The Tetrarchs

On Social Issues

Selections from the


Book IX, Title IX. On the Lex Julia Relating to Adultery and Fornication


20. The Same Emperors [Diocletian and Maximian] and Caesars to Didymus.

The laws punish the detestable wickedness of women who prostitute their chastity to the lusts of others, but does not hold those liable who are compelled to commit fornication through force, and against their will. And, moreover, it has very properly been decided that their reputations are not lost, and that their marriage with others should not be prohibited on this account.... [A.D. 290]

22. The Same Emperors and Caesars to Oblimosus.

If a woman whom you have carnally known indiscriminately sold herself for money, and prostituted herself everywhere as a harlot, you did not commit the crime of adultery with her.... [A.D. 290]

25. The Same Emperors and Caesars to Sossianus.

Although it is established by the contents of certain documents that you are consumed with the lust of immoderate desire, still, as it as been ascertained that you confined yourself to female slaves, and did not have intercourse with free women, it is clear that by a sentence of this kind your reputation suffers, rather than that you become infamous.... [A.D. 291]

27. The Same Emperors and Caesars to Phoebus.

Adultery committed with a man whom a woman afterwards married is not extinguished by the fact of the marriage.... [A.D. 292]

[The Imperial College at the time of these regulations consisted of Diocletian and Maximian.]

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Last modified 15 February 1998