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Annals by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book XV Chapter 19: Fictitious adoptions[AD 62]
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A very demoralizing custom had at this time become rife, of fictitious adoptions of children, on the eve of the elections or of the assignment of the provinces, by a number of childless persons, who, after obtaining along with real fathers, praetorships and provinces, forthwith dismissed from paternal control the sons whom they had adopted. An appeal was made to the Senate under a keen sense of wrong. Parents pleaded natural rights and the anxieties of nurture against fraudulent evasions and the brief ceremony of adoption. "It was," they argued, "sufficient reward for the childless to have influence and distinction, everything, in short, easy and open to them, without a care and without a burden. For themselves, they found that the promises held out by the laws, for which they had long waited, were turned into mockery, when one who knew nothing of a parent's solicitude or of the sorrows of bereavement could rise in a moment to the level of a father's long deferred hopes." On this, a decree of the Senate was passed that a fictitious adoption should be of no avail in an department of the public service, or even hold good for acquiring an inheritance. Percrebuerat et tempestate pravus mos, cum propinquis comitiis aut sorte provinciarum plerique orbi fictis adoptionibus adsciscerent filios, praeturasque et provincias inter patres sortiti statim emitterent manu, quos adoptaverant. [igitur qui filios genuerant] magna cum invidia senatum adeunt, ius naturae, labores educandi adversus fraudem et artes et brevitatem adoptionis enumerant. satis pretii esse orbis, quod multa securitate, nullis oneribus gratiam honores, cuncta prompta et obvia haberent. sibi promissa legum diu exspectata in ludibrium verti, quando quis sine sollicitudine parens, sine luctu orbus longa patrum vota repente adaequaret. factum ex eo senatus consultum, ne simulata adoptio in ulla parte muneris publici iuvaret ac ne usurpandis