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Marriage in Ancient Greece

Institution of Marriage

In most societies, there was a need to formulate a means by which to procure a secure environment that would perpetuate the continuation of a fluent societal mainframe. Several of these needs are met with the institution of marriage, these needs being: The perpetuation of the species protection of bloodlines a system of guidelines to ensure an inheritance of property

Time of Marriage

Men wed once they were done with their military service to the state which would typically be completed by the age of 30

Their female counterparts would typically be wed from the ages 15-18 This was taken as a precaution to ensure that the women were most likely virgins

Symbols of Marriage

The brides gown was red which represented fire. Originally, this was traditional so as to ward off evil spirits but the color eventually became a symbol of the intensity of her love

The Marriage Process

The betrothment of the groom and bride were arranged by the parents of the both families The marriage process began with an engagement that was meant to establish a formal contract amongst the families involved During this engagement, a dowry was formulated and it would be agreed upon by the families what amount of assets would prove fortuidable for the wife to take with her to her new home with her husband

The wedding day was celebrated separately at the respective homes of the bride and grooms families. Many rituals were carried out throughout the wedding proceedings

In one ritual, the bride to be would bathe in sanctified water so as to purify her and preordain her towards her new life

The husband would lead the bride from her homestead and take her with him to his home

Greeting the bride at the door of her new home was her mother-in-law with a torch in hand The groom would then lead his new wife to the family hearth where the two of them were showered with symbolic spices such as figs, dates, or nuts as tokens of good luck

The day after the ceremony takes place a procession arrives from the brides old home to bring gifts to the newly weds

The Role of Marriage for women

To the Bride, marriage marked the transition from the roles she acclaimed as a child and the roles she was expected to fulfill as an adult. In this way, marriage refines the transition from adolescence into adulthood

Role of Marriage in Religious Context

In mixing religious and sentimental elements into the marriage ceremony, the Greeks ensured that religion would be ensnared in all spectrums of life within the Greek community The blending of sentimentality and religious fervor into the institution of marriage reaffirms the beliefs and customs Greek citizens were expected to conform to.

Role of Marriage in Maintaining Status Quo

The slaves of the Greek citizens were deprived the right to be married By doing this, the Greeks made sure that the slaves held a lower position in the Greek hierarchy of citizenship


Hera was the Greek goddess of Marriage in Greek life. It was believed that she protected the women from every step along her marriage. She was often portrayed as a defender of the inviolability of marriage and monogamy