Re: Married Only Once

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Feb 24 1999 - 10:48:41 EST

At 9:37 AM -0600 2/24/99, wrote:
>Carl, Denny Diehl here
>>>>This past weekend I was looking at the NRSV and
>>>>noticed that MIAS GUNAIKOS ANDRA in 1 Tim 3:2
>>>>was translated "married only once", which suggests
>>>>the meaning "one marriage for a life time" instead of
>>>>"one marriage at a time".
>>there is linguistic influence at play here, that this conception
>>of fidelity is Hellenistic and finds expression in the Latin adj
>>UNIVIRA that is found on the grave-inscriptions of many a
>>Roman matron, indicating that the lady in question was "a
>>one-man woman"
>Meaning that she was married only once? John Chrysostom's
>father died when his mother, Anthousa, was only 20, leaving
>her with two children. She was resolute in rejecting a second
>marriage, raising their children on her own. My question, then,
>is: does MIAS GUNAIKOS ANDRA demand such a meaning
>(or more correctly hENOS ANDROS GUNH in her case)?

I don't really like to make absolute and apodictic assertions, but I really
do think that in terms of that cultural climate, I think that is highly
likely. I haven't really studied this TOPOS in Hellenistic literature, but
I do know that UNIVIRA is a very proud epithet on a matron's tomb
inscription, and I have in mind a powerful poem (Propertius 4.11) about a
Roman lady Cornelia who died rather young leaving her husband with two
teen-aged children; in the poem she addresses her husband and children, who
must be imagined as kneeling at her tomb, and claims UNIVIRA for herself
while also suggesting the probability that her husband will never remarry,
so devoted is he to her. While this poem is heavily colored by rhetoric, I
personally think that it has to reflect a strong cultural admiration for
marital devotion that cannot seriously contemplate remarriage after the
death of a spouse.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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