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date: 10 December 2023

marriage law, Greeklocked

marriage law, Greeklocked

  • D. M. MacDowell


Marriage in Greece was a process of transfer, by which the kyrios (‘lord’ or ‘controller’) of a woman (normally her father; if he had died, her nearest adult male relative) gave her away to another man for the procreation of children. Originally this was merely a private arrangement between the two men; but, because the procreation of children affected inheritance of property and membership of the community, cities made laws regulating marriage in order to define legitimacy for those purposes.In Athens a marriage was legal only if it began with engyē (see betrothal, Greek), a formal statement by the kyrios granting the woman to a husband. (A woman with no father or brother living could be awarded to a husband by the archon, see archontes.) The woman's own consent was not legally required. She could not be married to a direct ascendant or descendant, nor to her brother or half-brother by the same mother, but marriage to a half-brother by the same father or to an uncle or cousin was permitted. From 451/0 bce marriage between an Athenian and a foreigner was forbidden (see citizenship, Greek).


  • Gender Studies
  • Greek Law

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