Praetextatus – Cultural Pursuits: Values and Virtues (Ch. 3.3)


Maijastina Kahlos, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus – Senatorial Life in Between. Acta Instituti Romani Finlandiae no. 26, Roma 2002.


The prestige of culture

In Praetextatus’ and Paulina’s funerary poem of CIL VI 1779, Paulina praises her husband’s noble birth but values even more his literary erudition. She praises him as a learned man, doctus (v.15) and mentions that he studied literature and philosophy both in Latin and Greek, both poetry and prose:

Tu namque quidquid lingua utraq(ue) est proditum

cura soforum, porta quis caeli patet,

vel quae periti condidere carmina,

vel quae solutis vocibus sunt edita,

meliora reddis quam legendo sumpseras (v.8-12).

Paulina refers to Praetextatus’ knowledge of Greek for it was worth mentioning that he had studied texts in both Latin and Greek, lingua utraq(ue), since the knowledge of Greek was no longer common in the West.[1] Verses 10-11 refer both to the poems and to the prose works composed by the learned, vel quae periti condidere carmina, vel quae solutis vocibus sunt edita.

Praetextatus had improved what he had read, meliora reddis quam legendo sumpseras, which can be interpreted in several ways. Most scholars have seen this as an allusion to the emendation of manuscripts, supposing that Praetextatus, like other erudite aristocrats, probably corrected the texts that he studied and had recopied, i.e. prepared better editions. Unfortunately, we do not know which Greek and Latin texts Praetextatus might have emended.[2]

Paulina’s words can also be an allusion to his philosophical commentaries and translations of commentaries on Aristotle. Thus, he did not just absorb passively what he had read but he actively improved everything he studied.  The words meliora reddis might refer to his erudition in an even more general way: in studying, interpreting and improving texts of earlier generations, Praetextatus took part in the amelioration of his society and refined the treasures of his culture in his own works. In these activities he resembles his contemporary, Manlius Theodorus, who, according to the panegyric written by Claudian, examined the secrets of Greek philosophy: Omnia Cecropiae relegis secreta senectae, / discutiens quod quisque novum mandaverit aevo; / … / Graiorum obscuras Romanis floribus artes / inradias …[3]

Paulina refers to Praetextatus’ studies in philosophy with the obscure expression cura soforum, porta quis caeli patet, meaning that he had studied the ideas of the wise to whom the gate of heaven lies open. The words reflect the importance of culture, cultura animi, in late antiquity and its close connection with the immortality of the soul.[4] CIL XI 6435, a funerary poem, shows a similar respect for philosophy and erudition as in Praetextatus’ funerary poem: Dogmata Pythagorae sensusque meavi sop[horum], / et lyricos legi, legi pia carmina Homeri / scivi quid Euclides abaco praescripta tulisset / … / nunc modo infernas sedes Acheruntis ad undas / taetraque Tartarei sidera possideo.[5] One of the ideals of a Roman senator in late antiquity was to be a man of letters and culture, a favourite of the Muses; as matter of fact, Praetextatus is mentioned as a man favoured by the Muses in the honorary inscription of Thespiae.[6]

However, after having praised Praetextatus’ merits in philosophy and literature, Paulina remarks with the words sed ista parva (v.13) that there are even more important things than his literary activities, which are of little account; it is his arcane knowledge of sacred things and religious mysteries that are exalted as his supreme achievements.


The hierarchy of virtues

The contempt for the world and its honours is strongly present in Praetextatus’ and Paulina’s funerary poem. Praetextatus’ administrative career, honores et potestates, is mentioned only briefly because temporal pleasures and honours are considered to be transient and trivial:

                 Quid nunc honores aut potestates loquar

                 hominumque votis adpetita gaudia,

                 quae tu caduca ac parva semper autumans

                 divum sacerdos infulis celsus clues? (v.18-21)

In these words Paulina demonstrates that Praetextatus did not consider his worldly career as important. In the traditional laudatio funebris the public career had been the most important part but here, instead of the emphasis on worldly affairs, his intellectual activities get all the attention – literature, philosophy and, above all, religion. The participation in cults is even more important than literature and philosophy, as the words sed ista parva (v.13) manifest, and his priesthoods of various cults are his real achievements (v.21).

It seems to me that Paulina’s words reflect the hierarchy of the virtues which appears in the writings of e.g. Porphyry and Macrobius. First, the civic virtues were placed on lowest grade while studies in literature and philosophy could be understood as the second grade of virtues, the cathartic i.e. purificatory virtues that according to Macrobius were the virtues of men of leisure who had withdrawn from the state life.

