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THE HELLENIC RELIGION
"Rejoice bride; rejoice worthy bridegroom, many things ... (Fr. 116)
May you be well bride, be well bridegroom. (Fr. 117)"
Fragments from Sappho's Epithalamia (Wedding Songs) to wish luck and fertility on the bride and groom (1)

Marriage in the ancient Hellenic world was not the inherently romantic and sentimental notion of marriage that is held in modern Western Society. The only reference to a union of hearts and minds (homophrosune) within a marital relationship in the ancient writings is described by Homer in the Odyssey when he writes of advice given by Odysseus to Nausicaa (2):

"And for thyself, may the gods grant thee all that thy heart desires;
A husband and a home may they grant thee, and oneness of heart, a goodly gift.
For nothing is greater or better than this, when man and wife dwell in a home in one accord, a great grief to their foes and a joy to their friends;
but they know it best themselves" (3)

The same term 'homophrosune' is also used to describe great friendship and this is perhaps the best manner to understand the ancient Hellenic concept of the perfect model of wedded life as a union of accord between heart and mind.
Yet the ideal was not the common practice among early Hellenes and the role of women within the different tribal societies was an important factor in the historical accounts of marriage in the ancient civilisation. These differing attitudes towards women in society were mostly a product of the various tribes of the ancient civilisation, their tribal migrations and their cultural sub-structure. For this reason, the following historical account is given of the wedding ceremony as well as references to customs prior to and after the wedding that encompass the most general and popular opinion towards marriage in ancient Hellas. No reasons or explanations have been offered to explain these customs and for those that wish to do so, it is recommended that the individual tribal migrations and practices of the Ionian, Dorian, Aeolian and other tribes be researched in a personal capacity.

THE IDEA OF MARRIAGE IN ANCIENT HELLAS

The origin of the Idea of Marriage and the evolution of its marital customs among the ancient Hellenes was an admixture of mythical, sociological and legal factors. The prototypical bride was the mythical Pandora who symbolised not only the mythical origins of the role of woman as a bride and wife (4) but also represented the historical basis of the bridal-gifts ('dora' meaning gift).

Now she was ready and Zeus ordered the fleet-footed messenger to take Pandora to Epimetheus as a gift. Epimetheus was very excited to see this gift from the Gods and forgetting the advice given to him by his brother Prometheus not to accept any gifts from the Gods; he took Pandora to be his wife. He gave her reign over his house and servants to do as she wished. (5)

The bride-gift played a very important symbolic role in the marriage among ancient Hellenes and represented the 'gift' of the bride herself as well as being a visual sign of the alliance between the families of the bride and groom that would soon join together into a single family. The promise of the dowry and gifts legitimised the marriage and any offspring that may be sired by the union as well as marking the completion of the first phase of ancient Hellenic marriage customs. Essentially Hellenic marriage consisted of three common phases and on occasion a fourth.

  1. Challenge:

In ancient Hellas, it was both a mythical and historical custom for the father or guardian of the bride to challenge his daughter's suitors to find a prospective candidate as his future son-in-law. In Homer's Odyssey, it is Penelope herself who sets the challenge for her suitors when it is believed that her husband King Odysseus is dead (6). This challenge usually took the form of a competition and is perhaps allegorical of the responsibility of a father or guardian to ensure that a suitable husband be found for his daughter. The challenge of the suitors was not a general custom however, although its practice is attested to in certain mythical and historical accounts.

  1. Transference

Transference is the first common phase of ancient Hellenic marriage customs and marks the legitimisation of the union through the betrothal, the marriage contract and the stipulation of the bridal gifts and dowry.
3. Transformation
The transformation phase represents the second common aspect of ancient Hellenic marriage customs and refers to the ceremonies and rituals that the mark the transformative passage from being single to being married.
4. Incorporation
The ritual incorporation of the bride into her new home and family marks the final stage of the marriage customs.

