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Adultery

law, husband, wife, married, adulterer, adulteress and sexual

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ADULTERY (from the Latin adul terium) according to English law is the sexual connection of a man, whether married or single, with another man's wife ; or of a married man with an un married woman. If both the adulterer and the adulteress are married, it is some times called double adultery ; if one only is married, it is called single adultery. Adultery was punished by the Jewish law with death ; but the kind of adultery which by the Mosaic law constituted a capital crime was not every violation of chastity of which a married person, whe ther husband or wife, might be guilt; but only the sexual connection of a wife with any other man than ner husband. This distinction was analogous to the whole system of the Jewish marriage law ; by which the husband and wife had not an equal right to restrain each other from infidelity ; for the husband might marry other wives, or take concubines or slaves to his bed, without giving his first wife a legal right to complain of any in fringement of her matrimonial rights. By the Athenian law, the husband might kill the adulterer, if he detected him in the act of dishonouring him. (Lysias, Oration on the Death of Eratosthenes.) The husband at Athens might also prosecute the adulterer by law ; or he might, if he pleased, receive from him a sum of money by way of compensation, without insti tuting any legal process. It appears that it was not adultery at Athens for a married man to have sexual intercourse with an unmarried woman, or with any woman who prostituted herself, or was in the habit of selling anything in the public market.

By the Romans adultery was defined to be " sexual intercourse with another man's wife." It was adultery whether the male was married or not; but the sexual connection of any man with a woman who was not married, was not adultery. It seems that the old Roman law allowed the husband and kinsmen (the husband's kinsmen) to sit in judgment on the adulterous wife. (Dionysius Halicarn. Antiq. Rom. ii. 25; Suetonius, Tiberius, c. 35.) The Julia Lex on adultery was passed in the time of Augustus (perhaps about B.C. 17). It repealed some old rules of law on the same subject, with which we are not acquainted, and introduced new rules. The Julian law allowed the father, whether the natural or adoptive father, to kill the adulterer and adulteress in certain cases which were laid down by the law; the husband also could in cer tain cases kill the adulterer when he caught him in the act, but not the wife.

If the husband kept his with after he bad discovered an act of adultery com mitted by her, be was guilty of the offence called Lenocinium. Sixty days were allowed for the husband or the father, in whose power the adulteress was, for com mencing legal proceedings. It appears from the terms of the law that the sixty days were to be reckoned from the day of divorce, for the husband was bound to divorce his wife as soon as the fact of the adultery was known to him. After the sixty days were expired, any other per son might accuse the adulteress. A wife convicted of adultery lost half of her dos, and the third part of any other property that she had, and was banished (relegate) to some miserable island. The adulterer lost half of his property, and was also banished. The law did not inflict the punishment of death ; those cases in which death was inflicted, under the early em perors,were extraordinary, and were either Irregular exercises of power, or the charge of treason (majestas) was either directly or by implication added to that of adul tery. A constitution of Constantine (Cod. ix. tit. 30) made adultery a capital offence in the male ; but perhaps the genuineness of the constitution may be doubted. Jus tinian (Novel. 134, c. 10) confirmed the legislation of Constantine, whatever it was, and added confinement in a convent as the punishment of the adulteress, after she had been whipped. The husband might, if he liked, take her out of the convent within two years, and cohabit with her again ; but if he did not, or if he died in the two years, her bead was shaved and she was compelled to spend the rest of her life in the convent. The same Novel also imposed pecuniary penalties both on the adulterer and The provisions of the Julian law are col lected from various sources. (Dig. 48, tit. 5; Paulus, Sentent. Recept. ii. tit. 26.) By the canon law, which is now more or less part of the law of most Christian countries, adultery is defined to be the violation of conjugal fidelity ; and, con sequently, the incontinency of the wife and husband stand upon the same foun dation. Hence arises the distinction above alluded to between a single and double adultery.

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