Adultery is a word used in religious texts like Exodus 20:14. Adultery applies to a married person sleeping with someone other than the person who they are married to. In countries where religion is important, adultery often comes with a heavy punishment. Some Muslim countries punish it with death by stoning. In most countries adultery is no longer a crime, but most people still see it as a bad thing.(see Gospel of John 8) If a person who is married takes part in adultery, that person's husband or wife would usually have the right to be able to go to court to divorce them.
The word adultery originates not from “adult”, as is commonly thought in English-speaking countries, but from the Late Latin word for “to alter, corrupt”: “adulterare”. “Adulterare” in turn is formed by the combination of “ad” (towards), and “alter” (other), together with the infinitive form “are” (making it a verb). Thus the meaning is literally “to make other”. In contrast, the word “adult” (meaning a person of mature years) comes from another Latin root, “adolescere”, meaning to grow up or mature: a combination of “ad” (towards), “alere” (to nourish, to grow), and the inchoative infix “sc”(meaning to enter into a state of).
Famous adulterers include :
- Paris (mythology) and Helen in the Iliad
- Lancelot and Guinevere
- David and Bathsheba the wife of Uriah (2 Samuel 11)
- Anna Karenina and Vronsky
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
- Hestor Prynne
- Infidelity: the same concept, but without a religious background