THE ENGUE
The Engue refers to the phase of the legal transference of the bride to her new family through the promise of betrothal and the alliance between the father of the bride and his future son-in-law. The Engue took the form of a private verbal agreement and a marriage contract that stipulated the conditions of the dowry and any divorce that should take place if the marriage should fail to be successful. The bridal gift/dowry also played a major role in the social, political and economic motivations for marriage. The tradition concerning the bridal-gifts indicated a 'dotal' form of marriage with the bride's family providing a dowry for her in the form of cattle or land that would be returned in the case of a divorce. Dotal marriage provided the father of the bride with a greater control over the welfare of his daughter within her new home thus incorporating the responsibility of choosing a suitable groom for his daughter or charge.
Although the Engue was a promise of intention and a legal agreement, it was not irrevocable and if difficulties should arise between the two families during this phase of the marital transaction, the wedding could be cancelled.

THE EKDOSIS
The Ekdosis refers to the series of transformative rituals necessary for the bride to undergo as she leaves her single status and becomes a married woman. The Ekdosis begins with the Engue (betrothal and marriage contract) and ends with the wedding ceremony (Gamos) that marks her passage into her new home and her incorporation into her new family. It has been noted at this point that the ancient ceremonies concerning marriage and death are complimentary (7) customs and that the transformative process of marriage was inexorably linked to concepts of Destiny and Death. Before a woman is married, she is Parthenos (maiden); upon her marriage, she is Nymphe (the childless bride) and only after the birth of her first child is she considered Gyne (adult). As marriage in ancient Hellas was not often a sentimental practice and was more of a practical consideration regarding family and political alliances, the central reason for legitimising a union was for the purpose of producing legitimate offspring (8). This custom is indicative of the change in social values that occurred during the period ranging from 800 to 600 B.C.E that stressed the increasing importance of familial standards. This was largely due to the growing division of social classes and economic pressures as tribal clans could no longer solely provide for dependents (9).
The ceremonies of the Ekdosis provided the bride with the preparation necessary to face life as a married woman and an adult with children of her own. These rites each addressed one aspect of the transformation of the Parthenos into the Nymphe and beyond to the Gyne. These ceremonies were the death of the girl and the birth of the woman in various different manners and as rituals are the origins for the modern bridal shower:

  1. The Separation from Family and Home: The wedding ceremony itself usually lasted three days and a ceremony called the Proaulia was held on the day before the wedding. To prepare for the Proaulia the bride would spend her last few days with her family. This time signified the last days of her childhood and helped the bride to begin the separation from her oikos (family and home) to her new husband's oikos.
  2. The Separation of the Woman from Childhood: On the day of the Proaulia, a ceremony and feast would be held at the bride's father/guardian's house. As a part of this ceremony, the bride would make proteleia (offerings) of her childhood clothing and any other items signifying her childhood to various Gods, including Zeus, Artemis and the Moirae (Fates). These proteleia served to liberate the woman from the past and enable her to freely embrace her new role in life. This rite also helped the bride to establish adult bonds with the Gods who would protect her in her new role and within her new home and family.
  3. The Separation of the Wife from the Virgin: As unmarried girls fell under the care of the Goddess Artemis, one of the rites of the Proaulia was the dedication of a lock of the bride's hair to Artemis and the payment of a zemia (fine or penalty) to aid in the passage from virginity to sexual activity. As the Goddess of young girls and child-birth, Artemis was called to in this rite to aid in the easy transition of the Parthenos to the Nymphe. On the birth of children, Artemis would again be called to assist in the transition of the Nymphe to the Gyne.
  4. Once the rites that separated the woman from the girl had been completed; in certain regions it was custom for the bride and her mother to make an offering to Hera as the Goddess of Weddings and the ideal of the Divine Bride.
  5. Proteleia were also made by both the bride and groom to Aphrodite to ensure fertility and a fruitful life.

