Marriage in Athens
Posted on 26th December 2020
Marriages were arranged by the father or legal guardian (Kyrios) of the bride. Wives were chosen based on their dowry (property, money etc), presumed fertility and household skills.
Women normally married around the age of 14 following puberty and men normally married around the age of 30; these marriages were arranged for business reasons between two families and for forming family alliances.
Athenian law stated that men could not marry foreign women, however they were allowed to marry direct relatives.
In Athens the father or legal guardian would announce that he was allowing his daughter to marry; men would then vie for the right to marry her. This would involve the men competing in games, dance and the bringing of gifts; the father would then choose the suitor, they would shake hands and make a binding promise before the marriage would take place. The daughter had very little say in the choice of her husband.
Marriage celebration took place in 3 separate parts, over 3 days.
Proaulia - The day before the wedding, the bride-to-be spent with her mother, female relatives and friends. A feast was held at the home of the bride’s father and offerings were given to the gods; a ritual to the gods to show the bride’s separation from childhood into womanhood included the cutting of a lock of hair to be dedicated to the gods.
Gamos - The wedding day consisting of a series of ceremonies and celebrations to transfer the bride from her father’s house to that of her husband.
The bride started the day with a nuptial bath that symbolised purification and fertility; both the bride and groom made offerings at the temple. A wedding feast was then attended by both families; however, men and women sat and ate at separate tables.
To complete the transfer of the bride to her husband’s family, the ritual of removing the bride’s veil was completed; known as Anakalupteria.
The bride moved into her husband’s quarters and the marriage was legalised. The bride’s father then passed the dowry to his daughter’s husband.
Epaulia - This was a wedding shower where the bride and groom received gifts preparing them for married life; including jewellery, perfume, household pots and furniture.
Tagged as: Junior Ancient Greece
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