion of the familia was deeply embedded in the forms which (female) elite monasticism was taking in this period. The many forms of unmarried life show in part the problems women had in trying to organize their life according to ascetic ideals and standards. If organized ascetic communities were not available – which must still have been the predominant situation in most of the Roman world in the fourth century – living together in spiritual marriage was a practical social and economic solution for those who could not fulfil their vocation in their own family contexts, either because they lacked family altogether, or because the family lacked the economic means or willingness to support



 

Leyerle : – and Wilkinson : – with Hier. epist. .–, .. See also Elm : –, , –, –, –, ,  on the frequency in which spiritual marriage appears in the contemporary (Eastern) texts (esp. by the Cappadocians, Basil of Ancyra and John Chrysostom). Clark : – is the classic analysis of Chrysostom’s viewpoint. For living in chaste marriage, see e.g. Vuolanto , – with further references. For example, Pachomius’ asceticism was initially an enterprise of two brothers, and he had a sister to run a women’s community – like Basil of Caesarea, too, who followed his brother Naucratios to asceticism; and their sister Macrina’s community at first included their brother Peter. See also the ascetic community mentioned in Hier. epist. ; Elm : –, , , –. For ascetic communities and family metaphors, see Vuolanto : –.

Single Life in Late Antiquity?



such a lifestyle. There was still no place or protection for a single (in the sense of ‘living alone’) woman outside of the family.



Non-married Lifestyle as New Family Life

At the metaphorical level, the young people who found their ways to monasteries and other ascetic communities, never marrying and staying single all their lives, shared a ‘family life’. The fundamental nature of the Christian communities constructed as familiae Christi was ideally manifested in solidarity and mutual charity among all the members. However, within the household of God, ascetics and ascetic communities, organized and conceptualized as families, formed a nuclear family of Christ inside the extended family that consisted of all Christians. In numerous fourth- and early fifth-century texts, the relationship between the virgin and Christ is referred to as a betrothal, or even a marriage, in the family of Christ. Christ is the bridegroom for every single virgin – even, in some contexts, for male virgins. As Paulinus of Nola, himself living in a chaste marriage, persuaded his audience: ‘Let us kiss him whose kiss is chastity. Let us have intercourse with him, to wed whom is virginity.’ The multiple forms of asceticism would have led to a situation in which the new female ascetic recruits grew up to become ascetics in close contact with their parents, and with their other relatives. Living as a single was translated into the traditional terminology of family and marriage. The life situation of the ecclesiastical virgins was ideologically perceived as a marriage, with all the duties (as well as the gains, like the heavenly inheritance) this included. Indeed, the propagators of asceticism were quick to highlight that ascetics would enjoy the same profits as those with many children, without the inconveniences of marriage but with the eventual reward in heaven. The parents of the ascetics would not lack grandchildren, since their children would have continuity and immortality

 

 

See also Leyerle : –. E.g. Ps.-Athan. can. – (Arabic text); Greg. Nyss. virg. .; Ps.-Athan. vita Syncl.  and ; Ambr. exhort. virg. .–, virg. ..; Hier. epist. . and .–; Aug. bon. viduit.  (). See Hunter : – on the ‘bridal exegesis’ of Ambrose. Paul. Nol. epist. . with Kuefler : –, who stresses the significance of male bridehood. See further Laes  for the terminology for male virgins. Paul. Nol. epist. .: Illum osculemur, quem osculari castitas est. Illi copulemur, cui nupsisse virginitas est. See also Hier. epist. ., .–, De laps. virg. cons. .; Greg. Nyss. virg. .. In Aug. virg.  () and in Ioh. Chrys. reg. fem.  and , Christ is a lover.



 

as their offspring. ‘A virgin gives birth to immortal children through the Spirit, and virginity has always the offspring of devotion to rejoice in’, as Gregory of Nyssa claims. In a hagiographic treatise originating from the Western part of the Mediterranean probably in the fifth century, the virgin Helia boasts of her heavenly spouse and painless daily childbirth. Her body is ‘a field’ untouched by mortal men, but ‘sowed by Christ’, and a garden ‘irrigated by the dew of heaven’. She is fruitful beyond imagination, having ‘a multitude of spiritual children’. The ideological background for the virginal life can also be seen in its conceptualization first and foremost as a state of mind, not as a state of body – even a raped virgin can be a pure and undefiled one. This, however, need not have been a universally shared attitude among the Christian congregations, in view of the frequency with which the ecclesiastical writers had to repeat this view, and sometimes even take a stand against the aims of local clergy and parishioners to carry out a gynecological examination of the virgins whose status was in doubt. Nevertheless, ascetics had plenty of offspring: their admirers, followers and disciples. Jerome, for example, is able to boast that his ‘seed is fertile with hundredfold fruit’. Even the lonely hermits, who did not have a community to take care of their needs and who actually lived outside of any family framework, were not alone in their single life. Thus, the lifestyle of the hermits, which in our eyes would indeed embody single living, was re-conceptualized as living in connection with families and households, having relationships similar to a marriage bond and having offspring. These kinds of ascetics might be leading a single life in the eyes of ignorant people, but in transcendental reality, they were not. But this lonely lifestyle was not in the least recommended for the young ascetic elite recruits; they were to stay at home or to join ascetic communities. Indeed, the family rhetoric of the early Christian asceticism highlighted the communality of the enterprise. This was necessary, because remaining unmarried was a precarious choice in Late Antique society: unmarriedness   

 

Ioh. Chrys. adv. oppugn. vit. mon. .; Ambr. epist. .; Meth. symp. .; Aug. epist. .; Aug. epist. . Greg. Nyss. virg. . (quotation),  and . Vita Heliae .–, –, –, in Burrus and Conti : ,  and . Further on the fecundity of virgins, and their ‘marriage’ with Christ, see Burrus and Conti : – and Vuolanto : –. E.g. Bas. epist. .; Ambr. epist. ; Aug. civ. .–; Leo epist. . and , with Elm :  on Basil of Ancyra. Hier. epist. .: nubat et nubatur ille qui in sudore faciei comedit panem suum, cui terra tribulos generat et spinas, cuius herba sentibus suffocatur: meum semen centena fruge fecundum est. See also Hier. adv. Iovin. . with Kuefler :  and .

Single Life in Late Antiquity?



and childlessness meant living unprotected and without continuity – but ascetics would belong to the family of Christ, and they would spiritually enjoy all the fruits of marriage without its handicaps. Even some social and ritual practices highlighted the family characteristics of the ascetic lifestyle. Girls, or young women, acquired the status of virgins in an ecclesiastical ceremony which imitated secular marriage. The ecclesiastical punishments for breaking one’s vow of virginity, and the reasons given for the specific punishments, highlighted the association of the vow and marriage: if adulterers were punished when they defiled the marriage bed in ordinary marriage, so too virgins were seen as adulteresses against God (or his Son).

 Conclusions In asceticism, Christianity and the Church offered – or at least claimed to offer – alternatives to many issues that were traditionally dependent only on progeny: taking care of the widows and orphans, of the old, of the dead and of transmitting the spiritual traditions and inheritance – and, most importantly, asceticism ensured the afterlife for its practitioners and their family members, in renown and commemoration in this world and in immortality in the next. Ascetics were part of the new family, a heavenly one, in which they had the same kind of role as they would have had in the traditional family oriented towards married life; thus, asceticism offered a new option for elite family strategies. Through the lack of children, elite families risked dying out and oblivion. This was a serious matter. Traditionally, the fame and honour of the great families, and the immortality of individual family members, depended on the good name of the family and the continuity of the lineage. Even among Christians, asceticism remained a minority option, and it continued to be criticised. After all, most of the Christian families were untouched by ascetic practices with their radical requests and new standards of life. All but a few men and women married and at least tried to have children. Marriage, or its counterpart, an ascetic vow, was inevitably a family issue. In the fourth century, virgin women remained as integral parts of their families, living under the authority of the paterfamilias. Elite female ascetic recruits grew up in their homes to become ascetics, and in homes  

Undheim : –. See also Elm :  on Basil of Ancyra, and Hunter : – on the ‘parental’ authority of a bishop in veiling virgins. See Vuolanto : –.



 

they would stay. Their traditional roles in society in general, and in households in particular, determined the forms their ascetic lives could take. The models chosen, whether virgin daughters, virgin widows or virgin wives, were based on the notion of family. For men, the radical option of life in the desert was much more of a possibility, even if elite male ascetics also tended rather to organize their new life in connection with families, biological or spiritual, following the examples of such figures as Sulpicius Severus (in Primuliacum), of Paulinus (in Nola) or Augustine (in Cassiciacum). Celibacy did not make elite women free: especially for younger women, not widows, their future was in the hands of their fathers, mothers and wider families, under whose legally and socially sanctioned authority they lived. If we want to find female ascetics as independent singles in Late Antiquity, it seems we have to turn our gaze to the lower-status ascetic women in the fringes of the Egyptian desert. Therefore, paradoxically, for these elite ascetics ‘singleness’ did not mean living alone. Nor was it a choice made by the individual – at least not for the many young women. Thus, by the end of the fourth century, Christianity as such did not advocate elite singleness (in the sense of living alone), even if it did hold unmarriedness (in the sense of ‘no sex’) in high regard. In fact, it is possible to understand all the forms of communal and household asceticism of the young ascetic recruits as ways to oppose any association of asceticism with life without family, which would have meant life without authority, protection and continuity. Virgins were to be closely guarded in their communities, never left alone, under the authority of both the materfamilias and paterfamilias (community leaders, bishops and, on the symbolic level, the Church and Christ). In homes, young ascetics continued to live in close connection with their parents and kin, and formed links with the family of Christ in this world (the Church), and in the other world (God), not only for themselves but also for their relatives. Living single was organized as a family life, and it was conceptualized by using traditional family terminology. Christianity, and especially ascetic Christianity, offered new solutions to the anxieties of dying and living: the heavenly family would make the believer a sharer in its communion, ensuring the inheritance and   

See also Salzman : –, . Schroeder : –. Even here, our sources are irritatingly scarce and vague. See also Goessens, in this volume, pp. – on the commemoration of the unmarried, with no preference or praise for singleness as such.

Single Life in Late Antiquity?



continuity beyond death. Having virgins as family members meant renown and honour for the household and the family name among the Christian communities. Virgins were protected by their relatives, both spiritual and biological, in the absence of a husband in this world, and they avoided oblivion both for themselves and for their close relatives through their special relationship with the family of Christ.

 

Being a Bachelor in Late Antiquity: Desire and Social Norms in the Experience of Augustine Geoffrey Nathan



Introduction

While on a visit to the public baths, a sixteen-year-old Augustine was mortified when his father, Patricius, observing his son’s sexual development, joked about having grandchildren soon. His mother, Monnica, if anything, was even more shocked to hear of her husband’s crass comments and begged the adolescent not just to avoid fornication, but specifically not to sleep with any of the locally married women. Leaving aside for the moment the Freudian implications of such a statement, the underlying expectations of both his mother and father were that young men commonly engaged in sexual activity before marriage and that such behaviour was not only normal and expected, but might also result in illegitimate offspring. And indeed, just such an event happened less than two years later. Rejecting his mother’s admonitions at the time as “womanish” (muliebris), Augustine fathered Adeodatus – a name that borders on the ironic – and the event was only unusual perhaps in that he chose to claim the child. Unsurprisingly, we never learn much about this first concubine who bore his son and remained his companion for almost fifteen years – not even her name. So much might be expected, given that her status, whether free or freed, would have been much lower than Augustine’s own. Augustine’s anecdote about his father is significant for a number of reasons. First, it is the only specific story of interaction with Patricius, a man for whom he had decidedly mixed feelings. Of greater significance, however: this account of father and son introduced Augustine’s readers to    

 Aug. conf. ... Conf. ... Brown : – has noted that the modern interest in her name and her identity more generally would have been an anachronism in Augustine’s time. Different scholars have offered different thoughts about the nature of Augustine and the unnamed woman’s relationship. See Power : –. Although on Augustine’s passivity in this passage, see O’Donnell : ii..



Being a Bachelor in Late Antiquity



his budding and dangerous sexuality, with which he would struggle until his conversion and baptism in . His inability to control his impulses, by his own admission, was the greatest impediment to his full acceptance of the Christian faith. Third, and relevant to this volume, it raises the issues of what constituted proper sexual comportment before, during and after marriage, and under what circumstances celibacy or continence should be pursued. This last point raises an epistemological issue that several contributors to this volume have had to address: What is the relationship between sexual abstinence and the state of being unattached? As Christian Laes notes in his introductory chapter, understanding what is meant by singledom in this context is itself a difficult concept, since being married does not presume sexual activity and being unmarried does not presume abstinence. Christianity, Laes continues, complicated the situation by introducing the concept of exclusivity within marriage and, with it, status for those who chose to avoid both matrimony and sexual congress altogether. While the univira (a “one-man” woman) had long been an ideal in the Roman world, no such equivalent concept applied to men. For those who were ostensibly Christian, then, the matter of life prior to and during marriage understandably became theoretically more complicated for young bachelors and husbands respectively. Leaving aside for the moment how sexual activity in a iusta nupta ought to be pursued, the life of a single male – at least for those of means – was in the Roman world a time of considerable personal freedom. That not only included the freedom to engage in a number of sexual activities without penalty or even much reproach, but also the freedom to pursue a number of personal and professional interests unencumbered by certain familial responsibilities. In some circumstances, as Raffaella Cribiore concluded in her contribution here, it might even permit men to avoid marriage altogether – a topic to which I shall return. With these issues in mind, Augustine’s life is an important test case for how and why an adult male might negotiate singledom, and one significantly different from many of the cases discussed in this volume that have focused more on women. First, we are in a unique position to know an enormous amount about Augustine’s personal life and his experiences as a    

Pyy, in this volume; Kiiskinen, in this volume and Vuolanto, in this volume.  Laes, in this volume. Vuolanto , passim. Also see Cooper . On univira and pudicitia, see Lightman and Ziesel ; Nathan : – and –; and Langlands : –. Cribiore, in this volume.



 

single, although not celibate man; and second, we possess his thoughts about sexuality and the married state as a theologian. To the first point: Augustine most famously wrote the Confessions, a carefully constructed autobiography chronicling his spiritual odyssey from (in his own mind) a recalcitrant and helpless sinner to a baptised, orthodox Christian. Additional details about his life also come from his other works, although many of those are parenthetical. And of course, we also possess the vita written by Possidius, a fellow bishop and friend of forty years, who wrote of Augustine’s life before and (in much greater length) after his ordination as a priest. To the second: like many of the patristic writers of the late fourth and early fifth century, Augustine wrote voluminously of virginity, abstinence, marriage, widowhood, celibacy, concupiscence and other related topics. He moreover addressed these issues in a variety of circumstances: sermons delivered to a general audience, public debates, letters both private and public and formal treatises. His thoughts came amid Jovinian’s challenges to the spiritual worth of virgins, wives and widows; to the sexual mores of the Manichaeans and later, to Pelagius’ notion on the natural good of sexual pleasure. To be sure, these writings must be considered in two specific contexts: the audience for whom they were intended and the chronology of their publication. But they can in some circumstances serve as an extension of his reflections on his own life before conversion and what would eventually become a permanently unattached state. The life of the young Augustine thus serves as a useful introduction to the activities of young men before they entered marriage and, ostensibly, adulthood. While the impact of marriage patterns on the classical and postclassical family has been much discussed, considerably less attention has been paid to the life and nature of male bachelorhood in what might be interpreted as an extended adolescence. Augustine’s case is especially worth examining, since his conversion to orthodox Christianity also came roughly at a time in one’s life when many men chose or were forced to end their bachelorhood, if they had not done so already. Indeed, as is well known, the rhetorician was actually waiting for his betrothed to reach the

 

Possidius notes the length of his association in V. Aug. . See note  above, but for Late Antiquity see also Clark ; Bagnall : –; Arjava : –, –; Nathan : –; Kuefler  and ; Osiek  and Evans Grubbs .

Being a Bachelor in Late Antiquity



legal age of consent – probably somewhere between  and . Just as marriage ended the life led by the single man, both in terms of certain sexual and social activities – at least, in theory – so, too, did Augustine craft his autobiography to imply that his conversion functioned in much the same way: his old life and his former activities came to an end.

 Augustine’s Bachelorhood to  CE We must preface this examination by recognizing that the end of Augustine’s bachelorhood was almost certainly unusual. Leaving aside the fact that many Christians wed and there are even sufficient examples of celibate marriages amongst the clergy – to say nothing of the even more problematic “spiritual marriages” against which both the Church and state inveighed – most Christian authorities accepted the inherent good of the institution of marriage. Indeed, Augustine himself wrote de Bono Coniugiali, in , which actually ends with an admonition to young men and women choosing chastity to be vigilant and humble; he knew all too well the challenges of sexual abstinence. Conversely, the celibate life, for the wellborn at least, was considered somewhat inappropriate. John Chrysostom, for example, had to comfort the aristocratic Stagirius, whose parents had found his decision to become a monk beneath their family’s dignity. This applied to women as well: Melania the Younger’s family was scandalized (and mystified) at her behaviour for many years. As I have suggested elsewhere, there were strong economic, social and biological reasons why this was the case. Augustine’s choice to become a permanently celibate Christian (at least without promise of clerical office), thus would have been atypical, especially for a man of his career and station.



    

Conf. ... We know nothing about the girl to whom Augustine was betrothed, other than that she was an heiress from an important family; his first concubine was clearly a hindrance to his social advancement (conf. ..). If she were Christian, it is possible the marriage might have been delayed until she was well into her teens; as Augustine notes, he had to wait two years before the marriage could be consummated, which suggests a minimum legal age of . See Solignac :  for dating and age. See Alwis , for a full treatment on the topic of celibate marriage. See also Hunter : –. De bono con. . On the background of this work and the treatise itself, see Clark  and Schmitt , passim (but esp. pt. , ch. ). De providentia was dedicated to Stagirius, consoling him on his decision. See Wood : –; Brown : –; Maxwell : –. Ger. v. Mel. –. See also Vuolanto : –. Nathan : –. Cf. Vuolanto , passim and Vuolanto, in this volume.



 

That said, his bachelorhood itself and activities prior to his conversion were not atypical, in no small part due to the fact that young men often put off getting married well into their twenties. In contrast, for young women, menses was the moment that marriage became an imminent, if not immediate reality. Admittedly, as Ville Vuolanto has recently discussed, this is an increasingly problematic claim, but one that seems at least for the moment to be tenable as a working hypothesis. There is sufficient anecdotal evidence in both the literature and the epigraphy to suggest a general age disparity between men and women in their first marriages. And while spouses from the senatorial and curial orders might be slightly closer in age to one another, such as was the case of Quintus Fabius Symmachus and his unnamed wife, a gap of ten years or more was hardly unknown amongst elites. This had obvious implications for the nature of child rearing, domestic life, the family life cycle and inheritance strategies in Antiquity (things space does not permit us to discuss here). To take one example of its impact, directly relevant to Augustine’s life: Patricius was many years older than Monnica, perhaps as much as twenty years. The young man was unsurprisingly fatherless by the end of his sixteenth year, and at least one of his siblings, his brother, Navigius, was probably not much older. Nor was his experience in any way unique; many could expect to be orphans before they reached the age of majority due to such age disparities. Indeed, Augustine himself at the time of his betrothal was almost three times the age of his fiancée. Remaining single for as long as ten or more years after reaching adolescence was a commonalty for many men. When we turn to actual events, there were three distinct periods in his pre-conversion life that likely mirrored approximately the lives of many young men: adolescence at home, a state of nominally living on one’s own and finally as an affianced man where a specific time appointed for marriage was established. Obviously, the relative lengths of these periods,  

  

 

Vuolanto : –. Considerable scholarship on this subject includes Hopkins ; Saller ; Shaw ; Morizot ; Bagnall and Frier : –; Saller : –; Aubin ; Lelis, Percy and Verstraete  and Scheidel . On methodological issues, see Parkin : –.  PLRE ii , –. See again Shaw  and Scheidel . Zaidman : – at . His parents may have been married as long as nine years before Augustine was born; conf. ... That he also had a nephew named Patricius, the same as his father, suggests that Navigius was the elder and followed common Roman onomastic practices of first-born males recycling praenomina each generation or every other generation; see Salway : –. Huebner and Ratzan : –; and again Vuolanto : –. In the case of betrothals, there were significant obligations involved; see Treggiari b: –. For betrothals in Late Antiquity, see Harper a: –.

Being a Bachelor in Late Antiquity



and indeed the stages themselves, might vary greatly. A betrothal might go on for many years or a young man might get married while still in adulescentia. Pinian, for example, was still a teenager when he married Melania the Younger – the latter being so young that she continued to live with her parents at home. Perhaps more commonly, the end of adolescence and becoming a husband went hand in hand: Paulinus of Pella married and became a master of his own estate when he was . Alternatively, an engagement might extend for many years, as seems to have been the case of Nichomachus Flavianus the Younger and Galla – even to the point that such betrothals were made while both were in their minorities. And of course, imperial dynasties might be even more complex, as the contemporaneous examples of Honorius and Galla Placidia can attest. In the case of Augustine, he followed a short period of adolescence at home with a lengthy bachelorhood, and a betrothal nearing his thirtieth year.

