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Men, Women and Marital Chastity: Public Preaching and Popular Piety at Rome

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that Christian married couples certainly did become concerned about their moral conduct, especially in sexual matters. It begins by considering some of the more important passages from Augustine and Jerome on the mores of married couples. Then, the chapter compares the result of this reading with the evidence from contemporaneous epitaphs by Roman Christians in commemoration of their deceased spouses. From pagan times pudicitia ("modesty" or "chastity") was defined as the fundamental virtue of the Roman matrona. It cannot be overemphasized that epitaphs are hardly ever found in the pagan epigraphic material from imperial Rome. In epitaphs dedicated to wives matronal chastity was emphasized by husbands, if for no other reason than because it simultaneously displayed the chastity of the widowed husbands and thus their married life. It accrued to the husband's honor to honor his wife.

Keywords: Augustine; Jerome; married couples; matronal chastity; pagan epigraphic material; Roman Christians; Rome



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