The Roman Wedding: Ritual and Meaning in Antiquity by Karen K. Hersch

By Karen K. Hersch

The marriage ritual of the traditional Romans offers a vital key to knowing their amazing civilization. The exciting rite represented the start line of a Roman kin in addition to a Roman girl's transition to womanhood. this can be the 1st book-length exam of Roman marriage ceremony ritual. Drawing on literary, criminal, old, antiquarian, and inventive facts of Roman nuptials from the tip of the Republic throughout the early Empire (from ca. two hundred BC to two hundred AD), Karen Hersch exhibits how the Roman marriage ceremony expressed the beliefs and norms of an historic humans. Her publication is a useful device for Roman social historians drawn to how principles of gender, legislations, faith, and culture are interwoven into the marriage rite of each tradition.

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7 The Laws of Humans and Gods 19 procession, bawdy songs or songs of praise for the bride and groom were recited or sung. On the way to, and upon entering, her new home, the bride performed some kind of ritual act, perhaps involving the dedication of coins or the application of unguents to the house’s doorposts, and she pronounced her consent to be married. In the groom’s home, he may have given his own acknowledgment of his intention to marry the bride, perhaps by an offer of fire and water. The couple, now married, celebrated with guests, and then the bride may have been accompanied to her new bedchamber where her groom awaited her.

During or after this 6 With few exceptions, like the wedding of slaves in Plautus’ Casina. For example, the so-called Fescennines. 8 Of course, the lack of luxury may have been deliberate: Nero and Messalina, or perhaps the authors who wrote about them, wanted to show that their weddings were as “standard” as possible (which would further prove their depravity). However, we might wonder if any aspects of the otherworldly wedding of Peleus and Thetis in Catullus’ poem 64 were informed by the poet’s own experience; are the fantastic d´ecor and famous guests meant to be read as humorous and hyperbolic versions of real weddings of the late Republic?

But Juvenal, unlike Tacitus, did not find the wedding of two men to be the worst sin imaginable: in fact Juvenal found Gracchus as a gladiator to be far more offensive than Gracchus as a bride. 78 Dio Cass. 2–3. The Laws of Humans and Gods 37 We have seen in these final examples that same-sex weddings, or the idea of them, may have been disturbing to other Romans precisely because the men celebrating were said to have lasting marriage in mind – that is, the partners seem to share affectio maritalis.

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