 Restless Youth (– CE) Of his early years, Augustine spent much of his autobiography describing destructive, yet influential experiences – or at least their spiritual impact. As the son of a local curialis, Augustine was given a formal education, the best possible after his intellectual talents were discovered. For a time he was sent away for schooling at Madaurus, perhaps between  and , afterwards returning home to wait while his parents gathered sufficient funds to provide for an advanced education in Carthage. During that idle time, he got into the sorts of trouble a teenaged young man might, usually in the company of the sons of Thagaste’s notables. He stole and committed acts of vandalism, exemplified in the incident of the pears, for which he apparently was never caught or punished. He was concerned with and indulged in those sexual activities that his mother had  

   

Ger. v. Mel. –. Euch. ll. –. I make a distinction between adolescence and adulescentia, the former referring to the modern physiological, psychological and social construct, which begins with the onset of puberty and the development of a young person from a child into an adult. Adulescentia refers to the Roman legal definition, defined as the age between / and  (CTh vii.. []). For the purposes of inheritance, childhood legally ended at : CTh viii.. and .. Symm. epist. ., .–. See O’Donnell . Formal education was not universal among Augustine’s social equals; he mentions that two of his cousins did not have the benefit of the curriculum of grammar and rhetoric; de b. vita .. Augustine corresponded with an old grammarian from Madaurus, Maximus, who may have been his teacher; epist.  and . See PLRE I , . Conf. ...



 

feared. As in the modern world, peer pressure played an important role in encouraging certain behaviours: Augustine bragged about sins he did not commit, because he felt competitive with his friends. It is also important to emphasise that his station allowed him to perpetrate these acts with a fair degree of impunity. Other elite students elsewhere in the Empire acted similarly, as the lives of Gregory Nazianzen and Jerome can attest. But it is equally important not to tie too much of this activity to a high social status. Misbehaviour was not only the purview of well-off boys; the racing faction street gangs were a common feature of many large cities of Late Antiquity. Conversely, the aristocratic Paulinus of Pella may have had at least one child out of wedlock, like Augustine, but otherwise enjoyed a quiet and mischief-free youth of hunting, horseback riding and falconry. Class was an important factor in Augustine’s behaviour, but not the only one.

 Age of Majority (– CE) These early, restless teen years prefaced his majority and nominal independence. As with Aeneas in the first book of Vergil’s epic poem, Augustine arrives in Carthage in the third book of the Confessions. Thus began an extended period of adult bachelorhood dominated by teaching, writing, public speaking and most famously his not so private spiritual metamorphosis. Augustine, having read Cicero’s Hortensius, would begin his quest for wisdom. While he became well known and respected in Carthage, he also took these pursuits personally. He “converted” to Manichaeism, which I will discuss below. He would become successful enough to make his way to Rome and eventually become a state-supported rhetor in the imperial capital of Milan. In these professional, intellectual and spiritual perambulations, Augustine depended, as he had in his teenaged years, on his social peers. His closest friends – Nebridius, Alypius, Severus and Evodius – were also all unmarried. Roughly the same age or slightly younger, they were young men of like minds: each was either a Christian or in a state of spiritual confusion leaning towards orthodox Christianity. Each of these bachelors    

Conf. .–, . Conf. ..: Ego, ne vituperarer, vitiosior fiebam . . . (“I even made myself more wicked, so as not to be scorned . . .”). Greg. Naz. de sua vita  and ; Hier. comm. in Ez. ., epist. .. Kelly : – argues for a young Jerome with a healthy libido.   Cameron : –. Paul. euch. ll. –. Conf. ...

Being a Bachelor in Late Antiquity



seemed interested in helping one another to achieve something more serious than the expectations of marriage and family life. There were similarities beyond marital status and a certain spiritual bent. All of his closest associates were employed as lawyers or as mid-level government officials – an approximation of Augustine’s own professional status in life. Not coincidentally, too, all these men were natives of North Africa, many from his hometown who, like him, sought to make their fortunes in Italy. In the cases of Evodius and Severus (both from Thagaste) and possibly Nebridius (a Carthaginian), Augustine knew these men from childhood. In Carthage, Rome and Milan, he thus associated most closely with those who were his social equals and those who shared his spiritual and intellectual interests. His socialization with all sorts, however, affected his public life and career in the years before his actual betrothal. To start, despite occasionally having to deal with affairs in Thagaste, Augustine’s pre-conversion life seems largely free from too many familial or legal entanglements (although about his mother, see below). From student to teacher and public speaker, he also used his status and contacts both to aid in his own self-enlightenment and to further his own station. The two were often linked, as is manifest in his experience with Manichaeism. His conversion to that sect proved to be unfruitful to his spiritual interests, finding it intellectually flawed, but he feigned continued interest in order to manipulate the religion’s social network to secure employment and housing for himself when he went to Italy. It was probably in the house of the Manichaean Hearer Constantius where he recovered from a serious illness shortly after arriving in Rome. They were also able to introduce him to Symmachus, then the urban prefect of the city, who would recommend his appointment at Milan in . It was also during this time as an unmarried adult that he lived with one woman, a concubine – a completely common situation for a man in his  



 

On Nebridius, within the conf., see .; ., , , ; ., ; .; ., . On Alypius, see ., –, , ; .; ., –, –; ., . On Evodius, .. As a member of the curiales, Augustine technically would be liable for public service, something he managed to avoid by going to Carthage and later Italy. In conf. .., there is some suggestion that he was shirking his responsibilities; see also .. On some of the possible problems facing him, see Lepelley . All the more problematic since he continued to use those contacts even after rejecting Manichaean beliefs; see Lieu : –, esp. –. It is even possible that his somewhat remarkable jump from a grammaticus in Thagaste to a publicly supported professor of rhetoric in Carthage may have been due to their influence. See Lane Fox , –. There was a large community in the capital; conf. ... Conf. ... Letters of recommendation (typos systatikos) were another purpose for epistolary publicity. See Ps.-Dem. De eloc. .



 

situation and status. We know nothing of her background or her character; she certainly was not of an equal station as the young man, as is evidenced by the social, if not emotional ease with which he sent her packing, returning to Africa after Augustine’s mother had secured an advantageous marriage contract. But she had borne him a son in  and accompanied him from Carthage to Rome and eventually to Milan. She would play an important role in the Confessions, although one in which her character and agency were limited almost to nothingness. What is of interest is the degree to which she served as the enabler for the young man’s lust, at least in his own mind. For Augustine, there was enormous guilt in the way he felt beholden to his own carnal desires, desires he would describe in a most explicit way decades later – suggesting, among other things, his own continued concupiscence. It was by his own admission that his vagus ardor, his wandering lust, had created the relationship and kept him enthralled. He saw his companion of many years as the conduit for that lust, giving him leave to exercise the evils of concupiscence. His desire for sexual activity of course reduces the value of this woman as an individual and within the structure of his narrative, she almost becomes a rhetorical device. But we must weigh his concerns about his own sense of uncontrollable desire against what little we know of his actual behaviour towards her. His description of his partner being ripped from his side (avulsa a latere meo), as if part of his own body had been torn away, was clearly and sincerely heartfelt – and one that would linger for a long time. It is also important to note that Augustine always referred to her as “una ” (the one), and the strength of his feelings and the language used suggest that Augustine saw her almost as a wife. Paul in Ephesians : had argued that marriage made man and woman one flesh (una carne), a metaphor used repeatedly in the Confessions. He also noted his loyalty to her, almost as if she were a legal spouse, claiming that he had only this one woman in his life (at least after he met her) and was faithful to her. This suggests that the nature of his relationship, which was meant to be temporary, took on an emotional permanence that, while perhaps not unusual, would have certainly been unseemly to acknowledge. Indeed, in some ways, it was more indicative of a relationship appropriate to a widower and a concubine, where the latter might serve as a surrogate for a new wife in order to avoid inheritance and other legal issues. As Peter   

 De nuptiis et concupiscentia .–. Conf. ...  Conf. ... See O’Donnell : ii.–. Conf. ... See, for example, Suet. Vesp.  and SHA M. Aur. .

Being a Bachelor in Late Antiquity



Brown noted, “Augustine [in the Confessions] wished to convey a sense of the sharp contrast between his sexual needs and his longing for clear, unproblematic relationships.” This must have been as true for his female relations as for his male ones. Did he “settle” for continence in the fifteen odd years they were together, as if she were a legitimate spouse? We do not know, but Augustine certainly took the relationship seriously. The young man even claimed Adeodatus as his own, something he was neither legally nor socially obligated to do, and something that might have caused problems were he to be married. Indeed, the birth of their son may have given Augustine the impetus to make his union monogamous. It is also interesting to note that he seems to have taken some Manichaean practices into consideration when it came to his relationship with this woman. One of the objections many Christians had to Manichaean practices was the goal of limiting marriage and the production of children. For a materialistic cosmology that saw the entrapment of the soul in the existential evil of the physical universe, the wish to avoid such torment made sense. But to mainstream Christians who viewed sexual activity only as legitimate for the production of children, artificial means to prevent pregnancy could only be seen as indulging in intercourse and sexuality for its own sake. Augustine himself reviled the artificial means the Manichaeans used to avoid pregnancy not long after his conversion. Yet it has not gone unnoticed that he had only one child by a woman he slept with regularly for well over a decade. There can be little doubt that Augustine took their injunctions seriously enough to apply them in his own personal circumstances. But his love for her, despite it being clearly genuine, must be weighed against two factors: first, we frankly do not know whether Augustine’s decision to take this woman as a semi-permanent partner was due to or in  

  

 

Brown : . Although Augustine’s contemporary, Libanius, also claimed his illegitimate son from a slave companion, Cimon, as his own; or. ., –, ; epist.  and . It is significant, however, that Libanius never intended to be married. Also, again, Cribiore, in this volume. O’Donnell : ii.–. On Manichaean notions of contraception, see BeDuhn : –. Titus of Bosca is one of the earliest Christians to address their methods of avoiding pregnancy, con. Man. .. De moribus Man. .; here he makes specific reference to abortificants and the rhythm method. In debating with the Manichaean bishop Faustus for ten years, he would answer and enlarge upon their sexual deviance; Con. Faus. .. Lastly in De bono con.  and much later in De nup. et conc. , he makes explicit reference to anal sex. Clark : . Whether his claim that he did not desire children, conf. .., was because of Manichaean practices or in spite of them (or a happy confluence of the two) is unclear.



 

spite of her pregnancy; and second, she was quickly replaced by another concubine until his fiancée reached a marriageable age. (His own later injunctions against precisely such behaviour was undoubtedly another belated “Je m’accuse ”). Moreover, the end of the relationship came naturally with his betrothal precisely because it was meant to be disposable in such circumstances. As Margaret Miles has observed, Augustine seems to have had little say in the matter; he was to a large degree a passive agent. Again, as parents were generally responsible for arranging suitable matches in the Roman world, it would be surprising were he to have had a hand in such negotiations while his mother was alive and close by. And Augustine, after all, was a careerist: “Formal marriage to her [his concubine] would have obliterated Augustine’s social and vocational aspirations.”

 A Betrothed Bachelor (–) This serves as a preface for his brief period of betrothal, a match engineered by his mother. While his concubine had returned to Africa, vowing chastity (as a proper univira), his inability to remain celibate was a continuing emotional bugbear. It was during this point in his life (and narrative) that he famously prayed, “Lord, grant me chastity and continence, but not yet!” But this was a spiritual concern, not a social one. Augustine’s personal emotional agony, however real, may have extended to consideration for his first concubine, but the second not at all. While he would continue to wrestle with the role of concubines in future years – most notably in his partial vindication of their status in De Bono Coniugiali – as a matter of practice the only censure that would fall on Augustine was his own. And more immediately, the year following his engagement would eventually lead to an almost complete mental breakdown, saved only by the miracle in the garden. This short period of betrothal before his baptism in  also brings into focus the second key woman during his bachelor years. Monnica, incidentally the only woman of his acquaintance he actually mentions by name,      

 Aug. serm. ... Miles : . On mothers and the arrangement of marriage, see Dixon : –, –.  Power : . Conf. ... Although his emotional state about the second concubine might be inferred, conf. ...  De bono con. . See also de fide et operibus .. We never learn the name of Augustine’s sister, despite the fact that she ran a monastery for women in Hippo while he was bishop; Poss. V. Aug. . His so-called “rule” was a letter written to that same institution after she died; epist. .. She is moreover never mentioned in the Confessions. Nor does he ever name his nieces.

Being a Bachelor in Late Antiquity



figured prominently in his autobiography and apparently in reality. She was also perhaps key in bringing Augustine’s spiritual crisis to a head by facilitating his engagement. We get the profound sense from the point of engagement of a man with his back up against a wall. We should initially point out that, despite Augustine’s many pronouncements about his mother’s religious devotion and his own (Christian) filial piety, he unquestionably found her presence invasive. She admonished him regularly. She apparently had a fine sense of sarcasm. Monnica even took up residence with him in Carthage, a common enough arrangement for widowed mothers, but one that must have proven especially difficult while Augustine was still a Manichaean who actively converted his friends to his particular sect. Her presence was uncomfortable enough that he tried to leave her. Just as Aeneas had to sneak out of Carthage to escape the loving embraces of Dido and fulfil his destiny, Augustine, too, stealthily escaped his mother, leaving North Africa to head for the Eternal City. Monnica, not a woman to give up easily, ended up following her son to Rome and then to Milan, ostensibly interested in his soul (after accusing him of deceptive cruelty, of course) – so Augustine tells us in almost every passage where she makes an appearance. But she actively involved herself in church activities in the imperial capital, enough to earn the notice of and comment from the bishop of the imperial capital, Ambrose. And consistent with common maternal topoi, she seemed equally interested in making a good match for her son in Milan; and apparently to a girl of good enough family that the official rhetor of the imperial capital might have expected a sinecure as a civil governor and then retirement amongst the senatorial elite. It may go too far to suggest that he was the product of a mother who lived vicariously through her son’s life and accomplishments  



   

 Lepelley . Conf. ... See McGinn : –. We may assume that she in part chose Augustine’s residence over that of his brother, Navigius, since the latter was married and had children. Augustine on the other hand lacked a (formal) woman of the house. Thus, two of his early works as a priest, De utilitate credendi and De vera religione, were written and dedicated to Honoratus and Romanianus respectively, in part because he had personally converted both to the sect. Ver. Aen. .–; conf. ... On the comparison, see O’Meara .  Conf. ... O’Donnell : ii.–. And not entirely positively: conf. ... Dixon : –, –. Conf. ... Both Ausonius and Aurelius Victor, older contemporaries of Augustine, had been local aristocrats of considerable literary talents who achieved high political office and honours. Ausonius received the consulship in  and Victor the prefecture of Rome in  (shortly after Augustine’s exit from Italy). See Kaster : – and Jones : –.



 

(and sought to control him), but she seems a ubiquitous presence until her death in . He would become reconciled to her completely in that last year and publicly acknowledge her wisdom. Looking back at his mother a decade after her death, however, Augustine post-conversion does his best to reinterpret the delicate balancing act of filial pietas and the constant and not always welcome presence in his life. But ultimately, it is an exercise in placing his mother within strict Christian and Roman conventions of motherhood. His full conversion to orthodox Christianity and oath of celibacy, as I suggested, ended his life from before, a year before his impending wedding. As he recounts in a conversation with his friend Alypius, ironically just prior to his engagement, marriage forces men to focus on the daily cares of family life and detracts from the contemplation of higher things. But it went beyond a personal life decision between marriage and permanent abstinence; he also withdrew from the world and a successful career that might have eventually taken him further. He did so to free himself from the constraints of the secular life that he associated with his perceived previous life of a sinner, and to fully pursue the higher things without the cares of a public career or – presumably – the sexual duties of marriage. Perhaps his own dissatisfaction with delivering panegyrics to the emperor and other elites was another factor, what Robin Lane Fox (paraphrasing Tolstoy) has called “selling lies for a living.” It is interesting to note that Possidius draws a direct link between Augustine’s conversion and his rejection of both fame and family. But one issue from which he may have had trouble disentangling himself was his engagement. While in the classical period, there were no legal ramifications for breaking a marital contract, a repudium after  CE carried with it significant financial penalties. At some point in the fourth century, arrhae, or good faith payments, became a formal contribution of conjugal funds made by both partners (or their families) once a marriage      



See Kristo : –. De ord. ... She also takes an active part in de beata vita as one of the interlocutors. The emotional intensity of motherly devotion and the rhetoric of motherhood generally is increasingly a topic of scholarly interest, see McCauley  and . Nathan : –; Vuolanto : –. Note Augustine’s summation of his mother in conf. .–. Conf. ... See Laes, in this volume. Conf. ... Lepelley  has convincingly argued that the panegyric mentioned here was addressed to the Western consul for the year , Bauto, and not Valentinian II. See also O’Donnell : ii.–.  Lane Fox : –. Poss. v. Aug. .

Being a Bachelor in Late Antiquity



was contracted. Failure to follow through with a union obligated the partner breaking the agreement to pay a penalty four times the amount of the arrha. Of this important technical point, Augustine says nothing, although it is likely that Monnica would have stood as a surety. But it may have also been why Augustine left Milan so quickly and wished to return to Africa with all possible speed. It is also perhaps significant that once he made it to Thagaste, he quickly liquidated his family’s holdings by donating the property to the Church, simultaneously impoverishing himself and also freeing himself from any possible further curial duties. This is admittedly highly speculative. But the death of Adeodatus in  would have broken the final link with his previous, single life. Of course, Augustine’s conversion began a new sort of singledom, but not that of a traditional bachelor. In some ways, his life did not change. His close (male) friends and relatives, as well as several others, returned to Thagaste with Augustine and participated in his lay semi-monastic community there. Some eventually became priests and then bishops themselves. All corresponded with him and continued the spiritual and intellectual discussions of their younger years. They travelled together when opportunity permitted – usually at the convocation of local synods and regional councils. But this was a lifestyle and life course that functioned outside the traditional parameters of the freedoms of the unattached male youth.



A Single Man

In describing Augustine as a writer, Christine Mohrmann noted, “On a l’impression que Saint Augustin n’a pas toujours échappé à la tentation de se montre un ‘homme de monde’ et ‘intellectual’ devant les représentants de la culture ancienne.” In his desire to navigate the difficult waters of understanding and contextualising human sexuality, he was a man keenly 

  



CTh iii..– (). If in fact this law was enacted around the time of his engagement, then the family of his underage heiress was likely to have been aware of the penalties. See also Evans Grubbs : – for Constantinian changes to pre-nuptial gifts and Arjava : –. Again, Poss. v. Aug. , draws a key link between his divestment of wealth and his “freedom” to pursue an abstinent, ascetic life. Nebridius had died in , but Evodius became bishop of Uzalis, Alypius of Thagaste, Severus of Milevus. Moreover, Possidius, a later friend and his hagiographer, served as bishop of Calama. For Nebridius, epist. –, –; Alypius, epist. , , , , , , , , *-*, *; Evodius, epist. –, –, ; Severus, epist. –. See Morgenstern  for the prosopography of all his correspondents. Morhmann : .



 

aware of the realities (and dangers) of the real world, not the least because he himself had been fully immersed in them. Augustine in his body of work drew heavily from his life before conversion. What can we draw from them? The first thing we can observe of course is that Augustine’s own bachelorhood itself fit into broader normative patterns of adult male behaviour. While his decision to commit to chastity and to interpret his early years was unusual, his public and private life followed familiar social trajectories. There is no sense that his life excited comment, let alone condemnation. Even his very Christian mother felt comfortable enough to live in a household with a woman who was not her son’s spouse and to claim an illegitimate grandson. Augustine’s career and public life, too, illustrated the kind of social mobility possible in the late Roman world, especially for talented and ambitious young men able to travel. In this sense, his early life was utterly conventional. His ultimate rejection of a life course that in most circumstances led to marriage and familial responsibilities – in part because it was the norm – would be a recurring feature in his future writing, refining his understanding in particular of sexual desire and its role in human congress. The challenges of the Manichaeans, of Jovinian and of Pelagius kept his concerns constant for decades, and his old life remained a rich store of personal experiences. Second, his life as a single man offers important markers of male bachelorhood in Late Antiquity and the Roman world more generally. His attachment to his concubine forces us to re-evaluate the complexities of these de facto marriages, suggesting tensions between the theoretical disposability of such unions and the reality of doing so were considerably greater than tends to be assumed. Augustine’s behaviour towards his partner probably was not dominated by an unquenchable libido, as he claims; it is one of a fairly stable partner who shared his bed and private life. It is true that she did not possess the visibility of a lawful wife, but even in her removal she was praised rather than scorned. Moreover, the presence of other family members in the household must have often been a reality that in part directed the bachelor’s life course. In the case of children, the significance of their social and legal status, as well as their material comfort, would have been important factors. 



That they were close is suggested by the young man’s distress at Monnica’s passing, conf. ..–. Her objections and brief departure from Augustine’s home had to do with her son’s Manichaean beliefs and proselytising activities, not that he was living in sin; conf. ..–.. See still Hopkins  for a career particularly relevant to Augustine’s; see also Skinner .