The virtues of the third grade, the noetic or contemplative virtues, were the virtues of the already purified who fixed their attention upon the divine alone. In my opinion, Praetextatus’ participation in numerous pagan cults and initiations as well as his interpretation of the various pagan gods and goddesses as the universal divinity, numen multiplex (v.15) could be held as the third grade in the hierarchy of virtues. Thus, the activities that aim at the spiritual purification of the soul are to be more highly valued than those that aimed at the intellectual purification.[7]

There is also the fourth grade of virtues, exemplary or paradigmatic virtues which are the virtues present in the mens divina, noûs, the Intellect. The contemplation of the virtues in noûs led the human soul to the final perfection, on its way towards the likeness to god.[8] Is the fourth grade represented in Praetextatus’ activities? I suggest that his interpretation of the various pagan gods and goddesses as the universal divinity, numen multiplex, could also be understood as the paradigmatic virtues, that is, as the contemplation of the virtues in noûs.


Renunciation of the world

When Symmachus reports Praetextatus’ death to the imperial court in his relatio, he praises Praetextatus’ virtues and writes that the deceased man, though he was only a mortal, despised material pleasures because he regarded them as transient, non quod ille praemia terrena desideret, qui gaudia corporis, etiam cum hominem ageret, ut caduca calcavit.[9] The expression caduca calcavit could be an echo of Paulina’s words caduca ac parva in the funerary poem (v.20). Polara suggests that the expression in CIL VI 1779 was taken from Symmachus’ relatio[10] but I believe that Symmachus probably took his expression from elsewhere, possibly from some of the funerary speeches given in honour of Praetextatus. Moreover, it is possible that caduca ac parva was used as a common expression.[11]

Ammianus also implies that Praetextatus did not seek success, ut cum nihil ad gratiam faceret.[12] Praising his friend, Symmachus mentions that with other people Praetextatus was clement but with himself he was stern, in alios temperatus, in se severus which could be interpreted not only as an expression of the traditional Roman virtus but also of his ascetic attitude. Furthermore, we could interpret Praetextatus’ ironic remark to Damasus as an expression of his scepticism about worldly affairs and criticism of the wealthy Christian church.[13]

This contempt for worldly honours can be understood in the context of the contemporary ascetic currents that spread in intellectual circles in the fourth century and had been influenced by Orphic, Pythagorean, Platonic and Neoplatonic views of the dichotomy between body and soul.[14] The tone in Praetextatus’ funerary poem resembles the negative attitudes to worldly affairs, e.g. in Plotinus’ and Porphyry’s writings (Porphyry in his Life of Pythagoras and De Abstinentia) but also in Christian texts, e.g. in the writings of Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa, in the Life of Antony by Athanasius and in the writings of the Roman ascetic circle of Jerome and his aristocratic friends. Attention has often been drawn to the resemblances between Plotinian or Porphyrian language and Christian language in ascetic texts.[15] Praetextatus and Paulina appear almost ascetics when they are depicted as the ideals of purity and holiness of marriage in their funerary poem (v. 7-8 in part c), recalling  Christian ascetic couples such as the younger Melania and Pinianus, and Paulinus of Nola and Therasia.[16]

The contradiction between the public career and the private ascetic life often appears in the writings of Stoics, Neoplatonists and Christians.[17] Macrobius in his commentary on Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis tried to harmonize the Roman ideal of  participation in state life, vita activa, bíos praktikós, and the Platonic ideal of the renunciation of the outside world, vita contemplativa, bíos theoretikós. He believed that some people became blessed by virtues exercised in otium, others by virtues exercised in negotium: alios otiosis, alios negotiosis virtutibus fieri beatos. Both ways were possible and a person who could combine philosophical otium and public life was assured of a place in heaven, as were Lycurgus, Solon, Numa Pompilius, the two Catos and Scipio Africanus.[18] We could also regard Praetextatus as having a similar combination of the vita activa and the vita contemplativa. Still, as it is asserted in the funerary poem, the political virtues are of secondary importance for him.

A similar contrast between the worldly honours and the ‘real’ honours can be seen in the inscription of the Christian senator Sextus Petronius Probus (CIL VI 1756). His wordly honours, nobility and wealth are mentioned but are then contrasted with otherworldly honours. Petronius Probus is said to rise above the worldly trappings, the noble titles, since the gift granted by Christ is his true honour and his nobility:

Dives opum clarusque genus, praecelsus honore,

Fascibus inlustris, consule dignus avo.