THE GAMOS
Weddings were usually celebrated in the winter during the month of the Gamelion, sacred to the Gods of Marriage; Zeus and Hera. This was done to reflect the marriage of the two Gods and the symbolic meaning of their Hieros Gamos that establishes marriage among mortals as the means by which sovereignty may be attained over material wealth through their dynasty of offspring. The day of the actual wedding (Gamos) was the consummation of the entire marriage transaction and signified the completion of the union through the actual sexual act (10):

  1. The wedding day began with the bride and groom taking separate ritual baths with water drawn from a sacred river or spring and carried to the couple to be married in a loutrophoros (11) by a specially appointed male child who was the closest relative. This ritual bath was said to purify the bride and groom and ensure their fertility for the sexual consummation of the marriage.
  2. The bride would then dress with the help of her nympheutria (bridal helper). The bride's garb would include a robe (usually purple for Aphrodite) (12), a crown called a stephane that was made from woven metal or plants and a bridal veil (13). The veil was the most important symbolic garment of the bride and the veiled bride of modern ceremonies derives directly from this ancient Hellenic practice. The Veil was said to have protected the bride from ill-wishing spirits and was symbolic of her purity. The bride would remain veiled until the marriage was solemnised.
  3. The groom was clothed in a finely woven himation and a crown woven from love-enhancing plants (14).
  4. The bride's father would make sacrifice to Zeus and Hera, the Gods of Marriage together with Hymenaios, Artemis and Aphrodite. The groom in a chariot would come to collect his bride from her family oikos together with his entourage. Together all those assembled would feast on the flesh of the sacrificed animal and eat cakes made from sesame seeds and honey to ensure fertility. Libations were offered and songs were sung accompanied by live music and dancing to wish the couple well in their new life. The traditional wedding dance was called the imeneos and was dedicated to the God Hymenaios.
  5. After the feast, the bride's father/guardian (Kyrios) would hand over the bride and the dowry to the groom with the ritual words:

"I hand over this woman to you for the ploughing of legitimate children". This marked the conclusion of the bride's transference from her family to her husband and then began wedding procession; the final stage of the new wife's transference from her old home to her new home. It was also considered etiquette for the groom to offer symbolic gifts or gifts of value (edna) to the bride's father upon the finalisation of the marriage transaction. Then the brides hand was placed in the groom's and they were considered legally wed. From when the bride was handed over to her new husband, she would be treated as a symbolic captive for the wedding procession. This action represented the final journey of her maidenhood and the participants in the procession would play lyres and flutes to accompany the singing the Wedding Song to Hymenaios to celebrate this rite of passage and to ward off any evil from the couple.
Aristophanes, Wedding Song to Hymenaios, c. 400 BCE:
Zeus, that god sublime,
When the Fates in former time,
Matched him with the Queen of Heaven
At a solemn banquet given,
Such a feast was held above,
And the charming God of Love
Being present in command,
As a bridegroom took his stand
With the golden reins in hand,
Hymen, Hymen, Ho!

  1. The new husband and wife would mount a chariot and together with the wedding guests would begin the wedding procession to the groom's oikos and the bride's new home where the thalamos (wedding chamber) had already been prepared. The bride carried a sieve of barley as a gift to her new home. Accompanying the bridal couple was the Amphithales, a child with both parents still living who symbolised the future child of the marriage and brought luck and prosperity to the couple. The Amphithales would hand out bread to the guests from a basket that he carried that represented an infant's cradle. The Ampithales who wore a crown of thorns, acorns and nuts, represented man's existence in pre-civilisation. The bread that he carried symbolised the progress of man's civilisation through agriculture. The bread within the cradle-like basket, like the Ampithales himself, signified the child as the harvest of a marriage and the progress of the marital relationship. As the Ampithales handed out the bread, he would utter the ritual phrase: "I have fled from worse and found better".
  2. The bride's mother would walk in the procession bearing two torches (daidouxein) that together with the music would ward off all evil and protect her daughter on this last journey of her childhood. The rest of the procession included the paranymphos, nympheutria and anyone else who wished to join. Baskets were carried filled with quinces, roses, violets and other fruits that were thrown at the couple to ensure good fortune and fertility.
  3. When the wedding procession ended at the groom's home, a paian cry resounded that heralded the victorious end of the journey. The groom's mother, also bearing two torches (daidouxein) greeted them to welcome her new daughter-in-law home. The bride was unveiled (Anakalypteria) and upon the sight of her face, the groom and his male friends would offer her gifts. The lifting of the veil signified that the transition from Parthenos to Nymphe was complete. The bridal couple would then participate in the Katachysmata, a series of rituals to incorporate the new bride into her new home and to wish the couple a successful and fertile marriage. The bride would eat a quince to promote her fertility and sometimes burn the axle of a chariot to represent that this was a journey that she would not return from. Standing on the hearth, the bridal couple was offered tragmata, a mixture of dried fruits, dates, figs, nuts and coins to symbolise the prosperity of their new home.
  4. The bridal couple would then withdraw to their Thalamos (wedding chamber) and would pass into the protection of Aphrodite and Peitho (Persuasion). Sappho in her Epithalamia (wedding songs) writes of a doorkeeper to the wedding chamber while elsewhere it is mentioned that this doorkeeper was the Paranymphos (groom's attendant and origin for the modern best man).

