Runaway Bride: This whole Jennifer Willbanks thing has certainly been...interesting. I roll my eyes listening to some of the completely ridiculous (and heated!) debates occurring about it on the news.
Frankly, if I were her fiancee, the wedding would be off, not postponed. Why? Not because she had cold feet--which I am finding harder and harder to believe in her case, the more I learn. I would refuse to marry this woman because she's shown herself (at age 32!) to immature, irresponsible, thoughtless, inconsiderate, and deceitful not only to her fiancee, family, and friends, but to the police departments of two counties.
I could have believed cold feet if she had simply admitted in Albuquerque that she had run away. Instead, she made a fake 911 call and tried to play the drama queen Also, it seems she has pulled similar stunts twice before, though with a lot less publicity those times. I guess she expected the same thing to happen this time, and it didn't.
Under ordinary circumstances, I could understand freaking out when you've got a wedding with 14 bridesmaids, in which most of your town is involved. It sounds to me like it was a pretty huge affair, and it was probably moving forward like an unstoppable force. Any woman, I'd think, might be a bit intimidated by that. There comes a point, when it just becdomes virtually impossible to tell your family, "No, I don't want to marry him after all," after they've spent a ton of money.
I don't get the impression that's what's going on with her, though. From the news reports I've been listening to, it sounds to me like maybe she needs psychological counseling of some kind. I don't know if she's a thrill-seeker, an atttention-seeker, or just nervous. This whole escapade seems to have been planned in some detail before she left, rather than being some spur of the moment thing.
And on top of this, she had the police suspecting her fiancee of having done something to her, for at least a time. I personally would not take too kindly to that.
There's debate over whether she will be charged with anything. It sounds like the inclination in both Georgia and New Mexico is not to prosecute. In Georgia, she committed no crime, and in New Mexico, they'e apparently decided not to press charges.
I do think she ought to be presented with a bill, though. She caused a lot of people a lot of worry, and she made police departments go on a wild goose chase for her, when they could have spent those man-hours investigating real crimes.
I am relieved, though, that she wasn't found dead in a ditch somewhere, which was what I feared.
Roman Stuff: I spent today looking up a lot of stuff on Roman culture. I found an interesting paper about Roman laws regarding live-in relationships between free women and slaves. Free women who did this paid a heavy price. IF after three warnings they refused to end the relationship (called contubernus), they would become slaves of their enslaved lover's owner if the owner did not agree to the relationship, or they would be considered freedwomen of the slave's owner if the owner did agree to the relationship.
Additionally, if he wanted to punish a daughter, a paterfamilias could arrange a marriage between his daughter and the slave of another person, thus reducing his daughter to the status of slave. This was because, while the acts of children could not harm their parents' rank, a pater could take action to reduce his child's rank. Ouch!
Apparently, as time went on, there became more and more uncertainty regarding marriage laws when it came to owners and their slaves. In part, this occurred because most slaves were owned by people of modest means. If the husband died, the widow might come to rely on the handyman or whomever and might eventually decide to ask him to live as her husband, rather than as a slave. In patrician households this was severely disapproved of, and the senatorial class wrote laws to make such relationships illegal. Among the lower classes, though, where there was not a great deal of difference between the living condition of owner and slave, the practice was more common and perhaps more accepted among members of that social class.
The double standar did apply, by the way. If a freeborn man wanted to free and then marry a slave woman, he could. And if he wanted to live with a slave woman owned by someone else, he could, without risk of himself becoming considered that owner's slave or freedman.
*looks into mug* Rats, I've drunk all my chai. :(