Being a Bachelor in Late Antiquity



Libanius, for example, spent considerable personal and political capital in trying to make his son by a slave partner not just his legitimate son and heir, but also in ensuring he escaped the onerous duties of service on Antioch’s town council. With Augustine, it was to personally give Adeodatus a first-rate education, initially no doubt to have a career not unlike his father’s. In the case of older family members (typically widowed mothers), they would likely possess the moral authority and often the practical experience not only to arrange for the marriage of their children, but also to have considerable influence in the running of a household. Monnica’s presence in Cassiciacum seems to have facilitated the accommodation of her elder son, Navigius, as well as two of Augustine’s cousins, Rusticus and Lastidianus. Should a parent possess the financial means and/or the social status, that degree of control might well flow into a bachelor’s public life as well. Monnica became active in the struggles against the Milanese Arians, in part because Augustine’s sponsor and mentor, Ambrose, favoured her. Third, from a societal perspective, just as Cribiore concluded in her contribution about those who chose to remain permanently single, Augustine’s commitment to remain unwed did not result in retirement from the world. The contemplative otium for which he had pined – and half-heartedly tried for at Cassiciacum and later Thagaste – never fully came to pass. His time away from the world lasted just over three years – and a period that he himself was largely responsible for ending. He may have achieved the life of a celibate ascetic, but his contemplative nature and his past life did not result in divorcing himself from worldly affairs and a public life – quite the opposite. And even though he returned to Africa, resolved on establishing a community at his family home in Thagaste, he soon left it for Hippo Regius and was ordained a priest of that city in early . A few years later, he was coadjutor and bishop. Augustine’s public protestations and tears against his ordination notwithstanding, he

 



De b. vita .. Navigius would have been married and be a father at this point, perhaps suggesting he might be there as well. On her support of Ambrose against the Arians, conf. ..; on his generally good impression of her, conf. ... That Monnica apparently possessed some status and was financially comfortable can be inferred from her travels to Italy, her quick prominence gained in the Milanese Church and her ability to broker a marriage contract with a financially and socially prominent family. The exact reason for his leaving his community and subsequent ordination is not clear. Poss. v. Aug.  says he came to Hippo Regius in order to speak to an agens in rebus who supposedly wished to retire from the world. But this has also been interpreted as a desire to set up a monastic community there; see Lawless .



 

remained a talented, ambitious man. If nothing else, it shows that those remaining permanently single had considerably more agency in their acceptance by a broader community. Finally, Augustine’s life offers a point of comparison for other bachelors and those who chose, for whatever reason, to remain single. In contrast to Stephanos Efthymiadis’ contribution, for example, this essay has been more about the personal dynamics of bachelorhood, rather than the potential advantages and disadvantages of being and remaining single. While Augustine was fully aware of the consequences of retiring from the world personally and vocationally, he offers insights and reflections about the nature of being single in an experiential sense. His life thus not only provides context for assessing the psychological and social pressures that came into play in negotiating bachelorhood, but also coordinates the unmarried man’s position in Roman society with the directions his life might take. Writing some time between  and , Augustine in a sermon posited the idea that sexual continence was merely part of a higher form of virtue, where humans ideally acted and spoke properly in all circumstances. Such continence, he continued, was granted by the Holy Spirit, but was sometimes withdrawn so that we might understand how powerless we are without God’s grace. Given the nature of his bachelor years, Augustine of Hippo no doubt thought such control in all aspects of his early life would not have been unwelcome.  

 Poss. v. Aug.  and . Efthymiadis, in this volume.  De cont. .–. On its date, see Hunter . De cont. .–.

 

Single People in Early Byzantine Literature Stephanos Efthymiadis

However defined, Early Byzantine literature falls into a chronological framework (fourth–seventh century CE) and a societal context in which family ties had loosened and the authority of marriage had been disturbed. Virginity and the celibate life were held to be a justifiable and justified choice in life and thus not getting remarried had become a largely acceptable practice, usually regardless of the existence of children from a previous marriage. Inscribed as they were in different causes and circumstances, these alternatives to marriage cannot be subsumed under one category, and social historians have interpreted their emergence and spread in various ways. Although we cannot give any exact estimate in quantitative terms, the overall number of never-married and never-remarried people in the Roman Empire was definitely on the increase by the year  CE. Moreover, given that the monastic movement was stronger in the East than the West, it could be argued that singleness, perceived in its broadest possible sense encompassing both religious and lay people, must have been more widespread in the empire of New Rome than in that of Old Rome. Estrangement from the family, which could, in many instances, lead to or must have preceded an anchoretic retirement from the world, was a development that marked late antique society or, to put it more accurately, its literary representation in theological discourse and the narrative sources of the period. Moreover, the emergence of a ‘self ’ claiming independence is among the sociocultural phenomena that shaped the distinctive identity of Late Antiquity as a period of change and transition. To be specific, the establishment of virginity and celibacy as acceptable social statuses and virtues in male and female members of the Christian Church functioned as   

Brown : –; Nathan : –; Feichtinger : –; Cooper : – (the last three drawing exclusively on Western sources). Cf. Cribiore, in this volume, p. . Also the epigraphic evidence with regard to Latin Christianity collected by Goessens, in this volume. On this matter see, inter alios, Chadwick ().





 

a philosophical justification for remaining unmarried and becoming committed to alternative lines of endeavour as a result. It may even have been an incitement to do so. In a similar vein, devotion to a religious cause provided a serious excuse or justification for not remarrying, once widowed. As a result of the gradual acceptance of these statuses in late Roman society, after the fourth century marriage was no longer an automatic requirement and, as a result, singleness gradually became a social category into which individuals drifted, whether or not it was regarded as deviant by society at large. Arguably, the promotion of these alternative lifestyles owed a great deal to the fourth-century Church Fathers, and this is variously reflected in their theological and other discourse. The figures exemplifying this particular way of life and the precise phraseology used to describe it merit some attention. To begin with, we may consider the well-known and much discussed examples of, on the one hand, the virgin Macrina and, on the other, the widow and deaconess Olympias, which are paradigmatic in several respects. At the very beginning of his exposition of the new life that his sister embraced after the sudden death of her intended husband, Gregory of Nyssa specifies that she ‘thought it right from then on to remain by herself’. And this decision, he adds, was more firmly fixed than one might have expected of a woman of her age. Later on in his narrative, Gregory dwells, in similar terms, on the solitary life of Naukratios, his and Macrina’s brother. Naukratios is referred to as having withdrawn to a location by the river Iris in the Pontos to live kath’ heauton/καθ’ ἑαυτόν, i.e. by himself (or almost, as he was joined by Chrysaphios, one of his servants). However, he remained in close proximity to the world since, for the five years until his untimely death from a hunting accident, he took care of his elderly mother and some other old people. Macrina too spent the rest of her life at home, i.e. not detached from her family but practising askesis, spiritual exercise, within the domestic space. Her celibacy did not imply a conscious retreat into solitude, the more so given that, together with her widowed mother, Emmelia, Macrina took on the management of a large estate. Rather, in her brother Gregory’s eyes, it intersected with an

   

Vuolanto : – and in this volume. See also the examples cited by Huebner, in this volume. Letter on the Life of Macrina, ch. , ed. Woods Callahan : ; ed. Maraval : . Ibid.: chh. –, ed. Woods Callahan : –; ed. Maraval : –. On Naukratios’ detachment from and commitment to the family, see Elm : –; Van Dam : –. Elm : –.

Single People in Early Byzantine Literature



experience of philosophical conversion which transformed her way of living as ‘celibate within the family’ into a paradigm fit for emulation. Obviously, by their use of the reflexive pronoun denoting the ‘self’ (heautes/ἑαυτῆς – heauton/ἑαυτόν) in the references to Macrina and Naukratios deciding to live ‘by themselves’, authors like Gregory of Nyssa betray their intention of modelling these examples on the ideals of the philosophical life, part and parcel of which was the pursuit of celibacy. Conversely, unlike in Gregory of Nyssa’s account, John Chrysostom’s example of the philosophical life, as incarnated by the young widow Olympias, was much more enshrined in the public domain and entailed all the social responsibilities that, in his judgement, Christian women should undertake. In one of the letters John addresses to Olympias, he affirms that sexual abstention alone does not constitute chastity, which also involves caring about almsgiving and other acts of philanthropy pleasing to the Lord. For his favourite lady and personal supporter not remarrying is not merely conducive to virtue but offers a platform for engaging in acts of public beneficence. Moreover, Chrysostom, moral preacher that he was, could not ignore the social persona of Olympias, whom he reckoned among the biotikai gynaikes/βιωτικαὶ γυναῖκες, i.e. women living in the world, whom he cautioned about their appearances in public. Quoting a relevant passage from St Paul’s first epistle to Timothy (.), he contends that the temptation to dress in luxurious garments affected virgins and women living with men alike. As illustrated by Macrina and Olympias, practising asceticism while remaining in the world was not dictated by a desire to live alone but by a dedication to a holy cause. Things, however, turned out differently for a man who spoke much of himself in his written legacy and whose work gives great prominence to the profession and praise of celibacy. This is Gregory of Nazianzos, who expanded somewhat obsessively on this idea in his poetry, where he reaffirmed on various occasions that the eremitical and celibate life was the best choice, since it made it possible to devote one’s entire self to Christ. His verses in praise of virginity revolve around the themes of a life freed from the yoke of marriage and the pain associated with it. In one of his autobiographical poems, Gregory narrates the dream that induced him to remain celibate and devote himself to God. In it he   

Cf. Rousseau ; Vasileiou . Letter VIII, ed. Malingrey : –. On Olympias: Baur : II –, –, –; Brown : –; Kelly : –, –; Mayer . Letter VIII, ed. Malingrey : .



 

was visited by two beautiful female figures representing Chastity and Moderation who, instead of introducing him to erotic desire leading to marriage, initiated him into the celibate life. The recurrence, in his poetic output, of the adjective azyges/ἀζυγής and its cognates azygos/ἄζυγος and azyx/ἄζυξ (meaning ‘unwedded’) is noteworthy. His adherence to celibacy as an outward sign of his introversion is no doubt key to understanding Gregory’s path in life, his friendship with Basil of Caesarea and his consecutive failures in public ministries. Whether poetry or prose, his writings both reveal and mask his lifelong attraction to the single life, his endeavour to break with his family – and especially his father, who opposed his attempts at independence and emancipation. It would not be too far-fetched to suggest that his attitude shows similarities to what we might call a determination to live alone, a common situation in our own times. As far as he is concerned, the pursuit of this particular way of life cannot be accounted for by his adherence to the ‘system’ of Christian values, which justified opposition to a first or second marriage (as in the cases of Macrina and Olympias respectively) on the basis of a commitment to a holy cause. Rather, in the case of the Nazianzen, it suggests an attachment to an idiosyncratic way of living per se. As such, it was consistent with the sort of feelings of intellectual superiority that cause some people to fight for the uniqueness of their person and their existence. When his long educational tour was completed and this sense of superiority first ascertained, Gregory had reached the age of twenty-eight. He suffered from inner doubts, wavering between two choices, priesthood and monasticism, though he could not be entirely reconciled to either. To quote his own words from his autobiographical poem: ‘However much I wanted to be involved with people, I was seized by a still greater longing for the monastic life, which in my opinion was a question of interior dispositions, not of physical situation. For the sanctuary I had reverence . . . but while standing at a distance.’ Gregory was instead inclined to live alone . . . Singleness is a status or identity that hardly applies to members of premodern or pre-industrial societies. It was not understood as a social    

On this dream, see the poem ‘Lament on the passions of his soul’, PG : –; for an analysis of the dream, see Messis : –. See esp. his long poem in praise of virginity, PG : –. Commentary by Sundermann . Critical edition and discussion of other poems pertaining to the same ideas by Simelidis . Cf. McLynn . De vita sua, v. –, ed. of the Greek text in Jungck :  (= PG : ). Tr. in McGuckin : . On Gregory’s oscillating viewpoint throughout his life, see McGuckin : –.

Single People in Early Byzantine Literature



diacritic like, for instance, categories related to gender (man, woman, eunuch, androgynous, etc.), to age (childhood, youth, maturity, old age) or to marital status (married–unmarried, widowed). There is no doubt that the idea – so strongly expounded by the Fathers – that chastity or, more broadly, abstention from marriage could be practised in the world introduced a ‘modern’ aspect into the whole question in that it curbed the social pressure that had hitherto determined the lives of young girls and widows and rivalled the necessity for the cycle of procreation. Taken in this sense, celibacy could be pursued within marriage as the examples of holy men and women who decided never to consummate their unions reveal. Celibate marriage became a literary leitmotiv brought out in a cluster of edifying stories and hagiographic texts that relate the story of pious couples who renounced intercourse either immediately after their wedding or the birth of their children. All these cases point in one direction. What weighed with the Fathers and their subjects of praise was not a particular lifestyle, i.e. living alone in an urban environment, but engagement in a holy purpose. Even at the beginning of the seventh century, echoing a similar passage in the Life of St Antony by Athanasios of Alexandria, the hagiographer of the Life of St Symeon Stylites the Younger states, briefly but with a great deal of satisfaction, that, once they had seen the saint, listened to his edifying words and witnessed his miracles, many virgins, though they were already betrothed, remained virgins for the sake of Christ (ch. ). In fact, he does not deem it necessary to specify whether they then joined a convent or stayed at home, simply because what mattered was not living as a single person but dedication to a holy cause through persistent chastity. Thus, despite overall theological and philosophical endorsement, it is hard to understand singleness as a particular social or a literary identity for the world of Late Antiquity. We shall perhaps be able to fully grasp the issue if we turn our attention to ‘the dark side of the moon’, i.e. to ways of life that contrasted sharply with the world of piety, for all that once again we can only access them through pious accounts. The case of St Maria of Egypt, the most famous harlot of the period, takes us to the streets of sixth-century Alexandria, i.e. the cruel world of a big city. Employing the narrative technique of the ‘story within a story’, her biographer has the ascetic Maria relate the story of her sinful past. She starts with a brief  

 Cloke : –. Alwis . Ed. van den Ven : I . The borrowing is from ch.  of the Life of Antony: see ed. Bartelink : –.



 

reference to her parents, whom she abandoned at the age of twelve to go to Alexandria where, once deflowered, she lived as a prostitute for more than seventeen years. In all likelihood Maria’s fully-fledged biography represents an elaboration on an edifying story about a repentant harlot that must have already been in circulation for some time and which can be found in the Pratum Spirituale of John Moschos. On account of the edifying purpose of the narration, we do not hear much about Maria’s actual life in the big city other than that she lived in an impoverished condition begging for trade just as she begged for her daily bread. She spun yarn for a living until, just before embarking on a ship sailing for Palestine, a voyage that was to see the peak of her sinful acts and introduce her to a rite de passage leading to expiation, she abandoned the distaff she had for so long held in her hands. The partiality of the account notwithstanding, we get a clear picture of the life of a woman who lived the single life in a big city. She was not attached to a brothel, nor dependent on a pimp; she supported herself, and was free to move from place to place. Paradoxically, this aspect of singleness mirrors her later life as well, that is, the one spent in total isolation in the Judean desert: in that case once again she lived in freedom and provided for herself. We should bear in mind, however, that describing her in such terms is to look at her through modern eyes, projecting our individualistic mentality onto a world where independence – at least for common people like the prostitute Maria – was not an option. It is only for us today that Mary of Egypt is seen as alone or solitary, vulnerable and unprotected; her own mentality and that of the society in which she was integrated would not have seen it that way. The difficulty of treating women such as Maria as single people is made manifest in the story of a triad of prostitutes, in this case women of fixed abode. I refer to the mother, the aunt and the grandmother of Theodore of Sykeon, a sixth-century saint whose lengthy vita is one of the masterpieces of Byzantine hagiography. The story goes that Theodore was the natural child of another Maria, a most beautiful young woman who, along with her mother Elpidia and her sister Despoinia, kept an inn in Galatia in Asia Minor on the royal route to the East. All three ladies offered special services to men stopping by, and the youngest of them made no exception for Kosmas, the imperial messenger   

Flusin ; and on the implications of the story as in John Moschos’ Pratum, see Llewellyn Ihssen : –. PG /, cols. –; English tr., Kouli : –. On inns and taverns in Byzantium, see Kislinger .

Single People in Early Byzantine Literature



(apokrisiarios) who carried Justinian’s imperial correspondence. Theodore was the fruit of this unofficial union and the male descendant who broke the chain of this ‘female succession’. In contrast to them, and in line with the prediction made to his mother in a dream on the night of his conception and the interpretation offered by his progenitor thereafter, he was to follow the ‘royal way’ of holiness. The hagiographical smokescreen which covers this story, a rare one indeed for a saint’s birth, allows enough light through for us to glimpse certain details that must have had some basis in reality: e.g. that women could earn a living from prostitution and manage a business by themselves. The fact that the hagiographer does not reserve any adverse comment for Kosmas’ behaviour bears out the assumption that episodes of this sort in these particular milieus and their consequences evoked no particular surprise. Children could thus be born in the provinces and be brought up by a mother and/or a grandmother in the absence of any father, uncle or other male figure. In our times Maria would have been styled a single mother and regarded, at least until recently, as a woman risking disdain and marginalisation, and as such potentially fragile and vulnerable. Had it been so in the period under discussion, we can safely assume that St Theodore’s biographer would not have refrained from highlighting the misfortune of the child and the hard conditions of his upbringing. All in all, Byzantine literature shows little interest in depicting families comprehensively, i.e. giving a full picture of its members and following each one’s progress from start to finish. The focus is always on the protagonist of the story, and the light, if any, shed on those surrounding him or her is dim. Collections of miracles, a treasure trove for the prosopography of ordinary people and the reconstruction of daily life, usually focus on the pilgrim–sufferer and the circumstances leading up to his/her cure. Such texts as the Miracles of Sts Kyros and Ioannes by the Patriarch Sophronios and the Miracles of Sts Kosmas and Damianos, which date from the first half of the seventh century, are teeming with people who figure alone in the narrative with no hint of their family status. A case that may be of interest to the present discussion can be singled out from the latter collection. Far from home and family, Martha practised incubation at the shrine of Sts Kosmas and Damianos at Kosmidion, a district at the far end of the Golden Horn in Constantinople. She was a beautiful woman, we are told, 

Ed. Festugière : I ; French tr., Festugière : II .



Efthymiadis : –.



 

hailing from the region of Kyrrhos in Syria, the place where the relics of these healing saints lay. She had spent her youth in ‘bodily disorder’, as the hagiographer has it, until she repented and chose the path of piety. A head injury made her travel to the capital and join the northern part of the shrine where other women, mostly suffering from demonic possession, lodged, separated by curtains and awaiting a cure. Being a kind and goodhearted person, she never missed an opportunity to serve and console those of her companions who were in pain. In the event, the saints visited her a few times in her dreams, but, to her disappointment, they granted her only partial relief, causing her to raise her voice in protest. It was under these troubled circumstances that a woman who had moved in next to her fell in love with her. Her name was Christina, and she was a married woman, the wife of one of the clergy of the Church of St Laurentios. Oddly enough, her infatuation functions as a catalyst in the story. As she was about to step into the curtained-off space Martha occupied and set about seducing her, the saints were forced, as it were, to intervene and offer Martha a complete cure. Thanks to this unique – or at least very rare – attestation of (would-be) lesbian eroticism in Byzantium, we once again gain an insight into the life of a single woman and the troubles she might have faced because of her singleness. Martha is indeed portrayed as an independent person, living and travelling on her own, and as taking initiatives even when with other women. We suspect that it was on account of this independence that Christina took advantage of her solitude and that in her case singleness was experienced, much as it can be today, as exposure to unsolicited immoral proposals. From another perspective, Martha’s friendship with Christina can be seen as filling a void created by the dissatisfaction she felt at the healer saints’ reluctance to let her depart. Their final intercession restores the previously disrupted relationship, strengthening the sacred ties that bound Martha to them. Fragility and vulnerability are the key words in the next two stories, which take us from the world of women to that of men. They are found in the Miracles of St Artemios and concern a lonely bachelor who, as I have argued on a previous occasion, is very likely to have been the author of the   

On the miracle collections pertaining to this pair of saints, see Efthymiadis : –; and on questions concerning their cult, see Booth . Mir. . Ed. of the Greek text in Deubner : –; French tr. Festugière : –. The story is not included in the ‘miaphysite’ collection: see ed. Rupprecht . For the vulnerability of women who did not fulfil the prescribed roles of wife and mother, see Herrin : –.

Single People in Early Byzantine Literature



whole collection. This unnamed bachelor was a cantor at the Church of St John the Baptist where the relics of St Artemios were kept and venerated. In the first story he appears as the victim of a burglary in which someone broke into his home and stole his clothes, whereas in the second he figures as a patient who had been hospitalized for ten months. While suffering from various diseases, he developed a hernia in his genitalia. This called for the intervention of St Artemios, who specialized in curing this particular disease, a fact highlighted in the collection dedicated to him, which brings together cases of miraculous healings of this sort narrated in vivid colour and realistic detail. As we follow the two accounts of the bachelor–cantor’s sufferings, set in two different milieus, a petit-bourgeois neighbourhood of Constantinople and a fully equipped hospital in the same city, we gain an exceptionally rich insight into the life and psychological disposition of the protagonist. We learn that he had lived alone for fifty-two years, that he had served the Church of St John the Baptist since the age of ten and that he was sixtytwo when he spent ten months being treated in hospital. The fact that he had lived in solitude for so long was seen as an evil and an obvious cause of trouble, illustrated in the Miracles in two distinctive snapshots. His house was broken into as there was no other resident to protect it, and the fact that he had to be taken to hospital as an inpatient was initially prompted by the absence of relatives who might otherwise have taken care of him. This kind of personal information is consistent with the narrator’s own interest in presenting facts and situations emotionally and in pinpointing the attachment of the bachelor to the healer saint as a patronage relationship involving mutual obligations. When this connection is disrupted, the patient turns misanthropic (he refuses to have lunch on Christmas Day) and gives way to an outburst of tears, shouting at his protectors: ‘Indeed, St John and St Artemios and St Febronia, have I served you thus from the age of ten right up to the present, that I might become disabled in my old age? Had I so attended upon any man on earth, I would have been deemed worthy of support and care and providence. Behold what recompense I have achieved!’ In presenting the existential issues of their protagonist, the two stories are unique in exposing the problems of being an urban, unmarried   

See Efthymiadis . See ed. Papadopoulos-Kerameus : –, –; English tr., Crisafulli and Nesbitt : –, –. Ed. Papadopoulos-Kerameus : ; English tr.: .



