Studies in the marriage legislation of Augustus
Cherry, David A. (David Arthur)
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There were two major Augustan enactments on marriage and childbearing, the lex lulia de maritandis ordinibus of 18 B.C. and the lex Papia Poppaea of A.D.9. They established rewards for parenthood and penalties for celibacy and childlessness (orbitas). Scholars have long been divided on the question of which law first penalized orbitas, primarily because the jurists and legal commentators regularly fail to distinguish between the terms of the two laws. The first chapter of the thesis offers an answer based largely on a study of the evidence of the historian Cassius Dio and on an examination of the historical context of the passage of the lex Papia Poppaea. From a wide range of literary and legal sources the second chapter brings together evidence of the contemporary response to the marriage legislation. It examines the level of support for and opposition to the laws, and discusses some of the more common methods which were used to evade their provisions. The trend of recent scholarship has been to emphasize that the laws were designed to raise the birth-rate and to reform sexual morality. On the basis of an examination of the terms of the legislation and of references and allusions to it in the literature of the Augustan principate, I argue in the third chapter that Augustus' goals were more complex. The fourth chapter studies the legislation's effects on the rights, independence and status of women, a subject which has not yet received comprehensive treatment. It brings together the pertinent evidence, primarily from legal sources such as Gaius, Institutiones, Paulus, Sententiae, Ulpianus, Regulae, the Codex lustinianus and the Digesta. An appendix reconsiders the question of whether or not Augustus held a cura legum et morum (curatorship of laws and morals).