Bis gemina populos praefectus sede gubernans,

Has mundi phaleras, hos procerum titulos

Transcendis senior donatus munere Christi:

Hic est verus honos, haec tua nobilitas (v.5-10).


Holy matrimony – the ideal of senatorial marriage

According to the social values of the senatorial aristocracy, marriage is seen in a positive light in Praetextatus’ and Paulina’s funerary poem in CIL VI 1779 where their matrimony is celebrated as a holy union created by the gods in heaven and their pure love is manifested as loyalty produced in heaven, amorq(ue) purus et fides caelo sata. Paulina is called munus deorum, a gift from the gods and the purity of their marital bed is emphasized, maritalem torum / nectunt amicis et pudicis nexibus (v.7-8 in part c). Marriage is considered as a perfect union of spirits, one personality in two bodies. The words nectunt amicis et pudicis nexibus and et quanta amicis iungimur fiducia (v.11 in part c) stress the friendship and companionship of Praetextatus and Paulina. Praetextatus can expect loyalty and honesty from his wife since they are joined in trust as friends. Therefore, he has entrusted the hidden secrets of his heart to Paulina, arcana mentis cui reclusa credidi (v.6 in part c). Paulina is praised as a helpful, loving, adoring and devoted wife to her husband – iuvans, diligens, ornans, colens (v.14 in part c) who is also tied closely and intensely to her husband in all his religious activities.[19]

P. Brown emphasizes the need of intimacy in the later Roman Empire as aristocratic men needed confidants whom they could trust. Aristocratic women, probably also Paulina, were often left by their husbands to manage their huge estates while the husbands were involved in political and cultural activities.[20] It has been suggested that the ‘mystical warm-heartedness’ of Praetextatus’ and Paulina’s marriage reflects the important role of the woman in the Roman family and household during the Empire.[21] Paulina was not the only woman with considerable influence, independence, erudition and wealth in late antiquity for there were several famous women, pagan as well as Christian, e.g. the Alexandrian Neoplatonic philosopher Hypatia, the pagan aristocrat Caecinia Lolliana, Christian aristocrats like the elder Melania and the younger Melania, Jerome’s learned aristocratic friends Paula and Fabiola as well as Serena, Stilico’s wife praised in Claudian’s Laus Serenae.[22]

G. Polara proposes that CIL VI 1779 reveals a certain polemic about ‘female issues’, that the words optant probantque nunc viri, nunc feminae / quae tu magister indidisti insignia (v.36-37) could refer to the amazement and disfavour Paulina’s active participation in pagan cults as a priestess and an initiate may have aroused in the aristocratic society. Why would the composer of the poem have underlined that men and women alike admired her honours (v.36) universally if there had not been any criticism at all, Polara asks. Te marito cur placere non queam? (v.33) could imply that Paulina’s activities did not please everybody and the emphatical tute  repeated in verses 22, 35, 26 and 30 could indicate that in taking part in pagan cults Paulina above all obeyed Praetextatus’ will.[23] Polara’s interpretation of the funerary poem as a part of the ‘female question’ is an interesting interpretation but still a modern exaggeration, for Paulina’s words te marito cur placere non queam might also be understood as merely rhetorical.

The virtues of a senator’s wife. Paulina’s laudatio in CIL VI 1779 still represents a traditional ideal of a Roman wife and her virtues listed in verse resemble those of earlier centuries. Chastity, purity both in mind and body and marital fidelity are emphasized, veri et castitatis conscia, … pudens, fidelis, pura mente et corpore, … fomes pudoris, castitatis vinculum, amorque purus et fides caelo sata. Castitas, pudor and fidelitas are the qualities of a spouse, especially of a wife, often praised in Latin inscriptions.[24] Paulina is presented not only as a perfect wife but also as a devoted mother, a caring sister and a modest daughter, pietate matris, coniugali gratia, / nexu sororis, filiae modestia (v.9-10 in part c). Pietas, devotion to family, husband, children, parents and relatives was a highly esteemed feminine value. Furthermore, a good dutiful wife was a blessing to her household, like Paulina utilis penatibus.[25] The so-called Laudatio Turiae (CIL VI 1527) from the early Empire is similar to CIL VI 1779 since in the Laudatio Turiae the husband mourns for the deceased wife to whom he has been married for over 40 years. He shows great gratitude to his wife for her loyalty and devotion to him and exalts her domestic virtues such as pudicitia, obsequium, comitas, facilitas and religio sine superstitione.[26]

