The Ancient Library

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On this page: Market – Market, Clerks of the – Marpessa – Marriage



scriptores historic augusts and suetonius).

Market. See agora and forum.

Market, Clerks of the (see agoranomus).

Marpessa. Daughter of the river god Euenus, and wife of Idas. (See idas and lynceus.)

Marriage. (I) Greek. The principle of monogamy was predominant as early as the Homeric age. The Homeric poems repre­sent the son as leaving the choice of a wife to his father, and the father as disposing at will of his daughter's hand. The suitor usually offered to pay the girl's father a certain number of oxen or other objects of value. The daughter on her side received a suitable provision from her father. This property had to be restored to the wife on the death of her husband, unless his heirs wished otherwise. Marriages were valid between persons of different station as well as between persons of the same station. The marriage festivities included a banquet given by the father of the bride. The bride was conducted in festal procession with torches to the house of her husband, a bridal song, the Hymlnceus, being mean­while sung with dances by the youths who accompanied her. The mistress of the house held a position equal to that of the man with whom she was associated for life, and was treated with the same con­sideration in her sphere as her husband in his. The husband was allowed by custom to have concubines, whose children were brought up in the house of their father with those of the lawful wife. But they received only a small share of the property, which the legitimate children divided among themselves by lot after their father's death. Illegitimate children incurred no disgrace, and the sons borne by a slave to a free man were accounted free.

Later times. Athens. In Athens a girl's life was so completely confined to her home that love was very seldom the prelude to marriage. The parents made the choice j for their children, equality of birth and property being the chief considerations. No marriage was valid unless both parties were children of Athenian citizens, and no children were legitimate unless born of such a marriage. If either wife or hus­band were of non-Athenian extraction, the marriage was accounted as no better than concubinage, and the children were illegiti­mate. Every legal marriage was preceded by a formal betrothal, at which the agree­ments were settled and the amount of the

dowry determined. If an heiress wers left fatherless, the man next in order of inheritance was entitled to claim her in marriage; if she were poor, and so unable to obtain a husband, he was bound to make her a provision within an amount fixed

; by law. Weddings were held by prefer­ence in the seventh month of the Athenian

; year, which was thence called Gamellon

' (January-February). A wedding was pie-ceded by certain preliminary rites called prQtlleia, consisting of prayers and sacri­fices offered to the deities of marriage, especially to Hera. The bride was con­ducted to the AcrSpolfs by her parents into the temple of Athene, goddess of the city, whose blessing they prayed for with offer­ing of sacrifice. On the wedding-day the

\ bride and bridegroom bathed in water brought at Athens from the spring Callir-rh6e, and in all other cities from some special river or spring. The water was fetched by a male or female relation of youthful age. The bride's father provided a wedding banquet, to which the women, usually excluded from the gatherings of men, were invited. The men and women sat at separate tables, the bride being veiled. In the evening the bride was for­mally conducted to her new home on a carriage drawn by mules or oxen. She took her place, surrounded by various kinds of household furniture, between the bride­groom and the conductor of the bride, a confidential friend of the bridegroom. If the bridegroom had been previously married, he did not bring his bride home himself, but was represented by his friends. The carriage was followed by the friends and relatives, singing the marriage hymn to the accompaniment of flutes. Among them was the bride's mother, bearing the wed­ding torch, kindled at her own hearth; other torches preceded and followed. At the door of the bridegroom's house, which was adorned with green branches, the bridegroom's mother met the pair with torches in her hand. The bride and bride­groom now entered the house amid the cheers of its inmates, who, by way of a lucky omen, rained upon them a shower of all kinds of fruits and sweetmeats. The bride ate a quince, the symbol of fertility. At this point there was often a supper. The bride was then conducted by an elderly female relation, called the Nympheutrla, to the bridal chamber, which the latter had adorned, and here given to the bridegroom. Songs, called cplthalamla, were sung by the

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