 

layman all one’s life. The same ‘problem’ of remaining unmarried could have caused a different if equally difficult issue. The final passage I shall deal with takes us away from the microcosm of the bachelor’s milieu to the imperial court of Justinian and Theodora. It is in Prokopios’ Secret History that we read of Germanos, a cousin of the emperor, who had a distinguished military and administrative career. By his first wife he had two sons and a daughter, all old enough to get married. However, according to Prokopios, Theodora hated him so fiercely that by her slanders she had managed to ensure that his children remained unwed. It was thus, by means of this strategic ‘weapon’, that she tried to seize control of Germanos’ destiny. To overcome this impediment, we are told, the latter proceeded to establish links with Ioannes, a man of lower rank. Marriage, after all, involved a public role through which a man of power and his family are socialized, and thus this course of action would have had an obvious impact on the ambitions of an imperial cousin. This short survey of all possible aspects of singleness and the single life in Early Byzantine literature has attempted to bring out both the positive and the negative aspects, and various dimensions, including the religious and the secular, the literary and the historical. I have, moreover, tried to view the issue in accordance with the standpoints of contemporary authors and the conventions of various literary genres and present it both from the point of view of the ‘eloquent’ and theoretical approach taken by the Church Fathers and in its more down-to-earth and pragmatic incarnation, i.e. that of the narrative sources, hagiography and historiography. There are several common features between this late antique world of people who abstained from marriage altogether or, rather, remained unmarried when widowed and our modern world in which marriage has lost its high-profile status, assuming a more low-key role. We have met solitary intellectuals, self-sufficient prostitutes, single mothers, urban bachelors, the sort of people we are very familiar with today, yet the question remains: Can singleness be meaningful in a society that believes in God (or in gods) and establishes ties of patronage with the powerful on earth and in heaven? It is really hard to answer this with a yes or a no. What can be said with some certainty is that singleness can exist and has a real



See Prokopios of Caesarea, Historia Arcana I, .–, ed. of the Greek text in Haury : –; English tr., Kaldellis : –.

Single People in Early Byzantine Literature



existence in a world that is more aware of the absence of God than His presence. It is not fortuitous that the fully fledged literature of novels with single protagonists would emerge in the last decades of the nineteenth century and persist to this day. The cases of Huysmans, Proust, Kafka, Sartre, Camus and more recently Houellebecq and many other modern writers are extremely telling in this respect. Special Bibliography Gregory of Nazianzos, ‘On his own life’: ed. C. Jungck (), Gregor von Nazianz, De vita sua, Heidelberg. Letter on the life of Makrina: ed. V. Woods Callahan (), ‘Vita S. Macrinae’, in Gregorii Nysseni opera ascetica (GNO /), ed. W. Jaeger, J. P. Cavarnos, V. Woods Callahan, Leiden; older ed.: P. Maraval (), Grégoire de Nysse. Vie de sainte Macrine, Paris. John Chrysostom, Letter to Olympias: ed. A.-M. Malingrey (), Jean Chrysostome, Lettres à Olympias, Paris. Life of St Antony by Athanasios of Alexandria: ed. G. J. M. Bartelink (), Athanase d’Alexandrie, Vie d’Antoine, Paris. Life of St Mary of Egypt: Patrologia Graeca /, –; English tr., M. Kouli (), Holy Women of Byzantium: Ten Saints’ Lives in Translation, ed. A.-M. Talbot, Washington, DC, –. Life of St Symeon the Stylite the Younger: ed. and French tr. van den Ven, P. (), La Vie ancienne de S. Symeon stylite le jeune, vols I–II, Brussels. Life of St Theodore of Sykeon: ed. and French tr., A.-J. Festugière (), La Vie de Théodore de Sykéôn, Brussels. Miracles of St Artemios: ed. A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus (), in Varia Graeca Sacra, St Petersburg, –; English tr., V. S. Crisafulli, J. W. Nesbitt (), The Miracles of St. Artemios. A Collection of Miracle Stories by an Anonymous Author of Seventh-Century Byzantium, Leiden, New York, Cologne. Miracles of Sts Kosmas and Damian: ed. L. Deubner (), Kosmas und Damian. Texte und Einleitung, Leipzig and Berlin; French tr. by A.-J. Festugière (), Saint Thècle, saints Côme et Damien, saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), Saint Georges, Paris. ‘Miaphysite’ collection: ed. E. Rupprecht (), Cosmae et Damiani sanctorum medicorum vita et miracula e codice Londoniensi, Berlin. Prokopios of Caesarea, Ηistoria Arcana: ed. J. Haury (), Caesariensis opera omnia, vol. . Leipzig; English tr. A. Kaldellis (), Prokopios. The Secret History with Related Texts, Indianapolis, Cambridge.

 

“Listen to My Mistreatment”: Support Networks for Widows and Divorcées in the Coptic Record Jennifer Cromwell

Singleness in late antique Egypt assumed a range of forms: men and women who had never married, widows and widowers, divorcées and divorcés, and those who had chosen a single life in a monastic context, either alone or as part of a larger community (shared solitary lives). What follows is a search for single, once-married women and the support available to them, on the basis of the Coptic non-literary record. Women form the focus of this discussion not because of a preference for studying women over men, but because they are easier to find: widowed and divorced men are more difficult to identify in the record. What evidence can be found for once-married women shows a variety of support networks were open to them, based on their social standing, wealth and family situation.



The Coptic Non-literary Evidence

The vast bulk of the Coptic non-literary textual evidence dates from the sixth to eighth centuries. For this period, the volume of published Coptic texts not only equals, but surpasses the number written in Greek. For our knowledge of village life in late antique Egypt, the Coptic evidence is







Indeed, even though the scope of this discussion is restricted, this particular aspect of singlehood dominates the available Coptic evidence. In contrast to the problems of identifying singles in other situations (as raised in other contributions in this volume), the main cases highlighted here are quite certainly single, once-married women. Notable outliers include the Coptic texts from Kellis (Dakhlah Oasis) that record the life of the town’s fourth-century Manichean community (P.Kellis V and VII), and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the eleventh-century archive of Raphael son of Mina from Teshlot/Dashlot (Green ; Richter ). The Kellis material, in particular, offers potential for the study of singles, as well as other aspects of daily life in the fourth century. This is based on the figures available via the online papyrological tool Trismegistos (www .trismegistos.org).



“Listen to My Mistreatment”



therefore key. The majority of the Coptic material derives from western Thebes, focused on the village Djeme and its surrounding monastic settlements, of varying sizes and complexity. The social networks between these villages and monasteries forms an important part of the following discussion. This does not mean that other sites in Egypt are not represented. Hermopolis and Aphrodito in central Egypt and Elephantine in the south also provide texts relevant to the study of the daily life of single women. In addition, there is a large amount of unprovenanced material for which, at best, broad geographical areas can be suggested. Coptic texts are, of course, not the only textual source for life in Egypt during these centuries. Kotsifou discusses the contemporary Greek evidence for widows, as part of her discussion on orphans (these two groups are connected in a biblical context, as is discussed below). Earlier Roman demographic evidence is also of vital importance. Despite the time difference between the information contained in the census declarations of the first and second centuries and the date of the Coptic material, continuity in major demographic patterns is to be expected. The range of document types represented among the Coptic evidence is quite limited. The functional domain of Coptic was restricted to texts of daily life. Letters provide the most relevant evidence, which is supplemented by incidental information from other sources, including legal documents. The fourth and fifth centuries were witness to imperial legislation concerning divorce, and the question stands how great an impact this had on life in Egyptian villages up and down the Nile Valley. Bagnall has demonstrated that the impact was minimal. What we therefore see in



 





Late antique Egypt is conceived of here as encompassing the fifth to eighth centuries, and I use this term rather than Byzantine and Islamic Egypt. On this point, see O’Connell a:  n. , with previous literature. Wilfong : – provides a concise overview of the village Djeme, while Wilfong  remains the most convenient survey of western Thebes at this time. Kotsifou  also touches briefly upon some of the Coptic texts concerning widows, but this is not the primary aim of her analysis. For the millennium leading up to the period in focus here, Krause’s  four-volume social history of widows and orphans in the Roman world is the most important work and must be mentioned in the context of any study on widows, especially concerning demographics, family structure, social status and the impact of Christianity. Bagnall and Frier  remains the primary study of the Roman census returns. For the demographic information as it pertains in particular to married, divorced and widowed women, see additionally Huebner : – and Pudsey . The majority of Krause  volume one (Verwitwung und Wiederverheiratung) also concerns the demographics of widowhood. Bagnall . Evans Grubbs a:  expresses a similar sentiment for Roman Egypt: “Papyri from late Roman Egypt suggest that imperial law did not make much difference to what people actually did, at least in that province.”



 

the Coptic sources is how people and families reacted to different events at a village level, largely unencumbered by wider legal forces and restrictions.

 Identifying ‘Singles’ Throughout Egyptian villages, women are encountered acting independently in a range of economic transactions: buying and selling property, entering disputes over property, donating to monasteries and churches, and acting as debtors and creditors. How is it possible, then, to distinguish between married and single women among the evidence, that is, between women acting independently because they could and those who had no alternative? This is not always an easy task. One of the best-known women from the village Djeme, in western Thebes, is the moneylender Koloje. She was married to a man called Manasse, but he is only known from the documents connected with their son’s moneylending activities. If Koloje’s documents were taken out of context, it would appear that she was a single woman; we only know of her family due to the survival of a wider corpus of documents connected with her. How can it be determined, then, whether the women appearing in the textual record were in fact single? The easiest category of single woman to identify is the widow, especially when she is explicitly designated as such, through the use of chera (ⲭⲏⲣⲁ; i.e., Greek chera/χήρα). Otherwise, references by women to ‘my late husband’ also identify widows, and examples of these are discussed below. It is possible that chera was used more broadly to indicate ‘single-havingbeen-married women’, as is the case with Latin viduae, and so could also be used of divorcées. However, the surviving evidence is insufficient to reach a conclusion on this point, and the texts in which it occurs, presented below, do seem to refer only to women whose husbands are dead. Widows are more common than widowers, which is to be expected, based on demographic patterns in which men were older than women at the time of marriage. In fact, widowers are hard to find, not least because there are no attestations of cheros (χῆρος), ‘widower’, in Coptic texts. In P.KRU  (from Djeme), Shenetom son of Joseph acts on behalf of his 

 

Wilfong : –. Their son, Pecosh, is identified via each of his parents, but never by them together: by his father in O.Medin.HabuCopt. , ,  and ; by his mother in P.Medin. HabuCopt.  and . Neither is described as ‘deceased’ in any of these texts. McGinn b: . See also Laes, in this volume. See Huebner, in this volume. Bagnall and Frier : – calculate that the mean average age gap between husband and wife was . years, and that the age gap in about two-thirds of marriages would be – years. The largest gap recorded in the census declarations is  years.

“Listen to My Mistreatment”



wife, Rachel. She had taken out a loan that she was unable to repay, and so her husband sells her house to the creditor in order to pay off the debt. Rachel is not noted as deceased, and so this may or may not be a case of Shenetom repaying his wife’s debts after her death: the available evidence is simply insufficient to determine this fact, and these individuals are not attested elsewhere. Widowers, however, must have been more numerous than the available evidence suggests, given the dangers involved in childbirth in premodern societies. Despite the lack of demographic resources for these centuries, it is possible to find information about household composition and single women. Three papyri dealing with tax evasion from eighth-century Aphrodito contain lists that name all members of several families that were caught fleeing their villages (P.Lond. IV., , ). In each case, these are the nuclear family unit, comprising parents and their children. Two families listed in P.Lond. IV. comprise only a mother and two children: () Tekrompria and her children Antonios and Staurophane; () Elisabeth and her children Philotheos and Mary. While no descriptions are provided of the individual family members, including their ages, it seems safe to understand these units as comprising parents plus non-adult children, whom they took with them when they fled. If this is correct, we see here two simple family units, comprising a single mother – whether a widow or divorcée is unknown – and her children.    



Translation in Till : –. As Arthur Schiller has noted, while the use of makarios indicates that the person in question is deceased, in its absence the person may be alive or dead (Schiller :  n. ). On maternal death, see Huebner, in this volume. These three Coptic texts provide the neatest evidence of family units among the Aphrodito material. The Greek material – long accounts and registers (including of tax fugitives, P.Lond. IV  and ) – typically comprise lists of single individuals. ‘Simple family’ is modified from Laslett’s terminology, in which he labels such families ‘single family households’; Laslett : : “It consists of a married couple, or a married couple with offspring, or of a widowed person with offspring.” For the applicability of Laslett and the Cambridge typology to ancient societies, see Bagnall and Frier : –, Huebner  and Boozer, in this volume. As such families do not necessarily constitute a household (for the differences between the two terms, see Yanagisako ), I here modify the term to avoid the use of household. Nevett  provides a convenient and accessible overview of the differences between the two, combining textual and archaeological evidence, as they pertain to the late Roman Egyptian sites Karanis (Fayum) and Kellis (Dakhla Oasis). It can also be noted that Coptic legal documents include lists of family and household members from whom the first party is protected; e.g., P.KRU .– “me or brother or sister or son-of-one or son-of-two [the meaning of these is not clear] or near or distant family or son-of-one [repeated] or household member or one on behalf of my father or on behalf of my mother” (ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ ⲥⲟⲛ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ ⲥⲱⲛⲉ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ ϣⲛⲟⲩⲁ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ | ϣⲛⲥⲛⲁⲩ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ ϫⲱϩ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ ϫⲱϩ ⲛϫⲱϩ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ | ϣⲛⲟⲩⲁ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ ⲣⲙⲉⲛⲏⲓ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ ϩⲁ ⲡⲁⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲟⲩⲇⲉ | ϩⲁ ⲧⲁⲙⲁⲁⲩ). The boundary between family and household, i.e., which family members also form part of the household, is not however clear.



 

In other instances, naming patterns and the choice of family members with whom women are associated may also indicate that we are dealing with single women, although not necessarily once-married women. P.KRU  belongs to a corpus of child-donation documents from western Thebes dated to the mid- to late eighth century. The woman Tachel donated her son, Athanasios, to the monastery of Apa Phoibammon at Deir el-Bahri. She is identified as Tachel daughter of Sophia and acts together with her sister, Elisabeth. There is no reference to any male member of her family. In another child-donation, P.KRU , the woman Calisthene donated her son, mentioning her late husband in passing (she does not, however, identify herself explicitly as a widow). Without reference to a husband, it cannot be stated decisively whether Tachel had ever been married, yet the reference only to her mother and sister suggests that she was a single mother who had never wed. Different types of singleness are therefore confronted within the written sources, but determining the reason for their status is not always a straightforward matter.

 Death, Divorce and Remarriage The documentary evidence from Egypt, and the seeming ease by which either partner could initiate divorce, creates the impression of “a long tradition of liberal attitudes towards divorce.” In contrast to the earlier Demotic and Greek evidence, there are significantly fewer documents that deal with divorce – and marriage in general – in Coptic. On this basis, Richter suggests that, in the times and places for which the record is predominantly Coptic, marriage was less regularly subject to this written documentation. Several things may contribute to this. On the one hand, 

 



 

A succinct overview of the child-donations, which have received considerable attention from scholars, is available in Wilfong : –, who provides the principle references, to which can be added Papaconstantinou a and b and Richter . P.KRU  is translated in Till : –. For the monastery of Apa Phoibammon, see Godlewski . P.KRU .–: “I, Tachel the daughter of Sophia from Apé, the nome of the city Hermonthis, with my sister Elisabeth also acting in this with me” (ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲧⲁⲭⲏⲗ ⲧϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲛⲥⲟⲫⲓⲁ ϩⲛ ⲁⲡⲏ ̣ ⲡⲛⲟⲙⲟⲥ | ⲛⲧⲡⲟⲗⲓⲥ ⲉⲣⲙⲱⲛⲑ(ⲓⲟⲥ) ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲣⲉⲧⲁⲥⲱⲛⲉ ⲟⲛ ⲉⲗⲓⲥⲁⲃⲉⲧ ⲉⲓⲣⲉ ⲙⲡⲁⲓ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲓ). For a complete translation, see Till : –. P.KRU .–: the donation is made “for the health of my sinful soul and my late husband” (ϩⲁ ⲡⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ⲛⲧⲁⲯⲩⲭⲏ ⲛⲣⲉϥⲣⲛⲟⲃⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲁⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲛϩⲁⲓ). For a complete translation, see Till : –. Arjava : . For the informality of marriage in Roman Egypt, see Huebner, in this volume. Richter : ; he also underscores the striking difference in the amount of relevant material in Coptic, compared with that in Demotic, Greek and Arabic (over similar chronological ranges).

“Listen to My Mistreatment”



it may be a simple case of the survival and discovery of documentation from Egyptian villages throughout the Nile Valley, as such a tiny number of late antique Egyptian villages have been excavated. Literacy levels, access to scribes in different communities and a general urban versus rural divide may also come into play. Be that as it may, what survives does point to a flexible approach to marriage and divorce. It is this very flexibility that makes it so hard to identify divorcées in the sources. The terminology for marriage and divorce is not technical. To marry is to ‘take / bear’ a wife (fi), divorce is to ‘throw / cast out’ a wife (nouje) and being married is presented as ‘sitting’ (hmoos) with your spouse. This is the language used in the texts discussed below. However, this lack of legal formality in the process does not reflect a completely liberal attitude towards marriage in late antique Egypt. Two factors acted to preserve marriage, albeit for different reasons: concern over property and inheritance (this was also a concern in cases of remarriage following widowhood), and Christian attitudes towards divorce. In a letter from the early seventh century, Apa Abraham, the bishop of Hermonthis and superior of the monastery of Apa Phoibammon, discusses divorce. I have been further informed that some have divorced their wives, without reasons of adultery. It is written that “Everybody who divorces his wife and marries another is an adulterer, and he who marries a divorced woman is an adulterer.”

Adultery (porneia) is the only permissible reason for seeking divorce. Any man or woman who divorces their partner without such grounds is to be excluded from festivals, as is anybody who may have been complicit in the divorce or anybody who supports them, including the person who may draw up a divorce contract. The involvement of Church Fathers in preserving marriage is witnessed in a small number of Theban letters. 

 



ϥⲓ (Crum.Dict. a–a); ⲛⲟⲩϫⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ (Crum.Dict. a–a); ϩⲙⲟⲟⲥ (Crum.Dict. a–a). For the terminology of marriage in Pharaonic Egypt, see Toivari-Viitala : – and  (note that when a man terminates a marriage, he ‘throws (out)’ a wife, while a woman ‘goes away’, if it is she who ends the marriage). For the monastery, see n. . O.Crum .–: ⲁⲩⲧⲁⲙⲟⲓ ⲟⲛ ϫⲉ ⲟⲩⲛ ̣ | ϩⲟⲉⲓⲛⲉ ⲛⲟⲩϫⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲛⲉⲩ|ⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ ϫⲛ ϣⲁϫⲉ ⲙⲡⲟⲣⲛⲓⲁ ⲉϥⲥ ̣ⲏ ̣[ϩ] | ⲛϯϩⲉ ϫⲉ ⲟⲩⲟⲛ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲉⲧⲛⲁⲛⲉϫⲧⲉϥⲥϩ|ⲓⲙⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛϥϩⲙⲟⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲕⲉⲉⲓ ⲟⲩⲉⲓ | ⲉϥⲟ ⲛⲛⲟⲉⲓⲕ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲉⲧⲛⲁϩⲙⲟⲥ | ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲉⲓ ⲉⲁⲡⲉⲥϩⲁⲓ ⲛⲟϫⲥ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ | ϥⲟ ⲛⲛⲟⲉⲓⲕ. The Biblical quotation is to Luke :; cf. Matthew : and :. Similar sentiments are expressed in O.Crum  and O.Crum Ad. . For the Church Fathers’ condemnation of divorce, and the potential extent of its influence, see Arjavo : – and Bagnall : –. Evans Grubbs : – more broadly treats early Christian attitudes to divorce.



 

O.Lips.Copt.  is a letter from one Mark (either a priest or monk; he does not include a title) to the couple Papnoute and Elisabeth, who are sheltering a young girl who has left her husband. They are threatened with excommunication if they do not instruct her on the importance of returning to her husband, and of being obedient. The girl, who is unnamed, is referred to only as a young girl, a sheere shem, which may indicate that she was a particularly young bride, perhaps having only just reached marriageable age. The more fragmentary O.Crum Ad.  and P.Mon.Epiph.  both deal with similar topics. In the latter case, the writer asks for the wife, who left the village itself when she left her husband, to be excommunicated. In what divorce documents survive, reasons generally are not provided for the divorce. A particularly extreme example of this is found in P.Mon. Epiph. v (also Theban; seventh century). Shenetom the fisherman, the son of Pcale, in Pashme divorced his wife, Tegoshe. He married Terêt, the daughter of Comes of Parê. Moreover, he gave his daughter to her son. Indiction year .