The feet of the doorkeeper are seven fathoms long,
his sandals are made of five ox-hides,
ten cobblers worked hard making them. (Fr. 110)
Oh the roof on high,
sing hymnaios,
raise up, craftsmen,
sing hymnaios.
The bridegroom comes just like Ares,
a man much bigger than a big man. (Fr. 111)
(15)

  1. The female friends of the bride sang outside the chamber all night to comfort the bride and encourage the couple. They would also beat on the door of the chamber to drive away spirits from the Underworld.

night...
maidens...
all night long...
might sing of the sweetest thing for you and
the purple robed bride.
But wake up and come,
fetch the unmarried boys, so that

we might see the clear-voiced bird come
(more) than sleep. (Fr. 30)
(16)

In the morning the newly weds would be wakened by the sound of hymns and chants sung by the maidens that had been awake all night.
Anacreon, The Morning Nuptial Chant, c. 400 BCE
Aphrodite, queen of goddesses;
Love, powerful conqueror;
Hymen, source of life:
It is of you that I sing in my verses.

'Tis of you I chant, Love, Hymen, and Aphrodite.
Behold, young man, behold your wife!
Arise, O Straticlus, favored of Aphrodite,
Husband of Myrilla, admire your bride!
Her freshness, her grace, her charms,
Make her shine among all women.
The rose is queen of flowers;
Myrilla is a rose midst her companions.
May you see grow in your house a son like to you!

  1. The day after the Gamos was called the Epaulia and marked the passing of the bride's first night (epaulistai) in her new home. The bride's father sent a procession that bore his gifts of the Epaulia to the newly married couple who had consummated their marriage. The procession was led by a young boy dressed in a white gown who carried a torch and was followed by another young child bearing the sacred basket. Young girls walked behind them carrying soaps, perfumes, garments, slippers, cases, oils and dishes. If the dowry had not been taken by the wedding procession the night before the Epaulia processional would also carry the dowry (17). When the procession reached the bride's new home, songs were sung that reinforced her new status as a married woman.

THE WEDDING ENTOURAGE:

  1. The Kyrios: The father or guardian of the bride whose function it was to select or approve of the groom. In the Engue, the Kyrios must draw the marriage contract and stipulate the amount of the dowry and the conditions thereof including provisions for the possible failure of the marriage. The Kyrios was responsible for creating the alliance between the bride and groom's families as well as providing the venue and making the sacrifices for the Proaulia and the feast on the day of the Gamos. The Kyrios was also responsible for organising the procession to bear his gifts to the bridal couple on the Epaulia; the day after the first night that the bride has spent with her groom.
  2. The Paranymphos: The groom's attendant who accompanied the groom to fetch the bride on the day of the Gamos, participated in the wedding procession back to the groom's house and according to certain sources acted as the doorkeeper for the wedding chamber to ensure that the bridal couple were not disturbed on their first night together.
  3. The Nympheutria: The bridal helper whose function it is to assist in dressing the bride and together with the bride's mother and other family women to help with the preparation of the meals and sacrifices. It was also the duty of the nympheutria to accompany the bride to the feast where the wedding ceremony would be held. The nympheutria is the origin for the modern day 'matron/maid of honour'
  4. The closest young male relative of the bride to draw the water for her ritual bath on the day of the Gamos. In some regions, the ritual bath applied to both the groom as well and accordingly, the closest young male relative in the groom's family would be selected to draw the water for groom's ritual bath.
  5. The Amphithales: the child with two living parents who would accompany the bridal couple in the wedding procession to their new home and hand out bread to the guests.

