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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B1v p18]


Uxoriae dotes.

The qualities of a wife.

Illaqueata sedet pedicis, pudibundaque velat
Vultum Venus Spartana flammeo.
Uxorem castus pudor, & constantia amoris,
Custodia & sui laris decet.

Spartan Venus sits bound in fetters, and her face modestly covered with a bridal veil. Chaste modesty, and constancy of love, and caring for her household: these things are fitting in a wife.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F3v p86]

Carmen est hexametrum, cui associatur Alcmanium[1]
constans trimetro brachycatalectico, ut est illud:

Spernis decorae virginis toros.

Spartae in templo Veneris Armatae conti-
gnationem fuisse exstructam, quae Veneris cogn-
mento Morphûs, à forma (ut apparet) dictae, nu-
mini fuerat sacrata, memorat in Laconicis Pau-
:[2] simulacrum erat ex cedro factum, seden
tis habitu, compedibus vinctae, caput obnubente
flammeo, sive calyptra: addit Tyndareum Dio-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F4r p87]scurorum
patrem[3] pedicas illas adiungi curavisse,
fidei symbolo, quam maritis deberent uxores ar-
ctissimam: tametsi illius infelicitas in filiabus[4] pro-
stitutae pudicitiae macula famosis,[5] à Stesichoro Ly
rico prodita, satisque decantata est. Porrò compe
des indissolubilis vinculi coniugalis & arctissimi
amoris significationem habent. Flammeum verò
(quod luteum est capitis velamentum) & pudo-
ris argumento capiti imponitur, & fausti ominis
ergô, ceu connubii indissolubilis. Illud de pudore
declarat Claudianus in raptu Proserpinae,[6] ibi:
Flammea sollicitum praevelatura pudorem.
& Lucanus Pharsalidos lib. 2.[7]
Non timidum nuptae leviter tectura pudorem
Lutea demissos velarunt flammea vultus.
Postremum confirmat flammei usus assiduus
flaminis uxori, cui divortium facere nulla ratio-
ne leges permittebant. Sedens autem meritò pin-
gitur, vagae Veneris odium insinuans. Pingatur
Venus subsellio insidens, pedicis constricta, vultu
flammeo obtecto, nuda, dextra Cupidinem viden
tem complexa, sinistra tria mala aurea ferens: ad-
stent illi geminae columbae, aves illi sacrae, Cornuto
teste, cùm propter puritatem, tum propter illices
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F4v p88]blanditias, quarum indicium facit frequens ha-
rum avium suaviatio. Nihil autem magis decere
honestam matronam, quam velatam conspici,
vult D. Clemens Alexandrinus, exemplo Creùsae
uxoris Aeneae, quae ardente iam patria non dum
abiecerat curam velaminis.[8]

The verse-form is a hexameter, coupled with an Alcmanian consisting of a brachycatalectic trimeter, as in: “You spurn the bed of a beautiful maiden”.
Pausanias records in the Description of Laconia that a floor was built in the temple of Armed Venus at Sparta, which was consecrated to the goddess with the surname of Venus Morpho, apparently because of the beauty (it appears) of the said goddess. The statue was made of cedar, in a seated posture, with her feet bound in fetters, her head covered with a bridal veil or mantle. He adds that Tyndareus, [p.87] father of the Dioscuri, was responsible for adding those fetters, as a symbol of faithfulness, that most binding [troth] which wives owe to their husbands: and that in spite of that man’s unhappiness in his daughters, who were notorious for disgracefully sullying their modesty, as Stesichorus the Lyric poet related, and about which enough has been said. Furthermore the fetters have the connotation of the indissoluble bond of marriage and of the closest love. The flammeum bridal veil (which is a flame-coloured covering for the head) is worn on the head both as a sign of modesty, and for good luck as it portends an indissoluble union. The connotation of modesty is asserted by Claudian in the Rape of Proserpina in this line: The flammeum covering anxious modesty, and by Lucan in bk. 2 of the Pharsalia: Carefully covering the shy modesty of the bride / The flame-coloured veil hid her demure face. The second meaning is confirmed by the perpetual wearing of the flammeum by the wife of a flamen [a Roman priest], who was not allowed by law to divorce, for any reason whatsoever. Now it is right that she is depicted sitting down, pointing to her abhorrence of love that strays. Venus should be portrayed sitting on a seat, bound with fetters, her face covered with a bridal veil, naked, with her right hand embracing Cupid who does her seeing for her, in her left holding three golden apples; standing by her are two doves, her sacred birds, according to Cornutus, on the one hand because of their chastity, on the other because of the seductive [p.88] blandishments of which the frequent kissing of these birds is a sign or symbol. Clement of Alexandria would have it that nothing befits an honest wife and mother more than to be seen in a veil, quoting Creüsa the wife of Aeneas, who, when her home city was burning, still took care that she was veiled.


1.  Verseform named for Alcman, the Greek lyric poet, 7th century BC.

2.  Pausanias, Periegesis, 3.15.10-11. Morpho would thus derive from Greek μορφη, ‘form, beauty’.

3.  i.e. Castor and Pollux; Tyndareus was king of Sparta.

4.  Helen and Clytemnestra.

5.  Helen left her husband Menelaus and eloped with Paris; Clytemnestra and her lover Aegistheus murdered her husband Agamemnon on his return from Troy.

6.  Claudian, De raptu Proserpine, 2.325.

7.  Lucan, Pharsalia, 2.360-1.

8.  See Aeneid, 2.

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