This brief note reads as an announcement of events rather than anything else. No reasons are given for the dissolution of the marriage. Of note is that their children are also wed to one another. The most likely reason for this was to consolidate property concerns, perhaps to ensure that the children would certainly inherit from Shenetom and Terêt and to prevent any potential legal wranglings with Shenetom’s first wife, Tegoshe (inheritance complications are discussed below). Cases of adultery are found, but not specifically in documents concerning divorce. SB Kopt. IV  is a petition (provenance unknown) by a woman to an official (neither of whom are named) concerning her husband, who left her for another woman after she became pregnant with their fourth child. This text is discussed at greater length in section .. In a letter to the bishop Pisentius, who resided in western Thebes following   



Sheere shem (ϣⲉⲉⲣⲉ ϣⲏⲙ) is the primary term used to identify young children in Coptic texts; see Cromwell forthcoming. Note that the original edition of P.Mon.Epiph.  does not provide a transcription of the Coptic itself, only a translation of what survives. See Till :  for a translation of O.Crum Ad. . P.Mon.Epiph. v: ϣⲉⲛⲉⲧⲱⲙ | ⲡⲟⲩⲱϩⲉ | ⲡϣⲉ ⲙ̅ ⲡϭⲁⲗⲉ | ϩ̅ ⲙ̅ ⲡⲁϣⲙⲉ | ⲁϥⲛⲉϫ ⲧⲉϥⲥϩ[ⲓ]|ⲙⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲉⲧⲉ|ⲧⲉϭⲱϣⲉ ⲧⲉ | ⲁϥϥⲓ ⲧⲉⲣⲏⲧ | ⲧϣⲉ ⲛ̅ ⲕⲟⲙⲉⲥ | ⲙ̅ ⲡⲁⲣⲏ ⲁⲩⲱ | ⲁϥϯ ⲧⲉϥϣⲉ|ⲉⲣⲉ ⲙ̅ ⲡⲉⲥ|ϣⲏⲣⲉ | ⲓ̈ⲛⲇ(ⲓⲕⲧⲓⲱⲛⲟⲥ) ⲓ̈. The letter O.CrumVC  does not include terminology specific to marriage, but as it seeks a decision regarding the division of property between Martha and Leontios – including the dowry – it seems safe to conclude that the context is one of divorce.

“Listen to My Mistreatment”



the Persian invasion of the s, a scandalous situation is at issue. A man claims that a woman with whom he was involved gave birth, but only six months after they first ‘united’. She is not referred to as his wife, and ‘united’ may refer only to intercourse, rather than marriage. Their relationship is portrayed as brief and tempestuous, and we can infer that she claimed that he was the father. As we only have his account, the veracity of the situation cannot be confirmed, nor the adulterous nature of the alleged events. The only surviving Coptic divorce contract, i.e., a legal, signed agreement concerning the terms of the divorce, comes from Hermopolis and dates to the seventh/eighth century: SB Kopt. II . Dophile daughter of Antony and NN son of George divorce, and neither party is permitted to sue the other should they choose to remarry, under threat of financial punishment. This papyrus preserves the wife’s copy of the settlement, which Dophile signs, together with two witnesses. No reasons are provided for the divorce; Dophile simply states that she did not stay with him and left. Without her husband’s copy, it cannot be determined whether or not the same reason was recorded in his version, but the agreement does appear to be unilateral: “We agreed together and separated from each other.” Following divorce or widowhood, the clergy encouraged women not to remarry, for reasons of sexual morality. Older widows, in particular, were encouraged to become nuns. In reality, several practical matters affected remarriage, notably the financial situation of the woman (see section ), inheritance concerns of any children from the first marriage (especially following the death of the husband/father), and the level of familial support available (notably the age of their children, if they had any; see section .). Sometimes, the decision of whether to remarry or not was taken out of the woman’s hands. In his testament, Paul son of Ananias 

   

P.Pisentius .–: “[. . . and] they united. After they were united, they fought and bickered constantly. [Then] she left him, until now. Yet, look, she gave birth this month and he came to me, saying ‘The little girl that she gave birth to is not mine! She conceived her, deceiving me, for it has only been six months since I slept (lit: united) with her’” ([. . .] ⲁⲩϩⲟⲧⲡⲟⲩ ⲙⲛ[ⲛⲥⲁ] ⲧⲣⲉⲩϩⲟⲧⲡⲟⲩ ⲉⲡⲉⲩ|[ⲉⲣⲏⲩ ⲁⲩⲙⲓϣⲉ ϩ]ⲱⲥⲟⲛ ⲁⲩⲫⲓⲗⲟⲡⲓⲕⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲩⲉⲣⲏⲩ ⲉⲙⲉ ⲱⲥⲕ | [ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧ]ⲁⲥⲉⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲓⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ϣⲁ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲥⲧⲉⲛⲟⲩ ⲉⲓⲥ ϩⲏⲏⲧⲉ ⲟⲛ | ⲁⲥⲙⲓⲭⲉ ⲙⲡⲓⲉⲃⲁⲧ ⲁϥⲉⲓ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲙⲡⲱⲓ ⲁⲛ ⲡⲉ | ⲧϣⲉⲉⲣⲉ ϣⲏⲙ ⲛⲧⲁⲥϫⲡⲟⲥ ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲛⲧⲁⲥⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ⲛϫⲓⲟⲩ ⲉⲣⲟⲓ̈ | ⲕⲁⲓ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲥⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲉⲃⲁⲧ ⲛⲉ ⲛⲁⲓ̈ ϫⲓⲛ ⲙⲡⲛⲁⲩ ⲛⲧⲁⲓϩⲟⲧⲡⲥ. See also Balogh and Kahle : – (the original edition) and Richter : –. SB Kopt. II .–: [ⲁⲩ|ⲧⲁⲉⲓⲧ ⲛⲁϥ ⲉⲥⲓⲙⲉ ⲡ ̣ⲓϭⲱ ⲛⲉⲙⲁϥ ⲁⲓ̈ⲙⲏ[. . .]|ⲡⲓⲧ ⲉⲕⲁϥ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁⲛⲇⲱⲇ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲣⲏ̣ ̣ⲩ | ⲁⲛⲕⲁⲛⲏⲣⲏⲩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ. Evans Grubbs a: – (with previous references) and . On remarriage, contrast the earlier Augustan marriage law discussed in Huebner, in this volume, which encouraged it. These are not just issues in late antique (or Christian) Egypt; see also Arjava :  and ; Huebner : ; Pudsey : ,  and –.



 

makes it explicit that his wife can only inherit from him as long as she does not remarry (P.KRU ; Djeme). My wife Sarah will be owner of all that is mine, in everything, until she dies, as long as she remains with me and does not remarry.

Similar sentiments are also encountered in the earlier Roman evidence. They reveal concern for the protection of their own family’s property and a refusal to let it fall into the hands of another. Remarriage did, however, occur. The case of Elisabeth daughter of Epiphanius, from Djeme, who married a man originally from Aswan, Abraham, following the death of her first husband, Loule, has been well documented. With Loule, she had one son, George, and she had two other children with her second husband, Isaac and Kyra. Problems between Elisabeth and George concerning his paternal inheritance are recorded in P.KRU , a property settlement, and , Elisabeth’s testament. While George wanted what was rightfully his, for her part, Elisabeth was adamant that she would protect the rest of her property from him, both what she inherited from her own family and that of her second husband: her property was hers to disseminate, as she wished. About George, whom I had with Loule . . . I paid his tax, the workman that I hired for him, and all the rest of his troubles . . . God knows that from today, I have paid him in full on behalf of his late father, Loule, down to a bronze carot. From that day, God knows that he received another ten holokottinoi and one tremis from me. . . . God knows that I have done enough good for him, until he grew up, left me, and left me in debt. 

 

 





P.KRU .–: ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲥⲁⲣⲣⲁ ⲧⲁⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ ϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲉⲥⲟ ⲛϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲉ[ⲡ]ⲉⲧϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲧⲏⲣϥ ϩⲛ ϩⲱⲃ ⲛⲓⲙ ϣⲁⲛⲧⲥⲉⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲉⲧⲓ ⲉⲥⲥϩⲙⲟⲟⲥ ⲛϩⲟⲩⲛ ϩⲁⲣⲟⲓ ⲉⲧⲙϩⲙⲟⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ ϩⲁⲓ. The document is translated in full in MacCoull : – and Till : –. Arjava : . The guarantee of the filiation of any children born after the death of the husband was also an important issue to consider. A ten-month waiting period before remarriage could take place is therefore attested in certain periods; Arjava : . The principal treatments are Schiller  and Wilfong : –. Partial translations and discussion of these texts are available in Wilfong : – (P.KRU ) and – (P.KRU ), which is the most important study of Elisabeth’s family (including her property disputes with her own niece, Abigaia), superseding Schiller . For complete translations of each text, see Till : – (P.KRU ) and – (P.KRU ) and MacCoull : – (P.KRU ) and – (P.KRU ). The carot was the smallest coin denomination in use at Djeme. There were twenty-four carots to the holokottinos (the equivalent of the Latin solidus), the principal division of which was the tremis (onethird of a holokottinos). P.KRU .–: ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲅⲉⲱⲣⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲇⲉ ⲡⲉⲛⲧⲁⲓϫⲡⲟϥ ⲙⲛ ⲗⲟⲩⲗⲉ . . . () ⲁⲓϯ ⲛϯⲙⲱⲥⲓⲟⲛ ϩⲁⲣⲁϥ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲣⲅⲁⲧⲏⲥ ⲛⲧⲁⲓⲑⲛⲟϥ ϩⲁⲣⲁϥ ⲙⲛ ⲡϣⲱϫ[ⲡ] | ⲛⲛⲉϥϩⲓⲥⲉ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ . . . ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ ϫ[ⲉ] | ϫⲉⲛ ⲙⲡⲉϩⲱⲟⲩ ⲛⲧⲁⲓⲡⲗⲱⲣⲟⲩⲫⲱⲣⲟⲩ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ϩⲁ ⲡⲉϥⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲛⲓⲱⲧ ⲗⲟⲩⲗ[ⲉ] | ϣⲁ ⲧⲁⲛⲁⲗⲱⲅⲓⲁ

“Listen to My Mistreatment”



Elisabeth makes it clear that she has a duty also to provide for her younger children. The sum of money mentioned, ten and one-third holokottinoi, came from her own expenses, and was quite a substantial sum. In the following year, George had P.KRU  drawn up, in which he confirms that he has received everything owed him from his paternal inheritance. On that day, you fulfilled for me the oath (in the Church) of Saint Cyriacus. After the fulfilment of the oath for me, I received and was satisfied with you about the issue concerning this entire inheritance of my late father, Loule, in gold, silver, clothing, bronze, goods, marriage gift, bridal gift, yearly subsistence, and anything coming to me from my late father.

The affairs of Elisabeth and her son George reveal that remarriage was possible, but it was not necessarily the answer to a widow’s financial worries. The existence of any progeny from the first marriage could greatly affect her future life, for better or for worse.



The Wealthy Widow

Before moving on to the evidence for the support networks of widows and divorcées, it should be noted that some women remained unmarried and were able to support themselves. Testaments of women from Djeme attest to the ability of wealthy women to live independently, although it is not always clear if they are single-once-married women, or single-nevermarried women. In their respective testaments, Anna daughter of John and Taham (P.KRU ) and Tbasbes daughter of Apa Victor and Thabronia (P.KRU ) do not refer to any other member of their family, including children, the existence of which would suggest that they had at one time been married. Anna donated all her property to the monastery of St Paul on Dra Abu el-Naga. This includes the house that she inherited from her father, her share in her mother’s house, a quarter-share in a



  

ⲛⲟⲩⲕⲩⲣⲁⲧⲓⲟⲛ ⲛϩⲟⲙⲛⲧ ϫⲉ ⲛⲙⲡⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲙⲙⲱ ⲡⲛ|ⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ ϫⲉ ⲁϥϫⲱ ⲕⲉⲙⲏⲧ ⲛϩⲱⲗⲟⲕⲟⲧⲓⲛⲟⲥ ⲉⲣⲟⲓ ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲧⲣⲓⲙⲩⲥⲓⲟⲛ . . . () ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ ϫⲉ ⲁⲓⲣⲡⲣⲱϣⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲧⲛⲁⲛⲟⲩϥ ⲛⲙⲙⲁϥ ϣⲁⲛⲧⲉϥⲣϩⲏⲗⲏⲅⲓⲁ | ⲛϥⲉⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲓⲧⲟⲧ ⲛϥⲕⲁⲧ ⲉⲓⲭⲣⲓⲱⲥⲧⲉ. P.KRU .–: ⲙⲡⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲙ ̣[ⲙⲁⲁⲩ ⲁⲣ]ⲉ ̣ⲡⲗⲏⲣⲟⲫⲟⲣⲉⲓ ̣ | ⲙⲙⲟⲓ ⲙⲡⲁⲛⲁϣ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲙⲡ ̣ϩ ̣ⲁ ̣ⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲕⲩⲣⲓⲁⲕ|ⲟⲥ ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲧⲉⲡⲗⲏⲣⲟⲫⲟⲣⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟⲓ ⲙⲡⲁⲛⲁϣ | ⲁⲓϫⲓ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁⲓⲡⲱⲗϭ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲙⲙⲏⲧⲛ ϩⲁ ϩⲱⲃ | ⲉϥⲇⲓⲁⲫⲉⲣⲓⲥⲑⲁⲓ ⲉⲧⲉⲓⲕⲗⲏⲣⲟⲛⲟⲙⲓⲁ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ | ⲙⲡⲁⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣ(ⲓⲟⲥ) ⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲗⲟⲩⲗⲁ ϩⲛ ⲛⲟⲩⲃ ϩⲛ | ϩⲁⲁⲧ ϩⲛ ϩⲟⲓⲧⲉ ϩⲛ ⲃⲁⲣⲱⲧ ϩⲛ ⲉⲓⲇⲟⲥ ⲛⲓⲙ | ϩⲁ ⲥⲭⲁⲁⲧ ϩⲁ ϣⲉⲗⲉⲉⲧ ϩⲁ ⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ ⲛⲟⲩⲱⲙ | ϩⲁ ⲗⲁⲁⲩ ⲛϩⲱⲃ ⲉϥϫⲓ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲣⲟⲓ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲁⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣ(ⲓⲟⲥ) ⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ. See MacCoull : –, Till : – and Wilfong : –. See Till : –. While this monastery has been known for over a century on the basis of the textual evidence, its location has only been identified much more recently; see Beckh  (with bibliography).



 

bakery and her share in land jointly owned with one Abraham son of Athanasius (the nature of this relationship is not stated, and he is not mentioned again). Tbasbes bequeathed her property, including shares in a church that she inherited from her father, to the priest Shenoute and his son, Pesynte, in exchange for their care of her memorial offering. Susanna daughter of Moses is known from her testament, two copies of which survive, P.KRU  and , and a wider archive connected with her grandson Shenoute. The name of her husband is unknown, and we only know of one child, a son Germanos who predeceased her. She did, however, have five grandchildren, to whom she bequeathed her property. This included her share in a church, established by her grandfather Elisaios, four houses and a quarter of another structure. With her property portfolio, family support (see section .) and income derived by the lands owned by the church, Susanna was a financially secure widow who did not need to remarry. Or, for that matter, refer to her deceased husband in any capacity. It is also possible that some women were able to work to support themselves. The moneylender Koloje has already been mentioned; even though she was married, she also acted independently in her economic transactions. There are a couple of work contracts in which women are hired to train girls. In O.CrumVC , from Elephantine, a priest hires the woman Djenjhor to train his daughter for two years. Damage to the ostracon means that the nature of the work is unknown, but it was likely weaving or basketry, as is the case in SB Kopt. I  (unprovenanced). Here, one Maria is hired by another woman, Sara, to teach her daughter to plait (the verb shônt indicates basketry rather than weaving), for two years, in exchange for three carots. However, it cannot be confirmed that these women are widows simply because they are working and are not referred to in terms of their husbands; the limited amount of space on these ostraca does not allow the inclusion of any additional information about them.  

  



The potential interest of Shenoute in Tbasbes’ property is discussed in Cromwell : . These documents have received considerable scholarly treatment; see MacCoull : – for translations and references to earlier studies. The family archive is studied in detail in Cromwell . Susanna’s family tree extends from her maternal grandfather to her great-grandchildren; see Cromwell : . Cromwell : . As Germanos predeceased the writing of this entire family archive, he is only referred to in passing, and his patronymic – through which we would learn the name of Susanna’s husband – is never recorded. The complete silence surrounding her husband, given the amount of incidental information contained in these documents, is quite astounding.  See Porten :  (E). See Hintze .

“Listen to My Mistreatment”



The paltry level of payment that Maria received certainly was not enough to sustain her throughout the year. Moreover, if the girls lived with these women throughout the duration of their training (apprenticeship is perhaps an inappropriate term), this additional support, with somebody to help in their daily chores, etc., may have been just as valuable as the monetary gain.

 To Whom to Turn Even though some women may have been financially independent, and able to live alone, this did not mean that they did not at times need support. In times of sickness and unforeseen situations, single women needed to turn to other individuals for help. Different options were available to them, depending on their circumstances, and the nature and extent of their wider family. . Family The woman’s immediate family (parents, siblings, their own grown children, etc.) would almost certainly have been her first line of assistance. In this case, the appeal for aid was unlikely to be written down, and so we only see glimpses of familial support. Elisabeth daughter of Epiphanius (discussed already in section ) not only had her own family to worry about, but, as her testament (P.KRU ) shows, her own elderly mother lived with her at some point. Of the money that her second husband, Abraham, received from his own family (almost  holokottinoi, which was a huge sum), all apart from six holokottinoi were given to her and her mother, Maria. Elisabeth does not explicitly state that her mother lived with her, but, even if she did not, she at least was financially supported by Elisabeth.  



The Coptic evidence for apprenticeship contracts is minimal; see Cromwell forthcoming. The funerary stela of the deacon John, SB Kopt. I , notes that he grew up fatherless (through reference to his widowed mother) and includes a lament on Death, who tears apart families, ‘the one who sunders parents from their children and children from their parents’ (ll. –: ⲡⲉⲧⲡⲱⲣϫ ⲉϩⲉⲛⲉⲓⲟⲧⲉ | ⲉⲛⲉⲩϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ϩⲉⲛϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲉ|ⲛⲉⲩⲉⲓⲟⲧⲉ). It is easy to read this lament as being particularly directed towards the difficulties he faced growing up in his single-mother household. P.KRU .– contains the relevant background information, in particular lines – (ⲙⲡⲉⲕϩⲱⲡ ⲗⲁⲩⲉ ⲉⲣⲟⲓ ⲛϩⲏⲧⲟⲩ ϣⲁ ⲧⲁⲛⲁⲗⲱⲅⲓⲁ ⲛⲟⲩⲧⲣⲓⲙⲏⲥⲓⲟⲛ | ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲁⲛϫⲁⲩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲉⲣⲁⲛ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲛⲉⲣⲏⲩ ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲕ ⲙⲛ ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ ⲧⲁⲙⲁⲩ ϩⲱⲥ ⲁⲥⲣϩⲗⲗⲟⲩ “You kept nothing from me, down to a tremis, rather, we have received them together, myself, you, and my mother Maria, as she had become old”). Wilfong : – reconstructs the family’s narrative, based on the rest of the family’s archive and other such casual details.



 

Susanna daughter of Moses (who is also discussed above in section ) distributes her property between her grandchildren in her testament. She singles out her grandsons for the care that they provided her in her old age (P.KRU  states illness rather than old age), since her son, Germanos, had already passed away. As a result of this care, they receive more in their inheritance than their sisters. This may not have been an entirely altruistic endeavour by her grandsons, who certainly had interest in the property – in church and land – that she owned. Whatever the reason for their actions, Susanna at least had an extended family to which she could turn. .

Monastic Elders

Not all widows had the benefit of a wider familial support network. An unnamed widow from Thebes, the wife of the late Pesynte, writes to bishop Pisentius about the hardships she faces (SB Kopt. I ). As a result of the Persian invasion of the s, this woman lost her husband and one son. She then lived with her other remaining son, but he either also died or left her, unable to face the difficulty of managing their land alone. At the time of writing, she had lost all her cattle, some having been taken by the Persians, the rest used as payment for a moneylender, and she had no surviving family members. She still had possession of her house and a field, but found it increasingly difficult to maintain them. She was responsible for the land tax on the field, and she feared the loss of her house, which she presumably would have had to sell in order to pay her other expenses. With the loss of her family, she turned to a respected religious figure in the area, Pisentius (bishop of Coptos, who was resident in western 

  



P.KRU .– (ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲛⲡⲓⲧⲛⲁⲛⲟⲩⲃ | ⲛⲧⲁⲩⲁⲁⲩ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲓ ϩⲛ ⲧⲁⲙⲛⲧϩⲗⲗⲱ “because of this good thing that they did for me in my old age”) and .– (ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲧⲛⲁⲛⲟⲩϥ [ⲛⲧⲁ]ⲩⲁⲁⲩ [ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲓ] ⲙⲛ ⲡϣⲱⲛⲉ ⲛⲧⲁⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ | [ⲉⲛ]ⲧϥ ⲉϫⲱⲓ “because of the good that they did [for me] in the illness that God brought upon me”). For the grandsons’ interest in her property, see Cromwell : –. Original edition and complete translation in Drescher . Note that the names Pesynte and Pisentius are the same and are written in the same form (ⲡⲉⲥⲛ̅ ⲧⲉ), but I differentiate them here, mainly to use Pisentius for the bishop, as this is more typically how his name is written in the scholarly literature. Altheim-Stiehl  provides a convenient overview of the Persian invasion and control of Egypt, with substantial bibliography. Note, however, that in reference to this text, Altheim-Stiehl refers to Pisentius as the bishop of Hermonthis, not of Coptos; for the arguments in support of the latter, see Drescher : –. As Drescher states of Pisentius of Coptos: “His charity extended far beyond his own diocese . . . his reputation as a protector of the poor and oppressed was evidently something quite out of the common.”