 

CONTEMPORARY WEDDING PRACTICES OF THE HELLENES

Modern reconstructions of the marriage ceremony, with consideration of the time constraints of the modern lifestyle, do not usually take place over a three day period and the symbolic elements of all the practices are usually incorporated into a single ceremony. It is important though that the different elements be incorporated and not overlooked so that the symbolic meaning may be preserved. Special care should be taken with any pre-nuptial or legal agreements between the couple who wish to be married to keep the contemporary customs aligned to the ancient marriage contract (39). This modern marriage agreement should include stipulations concerning the division of any assets (pre-existing and future) that may be necessary in the case of a divorce due to the failure of the marriage. The stipulations for any future divorce were an integral part of ancient Hellenic pre-marriage practices and as with any partnership the possibility of dissolution has to be allowed for.
It is also important to note that the ritual structure of Hellenic ceremonies differs vastly to those of Pagan and Neo-Pagan practices. As the Hellenic religion reconstructs its modern rituals to remain as true to the ancient practices as possible within a contemporary context, all forms of magickal sub-structure being used in Neo-Pagan/Wiccan rituals are not applicable within the basis of the Hellenic ceremony and therefore there are no significant 'magickal binding' implications to be considered. No circles are cast and there are no elemental quarters. By implication this frees the ceremony from any topographical, social or occult restrictions. The ritual requirements for the wedding ceremony are included in the wedding ceremony below.

 

 

THE CONTEMPORARY WEDDING CEREMONY

Requirements

  1. Only a single Priest or Priestess is required to preside over the ceremony
  2. An altar
  3. Garlands of flowers for the altar
  4. Two pairs of Torches (one pair for each of the bridal processions to the altar)
  5. Basket of flower petals and grain for the young bridesmaid (kanyphoros)
  6. Honey and walnuts (to be offered by the groom's mother or another woman appointed to act in this function)
  7. 2 small loaves/bread rolls of all-grain bread (carried by the Paranymphos)
  8. Sacrificial Tripod for the altar fire
  9. Flammable Twig
  10. Vessel holding water
  11. Lock of the Bride's hair
  12. Libation, Libation vessel (and small jugs to pour libations)
  13. Gold Ribbon

CEREMONY

Entrance

  1. The Priest/Priestess stands in front of the flower bedecked altar.
  2. The bride and groom together with their separate entourages proceed toward the altar from opposite directions.
  3. The bridal procession is lead by a flute player followed by a pair of torch bearers after which walks a young girl carrying a basket of flower petals and grains. The bride walks behind the young girl escorted by her father or any other male friend or member of her family who is chosen to escort the bride.
  4. The groom's procession is led by two torchbearers followed by the groom and the Paranymphos (best man)
  5. When the processions reach the altar, everyone is arranged to face the altar with the Priest/Priestess and the Paranymphos in the centre.
  6. To the right of the Paranymphos is the bride with her torchbearers and to the left is the groom with his torchbearers
  7. The flutist and the young girl with the basket retire to a discreet corner.

 

Opening
The Priest or Priestess lights the altar fire and calls the Gods:

"Come, Ancestral Gods,
Gods of the Hellenes,
We call Hymeas,
Approach us with common purpose,
Illustrious Immortals, commune with us
Through fire and the Underworld,
From Water and out of the Air
And from Olympos"

The Priest/Priestess lights the flammable twig from the altar fire and extinguishes the flaming twig in the bowl of water, thus creating holy water.

'Progamia' or 'Protelia'

  1. The bride takes a lock of hair and places it on the altar. The bride and groom symbolically wash their faces with the holy water.
  2. The bride now prays to the Goddess Artemis and the Moirae (Fates):

 

Hymn to Artemis

"Hear me, famous daughter of Zeus,
The night-wanderer, the nurturer,
Modest, illustrious Goddess; accessible virgin,
Venerable Queen of all, child-nurturing daemon,
Friend of youths and virgins
Thee, the light-bearing; Thee, the pure
Hear me too famed Moirae of the air,
Celestial daughters of fecund Night,
Venerable providers of Prudence and Hope,
Invisible and unalterable Goddesses,
Hear me and come to me with benevolence and in good humour,
Keep grief and sorrow away"