All the information in the list of Paulina’s virtues is impersonal for it was meant as a portrait of an ideal Roman matron and the image is related to the previous tradition. The typical features of Paulina’s portrait are her character, behaviour as a spouse, relationship to the gods and the state. She is depicted as an ideal of a wife as well as of a mother, daughter and sister (v.9-10 in part c), as a model for other Roman women (v.34).[27] J. Préaux has proposed that Paulina’s virtues pietas matris, coniugalis gratia, nexus sororis and filiae modestia correspond to the traditional cardinal virtues of iustitia, prudentia, fortitudo and temperantia, claiming that the list of virtues in the funeral speech that Jerome composed for his dearest friend Paula in 404[28] could be interpreted as an answer to Paulina’s elogium in CIL VI 1779.[29] I believe that Jerome’s eulogy for Paula simply belongs to the same tradition of laudations as Paulina’s funerary poem and does not have to imply any insinuations about Paulina, who probably died long before Paula.

Concordia as an ideal of senatorial marriage. The traditional Roman concept of the internal harmony of marriage in Praetextatus’ and Paulina’s funerary poem is expressed in the words hi coniuncti simul vixerunt which picture an everlasting concordia without controversies; simul with coniuncti is a strong expression that stresses marital solidarity. The emphasis on the marital concordia also appears in Christian texts.[30]

Paulina’s loyalty and respect for her husband are expressed in the words:

                 Te propter omnis me beatam, me piam

                 celebrant, quod ipse me bonam disseminas

                 totum per orbem: ignota noscor omnibus (v.30-32).

Praetextatus the husband is the tutor and teacher of his wife who expresses her gratitude for having been given a flash of her husband’s wisdom (v.22-29 and esp. v.37: tu magister indidisti insignia). She gets all her prestige from Praetextatus whose name is her only light and glory, sed lumen omne vel decus nomen viri (v.3). The admiration of a husband (e.g. also in v.4-7) belongs to the genre where a woman is often depicted as entirely dedicated to her husband. Thus, Paulina is also represented as a woman orientated to please Praetextatus, nam te marito cur placere non queam (v.33). Still, she remarks that while she prefers her husband to herself, she also prefers Rome to her husband, sibi maritum praeferens, Romam viro (v.5 in part b).

The marriage of Praetextatus and Paulina is presented as filled with harmony, for example, in the expression iugi fideli simplici concordia. K. Cooper calls this the rhetoric of conjugal unity that aristocratic families publicized in order to assert the moral character of the husband.[31] A man who was able to live in harmony with his legitimate wife could be supposed to harmonize polis, agora and friends.[32] The use of representations of conjugal relationship was a code for dealing with the problem of self-control.

There is a contradiction between Paulina’s traditional female virtues described in the funerary laudation and her active role in late Roman society. The rhetoric of conjugal unity explains why Paulina was depicted as an example of female modesty and piety for she was intended to represent her husband and her virtues carried implicit meanings about Praetextatus. She may have been a poetess and an influential person in private and religious spheres but in public she had to be defined in relation to her husband.[33]


[1] Cf. CIL VI 1793: utrisque litteris erudito.

[2] Schanz 1914, 537; Courcelle 1943, 4; Bloch 1945, 205 n.23; Bloch 1963, 215; Flamant 31; I. Hadot 1984, 152.

[3] Claud. paneg. cons. Manl. Theod. 67-68, 84-85; also 93-94: ornantur veteres, et nobiliore magistro / in Latium spretis Academia migrat Athenis. Polara 277-278.

[4] Marrou 1938, 217-218, 229 introduced the idea of the heroization through culture, l’héroïsation par la culture, in antiquity. The importance of culture also emphasized by Neri 175-201 and Wes 1987, 183.

[5] CIL XI 6435 = CLE 434. Cf. CIL XI 2839 = CLE 743: occubat in terris sapiens, sed vivit in a[stris]. / Et nunc, docte puer, studiis et iure pe[rite] / in virenti loco comitatur tur[ba piorum] … Marrou 1938, 231-257 with other examples.

[6]  Plassart 444 nr. 85 = Robert, Hellenica IV, p.24 = SEG XV 322 = AE 1928, 13, nr.48.  Senators appear as men of culture in numerous late Roman inscriptions, e.g. Vulcacius Rufinus in CIL VI 32051, Petronius Probus in CIL VI 1751, Valerius Dalmatius in ILS 8987.

