Biographical Gospel of the Lord

- Chapter 100 -
The Three-fold Roman Marriage Law

ND CYRENIUS said to Joseph, 'Oh friend and brother, do not concern yourself about the corpses. During the night about two hundred have been restored to life, and I have been busy all morning providing lodging for them.
If in the course of the rubble's removal several more unmaimed corpses should still be found, they will also be looked after just like the others.
See, that in short is the whole story which now does not nearly interest me as much as this maiden, who according to your most credible story is supposed to be the daughter of a come-to-grief Roman patrician!
Let me find out exactly how matters stand with this child, so that I may be able to help this poor orphan in every way possible!
See, as I told you recently, I am single and have no children. Could she possibly be better taken care of than if I, as a brother of the emperor, take her for my lawful wife?
For that reason the story of this girl becomes ever more important to me ahead of everything else.
So give me the opportunity to promptly speak with this glorious child and have a thorough discussion with her!'
Joseph now inquired of Cyrenius, 'Eminent friend and brother, you tell me that you are single, but you also told me in Tyre that you are married to one woman - only that you have no children with her.
Tell me, how am I to understand that? I know that you may take another wife if the first one is sterile; but how you as a wedded husband are still supposed to be single, truly, that I cannot understand! Explain yourself more clearly.'
Here Cyrenius smiled and replied, 'Dear friend, I see that you are not familiar with the laws of Rome. I will have to enlighten you, so hear me.
You see, we Romans have a three-fold right in marriage; two of them are not binding, only one is binding.
According to the two not binding laws I may marry even a slave woman but for all that I do not have a lawful wife, but only a lawfully permitted concubine. Thereby I am still single and can take a lawful wife at any time.
The difference between the first two not binding laws consists only in that, in the first case, I may take only a concubine - without the least obligation to ever take her as a legal wife.
In the second case I can also have the daughter of a house of appropriate social standing merely bound to me by her parents, with the stipulation to take her as a lawful wife if I beget one to three living children with her, of which at least one is a boy.
In the third case only does the firmly binding law go into effect, which states that I must first be firmly united with a lawful wife before the altar of Hymen by a priest set apart for that purpose and then am no more single, but married.
With us then neither the wedding (nuptias capere) nor the tentative matrimony (Patrimonium facere), but only the real marriage (uxorem ducere) cancels the single status according to the laws as they are now constituted.
Thus we can enter into nuptias capere, Patrimonium facere and uxorem ducere, and only the last can put an end to the single status!
See, that is why I am all the more single, since I am unable to beget any children with the concubine, and would be single even if I did have children with her because the children begotten with a concubine have no right to the father with us, unless the father adopts them with the emperor's consent!
Now you know everything, so I entreat you to acquaint me more closely with the history of this girl, for I am now wholly determined to marry her as soon as possible in the fullest sense of the word!'
When Joseph heard this from Cyrenius, he said, 'In that case I will first instruct and prepare the girl myself, lest such a proposal weaken or even kill her!'