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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the most important original sources regarding the legal nature of marriage. It discusses the foremost problems with the legal and social construct of marriage in Roman society and surveys the chief scholarly debates of the last century that shaped our vision of the Roman marriage. It argues that the essence of the legal view of Roman marriage is that no one may constrain another person to marry or stay married. Marriage remains the free choice of an individual and in this sense its construction, based on affectio maritalis, protects the autonomy of the spouses. This view, put forward by the jurists, was not widely accepted socially. In the light of the misogyny of our literary sources, what prompted them to opt for this legal construct of marriage remains an enigma. As with many areas of Roman family law modern scholars have been misled by appearances and preconceptions.

Keywords: marriage, iustum matrimonium, law and society, social reality, modern theories about Roman marriage

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