“Listen to My Mistreatment”



Thebes during the decade of Persian rule), to intercede on her behalf with the village officials and to convince them to allow her to stay, unimpeded, in her home. I am this suffering wretched one . . . who is hard from sin, grief, and pain, and defeated because of my husband, who has died, and my s[on, whom the] Persians beat . . . and my cattle, which the Persians took. Now, I beg of you, your holy paternity, to send for and bring the lashane of Djeme and Amos and request them to let me stay in my house, so I do not have to go elsewhere. For they said to me: “You are responsible for the field.” My other son felt defeated and died. More, the other cattle that remained following the Persians, the moneylender came, took it, and sold it for his dues, which I had taken for the tax. And so, have mercy on me, so I can stay in my house.

This is part of a larger group of texts, predominantly but not exclusively from Thebes, in which widows seek support from ecclesiastical and monastic figures. Thebes, with its density of monastic settlements and their proximity to the lay population, provided a veritable bounty of such men to whom those in need could turn, and several more letters record these situations. Maria appeals to Panachôra in P.Mon.Epiph.  to send her aid, following the loss of her husband and son also to the Persians. The Persian invasion may also be to blame for the death of Thellô’s husband, Peter son of Plôs (P.Mon.Epiph. ). The widow Thellô writes to a monastic elder (the name is lost) concerning difficulties with workmen whom her late husband contracted to sow their field, “before the Persians

 





It should be noted, though, that at first she lived with her sons following the death of her husband; it was with the loss of her sons that she had nobody else to whom to turn. SB Kopt. I : –: ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲧⲉ ϯⲉⲃⲓⲏⲛ ⲛ̅ ⲧⲁⲗⲉⲡⲱⲣⲟⲥ ⲡⲁⲣⲁ | ⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉϥϩⲓϫⲛ̅ ⲡⲕⲁϩ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲧϫⲏⲥ ⲛ̅ ⲁⲃⲉ | ϩⲓ ⲙ̅ ⲕⲁϩ ⲛ̅ ϩⲏⲧ ϩⲓ ⲗⲩⲡⲏ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲓ̈ⲟⲩⲁⲗ̅ [ⲥ] | ⲛ̅ ϩⲏⲧ ϩⲁ ⲡⲁϩⲁⲓ̈ ⲛ̅ ⲧⲁϥⲣ̅ ⲙⲁⲕⲁ|ⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ̅ ⲡⲁϣ[ⲏⲣⲉ ⲛ̅ ⲧⲁ ⲙ̅ ]ⲡⲉ|ⲣⲥⲟⲥ ⲕⲟⲗϩϥ̅ [. . .] | ⲙⲛ̅ ⲛⲁⲧⲃⲛ̅ ⲏⲩⲉ ⲛ̅ ⲧⲁⲙ̅ⲡⲉⲣⲥⲟⲥ ϥⲓ|[ⲧⲟⲩ] ⲧⲉⲛⲟⲩ ⲉⲓ̈ⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁⲗⲓ ⲙ̅ ⲙⲟⲕ ⲛ̅ |ⲧⲉⲕⲙ̅ ̣ⲛ̅ ̣ⲧⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲕϫⲟⲟⲩ | [ⲛ]ⲅ̅ ⲛ̅ ⲡⲗⲁϣⲁⲛⲉ ⲛ̅ ϫⲏⲙⲉ ⲙⲛ̅ ϩ ̣ⲁⲙ ̣ⲱ ̣ⲥ ̣ | ⲛⲅ̅ [ⲡⲁ]ⲣⲁⲕⲁⲗⲉⲓ ⲙ̅ [ⲙ]ⲟⲟⲩ ⲛ̅ ⲥⲟⲩⲕⲁⲓ̈ |ⲛ̅ ϩⲟ ̣ⲩⲛ ̣ ⲙ̅ ⲡⲁⲏⲓ̈ ⲙⲛ̅ ⲧ ̣ⲁⲕⲱⲧⲉ ϩⲓ ⲡϣⲙ̅ |[ⲙⲟ ·] ⲙ ̣ⲙⲟⲛ ⲡⲉϫⲁⲩ ϫⲉ ⲉⲣⲉϩⲣⲁ ⲉⲫⲁⲓ̈ | [ⲡⲕ]ⲟⲩ ϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲉⲧⲉ ⲟⲩⲛⲧⲁⲓ̈ϥ ⲁϥⲟⲩⲱ|[ⲗⲥ̅ ⲛ̅ ]ϩⲏⲧ ⲁϥϣⲉ ⲛⲏϥ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲧⲕⲟⲩ ⲁⲗⲱⲧ | ⲛ̅ ⲧⲃⲛ ̣ⲏ ⲛ̅ ⲧⲁⲥⲥⲏⲡⲉ ⲉⲛⲡⲉⲣⲥⲟⲥ ⲁⲡ[ⲧⲁ]|ⲛⲓ ̣ⲥ ̣ⲧⲏⲥ ⲉⲓ̈ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲁϥϥⲓⲧⲥ̅ ⲁϥⲧⲁⲁⲥ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ | ϩⲁ ⲡⲉϥⲗⲁⲁⲩⲉ ⲛ̅ ⲧⲁⲓ̈ϫⲓⲧϥ̅ ⲉⲡⲇⲓⲙⲟⲥⲓ[ⲟⲛ] | ⲁⲩⲱ ⲣ̅ ⲡⲛⲁ̅ ⲛ̅ ⲉⲙⲉⲓ̈ ⲛ̅ ⲧⲁⲥⲙ ̣ⲙ̅ ̣ⲛ̅ ̣ ⲛ̅ ϩⲟⲩ|ⲛ ⲙⲡⲁⲏⲓ̈. The religious elder as protector of widows and orphans is a common Biblical trope. For the Greek evidence for late antique Egypt, see Kotsifou  (this focuses primarily on orphans, but widows are also discussed); the Coptic non-literary evidence for the protection of orphans is discussed in Cromwell forthcoming. P.Mon.Epiph. .–: [. . .] ⲁⲛ̅ ⲃⲁⲣⲃⲁⲣⲟⲥ ϥⲓ ⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲁⲩϥⲓ ⲛϣⲏ ̣ⲣ|[ⲉ. . .]. I understand barbaros here as a reference to the Persians (following both the original editor, Crum, and Bagnall and Cribiore : ), but it may refer to other groups living in the desert west of Thebes.



 

came south.” However, the workmen had failed to give Thellô any of the produce of the land, despite her repeated requests. She refers to an arbitration that had taken place, presumably by the village officials, but this must have been unsatisfactory, as she still needed support from other sources (the end of the ostracon is lost and with it Thellô’s actual request). Without her husband, a monastic authority figure provided the support that she required in her legal difficulties. As she notes, the elder was appointed by God in order to serve as an advocate of the poor. A similar reason for seeking aid is found in a Hermopolite letter, CPR IV . The widow Sophia daughter of Basilaios writes to the monk Apa Phoibammon to confirm the receipt of her share in the harvest. This letter differs from the previous one in that it is not a request for help, but an acknowledgement of the receipt of one-quarter holokottinos, which she will receive annually. However, in this particular instance, the recipient Apa Phoibammon has the title chrusônês, a financial title (the director of the treasury of the nome; however, it is not impossible that the title was used in a different capacity in the seventh century). It is unclear in what capacity Sophia wrote to Phoibammon. She refers to him as Brother Apa Phoibammon, and it may be in this capacity that she originally addressed him. Most importantly, her problem was resolved. Monastic figures were also approached to intercede in difficulties between widows and their family: the presence of family members did not mean that they could or would provide support. On the contrary, family itself could be the problem and, without spousal support, the widow’s only option was to look for external assistance. O.Crum  (provenance uncertain; probably Theban) reveals a wider network connected to the deceased husband, the priest John. The writer (the final part of the ostracon, bearing his name, is lost) was asked to investigate a problem between John’s widow and her youngest son. The actual problem is not recorded – after all, both writer and recipient know the details, but the writer confirms that he has reconciled both parties and nothing can be demanded from the widow beyond what was already decided by the Father, Zael, the recipient of the letter. Not only does this letter provide evidence for support networks, connected to the professional circle   

P.Mon.Epiph. .: ⲙ̅ ⲡⲁⲧⲉⲙ̅ ⲡⲉⲣⲥⲟⲥ ⲉⲓ ⲉⲣⲏⲥ. The Persians are not stated as the cause of Peter’s death, but the timeframe involved makes this a possibility. P.Mon.Epiph. .: ⲛ̅ ⲧⲟⲕ ⲛ̅ ⲧⲁⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲧⲓⲕ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲕϣⲓⲛⲉ ⲛ̅ ⲥⲁ ⲡϩⲱⲃ ⲛ̅ ⲛ̅ ϩⲏⲕⲉ “God has appointed you to inquire into the business of the poor.” The early Arab period saw the appropriation of Greek terms for offices and concepts for which they were not originally intended; see Sijpesteijn : .

“Listen to My Mistreatment”



of the deceased party, but it also demonstrates (together with the previous ostracon) that such sought-for aid was provided to those who needed it. .

The Case of Tanope, Widow of Solomon

In two documents from Djeme, we find Tanope daughter of Abraham. P.KRU  records the resolution of the sale of her share in the courtyard of her husband, Solomon. The purchasers had initially failed to pay the full sale price, and Tanope sought arbitration from the local Arab official, Suleiman, to receive her outstanding money. Solomon is not noted as deceased in this document, but he surely was, as Tanope was acting independently. In P.KRU , it is made clear that she is a widow, as she is identified as “Tanope, the daughter of Abraham, wife of (the) late Solomon.” This document records the outcome of a settlement between Tanope and Peter son of Comes, from whose house she was accused of stealing a considerable volume of goods. A man from the village, Daniel son of Pachom, supports Tanope in her case. There is no evident family relationship between Tanope and Daniel, but with his support she is absolved from having to repay the value of the stolen goods, since the village authorities are informed she is unable to do so. As a widow, even a propertied one, Tanope was on hard financial times. Yet, in contrast to the cases discussed in the previous section, she was able to approach the highest village officials, and had access to professional scribes and Arab authorities in her cases. The evidence is that Tanope was among the village elite and had recourse to a support network and resources at this level. She did not need to implore religious elders to aid her in difficult times. .

Divorcées

There is considerably less evidence for the support networks of divorcées than for widows. Several reasons may account for this. The first is the problem of identifying divorcées, as discussed in section . Secondly, much of our evidence for widows derives from letters written to monastic figures, who were duty-bound to support them. As the Church did not support divorce, except following adultery (section ), religious figures may not   

Translation in Till : –. P.KRU .: ⲧⲁⲛⲱⲡⲏ ⲧϣⲉⲉⲣⲉ ⲛⲁⲃⲣⲁϩⲁⲙ ⲧⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ ⲙⲙⲁⲕ(ⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ) ⲥⲟⲗⲟⲙ[ⲱⲛ]. The text is translated in full in Till : –. Daniel, his archive, and his other philanthropic activities are discussed in detail in Cromwell .



 

have been a viable option for divorcées. Furthermore, as already noted, if support was provided between family members within the village, such instances are unlikely to ever have been written down. There is one exception. In SB Kopt. IV , which was introduced briefly in section , a woman petitions an official; there is no address (and the indications are that this document is a draft) and so the identity of neither party is known. Her petition is written in highly emotive language, in which she presents her mistreatment (literally ‘violence’) at his hands, and his abandonment of her for another woman (literally, ‘threw away’), and the struggle (Greek machê; ‘battle, combat’) that took place between the two parties. May your Lordship listen to my mistreatment by Paul, my husband . . . I had three children with him before I became ill. God knows that after I became ill, I had another [child . . .] When he saw me, that God had brought his illness upon me, he abandoned me and left with another woman. He left [me . . .] and I was abandoned.

The purpose of the petition is to exact alimony from her ex-husband. This constitutes barley, oil, wine and items of clothing each year, i.e., the main staples of life. She notes that he has not provided her anything for a year, except for a single artaba of barley. In her illness, this support was essential, as she had no other way to provide for their children: “I am not asking for anything except the alimony that he established with me, because I am ill . . . so I can live on it.” The implication is that a divorce contract was drawn up (the Coptic verb cmine, translated here as ‘established’, is the standard verb used to refer to the drawing up of legal contracts), and that Paul had not complied with its terms. In this situation, the divorcée had a legal right against her ex-husband: he had committed adultery and had reneged on the terms of their agreement. Even if she had further family support (and there is no indication of this in the petition itself ), she was able to approach a higher authority.

 

 

As discussed above (section ), this is the standard vocabulary of divorce in Coptic. SB Kopt. IV .–: ⲙⲁ ̣ⲣⲉⲧⲉⲕⲙⲛ̅ ⲧϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲡⲁϫⲓ ⲛϭⲟⲛ̅ ⲥ ⲙⲛ̅ ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ ⲡⲁϩⲁ[ⲓ . . .] | ϫⲉ ⲁⲓ̈ⲙⲓⲥ ϣⲟⲙⲧ̅ ⲛⲙ̅ ⲙⲁϥ ⲙ̅ ⲡⲁϯⲣ ϭⲱⲃ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ ϫⲓⲛⲧⲁⲓⲣ ϭⲱⲃ ⲁⲓ̈ⲙⲓⲥ ⲕⲉⲟⲩⲁ ⲛ ̣.[. . .] | ⲛ̅ ̣ⲧⲉⲣⲉϥⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲣⲟⲓ̈ ϫⲉ ⲁⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛ̅ ⲡϣⲱⲛⲉ ⲉϫⲱⲓ̈ ⲛ.ⲫ. ⲁϥⲛⲟϫⲧ̅ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲁϥⲃⲱⲕ ⲙⲛ̅ ⲕⲉⲟⲩⲉⲓ. For a complete translation of the text, see the original edition in Till . I render Greek analôma (ἀνάλωμα) as ‘alimony’; literally ‘expenses, cost’, etc. SB Kopt. IV .–: ⲛ̅ ϯϣⲓⲛⲉ ⲁⲛ ⲛ̅ ⲥⲁ ⲗⲁⲩⲉ ⲛ̅ ⲥⲁ | ⲡⲁⲛϩⲁⲗⲱⲙⲁ ⲛⲧⲁ ̣ϥ ̣ⲥⲙⲛ̅ ⲧⲥ ⲛⲙ ̅ ⲙⲁⲓ̈ ϫⲉ ̣ ⲁ ̣ⲓ ̣ⲣ ϭⲱⲃ ⲛ..ⲟ ̣ϭⲥ ⲛⲧⲁⲱⲛϩ ⲉⲣⲟϥ.

“Listen to My Mistreatment”



 Summary The Coptic evidence is dominated by one location, western Thebes. Villagers here, not only widows, had easy access to venerated monastic elders, whose advice and support was sought on a range of matters. This situation was not, however, unique to this region. Ecclesiastical and monastic establishments throughout the Nile Valley provided charity to those in need, including widows. The extent of the information available for Djeme allows us to see the lives of different widows and divorcées, sometimes with a fair amount of detail. In all of this, however, it must be remembered that we only witness the lives of those who could write or were able to pay somebody else to write down their affairs and problems, preserving them for posterity. Wealthy widows, in particular, had access to village and higher officials and professional scribes. Some women certainly were literate and could have written their own letters. Although, if a widow or divorcée was especially in need, her ability to find somebody who could write on her behalf (whether a letter to a monastic elder or a local authority) may not be a reflection of her wealth or social standing. For those truly in need, the literate may have extended their services as part of a wider support system. Single women who had no access even to this must have had an extremely difficult life, the details of which we can only imagine.









For example, in P.Mon.Epiph. , the officials of Djeme, representing the entire community, write to Apa Epiphanius to ask for his intercession on their behalf in a judicial matter with the officials of another village. Serfass  covers the papyrological evidence for ecclesiastical support for widows in late antique Egypt. Wipsyzcka  discusses the charitable activity of bishops, including the bishops resident in Thebes in the seventh century and discussed above (Abraham and Pisentius). On Christian charity, see also Crislip : ,  (“Christians targeted for aid those who in some way lacked the normal family that could provide for them. These included widows, orphans, beggars, shipwreck victims and travelers, and prisoners”) and – for the scale of charitable actions enabled by the structure of coenobitic monasticism. This seems to be the case in P.Mon.Epiph. , mentioned in section .. Her letter is followed by that of another woman, Susanna, on the same ostracon. As Bagnall and Cribiore :  and  note, it is unlikely that each woman had a different scribe write their respective missives. With Coptic letters from women, it is particularly difficult to determine whether the women themselves wrote the letter, or somebody else, due to the “relative expertise of their hands and the rare occurrence of unskilled handwriting among them” (Bagnall and Cribiore : ). It is perhaps of note that the divorcée’s petition, SB Kopt. IV , is not the product of a professional scribe. It is a somewhat scrappy piece, on reused papyrus, and certainly not an expensive and finely produced document. The question remains open – and perhaps unanswerable – as to whether the divorcée wrote this herself, or if it was written for her.

Comparative Voices

 

Celibacy and Sexual Abstinence in Early Islam* Mohammed Hocine Benkheira

In Muslim communities today, as in the past, marriage is highly valued, and illicit sexual relations are prohibited or, at a minimum, morally condemned. An unmarried man or woman merits the evil eye. It is almost universally agreed that all Muslims must marry and that marriage and procreation are the only means to a successful life. No man or woman is self-sufficient. Every man and woman needs a marriage partner in order to live a full life. Whereas in the modern West, marriage is the business of a man and a woman, in the Islamic world, it is the business of two families. When a man marries a woman, he expects not only to establish a family, but also to acquire new relatives. The Muslim marriage pertains to the exchange theory, as it has been studied by social anthropology. In Arabic, ʿuzūba means “bachelorhood,” more forced than voluntary, as in the case of a shepherd who goes far away from home. In Algerian Arabic nowadays, an ʿāzib is a young man, sometimes a teenager, who is “not married”; the feminine form, ʿazba means a virgin and also an unmarried female, no matter what her age. Another term, tabattul, refers to a voluntary state of “celibacy” or “sexual abstinence.” My field of research is Islamic legal thought, especially the formative period. For many years, I have studied the institution of marriage and the legal issues related to it. During the course of my research, I have noted that, beginning in the ninth century CE, the chapter on marriage in the doctrinal law books usually begins with a response to the following question: Is it better to be married or to be single? The first jurist to pose this question – and to answer it – was al-Shāfiʿī (d. ), who said: “If a man [or a woman] needs to satisfy his [or her] sexual desire and if he [or she] cannot do that, he [or she] may commit a sin; for this reason, it is * I wish to thank David S. Powers (Cornell University) for the careful revision of my English text. Obviously, all shortcomings are my responsibility. On the theme, see also Benkheira .  See Lévi-Strauss  (st edition ), especially pp. –.





  

better for him [or her] to marry – even a slave. However, if a man [or a woman] has no urge for sexual intercourse and no desire for women [or men], it is better for him [or her] not to marry.” The marriage contract implies sexual intercourse. Thus, if a man refuses to have sex with his wife (or if a woman refuses to have sex with her husband), he [or she] violates the terms of the contract. Some jurists held that marriage is more praiseworthy than worship of God and that marriage itself is a religious act. This is the Hanafi position. But it was the Shāfiʿī position that spread over much of the Islamic world, where it encountered asceticism (zuhd ) and, later, Sufism. This raises a question: What did the first Muslims think about marriage and celibacy? In an effort to answer to this question, I have consulted many ancient sources (exegesis, hadith, prosopography).

 “Marry and Increase!” Until the third/ninth century – and even later – Muslim jurists held that every Muslim should marry and procreate. With only one or two exceptions, we do not find any hadith that encourages celibacy in the early collections. Several reports emphasize the relationship between marriage and religion. These reports mention four main issues: () marriage is a divine commandment; () it is a man’s obligation to produce offspring in order to fill the earth and to praise God (“natalism”); () children, born dead or alive, intercede for the salvation of their parents (eschatology); and () marriage protects from sin (morals). Muhammad (d. ) is reported to have said: “He who marries pre_ of his religion.” To this he added: “Let us fear God with regard serves half to the other half.” These two traditions, borrowed from Shīʿī collections, are combined in a single statement in a Sunnī collection, where we read: “When a man marries, he completes half of his religion. Let him fear God with respect to the other half.” On another occasion, the Apostle is reported to have said: “Whenever a young man marries, his demon will

  

 All translations are my own unless otherwise noted. Kulayni (d. ), Kafi, V, , n . Kulayni, Kafi, V, , n ; Ibn Babuyah (d. ), Kitab man la yahduruh al-faqih, III, , n , . Bayhaqi (d. ), Shuʿab al-iman, Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyya, , IV, , n .

Celibacy and Sexual Abstinence in Early Islam



cry: ‘Woe is he! He has protected two-thirds of his religion! The servant of God must beware of the remaining third!’” It is only a short step from the exaltation of marriage to the exaltation of sexuality in marriage: “‘Each of your sexual intercourse is charity!’, tells the Prophet to his fellows – ‘O apostle of God! Whenever one of us,’ reply the fellows, ‘satisfies his desire, will he be rewarded? – Is it not true that if he commits a bad action, he commits a sin? It is the same then: if he satisfies [his desire] in a lawful manner, he will be rewarded.’” Muhammad is also reported to have said: _

“When a man has sex with his wife, who is a believer, the place becomes an enclosure for them and the man is like one who brandishes his sword for God’s sake. When he finishes, his sins leave him like a tree that sheds its leaves; and when he performs his ritual ablutions, he is stripped of his sins.” A woman said: “By my father and my mother, O apostle of God! [What you have said] concerns the husband, but what about the wife?” The prophet said: “When she was pregnant, God prescribed remuneration for one who fasts and prays at night. After she delivers, her reward will be even greater. When she gives birth to a child, God will both give to her a good deed and erase a bad deed for each act of sucking.” The prophet added: “If a woman who is about to give birth dies during labor, she will arise on the day of Resurrection without having to explain herself to somebody because when she died she took her affliction with her.”

