The Samnites had a cus­tom which, in a small repu­blic, and espe­cially given the situa­tion of theirs, was to pro­duce admi­ra­ble effects. All the youths were assem­bled, and they were jud­ged. The one decla­red best of all took to wife whi­che­ver girl he wan­ted ; the one with the next most votes again chose, and so forth.1 It was an admi­ra­ble thing to consi­der, among the young men’s assets, only their fine qua­li­ties and the ser­vi­ces they had ren­de­red to the home­land. The richest in such assets chose a girl from among the whole nation. Love, beauty, chas­tity, vir­tue, birth, even wealth : these were all, so to speak, the dowry of vir­tue. It would be dif­fi­cult to ima­gine a reward nobler, grea­ter, and less one­rous to a small state, bet­ter able to act upon both sexes.

The Samnites des­cen­ded from the Lacedæmonians ; and Plato, whose ins­ti­tu­tions are but the per­fec­tion of the laws of Lycurgus, crea­ted almost the same law.2

Fragments of Nicolas of Damascus, taken from Stobæus in the collection of Constantine Porphyurogenetitus.

He even allowed them to see each other more often.