With the expansion of the race westward to Europe in the later centuries, some improvement in the condition of woman appears, particularly in Greece and at Rome, where Plutarch says that for five hundred years after Rome was founded it was not scandalized by a single divorce; an Edenic condition of married life that seems to have been followed by its opposite when wives were divorced for every whim, and could also divorce themselves when they pleased. For the historians tell of one woman who had taken herself eight different legal husbands within a period of five years, and of another matron who continued her marital experiences through a list of twenty-three divorced husbands, her last partner of marital joys having himself had twenty-one legal wives, from whom he had divorced. The Christian Father Tertullian, so late as 200 A.D., said of the Roman woman, that “they married to be divorced, and were divorced in order to marry again.” Ovid, two hundred and twenty-five years earlier, had said of them, that every woman had her price. Nevertheless, in the foulest days of Rome there were some virtuous women, though it must be confessed that worship of the unclean gods had sunk both women and men very low indeed. Husbands, under Roman law, as under ancient Chaldea, had absolute ownership of the wife, even to taking her life.
But outside of Judea, and, possibly, the earlier Persian Empire times, whatever of advance in the education of woman, religiously or otherwise, is seen, was confined to the quickening of the intellect of a few women only, and, it must be confessed, not to the moral or social elevation of the sex. Indeed, what hope was there for woman, when even that kingliest Man-soul of all the heathen world, great Socrates, so far forgot what was due to himself, and to the immeasurable dignity of womanhood, as to invite that splendid courtesan, Aspasia, to consult with him as to the best method of making her traffic more remunerative?
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.