Saturday, August 15, 2015


    ( Got your attention, didn't I.)

     In the Author's Notes for White Horse, Black Raven I wrote about the virtues I attributed to the Alemanni.  One of the reasons I chose those five virtues - honor, honesty, fidelity, loyalty, and courage - is because of the writings of Tacitus, the Roman historian of the first century AD. His Germania is the only known work describing the attitudes and daily actions of the Germanic tribes albeit one hundred plus years before the Alemanni became a known people.
     The choice of fidelity comes from Tacitus' description of the Germans' attitudes toward sex. Tacitus spends three chapters on the subject extolling the tribal custom of remaining chaste until marriage - both men and women. Apparently premarital sex was not allowed and adultery was all but unheard of. 
     In Chapter 18, Tacitus writes that a man took only one wife unless he was of the highest rank and therefore pressed with many offers of marriage as political alliances.  Woman went into a marriage as full partners with their husbands, sharing all that came to them, both good and bad.  A dowry was brought to the bride's family and she in turn gave her groom similar gifts.
     In Chapter 19, Tacitus writes that adultery was severely punished and that "no one in Germany finds vice amusing, or calls it 'up-to-date' to seduce and be seduced."  Only virgins may marry and once married may not do so again even if they survive their husbands.
     Chapter 20 speaks of the physical maturity of young men and women when married and the importance of children in the German culture.
     Tacitus apparently used this information to make a social comment on what he apparently considered to be the immorality of Roman society.  One can tell from the tone of his writing that he did not approve of the loose sexual morals of his own culture.  It must be remembered that histories such as his were usually written to be read out loud to audiences in small social gatherings.  He would have used the opportunity to chide his fellows Romans on their loose morals by comparing them unfavorably with 'barbarians'.
     So both Berand and Inge would have been virgins on their wedding night - a little romanticized, perhaps, but within the realm of possibility according to Tacitus.

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