Multis et eruditis viris audientibus legebatur oratio Metelli Numidici, gravis ac diserti viri, quam in censura dixit ad populum de ducendis uxoribus, cum eum ad matrimonia capessenda hortaretur. In ea oratione ita scriptum fuit: "Si sine uxore possemus, Quirites, omnes ea molestia careremus; set quoniam ita natura tradidit, ut nec cum illis satis commode, nec sine illis uno modo vivi possit, saluti perpetuae potius quam brevi voluptati consulendum est." Videbatur quibusdam Q. Metellum censorem, cui consilium esset ad uxores ducendas populum hortari, non oportuisse de molestia incommodisque perpetuis rei uxoriae confiteri, neque id hortari magis esse quam dissuadere absterrereque; set contra in id potius orationem debuisse sumi dicebant, ut et nullas plerumque esse in matrimoniis molestias adseveraret et, si quae tamen accidere nonnumquam viderentur, parvas et leves facilesque esse toleratu diceret maioribusque eas emolumentis et voluptatibus oblitterari easdemque ipsas neque omnibus neque naturae vitio, set quorundam maritorum culpa et iniustitia evenire.
--Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae I.VI.1-3
The following speech was delivered by the serious and articulate Metellus Numidicus to an audience of many learned men. He delivered this speech on marriage when he was a Censor, when he ought to have encouraged people to marry. In this speech, he said,
“Citizens, if we could live without wives, we would all live a trouble-free life. But since nature has arranged that ‘we can’t live with them, can’t live without them,’ we should probably get married so we can have future stability instead of brief pleasure.”
Many people think that as a Censor [who ought to have encouraged people to get married], Metellus shouldn’t have brought up the inconveniences and usual troubles of matrimony, and that this speech seemed to dissuade people from getting married instead of encouraging them. Instead, they say he ought to have said that there aren’t really any troubles in marriage, and if some happen occasionally, they are easy to manage, and that the good times outweigh the bad times. Moreover, these “bad times” do not occur naturally, but only happen because of the spouse’s misdeed.
Name: Aulus Gellius
Date: 2nd. c. CE
Works: Attic Nights
Aulus Gellius lived during the 2nd century CE. His work, the Attic Nights, are a collection of anecdotes about literature, history, and grammar. From internal evidence, we can deduce that he was in the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ social circle, having close friendships with Herodes Atticus and Fronto.
SILVER AGE LATIN