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What are the views and attitudes towards love as presented by Ovid compared to other first century Roman poets Love has in modern times until relatively recently been inextricably linked with marriage and young people have been encouraged not to indulge in sex before marriage However during first century Rome this was not necessarily the case Attitudes to love sex and marriage varied according to age wealth status in society and respectability In one of Plautus comedies a young and respectable man stands outside a brothel when his slave gives him the following advice From this place no one bars you no one stops you buying what is openly for sale Provided that you keep off married women widows young men and women and boys of free birth make love at will This was the attitude of society at the time Cicero states A young man should be allowed his flings with the non pure and the non virtuous The non pure which Cicero refers to here would be professional prostitutes slaves or slave girls It was of course only a mans sexual desires that were considered a ladys sexuality rated no comment This leads to the unsurprising fact that upper class Roman marriages were rarely conducted out of love Love was severely hindered within marriage mostly due to the level of modesty expected of a lady and her husbands conduct towards her Cato proudly announces that he never embraces his wife unless it thunders loudly It was not unusual for marriage not to be an institution of loving happiness A womans role in marriage was to be affectionate supportive but most importantly to provide children This was only followed in importance to organising the household slaves and raising female children to do the same jobs as their mother Passion was left to declasses or chattels Respectable unmarried girls had no love life at all and married ladies matronae lived a
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