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Aulus Cluentius Habitus, this man's father, O judges, was a man by far the most distinguished for valour, for reputation and for nobleness of birth, not only of the municipality of Larinum, of which he was a native, but also of all that district and neighbourhood. When he died, in the consulship of Sulla and Pompeius, 1 he left this son, a boy fifteen years old, and a daughter grown up and of marriageable age, who a short time after her father's death married Aulus Aurius Melinus, her own cousin, a youth of the fairest possible reputation, as was then supposed, among his countrymen, for honour and nobleness. [12] This marriage subsisted with all respectability and all concord; when on a sudden there arose the nefarious lust of an abandoned woman, united not only with infamy but even with impiety. For Sassia, the mother of this Habitus, (for she shall be called his mother by me, just for the name's sake, although she behaves towards him with the hatred and cruelty of an enemy,)—she shall, I say, be called his mother; nor will I even so speak of her wickedness and barbarity as to forget the name to which nature entitles her; (for the more lovable and amiable the name of mother is, the more will you think the extraordinary wickedness of that mother, who for these many years has been wishing her son dead, and who wishes it now more than ever, worthy of all possible hatred.) She, then, the mother of Habitus, being charmed in a most impious matter with love for that young man, Melinus, her own son-in-law, at first restrained her desires as she could, but she did not do that long. Presently, she began to get so furious in her insane passion, she began to be so hurried away by her lust, that neither modesty, nor chastity, nor piety, nor the disgrace to her family, nor the opinion of men, nor the indignation of her son, nor the grief of her daughter, could recall her from her desires. [13] She seduced the mind of the young man, not yet matured by wisdom and reason, with all those temptations with which that early age can be charmed and allured. Her daughter, who was tormented not only with the common indignation which all women feel at injuries of that sort from their husbands, but who also was unable to endure the infamous prostitution of her mother, of which she did not think that she could even complain to any one without committing a sin herself, wished the rest of the world to remain in ignorance of this her terrible misfortune, and wasted away in grief and tears in the arms and on the bosom of Cluentius, her most affectionate brother. [14] However, there is a sudden divorce, which appeared likely to be a consolation for all her misfortunes. Cluentia departs from Melinus; not unwilling to be released from the infliction of such injuries, yet not willing to lose her husband. But then that admirable and illustrious mother of hers began openly to exult with joy, to triumph in her delight, victorious over her daughter, not over her lust. Therefore she did not choose her reputation to be attacked any longer by uncertain suspicions; she orders that genial bed, which two years before she had decked for her daughter on her marriage, to be decked and prepared for herself in the very same house, having driven and forced her daughter out of it. The mother-in-law marries the son-in-law, no one looking favourably on the deed, no one approving it, all foreboding a dismal end to it.

1 a. u. c. 666. Twenty-two years before this time.

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