Coniugis

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This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Non orbata gemes fecundae pignora vitae,
nec viduam sponso metues superesse perenni,
expers ipsa mali; nec te sententia tanget
qua prolis mortisque parens percellitur Eva,
occisam pariens subolem vivente reatu.
quae subiecta viro dominum passura cubilis,
Servit in obsceno tolerans conubia lecto.
sic captiva tori, cum portet nomen inane
coniugis et vana dicatur imagine consors,
sola iugo premitur non aequam ducere sortem.
(Avitus of Vienne, De Virginitate 163-172)

You will not grieve for the loss of your children, the proofs of your fruitfulness,
Nor will you fear to survive as a widow the husband you thought would live for ever:
You will be free from misfortune and will not be affected by the sentence
Imposed on Eve, the mother of offspring and of death,
Who brought forth a child that was killed*, while the punishment lived on.
A woman subject to her husband has to bear him as master of their marriage:
Enduring wedlock she is just a slave in a disgusting bed;
She is but a captive of the bed, bearing the empty name of wife,
And called her husband’s consort in a hollow charade,
Oppressed by the yoke, forced to bear an unequal burden on her own.

* Avitus is referring to Eve’s son Abel: Genesis 4:8.

(tr. Carolinne White, with her note)

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