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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Romulus lives

I shouldn't really post about a controversy involving two feminists of different stripes about the legal issues around wife beating and domestic violence, but one aspect of the dispute between Nancy K.D. Lemon and Christina Hoff Sommers in The Chronicle Review seems too humorous to ignore.

she [Sommers] asserted that Romulus of Rome, who is credited in my [Lemon's] book with being involved with the first antidomestic-violence legislation, could not have done this as he was merely a legendary, fictional character, who along with his brother Remus was suckled by a wolf.

Well, yeah, legends can be credited with most anything [R&R are also supposed to be sons of the god Mars]. I'm not a classical historian, but I thought the prevailing opinion was while there might have been a Romulus, who knows what he actually did as opposed to what he was credited with [sort of like Elias in the bible, who is about the same 8th century BC vintage].

Lemon continues:
Plutarch and Livy each state that Romulus was the first king of Rome. He reigned from 753-717 BC... R. Emerson Dobash and Russell P. Dobash.. discuss Romulus ... . They state that the marriage laws passed in 753 BC, under Romulus of Rome, allowed men to beat their wives,

What seems remarkable to me is the notion that Romulus becomes the first king of Rome in 753, and within that same year passes marriage laws. I'm not saying it didn't happen, it just seems odd that it would be such a high priority.

Please note that I am not denying that domestic violence is a serious problem. But it's a problem NOW, worldwide, and somehow bringing Romulus into the argument just seems to confuse things -- although it does provide a bit of humor.