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p349 Concubina

The Roman section only
of an article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p349 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

CONCUBINA (παλλακή, παλλακίς).

[. . .]

2. Roman. According to an old definition, an unmarried woman who cohabited with a man was originally called pellex, but afterwards by the more decent appellation of concubina (Massurius, ap. Paul. Dig. 50 tit. 16 s144). This remark has apparently reference to the Lex Julia et Papia Poppaea, by with the concubinatus received a legal character. This legal concubinatus consisted in the permanent cohabitation of an unmarried man with an unmarried woman. It therefore differed from adulterium, stuprum, and incestus, which were legal offences; and from contubernium, which was the cohabitation of a free man with a slave, or the cohabitation of a male and female slave, between whom there could be no Roman marriage. Before the passing of the Lex Jul. et P. P., the name of concubina would have applied to a woman who cohabited with a married man, who had not divorced his first wife (Cic. De Orat. I.40); but this was not the state of legal concubinage which was afterwards established. The offence of stuprum was avoided in the case of the cohabitation of a free man and an ingenua by this permissive concubinage; but it would seem to be a necessary inference that there should be some formal declaration of the intention of the parties, in order that there might be no stuprum (Dig.48 tit. 5 s34). Heineccius (Syntag. Ap. lib. I, 39) denies that an ingenua could be a concubina, and asserts that those only could be concubinae who could not be uxores; but this appears to be a mistake (Dig. 25 tit. 7 s3), or perhaps it may be said that there was a legal doubt on this subject (Id. s1); Aurelian prohibited the taking of ingenuae as concubinae (Vopiscus, Aurelian. 49). A constitution of Constantine (Cod. V tit. 27 s5) treats of ingenuae concubinae.

This concubinage was not a marriage, nor were the children of such marriage,º who were sometimes called liberi naturales, in the power of their father, and consequently they followed the condition of their mother. There is an inscription in Fabretti (p337) to the memory of Paullianus by Aemilia Prima "concubina ejus et heres," which seems to show that the term concubina was not a name that a woman was ashamed of. Under the Christian emperors concubinage was not favored, but it still existed, as we see from the legislation of Justinian.

This legal concubinage resembled the morganatic marriage (ad morganaticam), in which neither the wife enjoys the rank of the husband, nor the children the rights of children by a legal marriage (Lib. Feud. II.29). Among the Romans, widowers who already had children, and did not wish to contract another legal marriage, took a concubina, as we see in the case of Vespasian (Suet. Vesp. 3), Antoninus Pius, and M. Aurelius (Jul. Cap. Vit. Ant. c8; M. Aurel. c29; Dig. 25 tit. 7; Cod, V tit. 26; Paulus, Recept. Sentent. II. tit.19, 20; Nov. 18 c5; 89 c12).

[G.L.]


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