  1. The mother of the groom offers honey and walnuts to the bride
  2. The assembled guests cry "Blessed, Blessed, Blessed" or in ancient Hellenic (Makaria, Makaria, Makaria)
  3. The Paranymphos offers the two all grain breads to the bride and groom.
  4. The Priest/Priestess prays to Hera and Zeus:

 

Hymn to Zeus and Hera

"Immortal, much honoured Zeus, sceptre-bearing King,
Beginning of all, Thee who brings increase and order,
Multi-formed guardian of mortal life,
And Hera, Queen of all,
Blessed Goddess, most high, nurturer of souls,
Mistress of brides,
Commune with us and accept these offerings,
Grant comfort, happiness and a prosperous life
To Thy worshippers as well as this bride and groom,
Grant complete peace, health and fidelity"

  1. The bride and groom offer the breads on the altar
  2. The Priest or Priestess bind the wrists of the bride and groom together with the gold ribbon and says the blessing:

 

The Blessing

"May the Gods be the established protectors of your married life,
May your life be happy, with goodness and peace,
And may each of you have that which you may desire"

  1. Flowers and grains from the basket are passed around among the guests and the couple together with the Paranymphos circle in front of the guests who shower them with the petals and grains. While circling with the bride and groom, the Paranymphos calls out:

"Be prosperous, be prosperous, be prosperous"
(Or in ancient Hellenic 'evthemones' x 3 - pronounced ev-the-mon-es)
This cry is repeated by the guests.

  1. Upon returning to the altar, the couple recites the Hymn to the Goddesses Aphrodite and Peitho (Persuasion). The recitation of this hymn may be accompanied by the flute:

  
Hymn to Aphrodite and Peitho

Bride: Heavenly Mother, sea-born
Groom: Adorner of brides, daemon of many appearances
Bride: Nocturnal, artful Queen
Groom: Much desired, harnessing (18), Mother of Destiny (Moiragetis)
Bride: Holy Mother of Ananke (19) and Eros
Groom: Adorer of men, Goddess, eternal Kypris
Bride: Great Goddess Peitho, friend and guide to mortals
Groom: Modest and sweet, from Thee arises all customs and traditions
Bride: Mutable, creative, fortress of wisdom
Groom: Bringer of wealth, benevolent patroness of all
Bride: Come into our lives, Blessed Ones
Groom: Invisible Champions of our home
Bride: Kind with serene countenance
Groom: Bringing blessings and gifts
Bride: Life is supported by Thee
Groom: Thou art benevolent to mortals

  1. Libation is poured (perfumed oils)
  2. The bride now recites the Hymn to the Goddess Hestia

 

Hymn to Hestia

"Hestia, Queen, daughter of all powerful Kronos,
Thee, the magnificent holder of the eternal fire of the central home,
Elevate the sacred initiates in their ceremonies,
Make them ever flourish; happy, glad and pure
O' dwelling of the Blessed Gods, steady support of mortals
Everlasting, of many forms, much desired, radiant,
Smiling, blessed, accept these sacrifices willingly,
Inspire us with happiness and gentle health"

  1. Insert required legal questions here.
  2. The bride and groom stand together and make the following declaration together:

 

Declaration

"In the presence of the Gods and our Ancestors
I........... and I .............
Make a declaration of honour
To live a life of accord,
Friendship, mutual respect and devotion to each other,
As companions and lovers
In one body, one soul, one home
Until Thanatos (death) comes to separate us.

  1. The Priest or Priestess declares the couple legally wed and the necessary papers are signed and witnessed.

 

The Closing

  1. After the papers have been signed, the Priest/Priestess stands before the altar for the closing:

 

"Salutations Blessed Ones; Salutations Eternal Ancestral Gods,
Extend the Sacred Light for the devout worshippers
To disperse all suffering, disease and disasters
To the ends of the earth"

  1. The Priest/Priestess then declares the ceremony closed.

"This ceremony is ended"

 

