Marriage in Ancient Greece
Shown on a Greek vase
Delphi was sure she would never get married.
She watched the procession go by, led by the flute players and dancers, leading the maids through the streets towards the Acropolis. The bride herself, wearing more jewellery and beautiful colours than she ever would again, was looking nervous and keeping her gaze steadily ahead. Delphi thought she looked like one of the statues from the Parthenon. Beautiful, but cold.
She wondered if the bride really wanted to get married. Her husband to be was said to be a wealthy merchant in his thirties. The general opinion amongst her father’s friends was that she was very lucky. She was 14 years old. Only a few years older than Delphi. Delphi tried to picture herself in the dress, in the jewellery, in the procession. She tried to picture her father gladly giving her away to some older man she didn’t know.
She bunched her hands into fists.
Marriage in Ancient Greece: Fact box
Marriage in Ancient Greece was very different to today. Girls would usually get married around the age of 15 – and usually to men around the age of 30!
Sadly, girls would not have had much choice about this. Marriages were arranged by the bride’s father and the groom. Once the couple were married, the bride was expected to basically stay at home and concentrate on raising the family.
The wedding ceremony would usually involve a ritual bath and a parade through the streets, as well as prayers to goddesses like Hera and Artemis. The girl would even have to burn all her childhood toys as a sacrifice to the goddess Artemis, as a symbol of becoming an adult.