[7] Macr. somn. 1.8.5-10. Cf. Aug. soliloq. 1.1.6; Aug. contra Acad. 1.7.20; Hier. epist. 66.3. Plotinus (Enn. 1.2.3) introduced two kinds of virtues, civic and cathartic virtues. Plot. Enn. 1.2.6 formed the starting point for Porphyry (sent. 32) who divided the virtues into four stages, into civic, cathartic, noetic and paradigmatic virtues. Aug. civ. 10.32 of Porphyry’s hierarchy. For Plotinus and virtues, see Dillon 1983, 92-105; Dillon 1996, 315-335, and for the ancient tradition of virtues, see I. Hadot 1984, 60-61; Préaux 639-657; Zintzen 1969, 365; Zintzen 1977, 402.

[8] Cf. Plot. Enn. 1.2.6 where Plotinus asserts that wisdom and understanding consist in the contemplation (theoría) of all that exists in the Intellectual-Principle. The ideal-form of any virtue is not itself a virtue but an exemplar (parádeigma), the source of what becomes virtue in the Soul.

[9] Symm. rel. 12.2. Cf. Ennod. carm. 2.148: Hoc satis est mundum calcasse in corpore mundi, / de vitio sumptam cedere nil vitiis; CIL V 6723 = CLE 704.

[10] Polara 280-281.

[11] Cf. Hier. epist. 43.3. The word caducus is used by pagan and Christian writers alike, TLL III, 33-36, e.g. Cic. rep. 6.17: mortale et caducum; Aug. beat. 2.11: mortale et caducum; Prud. ham. praef. 43: hic se caduco dedicans mysterio.

[12] Amm. 27.9.10.

[13] Symm. rel. 12.3; Hier. c. Ioh. 8 (see ch. 2.6).

[14] The view of the body as the prison of the soul: e.g. Plat. Phaed. 62C; Plat. Phaedr. 250C; Cic. rep. 6.13-14; Macr. somn. 1.11.1-3; Tert. anim. 53: corpus istud Platonica sententia carcer; Paul. Nol. epist. 32.6: libera corporeo mens carcere gaudet in astris; ICUR I 1453 = CLE 679 (from 399): corporis exutus vinclis; InscrIt IX:1, 165: corporeo laetae gaudent se carcere solvi. For Plato (e.g. Phaedr. 248C-D) philosophy was ascesis that pursued the purification and victory of spirit over body. Pikhaus 295-306; Schetter 336-339. For Plotinus’ soul-body dualism, see Emilsson 1991, 148-165, esp. 160 and Emilsson 1994, 5342-5355.

[15] E.g. Plot. Enn. 1.2.3; 1.6.7-8; cf. Ambr. de Isaac 8.78; Firm. math. 1.7.15 of Plotinus; Iul. or. 5.174C; Basil. epist. 2; Greg. Nyss. vita Macr. 5; 7; Hier. epist. 66.4 condemns secular offices and powers. Aug. civ. 9.17 exhorts escape from the world; also Ambr. de bono mortis 12. Brown 1993, 882-883; Fontaine 36-38; Meredith 314-331, for resemblances between pagan and Christian texts, especially 325-326; 328-331.

[16] Paul. Nol. carm. 21.400-403: Illic me thalamis humana lege iugari / passus es, ut vitam commercarere duorum / perque iugum carnis duplicata salus animarum / dilatam unius posset pensare salutem.

[17] For pagan and Christian asceticism, see Brown 1998a, 601-631.

[18] Macr. somn. 1.8; esp. 1.8.12: igitur et politicis efficiuntur beati. Iure ergo Tullius de rerum publicarum rectoribus dixit: ubi beati aevo sempiterno fruantur: qui ut ostenderet alios otiosis, alios negotiosis virtutibus fieri beatos …; also Macr. somn. 2.17.4; 2.17.7-9. Cic. rep. 6.3.1 stated that statesmen who served their patria became immortal and that political activity was one of the highest virtues. However, according to Plot. Enn. 1.2.3, civic virtue is not enough but likeness to god is achieved by a flight from this world. For Plotinus’ attitude to civic life, see Zintzen 1969, 371-373.

[19] Examples of loyalty to the husband in Roman literature, e.g. Val. Max. 6.7.1-3; Plin. epist. 3.16; Plin. epist. 7.19.

[20] Brown 1988, 15.

[21] According to Mazzarino 1995, 138, CIL VI 1779 reflects “una sorta di mistica affettuosità” of the last pagan senators. Polara 285 believes that Paulina is elevated as an equal partner in a true companionship and takes part in Praetextatus’ religious activities as a free partner.