References

  1. Book Nine of Sappho's poetry dedicated to Wedding Songs
  2. Ancient Weddings by Jennifer Goodall Powers
  3. The Odyssey by Homer
  4. Claudine Leduc 'Marriage in Ancient Greece; Pauline Schmitt 'A History of Women in the West - Volume I From Ancient Goddesses to Christian Saints.
  5. Modified and adapted from Dr K. Kerenyi's 'The Gods of the Greeks' and 'The Heroes of the Greeks'
  6. The Odyssey by Homer
  7. 'Til Death do us part'; Marriage and Funeral Rites in Classical Athens by Jana Shopkorn
  8. The Classical Review, New Ser., Vol. 47, No. 1 (1997), pp. 100-102 - D. Ogden

Within reference to the Legitimacy Law of Pericles (451/450 B.C.E),
wherein Athenian citizenship was denied to any child whose parents were not legally married and both Athenian citizens. The reason for this law was to discourage mixed marriages between Athenian citizens and people from neighbouring city states. Elsewhere in ancient Hellas such laws did not exist although the production of children and the care of mother/children was a primary motivating factor in marriages as well as the maternal ownership of land in Dorian and Aeolian tribal customs.

  1. Lecture 9 'The Dark Ages and Antiquity' (Women in Antiquity) by Marilyn Skinner
  2. Redfield, James. 1982. "Notes on the Greek Wedding." Arethusa 15, 188
  3. The loutrophoros was traditionally used to draw water for the ritual baths of the bride and groom prior to a wedding. It was also custom for a loutrophoros to be placed upon the tomb of anyone who died unwed - Demosthenes; Harpokration.
  4. The purple robe of the bride is mentioned in Sappho's Epithalamia Fr 30
  5. The colour of the bridal veil is said to be either yellow or red.
  6. The Victorious Bride http://dspace.nitle.org/bitstream/10090/744/14/4AQCnikefinal.doc.
  7. Sappho's Epithalamia from Jennifer Goodall-Power's 'Sappho and her Wedding Songs'
  8. Sappho's Epithalamia from Jennifer Goodall-Power's 'Sappho and her Wedding Songs'
  9. Pausanias & Eustathius, Commentary on Homer's Iliad, vol. 4, p. 865

18. The original term is 'Zevkteira' referring to the strap that joins the yoke of oxen together and within the context of this hymn refers to Aphrodite as the vital link between a married couples.
19. 'Ananke' means Necessity

Further Sources

  1. Herodotus 8.44 (translated by Rawlinson)
  2. The Ionian Era of Athenian Civic Identity by W.R Connor
  3. Herodotus - the Histories: 1.142 & 1.147  Translated by Aubrey de Selincourt & A.R Burn (Penguin Classics)
  4. A Day in Old Athens by William Stearns Davis
  5. 'Sappho's Bittersweet Songs - Configurations of female and male in ancient Greek Lyric' by Lyn Hatherly Wilson
  6. Against Timarchos by Aeschines (translated and commentary by Nick Fisher)
  7. Plutarch 'Life of Pelopidas'
  8. Plutarch 'Life of Solon'
  9. Xenophon 'Constitution of the Lacedaemonians' II.12
  10. Ibid 'Symposium' 8.34
  11. Aristotles 'Politics II.10
  12. Strabo of Amaseia, Geography X.4.21 (483), tr. A. Goldhammer
  13. Theocritus 'Idyll' 12.14
  14. Aelian 'Various Histories' III.12
  15. Plutarch 'Lycurgus' 18.4 (translation by J Drysden)
  16. Aristotle, fr. 372 Rose in Heraclides Lembus Excerpt. polit. (p. 16 Dilts).
  17. The six books of Alkman's poetry were lost prior to the Middle Ages and only references of his works by other authors remained until the discovery of a papyrus of Alkman's Partheneion in 1855 in a tomb near the second pyramid at Saqqara in Egypt. The fragment of 100 verses is now kept at the Louvre.
  18. Alcman, fr. 1, vv. 64-77, transl. Hinge; cf. also C. Calame, Chours des jeunes filles, 1977, vol. 2, pp. 86-97 and fr. 1, vv. 64-77; transl. Campbell
  19. Fr. 3, vv. 79-81; transl. Campbell
  20. For references illustrating ancient marriage contracts, please see

'Graeco-Roman Marriage and Divorce Papyrii from 4th century B.C.E to 4th century C.E.' collected by D. Instone-Brewer 2000 at www.Instone-Brewer.com

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