On Abortion

Try to guess who said this:

She who first began the practice of tearing out her tender progeny deserved to die in her own warfare. Can it be that, to be free of the flaws of stretchmarks, you have to scatter the tragic sands of carnage? Why will you subject your womb to the weapons of abortion and give dread poisons to the unborn? The tigress lurking in Armenia does no such thing, nor does the lioness dare destroy her young. Yet tender girls do so- though not with impunity; often she who kills what is in her womb dies herself.

No fair using Google Search or any other search.



  1. Seth McBee said,

    March 27, 2007 at 10:41 am


    How about…Lane?

    I have no idea…but makes you really think…I would hope

  2. greenbaggins said,

    March 27, 2007 at 11:05 am

    I wish this came from me. I certainly agree with this author. But they are not my own words.

  3. Josh said,

    March 27, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Is it modern? Sounds like Solomon to me.

  4. Lee said,

    March 27, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Charlotte Bronte.

    Okay, you can tell us now.

  5. Todd said,

    March 27, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Older than Bronte.

  6. OpheliaNeaththeWindow said,

    March 27, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    What a number of coincidences I have just experienced! I visited your blog to post a comment asking if you have read Bruce Winter’s book “Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and the Pauline Communities,” which I happened upon on Amazon.com. I saw this quote and was going to post a guess that it was from an ancient author, and perhaps a Latin poet, given the preponderance of references to female lions and tigers that I have encountered recently in Virgil, Catullus, and others. But I couldn’t resist searching for the quote first . . . only to find that it is indeed from Ovid and is also included in Bruce Winter’s book. Is that where you encountered it, or were you reading the “Amores”?

  7. OpheliaNeaththeWindow said,

    March 27, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    Sorry, I probably shouldn’t have given away the answer in my post. I hope I didn’t steal your thunder.

  8. OpheliaNeaththeWindow said,

    March 27, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    But since I’ve already given away the answer, I’ll add that the poem as a whole (“Amores” 2.14) is quite interesting. It contains typical Ovidian themes: the dichotomy of love and war, advice on aspects of love and romantic or sexual relationships, a number of mythological allusions, and a reference to the emperor Augustus. The arguments Ovid presents are not unlike arguments against abortion made today: for example, “if my mother (or Aeneas’ mother, etc.) had aborted me, I would not be alive (or Rome would never have been founded, etc.),” and “women choose abortion for selfish reasons.”

    Anyone who thinks that abortion is a modern issue is quite wrong. Although it was controversial (Hippocrates forbade it), it was practiced by the Greeks and Romans. I do not know if it was legal, although I would guess that Augustus outlawed it if it was not outlawed already, given his interest in rebuilding the declining population of Italy after decades of civil war.

    For readers other than Lane: I am a Latin teacher and grad student in Classics – hence the long posts on this topic!

  9. March 28, 2007 at 7:08 am

    Doug Wilson.

  10. greenbaggins said,

    March 28, 2007 at 8:57 am

    That is quite a coincidence, since Winter’s book (which I just obtained and was reading) was indeed where I found the Ovid quotation. Stay tuned for my thoughts about his argumentation on 1 Timothy 2. I think he has great stuff on 1 Corinthians 11. Do you have the book yet, Jenny?

  11. OpheliaNeaththeWindow said,

    April 2, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    No, I don’t. And unfortunately I don’t have any time to read it right now, or I might buy it. It looks quite interesting. I am intrigued by Winter’s fusion of the pursuits of theologians and of classicists. I read a few pages on Google Books. What do you think of his argument that “because of the angels” means because of “messengers” sent as spies to keep an eye on the political intentions of the Corinthian church?

  12. greenbaggins said,

    April 3, 2007 at 9:19 am

    I think it makes a lot of sense. It explains what otherwise is an extremely cryptic “throwaway” remark on Paul’s part. Most exegetes of the tradition will say that the angels reference means something like “authority.” But of course, “aggelos” has a semantic range that includes regular, human, non-supernatural messengers. I think he builds a very strong case for his position. At the very least, his position will have to be reckoned with among the commentators, whether they agree with him or not.

  13. james said,

    April 6, 2007 at 12:52 pm


    Happened across your blog by accident. Good Ovid quote. I always love to take people to the Didache, which also prohibits abortion.

    As to the book “Roman Wives…” It is an excellent book. I wish more people would read it and take the Roman background of the NT more seriously. We are finally beginning to take the Jewish background seriously, hopefully the Roman background will follow quickly.


  14. greenbaggins said,

    April 6, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    It is a good book. I disagree completely with his reconstruction of the background behind 1 Timothy 2. He gives lip service to _Women in the Church_, but doesn’t seriously interact with their position, especially Baldwin’s outstanding article on the background at Ephesus. There are a lot of assumptions he would not have made had he read Baldwin’s article.

    That being said, welcome to my blog, James.

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