ENG 3010 St Jerome (c. 320-420): On Marriage and Virginity, From

ENG 3010
St Jerome (c. 320-420):
On Marriage and Virginity, From Letter XXII to Eustochium and from the treatise
Against Jovinian
Second Marriages Repudiated Even by the Heathen
43. Let these allusions to the virgins of the world, brief and hastily gathered from many histories,
now suffice. I will proceed to married women who were reluctant to survive the decease or
violent death of their husbands for fear they might be forced into a second marriage, and who
entertained a marvelous affection for the only husbands they had. This may teach us that second
marriage was repudiated among the heathen.
Dido, the sister of Pygmalion, having collected a vast amount of gold and silver, sailed to Africa,
and there built Carthage. And when her hand was sought in marriage by Iarbas, king of Libya,
she deferred the marriage for a while until her country was settled. Not long after, having raised a
funeral pyre to the memory of her former husband Sichaeus, she preferred to "burn rather than to
marry." Carthage was built by a woman of chastity and its end was a tribute to the excellence of
the virtue.
The Snares of Marital Love; Chastity Recommended to Women
49. Aristotle and Plutarch and our Seneca have written treatises on matrimony, out of which we
have already made some extracts and now add a few more: "The love of beauty is the forgetting
of reason and the near neighbour of madness; a foul blot little in keeping with a sound mind. It
confuses counsel, breaks high and generous spirits, draws away men from great thoughts to mean
ones; it makes men querulous, ill-tempered, foolhardy, cruelly imperious, servile flatterers, good
for nothing, at last not even for love itself. For although in the intensity of passion it burns like a
raging fire, it wastes much time through suspicions, tears, and complaints: it begets hatred of
itself, and at last hates itself."
Seneca, too, relates that he knew an accomplished man who before going out used to tie his wife's
garter upon his breast, and could not bear to be absent from her for a quarter of an hour; and this
pair would never take a drink unless husband and wife alternately put their lips to the cup; and
they did other things just as absurd in the extravagant outbursts of their warm but blind affection.
Their love was of honourable birth, but it grew out of all proportion. And it makes no difference
how honourable may be the cause of a man's insanity. Hence Xystus in his Sentences tells us that
"He who too ardently loves his own wife is an adulterer." It is disgraceful to love another man's
wife at all, or one's own too much. A wise man ought to love his wife with judgment, not with
passion. Let a man govern his voluptuous impulses, and not rush headlong into intercourse.
Let my married sisters copy the examples of Theano, Cleobuline, Gorgente, Timoclia, the
Claudias and Cornelias; and when they find the Apostle conceding second marriage to depraved
women, they will read that before the light of our religion shone upon the world wives of one
husband ever held high rank among matrons, that by their hands the sacred rites of Fortuna
Muliebris were performed, that a priest or Flamen twice married was unknown, that the high
priests of Athens to this day emasculate themselves by drinking hemlock, and once they have
been drawn in to the pontificate, cease to be men.