[22] Caecinia Lolliana: CIL VI 512 = ILS 4154; Paula and Fabiola: e.g. Hier. epist. 77.

[23] Polara 286-289, followed by Marcone 1983, 149.

[24] Cf. CIL VI 11602 = ILS 8402: pudica and casta; CIL VIII 11294 = ILS 8444: pudica, univira and unicuba; CIL VI 10230 = ILS 8394 = Lefkowitz – Fant 135 nr. 139: Murdia was exalted for modestia, probitas, pudicitia and fides; CIL VI 9499 = CLE 959: Aurelia Philematio is praised for being fido fida viro, casta and pudens. Many women were described simply with the adjective pudica on epitaphs. Pudicitia (of the Roman empresses) as an abstraction appeared on coins: Palmer 140-142. Pudicitia and fecunditas in the eulogy for Paula: Hier. epist. 108.4 ; cf. Liv. 42.34.3; Val. Max. 7.1.1. Castitas, continentia and pudicitia were especial feminine virtues both in pagan and Christian society but also qualities of a virtuous man. Other feminine virtues and norms were modesty, religiosity, kindness and simpleness of manners that defined a woman’s existence, particularly in relation to her husband. Cracco Ruggini 1989, 266; Galletier 123-124; von Hesberg-Tonn 138-139; Schuller 90. For Christian female typology, see Giannarelli.

[25] Cf. CIL VIII 11294 = ILS 8444: mater bona, avia piissima, laboriosa, efficaxs, vigilans, sollicita, totius industriae et fidei matrona; CIL VII 527, 31670, 37053: reverentia in patrem, pietas in sororem, tuorum caritas, familiae pietas, lanificium; CIL VI 11602 = ILS 8402: lanifica, pia, domiseda; CIL VI 10230 = ILS 8394: lanificium, diligentia; CIL I 1007 = CIL VI 15346 = CLE 52 = ILS 8403: domum servavit, lanam fecit. Lanificium, making wool was a traditional female activity frequently mentioned in inscriptions. It is not mentioned in the case of Paulina but it appears still in Ausonius’ praise of his mother (Auson. par. 2.4): fama pudicitiae lanificaeque manus. Symmachus emphasizes the importance of making wool in his letter to his daughter (epist. 6.67): honoratum me opimo lanificii tui monumento satis gaudeo; una quippe et amor in parentem tuum et industria matronalis inclaruit.

[26] CIL VI 1527 + CIL VI 37053 = ILS 8393 = Lefkowitz – Fant 208 nr.207 is often called Laudatio Turiae because it was earlier attributed to Q. Lucretius Vespillo (cos. 19 B.C.E.) in praise of his wife Turia. Durry, lvii-lxii and Wistrand 9 reject this identification.

[27] Von Hesberg-Tonn 134-136.

[28] Hier. epist. 108.1: Si cuncta mei corporis membra verterentur in linguas, et omnes artus humana voce resonarent, nihil dignum sanctae ac venerabilis Paulae virtutibus dicerem. Nobilis genere, sed multo nobilior sanctitate; potens quondam divitiis, sed nunc Christi paupertate insignior; Graecorum stirps, suboles Scipionum, Pauli heres, cuius vocabulum trahit, Maeciae Papiriae, matris Africani vera et germana progenies, Romae praetulit Bethlem, et auri tecta fulgentia informis luti vilitate mutavit; also Hier. epist. 108.33.

[29] Préaux 655-657. Pietas and modestia are understood as components of iustitia and temperantia; gratia is interpreted as a component of prudentia and nexus as fiducia, a component of fortitudo. Cf. the four cardinal virtues introduced by Plato in rep. 4.430C, repeated in late antiquity e.g. in Macr. somn. 1.8.3-7. For the theories of virtues in antiquity, see I. Hadot 1984, 60-61.

[30] E.g. Paul. Nol. carm. 25.1: Concordes animae casto sociantur amore / virgo puer Christi, virgo puella dei. Giannarelli 93. For the marital concordia depicted in funerary art, see Février 1983, 38.

[31] Cooper 151-156, 163 discusses the classical rhetoric of womanly influence in a man’s private life, of both a negative image and a positive one where a wife and other female family members were acting either as the voices of reason on behalf of the common good or as lurid temptresses. This Roman male discourse about female power served as a rhetorical strategy within the competition for power among males themselves.

[32] Plut. praec. con. 43.144C.

[33] Cf. Kahlos 1994, 19-25.


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