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date: 06 February 2023

marriage ceremonies, Romanfree

marriage ceremonies, Romanfree

  • Gordon Willis Williams

Subjects

  • Gender Studies
  • Roman Law
  • Roman Myth and Religion

Updated in this version

Bibliography updated to reflect current research; keywords added.

The favourite season was June. Usually on the previous day the bride put away her toga praetexta: she had come of age. Her dress and appearance were ritually prescribed: her hair was arranged in six locks (sex crines), with woollen fillets (vittae), her dress was a straight white woven tunic (tunica recta) fastened at the waist with a “knot of Hercules,” her veil was a great flame-coloured headscarf (flammeum). and her shoes were of the same colour. Friends and clients of both families gathered in the bride's father's house. the bridegroom arrived, words of consent were spoken, and the matron of honour (pronuba) performed the ceremony of linking bride's and bridegroom's right hands (dextrarum iunctio). This was followed by a sacrifice (generally of a pig), and (in imperial times) the marriage contract (involving dowry) was signed. Then the guests raised the cry of Feliciter! (“Good luck!”). There followed the wedding feast, usually at the expense of the bridegroom. The most important part of the ceremony then took place: the bride was escorted in procession to the bridegroom's house (deductio), closely accompanied by three young boys, whither the bridegroom had already gone to welcome her. The bridegroom carried her over the threshold to avert an ill-omened stumble; in the house she touched fire and water, was taken to the bedchamber and undressed by univirae (women who had known only one husband), and the bridegroom was admitted. Meanwhile an epithalamium might be sung. This is a generalized account of an upper-class wedding as it appears in literature. There could be many variations of detail, and there could be different forms of marriage (see marriage law, Roman).

Bibliography

  • Rose, H. J. The Roman Questions of Plutarch. Oxford: Clarendon, 1924. See especially nos. 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 29, 30, 31, 65, 85, 86, 87, 105, and 107.
  • Gardner, Jane F. Family and Familia in Roman Law and Life. Oxford: Clarendon, 1998.
  • Hersch, Karen K. The Roman Wedding: Ritual and Meaning in Antiquity. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Miles, Gary. “The First Roman Marriage and the Theft of the Sabine Women.” In Innovations of Antiquity, edited by Ralph Hexter and Daniel Selden, 161–196. New York: Routledge, 1992.
  • Saller, Richard P. Patriarchy, Property, and Death in the Roman Family. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  • Treggiari, Susan. “Putting the Bride to Bed.” Echos du Monde/Classical Views 38.3 (1994): 311–331.
  • Treggiari, Susan. Roman Marriage. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. See especially chap. 5.