Pre-Christian Sources

Pre-Christian Sources

Ovid (43 BC - AD 65)

Of what avail to fair woman to rest free from the burdens of war [i.e. pregnancy], nor choose with shield in arm to march in the fierce array, if, free from peril of battle, she suffer wounds from weapons of her own, and arm her unforeseeing hands to her own undoing?

She who first plucked forth the tender life deserved to die in the warfare she began. Can it be that, to spare your bosom the reproach of lines, you would scatter the tragic sands of deadly combat?

-De Nuce, lines 22-23; cf. Amores 2.13


Juvenal (c.57/67-127)

Poor women…endure the perils of childbirth, and all the troubles of nursing to which their lot condemns them; but how often does a gilded bed contain a woman that is lying in it? So great is the skill, so powerful the drugs, of the abortionist, paid to murder mankind within the womb.

-Satire 6.592-601



In reference to Augustinian legislation of 28 BC and 9 AD:

-The lawgivers, who had the same task of searching out and finding what was good for the city and what bad, and what helped or harmed it, did not they also consider that it was most beneficial to their cities to fill the houses of the citizens, and most harmful to deplete them? They considered that childlessness, or small families, of citizens was unprofitable, while to have children, and in fact many children, was profitable. Therefore, they forbade the women to abort and attached a penalty to those who disobeyed; secondly they forbade them to use contraceptives on themselves and to prevent pregnancy; finally they established honors for both men and women who had many children and made childlessness punishable.

-Fragment 15a

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