The sixth Shiʿi Imam Abu ʿAbd Allah (d. ) said: “Two prostrations performed by a married man are better than seventy prostrations performed by a single person.” “Two prostrations of a married man are worth more than the vigils and fasting of an unmarried one.” According to a Shiʿi tradition, Muhammad said: “No building in Islam _  He also advised his Companions: is valued by God as much as marriage.” “Get married and marry others. . . . God likes nothing more than a home which flourishes through marriage and nothing is more hateful to God than a home that was destroyed by separation, that is to say, repudiation.”

     

Qadi Nuʿman (d. ), Daʿaʾim al-islam, ed. Asaf Fyzee, Cairo, Dar al-maʿarif, , II, , n . Muslim (d. ), Sahih, III, –, n . Qadi Nuʿman, Daʿaʾim al-islam, II, , n . Kulayni, Kafi, V, , n ; Tusi (d. ), Tahdhib al-ahkam, , VII, n .  Ibn Babuyah, Faqih, III, , n . ʿAmili (d. ), Wasaʾil al-shiʿa, XX, , n . Kulayni, Kafi, V, , n .



  

The exaltation of conjugal sexuality has a unique purpose: to produce many descendants. “God likes His believing servant who is poor, chaste and the father of abundant offspring.” Some reports are exceptional, e.g.: O Lord! If a man believes in me [i.e. the Prophet], believes in what I say and knows that it is the truth that comes from You, decrease his fortune and the number of his children! Make him eager to meet You and accelerate the hour of judgment for him! But if a man does not believe in me, does not believe in what I say and does not recognize that it is the truth that comes from You, increase his wealth and offspring! And make his life longer!

Here a large family is an obstacle to salvation. Some reports explicitly condemn celibacy. “The Apostle of God, a Companion reports, commanded that everyone should marry and forbade celibacy. The Apostle of God said: ‘Marry loving and fertile women, I will be at the head of the largest community on the Day of Resurrection.’” According to Abu Hurayra (d. ), Muhammad once launched an _ anathema against several categories of individuals: The Apostle of God cursed effeminate men who imitate women and manly women who look like men; bachelors, men and women, who say they refuse to marry; a man who crosses a barren desert by himself . . . and one who spends the night alone.

Abu Hurayra also said: The Apostle of God has forbidden [men] to live as hermits. He said: “No monks in Islam! Get married! Thanks to you I will be at the head of the largest community.” He forbade celibacy. He also prohibited women from staying unmarried and when they are married to abstain from sexual relations.

The rejection of marriage is regarded as a dangerous deviation, and anyone who follows this path is excluded from the community: “He who refuses my rule (sunna) is not mine.” “He who is wealthy and is not married is not one of my followers.” “Whoever has the means to marry      

 Ibn Maja (d. ), Sunan, IV, , n . Ibn Maja, Sunan, IV, , n . Nur al-din al-Haytami (d. ), Mawarid al-zaman, Beyrouth, Dar al-kutub al-ʿilmiyya, , n . Ibn Hanbal (d. ), Musnad, , n . Qadi Nuʿman, Daʿaʾim al-islam, II, , n . Bukhari (d. ), Sahih, IX, , n ; Muslim, Sahih, IX, , n /; Abd al-Razzaq (d. ), Musannaf, VI, , n ; Darimi, Sunan, I, , n . Ibn Abi Shayba (d. ), Musannaf, III, , n .

Celibacy and Sexual Abstinence in Early Islam



but does not do so does not belong to our community.” “He who is comfortable [financially] but is not married is not of my [followers].” Abu Hurayra said: “If I only had one day to live, I would meet God having married, because I heard the Apostle of God say: ‘The worst of you are bachelors.’” Marriage is cleansing, so the Prophet said: “Whoever wants to meet God pure and purified must marry a free woman.” According to the Shīʿī version, Muhammad said: “Whoever wants to meet God clean and cleansed must_ meet Him with his wife.” According to another version, he said: “He who wants to meet God clean and cleansed must give proof of his chastity with a wife.” The condemnation of celibacy involves a criticism of monasticism: Abu Darr reported: A man by the name of ʿAkkāf b. Bishr al-Tamīmī visited the Apostle of God, who asked him: “Do you have a wife? – No. – Not even a slave-girl? – Not even a slave-girl. – But you are a rich man! – I am as you say. – So you are one of the demons’ brothers? If you were a Christian, you would have been a monk. Marriage is our rule (sunna). The worst of you are bachelors and the meanest of you are those who die unmarried. Demons have no more powerful weapon against the righteous than women. Except for those who are married; they are purified, and not ruled by their sexual desire. ʿAkkāf ! Take care! They are the companions of Job, David, Karsaf and Joseph.” Bishr b. ʿAtiyya said to the Apostle of God: “Who is Karsaf, O Apostle of God? – Karsaf is a man who worshiped God on a beach for  years. He fasted by day and spent his nights in vigils. Then he blasphemed God because of the love of a woman, neglecting the worship he rendered to God. But God allowed him to catch up. He repented. Take care ʿAkkāf, get married! – Marry me O Apostle of God!” The narrator concludes: He married Karīma Bint Kultūm al-Humayrī.

This man named Karsaf, who was a hermit, had neighbors who were brothers. When they went on a trip, they entrusted their younger sister to Karsaf. In their absence, the devil made her to tempt the hermit; then he yielded to the girl and impregnated her. During the first three centuries AH, celibacy was considered unrealistic and undesirable, unless it was a product of poverty, and thus unintentional, in which case it was allowed if accompanied by fasting: Ibn Masʿūd     

 Darimi (d. ), Sunan, I, , n . Abd al-Razzaq, Musannaf, VI, , n . Kulayni, Kafi, V, , n . al-Mundiri (d. ), al-Targhib wa-l-tarhib, Cairo, Dar al-hadith, , III, , n .  ʿAmili, Wasaʾil al-shiʿa, XX, , n . Qadi Nuʿman, Daʿaʾim al-islam, II, , n . Abd al-Razzaq, Musannaf, VI, –, n ; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, , n .



  

(d. ) said: I heard the Apostle of God say: “O you young men! If one of you is financially capable, he must marry. This will preserve his eyes and keep him chaste. But if one of you is poor, let him fast: [fasting] is the equivalent of castration for him.” This doctrine, which is probably late, met the Quranic learning (see verses ,  and , ). Regarding the eschatological role of offspring, The Apostle of God said: “Get married! Thanks to you on the Day of Resurrection I will be at the head of the largest community. When children died after their birth will come crawling to the door of Heaven, he will be told: Enter! But he will answer: No, I will not as my parents did not enter before me.” Did anyone defend celibacy and bachelorhood during this period? The number of bachelors during the first three centuries AH seems to have been extremely low.

 The Medina Controversy Among the traditions that circulated during the first three centuries of the Islamic era, there is a small set relating to the same event, which is not dated, but, if it is historically reliable, must refer to events that occurred in  AH, that is,  CE. These traditions mention a group of close Companions of Muhammad who were planning to exercise, among other _ things, sexual continence and self-mortification. In some reports, it is a matter of adopting a vegetarian diet. This story is reported in the hadith collections and in Quranic exegesis (in relation to verse , ). Among the figures of the Medinan community, there are prominent Companions (e.g., ʿAlī and Ibn Masʿūd): two figures merit our attention, even if they are not famous. The first figure is ʿUthmān b. Mazʿūn who reportedly was the four_ believers in Mecca. He was the teenth person to join the community of brother of ʿUmar b. al-Khattab’s wife, who was the mother of Hafsa, the Prophet’s wife, and therefore the maternal uncle of Ḥafsa and a relative of _ the Prophet. The wife of his brother Qudāma was the sister of ʿUmar and aunt of Hafsa. He was from the emigration to Abyssinia – indeed, according to some reports, he was the leader of those emigrants. He also    

Ibn Abi Shayba, Musannaf, III, n ; Muslim, Sahih, IX, –, n /; Nasaʾi (d. ), Sunan kubra, III, , n ; Darimi, Sunan, I, , n . Ibn Babuyah, Faqih, III, , n . Ibn Saʿd (d. , Baghdad), Kitab al-tabaqat, III, . Ibn Hisham (d. , Basra), al-Sira al-nabawiyya, ed. Jamal Tabit, Cairo, Dar al-hadith, , I, .

Celibacy and Sexual Abstinence in Early Islam



participated in the emigration to Medina. He died in the third year of the Islamic era, after the Battle of Badr and was buried in Baqīʿ, the first cemetery for Muslims on the outskirts of Medina. He was zealous in the worship of God. From the many reports about him there emerges an unusual character. He avoided intoxicants even before they were prohibited: “I would not drink a beverage that caused me to lose control of my rational faculties, that made a common man laughed at me and that urged me to marry my daughter to a man I did not want [her to marry].” However, his name does not appear on the list of Qurashis who abstained from drinking wine found in the Kitāb al-munammaq of Muhammad _ b. Habib (d. ). He was probably a radical, as reflected in the following story, in which he is ready to fight for his ideas. One day he heard the poet Labid b. Rabiʿa (d. ca. ) declaiming: “Is it not true that apart from God, everything is vain?” Immediately ʿUthmān b. Mazʿūn approved. The poet continued: “And all pleasure undoubtedly ceases.”_Upon hearing this, ʿUthmān b. Mazʿūn became angry and called the poet a liar. “The bliss of _ end,” ʿUthmān replied. At that point a fight broke out, Paradise will never and a man hit ʿUthmān in the face, injuring his eye. The second Companion is ʿAbd Allah b. ʿAmr b. al-ʿAs (d. ), son of the famous Companion ʿAmr b. al-ʿAs, a late convert, who was the governor of Egypt on behalf of ʿUmar and Muʿawiya. All Muslim sources report that the age difference between ʿAbd Allah and his father was only eleven years! ʿAbd Allah became a Muslim before his father, who converted after al-Hudaybiyya in March . ʿAbd Allah died at the age of , perhaps in Syria, after going blind. Consider the following report: ʿAbd Allah reported one day: My father married me to a girl from [the tribe of] Quraysh. When she was with me, I remained indifferent to her, because I had strength to dedicate [my life] to devotion, which came from prayer and fasting. [In the following days, my father] visited his daughter-in-law. He asked her: “How did you find your husband? – The best of men, she replied. He did not hit me and did not share my bed!” “My father came to me and blamed me; he showed me that he was angry. He said: “I married you to a girl from an aristocratic family of Quraysh, but you abstain from approaching her.” He went to the Prophet to complain about me. When the latter summoned me, I went to him. He asked me: “Do you fast during   



Ibn Saʿd, Kitab al-tabaqat, III, –; Dahabi (d. ), Siyar aʿlam al-nubalaʾ, I, . Ibn Habib (d. ), Kitab al-munammaq, ed. Ahmad Fariq, Beyrouth, ʿAlam al-kutub, , . He is one of the most famous transmitters of prophetic tradition: see Mizzi (d. ), Tuhfat alatraf, ed. ʿAbd al-Samad Sharaf al-din, Beyrouth/Damas, al-Maktab al-islami, nd edition, , VI, –. Dahabi, Siyar, III, –, n ; Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. ), al-Isaba, II, –, n .



   the day? – Yes. – And you don’t sleep at night? – Yes. – As for me, replied the Prophet, I fast and I eat, I pray and I sleep, and I do not run away with women. Anyone who rejects my rule (sunna) is not my follower.” The Prophet said: – Read the Qurʾan for one month. – But I am able to do more! – Read it for ten days! – But I am able to do more! – Read it for three days! Fasting three days a month. – But I can do more than that! [After haggling, he commanded him] to fast one day for two days! This is the best fasting! This was the practice of my brother Dawud [David]. Every devotee has his passion and every passion has its interval, either towards a [good] rule or towards a reprehensible innovation. Whoever goes to a good rule finds the right direction, the other is lost.

According to other reports, ʿAbd Allah was a vegetarian. According to the following report, ʿAbd Allah used to read the Torah: I saw in a dream that one of my fingers was covered with butter, while another was covered with honey, and I licked them. The next morning, I told my dream to the Apostle of God. He said: “It’s because you read the two books, the Torah and the Furqan [Qurʾan].

The religious profile attributed to ʿUthman and ʿAbd Allah b. ʿAmr (d. ) in these reports suggests that we are dealing with an early stage in the development of Islam. These two men were not idolaters, as alleged by Muslim apologists about pre-Islamic Arabs, but probably JudaeoChristians or members of another religious sect.

 Tenth-century Reform: Celibacy Becomes Lawful The sources refer to only a small number of bachelors prior to the ninth century CE. About only two of these bachelors do we have any information. The first is ʿAmir [b. ʿAbd Allah] b. ʿAbd Qays, a Basran who lived during the caliphate of ʿUthman b. ʿAffan (–) and died during the caliphate of Muʿawiya (–). ʿAmir was a vegetarian who performed night vigils during which he would recite the Qurʾan. When asked about celibacy, he replied: “I have a single soul (nafs), I’m afraid that it overcame me.” According to another tradition, he said, “I asked my Lord that He remove from me love of women. Nothing is more dangerous for my religion except desire. By God, I do not pay any attention to a woman. When I see one, it is as if I am looking at a wall! I asked my Lord that He grant me to fear no one but Him. I also asked Him to remove from me  

Ibn Hanbal (d. ), Musnad, , n ; Bukhari, Sahih, IV, –, n –.  Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, , n . Ibn Saʿd, Kitab al-tabaqat, III, –.

Celibacy and Sexual Abstinence in Early Islam



sleep so that I might worship Him night and day the way I want [to do], but He denied my request!” According to Qatada (d. ), ʿAmir asked his Lord to remove sexual desire from his heart; it made no difference to him whether he met a woman or a man. According to Hasan al-Basri (d. ), ʿAmir used to say, “Life is linked with four things: women, clothing, food and sleep. As for women, by God I pay no attention to them; [when I see one], it’s as if I was looking at a goat. I do not care about clothes I use to cover my nakedness. But food and sleep have gotten the best of me . . .” The second famous bachelor is Bishr al-Hafi (d. ), from the city of Baghdad. He was close to Ibn Hanbal (d. ). According to several stories about him, it is clear that he was not married and lived with his sister and his nephew. He is reported to have made many statements about celibacy. Someone once asked him: “People talk about you. – What are they saying? – They say you neglected a sunna, i.e., marriage. – Tell them I’m busy with an obligation (fard ) to the detriment of a sunna!” On another occasion, he said: “To endure the suffering [of bachelorhood] is easier than providing for a family.” Or consider this misogynistic statement: “In my opinion, it is easier to endure the absence of women than to put up with them.” When Bishr died, his funeral oration was delivered by Ibn Hanbal, who expressed regret that Bishr had not been married. The jurist al-Shafi’i (d. ) was the author of the first doctrinal statement in favor of celibacy. Muzani (d. ), his pupil, reported that he taught as follows: I prefer that men and women marry if they desire the marriage, because God Almighty has commanded it, authorized it and recommended it. . . . As for him who has no interest in sex, it is better in my opinion that he dedicates his life to the worship of God . . . [ After quoting verse , , he continued:] This shows that marriage is recommended only for those who feel the need.

Thus, there are two types of men: those who are not suited for bachelorhood because of their sexual desire and those whom bachelorhood suits. The latter must occupy their free time in worship of God. One wonders if Shafi’i may not have introduced this distinction in order to account for men like Bishr.    

 Ibn Saʿd, Kitab al-tabaqat, III, . Ibn Saʿd, Kitab al-tabaqat, III, . Ibn Abi Shayba, Musannaf, VII, , n . Diya al-din al-Suhrawardi (d. ), Adab al-muridin, –.  Khatib Baghdadi (d. ), Tarikh Baghdad, . Mawardi (d. ), al-Hawi, IX, .



  

Similarly, criticism of hermits ceased, as evidenced by the story of Jurayj: No one spoke in the cradle except for three individuals, including Jesus. Among the children of Israel there was a man called Jurayj. While he was praying, his mother came to his cloister and called him. He said to himself: “Do I answer or do I continue my prayer?” His mother said: “O Lord, let him not die before knowing the faces of prostitutes!” Jurayj was living in a cloister. When a woman tempted him and spoke to him, he sent her away. She met a shepherd and offered herself to him. She gave birth to a boy. But she claimed that the father was Jurayj. The people went to the house of Jurayj to destroy his cloister and insult him. He performed ritual ablutions and prayed, then he ran to the crowd. He asked the newborn: Who is your father, child? He answered: The shepherd. The crowd immediately declared: We will build your cloister with gold? He said: No! With earth only! . . .

At the beginning of the tenth century, Abu Yaʿla (d. ) recorded a prophetic statement in favor of bachelorhood: “Within  years, the best of you will be he who has neither wife nor children.” Here, a bachelor is someone to be envied. Several reports in support of bachelorhood were compiled by the Hanbali Ibn Abi Dunya (d. ). Some of these texts explicitly criticize family obligations. This criticism weighs the responsibilities of the head of a family against personal salvation: a man who has a family must support himself; a task that takes time and energy and sometimes involves religiously unsavory activities. Therefore, starting a family may be an insurmountable challenge. Statements in support of celibacy begin to appear in many different sources. In a treatise about the rules for the transmission of hadith, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. ) wrote: It is advisable for someone who seeks hadith to remain a bachelor so long as it is possible for him [to do so]; that did not distract from his research. Because if he was married, he should take care to the rights of his wife and provisions of the house.

al-Khatib does not say that the search for hadith is above family life, or that the muhaddith must sacrifice it. In his view, if someone marries and has children, he must begin to fulfill his obligations to his family and his wife, who, as he mentions, has rights. This is why it is preferable for those who  

Bukhari, Sahih, VI, , n . In variants of this narrative, the hermit always prevails in the contest. Quotation in al-Muttaqi al-Hindi (d. ), Kanz al-ʿummal, XVI, , n .

Celibacy and Sexual Abstinence in Early Islam



want to devote themselves to the study of hadith to remain single, at least during the period when they are devoted to this task. The critique of human sexuality also found its way into philosophical and medical discourses. The physician Abu Bakr al-Razi (Rhazes) (d. ) criticizes the sexual appetite for causing “all kinds of evil and lasting diseases”: “it weakens the eyesight and the body, it also accelerates aging.” Therefore the wise man must avoid marriage and sexual intercourse. Over time, the number of texts that were critical of sexuality and hostile to marriage increased. The Egyptian Sufi Shaʿrani (d. ) preserved the following statement attributed to Sufyan al-Thawri (d. ): “To marry is to bring the world into his home, that is to say, to wed the daughter of Satan. This wedding gives him the opportunity to make numerous visits to his son-in-law because of his daughter. So beware of marriage!” Ibn Abi al-Dunya (d. ) records a statement attributed to Sufyan al-Thawri in which he makes remarks that are critical of the family but not of marriage.

 Conclusion If the controversy about celibacy in Medina, which arguably took place between  and , is undoubtedly a crisis associated with the growth of the new religion, pitting against each other two doctrinal tendencies present from the beginning, the new attitude that emerged during the ninth and especially the tenth centuries has a different significance. The old doctrine, which promoted marriage and procreation, was not abandoned; the new doctrine, which declared celibacy to be lawful, was superimposed on the old doctrine. One consequence of this change is that many scholars, some of them famous, were celibate, e.g., Tabari or Ibn Taymiyya. The change in the attitude toward celibacy and sexuality in the tenth century may be related to the emergence of a new model among the ulama: the wise man who is able to control his carnal appetites and is not controlled by them so that his intellect (ʿaql) will prevail within him. As the ulama, especially the Sunnis, became the main source of religious legitimacy, and as they developed exclusive control over the law, this small elite, which was able to resist the pleasures of the world, developed a lifestyle very different from the masses, the emirs, the peasants and the urban poor, who could not resist the pleasures of the flesh or other  

Abu Bakr al-Razi (d. ), La médicine spirituelle, trans. in French by R. Brague, Paris, GarnierFlammarion, , –. Shaʿrani (d. ), Tanbih al-mughtarin, Beyrouth, Dar al-kutub al-ʿilmiyya, , .



