Greece is unique in the stage of world history as it is recognised as the first period attested directly with historiography, thanks to Herodotus “the Father of History” and his meticulous recordings around 450 BC.
We owe many of our developments to the Greek civilisation – philosophy, democracy, Pythogoras Theory in the advancement of mathematics, the Olympics – just to name a few. This great civilisation has influenced the foundation for western civilisations as we know them today.
Hence, it is fascinating to discover how Greek weddings were about – in the ancient times (part 1) and the modern day Greek wedding in part 2.
The first bride (and woman) in Greek history is Pandora, which means “to give” – the bride would arrive at the grooms house as a free gift and bearing gifts for him.
Plato expressly stated that a man should be married before he was 35 and that in choosing a wife, one should consult the interest of the State above his own. The primary objective of the wedding is to procreate.
It is interesting to note that back in the classical Greek era, there was usually a 15-year age gap between the couple, where a man usually marries when he was around 30 years old, to a girl around 15 years old, as soon as she comes to age.
By the Spartan laws, criminal proceedings could be taken against those who married too late or who chose to remain single. Marriage was considered an affair of the State, hence warranted the regulation thereof.
In Athens however, it is interesting to note that marriages between siblings were allowed however, not that of direct descendents (e.g father and daughter).In fact, did you know that when a Spartan woman did not bear children with her husband, she was required by the laws to cohabit with another man? Wife-sharing and selective breeding was acceptable. If a man was not physically strong, he would allow another man to impregnate his wife. Furthermore, fathers were allowed to dispose their daughters to marriages as they willed and husbands, their widows as they deem their rightful guardians.
Thankfully, many of these practices have evolved today and my next article will cover the modern weddings.