  

attractions, such as fortune and notoriety. To exercise authority over others, one must be able to exercise mastery over oneself – including one’s sexual appetite. Let me conclude with an anecdote that features a famous Mālikī jurist, the qadi ʿAbd al-Wahhab (d. ), who died before consummating his last marriage. He settled in Egypt and remained there with his wife until he died. After his death, his wife’s parents wanted her to remarry. She said, “Marry me as a virgin. – How can it be when you were married to him [viz., ʿAbd al-Wahhab] for several years? – On the night we were married, he entered my room, prayed the evening prayer, then sat down to study his books, without ever looking up. The following night the same thing happened. One night I arose, dressed myself, made myself beautiful and sought to entice him. He raised his head, looked at me, picked up his pen, and squirted the ink onto my face, ruining my makeup. He then returned to his books without ever raising his head. [This pattern continued] until he was united with his Lord.” Special Bibliography Abu Bakr al-Razi (d. ), La médicine spirituelle, trans. in French by R. Brague, Paris, Garnier-Flammarion, , –. ‘Abd al-Razzaq (d. ), al-Musannaf, ed. Habib al-Rahman al-A’zami,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-majlis al-‘ilmi, -. ‘Amili (d. ), Wasa’il al-shi’a ila tahsil masa’il al-shari’a,  vols., Beirut, Mu’assasat Al al-bayt li-ihya al-turaṯ, . Bayhaqi (d. ), Shu’ab al-iman, ed. Muhammad al-Sa’id al-Basyuni Zaghlul,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, . Bukhari (d. ), Sahih, with commentaries of Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, ed. Muhammad Fu’ad ‘Abd al-Baqi, Riyadh/Damascus, Dar al-Salam/Dar al-fayha’, . Darimi (d. ), Sunan, ed. Sayyid Ibrahim and ‘Ali Muhammad ‘Ali,  vols., Cairo, Dar al-salam, . Dhahabi (d. ), Siyar a’lam al-nubala, ed. Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut,  vols., Beirut, Mu’assasat al-risala, . Diya al-din al-Suhrawardi (d. ), Adab al-muridin, ed. Fahim Muhammad Shaltut, Cairo, Dar al-watan al-‘arabi, s.d. _ Ibn Abi Shayba (d. ), al-Musannaf, ed. Muhammad ‘Abd al-Salam Shahin,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, . Ibn Babuya (d. ), Kitab man la yahduruhu al-faqih,  vols., Beirut. Ibn Habib (d. ), Kitab al-munammaq, ed. Ahmad Fariq, Beirut, ‘Alam al-kutub, . 

This story was narrated by Ibn al-Hajj (d. ), Madkhal, I, –, also a Maliki scholar.

Celibacy and Sexual Abstinence in Early Islam



Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. ), al-Isaba,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-kitab al-‘arabi, . Ibn al-Hajj (d. ), Madkhal, ed. Tawfiq Hamdan,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya,. Ibn Hanbal (d. ), Musnad, Amman-Riyadh, Bayt al-afkar al-duwaliyya, . Ibn Hisham (d. ), al-Sira al-nabawiyya, ed. Jamal Tabit,  vols., Cairo, Dar al-hadith, . Ibn Maja (d. ), Sunan, with the commentaries of Busiri, ed. Khalil Ma’mun Shiha,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-ma’rifa, . Ibn Sa’d _(d. ), Kitab al-tabaqat al-kubra,  vols., Beirut, Dar Sadir, . Khatib Baghdadi (d. ), Tarikh Baghdad,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-kitab al-ʿarabi, s.d. Kulayni (d. ), al-Kafi,  vols., Beirut, s.d. Mawardi (d.), al-Hawi, ed. ‘Ali Muhammad Mu’awwad and ‘Adil Ahmad _ . ‘Abd al-Mawjud,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, Mizzi (d. ), Tuhfat al-atraf, ed. ‘Abd al-Samad Sharaf al-din, Beirut/Damascus, al-Maktab al-islami, nd ed., . Mundiri (d. ), al-Targhib wa-l-tarhib, Cairo, Dar al-hadith, . Muslim (d. ), Sahih, with commentaries of Nawawi, ed. ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Majid Abu al-Khayr,  vols., Damascus/Beirut, Dar al-khayr, . al-Muttaqi al-Hindi (d. ), Kanz al-ʿummal, ed. Mahmud ‘Umar al-Dimyati,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, . Nasa’i (d. ), Sunan kubra, ed. ‘Abd al-Ghaffar Sulayman al-Bundari and Sayyid Masrawi Hasan,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, . Nur al-din al-Haytami (d. ), Mawarid al-zaman, Beirut, Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, s.d. Qadi Nu’man (d. ), Da’a’im al-islam, ed. Asaf Fyzee,  vols., Cairo, Dar al-ma’arif, . Shaʿrani (d. ), Tanbih al-mughtarin, Beirut, Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, . Tusi (d. ), Tahdhib al-ahkam, ed. Sayyid Hasan al-Musawi al-Khurasani,  vols., Beirut, Dar al-ta’aruf, .

 

To Marry or Not to Marry in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-century Cities, with Antwerp and Bruges as Case Studies* Julie De Groot 

Introduction

Social historians and historical demographers have for a long time discussed the characteristics of marriages in premodern Northwestern Europe, labeling it as the ‘West European Marriage Pattern’. The pattern was characterized by a relatively late age at first marriage, a relatively small age gap between spouses and a large group of people who were not yet or never married at all. John Hajnal dated the introduction of this pattern in marital behavior to around . But more recently, medievalists have strongly argued that the origins of this pattern should be situated in the late medieval period, especially in cities. Marriage in cities such as Bruges and Antwerp was above all characterized by consensus and neolocality; in an ideal situation, newlyweds moved out of the parental home to establish their own household. Young couples therefore needed a strong economic basis, implying that a shortage of capital could often result in postponing or canceling the marriage. At the same time, individuals understood that marriage could harbor a number of advantages for both spouses; it not only provided greater chances of economic stability or sustainability, but also produced more elaborate and potentially wider social and familial networks and generated legitimate heirs. Therefore, formalizing a union between two persons in marriage was not only encouraged in morality literature and proclaimed by religious institutions: it was almost certainly privileged by individuals in late medieval cities as well.

*   

I would like to thank Dr. Katherine A. Wilson (Chester University) for proofreading and fine-tuning my English text.  Hajnal . Hajnal . De Moor and van Zanden ; Devos, Schmidt and Blondé .  Devos, Schmidt and Blondé . Mazo Karras .



To Marry or Not to Marry



Certain people, however, simply lacked the possibility and the means to enter into marital life; others consciously chose not to marry at all. Indeed, there could have been many reasons for people choosing not to enter into a partnership or forsake a formal marriage. So why then was there a large group of singles in societies where marriage was the norm? And to what extent did a temporary or permanent single status have social and legal repercussions for men and women and/or for their social surroundings? In this respect, it is interesting to note that the consequences of the marital status for a person’s life have nearly always been studied from the perspective of women. A case in point is that more than  percent of the titles in the bibliography of a recent volume on single life explicitly or implicitly refer to the possibilities and constraints of single, widowed and married women. Luckily, more recently there has been a modest countermovement in social and gender history in favor of the male experience and identity in the medieval period. Even though one would assume that the marital status of men was less constraining for their social, economic and political life, it is important to question the normative codes of behavior and social expectations of single, widowed and married men in late medieval urban contexts. Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to explore analogies and differences between de jure and de facto ideas and practices about marriage and singleness for both men and women in cities of the southern Low Countries.

 Seeking Men and Women in Late Medieval Documents That men are omnipresent in historical documents and especially in legal affairs is treated as a given. Paradoxically, the marital status of men in these legal documents is rarely mentioned. According to customary law, men were considered legally capable after having reached the age of majority. They could perform all kinds of legal business, were allowed to conclude contracts and were expected to be able to represent themselves in cases of trial or prosecution. The marital status of men did not seem to influence their legal status, or at least that was the case in legal theory. For example, the customary law of the cities of Antwerp (Duchy of Brabant) and Bruges (County of Flanders) did not mention rules or conventions for unmarried    

Mazo Karras : , chapter . Among others: Bennett and Froide ; Van Aert : –; Adams : –.  De Groot, Devos and Schmidt . Hadley ; Goldberg : –.  Hadley : . Goldberg : .



  

(adult) or widowed men different from those applied to married men. Even in more official post-mortem inventories and personal testaments or last wills, the marital status of the male subject can only be deduced from internal information in the documents themselves. More often than not, it is unclear from the preamble if the deceased had earlier lost his wife and was a widower at the time the will was drawn up or at the time he died and the inventory was drafted. Things were very different for women. There has been a tendency in historical literature on women to see married, single and widowed women as hidden from view, obscured by their husbands, fathers or guardians in (legal) records. In theory, customary law dictated that the legal possibilities and constraints of women were measured by their marital state. In Antwerp, for example, married women were allowed according to the customary law to conclude certain contracts and to draw up their own will, but were under the guardianship (or coverture) of their husbands when larger contracts and more important affairs were at issue. Single women who reached the age of majority ( years) and who were considered to be self-supporting, and widows who had been married for a shorter or longer period in time, were considered legally incapable and were therefore obliged to have themselves represented by a guardian (father, male relative or other guardian) in cases of legal procedures and concluding contracts. Women with or without husbands were always directly (wife or widow) or indirectly (single woman) labeled in documents by their marital status. For example, in a sixteenth-century Bruges post-mortem inventory, Margriete was not mentioned as ‘Margriete Van Eynde’ but as ‘Margriete, the wife of Pieter Wijns’ and often also as ‘Margriete, the wife of Pieter Wijns, daughter of Jan Van Eynde’. In other words, she was first and foremost known to the public as the wife of a male citizen and the daughter of another citizen. Names of single women too, were nearly always followed by a reference to the name of the father. It is not surprising therefore that this view of women’s legal subjection was long interpreted by many (feminist) researchers as indicating that history is mainly a male history.

   

 De Longé –; Gilliodts-Van Severen –. Beattie and Stevens : –.  Van Aert : –; Hutton : –. Van Aert : . Among others: Nicholas ; Boone, De Hemptinne and Prevenier . Van Gerven : .

To Marry or Not to Marry



The situation was somewhat different for widows. In Antwerp, for example, they were allowed (and in some cases due to their previous marriage probably more financially capable) to act in financial and commercial transactions (for the record, with a legal guardian) and were therefore more likely to be present in the historical records. And since they were not under the coverture of their husbands anymore, their names were clearly visible. Recently, researchers such as Laura van Aert for early sixteenth-century Antwerp and Shennan Hutton for fourteenth-century Ghent have taken up the challenge to compare prescriptive sources with sources of actual practice. They have looked for women acting on their own and in their own right in documents of legal practice, such as lawsuit settlements and judgment records. For fourteenth-century Ghent, Hutton argues cogently that although married women were subjected to restrictions and were legally under the coverture of their husbands, they had more de facto legal capability and less limited legal identity than one would assume from reading customary law. Although the husband was present during the closing of the deal, to manage property and when his wife had to appear before a court, he did not take up an active role. In some cases, the husband was not even present with his wife in the aldermen’s court, although the court clerk used his name to identify the married woman. This discrepancy between the theoretical status of women and the actual practice also accounts for widows in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Antwerp. The customary law of Antwerp was somewhat different from that of Ghent – every city and locality in the Low Countries had its own customary law. Nevertheless, according to the customary law of Antwerp, widows were considered legally incapable (even more so than in the city of Ghent) and in need of a legal guardian when conducting business deals and when appearing in court. However, they were not obliged to have a permanent guardian to represent themselves at all times. But a study of registrations of business and property deals in the registers of the bench of aldermen shows that widows were active players in the property market, buying and selling real estate and annuities. Moreover, in most cases, it was made explicit that they were not represented by a legal guardian and that they acted by themselves ‘as their own guardian’. The differences    

Cavello and Warner ; De Groot forthcoming. Van Aert : –; Van Aert : –; Hutton ; Hutton : –.   Hutton : –. See also: Gillissen : –. Van Aert : . De Groot : . For example: “Katline, naturlike dochter Willems Vander laren, weduwe wylen Jans vanden Rycke, molders, com tutor van huer selven . . .” or “Katline, natural daughter of Willem



  

between the constraints both married and unmarried women theoretically had to endure and their actual legal capability in society can be seen as an important reason for considering the social identity of people as a multifaceted (theoretical/pragmatic) construction, where marital status was an important factor. It is therefore important, as it is for all periods, to be aware of the historical context in order to understand fully the particularities of the lived experiences of the people themselves. In this respect, Ruth Mazo Karras convincingly argued that in late medieval daily life, several types of unions between two persons were valid which did not necessarily result in marriage. So legally, women could be considered unmarried and thus single, whereas in reality they were sharing their lives with a partner. This ambiguity was often caused by the vagueness of classical canon law on marriage. In pre-Tridentine wedding ‘ceremonies’ the role of the priest was limited and parental consent and marital vows were not required and were often simply absent. In consequence, most marriages were clandestine and not officially recognized. As a result, many children were born out of wedlock. As the fifteenth-century Bruges document collection of ‘inventories of burghers of illegitimate birth’ and the special regulations relating to inheritance incorporated into the customary law indicate, births outside the formal union of marriage were not that unusual in late medieval society. And it was not until the second half of the sixteenth century (after the Council of Trent (–)) that marriages became more formalized and therefore easier to recognize. One would assume that the aforementioned discrepancy between theory and reality was inherent to the often problematic status of women and a certain suspicion considering (the potential danger of ) women’s acting in public. Merry Wiesner-Hanks, for example, argued that in the later sixteenth-century some German city governments kept a watchful eye on the activities and housing conditions of single women.

 

  

Vander Laren, widow of Jan vanden Rycke, (acting as) her own guardian” City Archive of Antwerp, Registers of the bench of Aldermen, ,  v ,  March . Mazo Karras . Goldberg : ; Donahue : –. For a discussion on the monogamous Graeco-Roman tradition and the Christianization of the institution of marriage, see Laes in the introduction to this volume. See the PhD thesis of Kim Overlaet for more references about clandestine marriages: Overlaet : –. Carlier . See also Baatsen, De Groot, and Sturtewagen : –.  Overlaet : –. Wiesner-Hanks : –.

To Marry or Not to Marry



 Working Alone in the City Being unmarried marked women as socially and economically vulnerable. Although cities such as Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent offered young, not-yetmarried women work opportunities in the textile and service sector, wages and working conditions were often very poor. Moreover, as Peter Stabel concluded, the position of single women in the urban economy of late medieval Flanders was changing, and work opportunities became scarce and less differentiated as the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries progressed. Guilds were increasingly reluctant to admit women (even widows of former guildsmen) or to tolerate women working independently on the urban market. It was not easy for unmarried women to make ends meet, making them an easy target of pity and moral suspicion. Nevertheless, some widows could enjoy the wealth they built up during marriage and some of them were even active participants in the urban real estate market. Most young women in cities worked as maids in another person’s household, where they were brought up together with children. As apprentices, they received bed and board and some new clothes and shoes every now and then. It is not very clear whether they could stay in service after they married, but it is generally assumed among historians that service was a temporary employment. For boys, the situation was quite different. In the cities of the southern Low Countries, they could be employed by a master guildsman for several years of training – the norm dictated by the guild statutes of each independent guild in the city. Most of the time, apprenticeship contracts stated that they should receive food, clothing and a bed – more or less the same benefits maids could enjoy, although the contract also stated that apprentices should receive full and high-quality training. Young men were enrolled in a tight training schedule where they would learn all the necessary skills needed to become journeymen and finally achieve their mastership. But prior to becoming an independent master, one had to be able to invest a serious amount of money into the new business; an operational workshop was needed, as well as working gear and raw materials. So men in a guild context could benefit from marriage as well: there was a greater chance of getting the money together, and sometimes the new master could benefit from the social networks and business contacts his new father-in-law managed to create. However, towards the end of the Middle Ages, it was no   

 Stabel : –; Stabel forthcoming. Stabel ; Wiesner : –.  De Groot forthcoming. De Groot .  De Groot : –; Hanawalt : ; Goldberg . Stabel : –.



  

longer a given that journeymen could become masters. Most journeymen (and apprentices) remained employed with their master without the prospect of ever reaching a mastership. The marital state of (new) craftsmen mattered to the guild masters because marriage usually brought along children, and the sons of guild masters were treated in a wholly different way from non-relative new members. So whether or not guild masters were married was important information to the deacons of the guild. According to the registers of guild matriculation and the entrance fees of the painters’ guild (guild of Saint Luke) in Bruges, the clerk of the guild knew precisely how many children each new master had. Masters’ children usually had to pay a lower entrance fee than other apprentices, had a higher chance of becoming master themselves and could enjoy the social and economic networks, the expertise and tools of their fathers (or other family members) when starting their own workshop. The same went for political careers in the municipal government. The majority of the aldermen were recruited from within the guilds. Entering a guild and becoming a master was thus an important prerequisite for a political career.

 Living Alone in the City Olwen Hufton explored the strategies single women and widows developed to make ends meet in times of economic stress. One way of cutting costs – and also enhancing security and solidarity – was clustering together in the same dwelling or in close proximity. Some resolved the issue by living with relatives or employers. However, Hufton analyzed this case for people in the eighteenth century, so medievalists investigated whether the same held true for singles living in a medieval city. Although sources are more scarce for this period, a more or less similar pattern seems to have emerged in the cities of late medieval England and Flanders, although evidence is also found of singles renting a one-room or multiroomed dwelling. In fifteenth-century Bruges, for example, the sisters Celienken and Jannekin left behind a joint (and relatively poor) inventory of their belongings which could hint at the practice of living together in the same dwelling as an attempt to limit daily expenditure. Moreover, almost half of the inventories of single people under study in the article did     

 Stabel : –. City Archive Bruges, Oud Archief, nr. , Beeldenmakers.   Stabel : . Overlaet . Hufton : –. Beattie : –; Baatsen, De Groot and Sturtewagen : –. Beattie ; Baatsen, De Groot and Sturtewagen : –. Baatsen, De Groot and Sturtewagen : .

To Marry or Not to Marry



not mention any piece of hearth equipment, which could be indicative of the fact that these inventories present ‘households’ that were part of a larger unit or that they were less eager to cook for themselves and would rather socialize somewhere else, e.g., in the tavern. But the data is relatively scarce, and more research is needed to map out the residential strategies of single women and men in medieval urban contexts. Goldberg found evidence for several Yorkshire towns in the fourteenth-century poll tax returns of residential clustering of single men, living for example on the same street. These men sometimes shared a similar economic background (journeymen, day workers, clergymen) and often formed unions – which were sometimes regarded as a threat to the civic order by the government as well. But living in close proximity to one’s peers meant a higher chance of conviviality and fostering social relations, of sharing similar beliefs and habits.

 Conclusion In customary law, people’s rights and duties were determined by their marital status. In the eyes of the law, it was still the marital status of people that decided their legal rights, work opportunities and living conditions. But the social and economic repercussions of ‘being single’ in late medieval society were no more straightforward than the concept itself. The ambiguities surrounding the closure of a marital union, the vagueness of classical canon law on marriage before the Council of Trent and the importance of and variations in the size and character of the social network made it difficult to label men and women as ‘married’ or ‘single’. Some people lived together but were not married, others lived separated but were still married. Unmarried people did not necessarily live on their own, married couples often accommodated lodgers and staff. In this respect, one could state that the (historical) context is of crucial importance for understanding what exactly is the significance of the textual evidence and how it relates to the lived experience of people in distant times and places.

 

 

Overton et al. : . Cited in Baatsen, De Groot and Sturtewagen : . More information on the dining habits of late medieval citizens can be found in the research of Dr. Inneke Baatsen (University of Antwerp) www.uantwerpen.be/nl/personeel/inneke-baatsen/ onderzoek/.  Goldberg : –. Wiesner-Hanks . For a discussion about the ambiguity in the use of the term ‘single’ and the importance of understanding it in context, see Laes in the introduction to this volume.

 

Singleness in Nineteenth-century Italy: Permanent Celibacy and Solitariness between Coercion and Free Choice Matteo Manfredini 

Introduction

In the introduction to this volume, Christian Laes describes the difficulty in finding a common and shared definition of singleness. This is true for Antiquity as well as for nineteenth-century Italy. The meanings associated with such a word may, in fact, concern a variety of different life conditions, marital statuses and living arrangements typical of specific historical periods, moral codes, educational systems, civil and religious norms. In nineteenth-century Italy, singleness referred to either a form of living arrangement or a specific marital status. Singles were considered ‘unmarried’ in the latter case, whilst they were labeled as ‘solitaries’ in the former case. However, the picture could be complicated by cases and situations of unmarried individuals living with kin as well as people living alone who were not unmarried. Sometimes the two definitions may even overlap, identifying the specific category of unmarried solitaries. Regardless, single individuals, whether unmarried or solitaries, might find themselves in a delicate and sometimes weak position in mid-nineteenth-century Italian Catholic society, especially in the countryside. Rural society was in fact strongly permeated by Catholic morality and ethics. In this context, Catholic norms and precepts influenced family and individual life, in which marriage represented a crucial and significant event for every ‘good Christian’. In the view of the Catholic Church, the family represented the basic and primary unit of society, whose principal goals were reproduction, rearing of children according to Catholic values and reciprocal support among its members. According to that cultural context, singles did not fit, in one way or another, those roles and did not meet societal expectations, a fact that, on specific occasions and under specific circumstances, might lead them to be marginalized and sometimes even stigmatized by the community in which they lived. 

Singleness in Nineteenth-century Italy

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However, the differentiation between unmarried, on the one hand, and solitary individuals, on the other hand, is not purely academic or formal. Two different research branches have in fact originated from those issues, the former involving many researchers and a large number of studies, the latter confined to a small group of family historians. Because of the strong decline in marriage rates in contemporary societies, already mentioned in the introduction of this volume, a large part of the contemporary literature on singleness in modern times and nineteenth-century societies has focused on the reasons that brought many people, both males and females, to remain single. Following this approach, historical demographers, but also sociologists and family historians, have been especially concerned with social categories and family roles associated with loneliness rather than specifically with living alone. Such studies have mainly focused on people excluded, temporarily or permanently, from the marriage process (especially unmarried women), but also widows and widowers as well as servants. On the other hand, only very few studies have approached solitariness per se, maybe because of the scarcity of reliable and continuous census-like sources or as a consequence of the marginal role played by solitaries in the analysis of family formation systems. This essay aims precisely at filling that gap by illustrating the various forms of singleness in nineteenth-century Italy in the light of the dominant Catholic culture, providing some insight based on the life histories of the inhabitants of a rural community in Tuscany between  and . According to the framework illustrated by Christian Laes in the introduction, this essay will study the two facets of singleness, namely not being married an