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Ancient Greek Facts: Marriage and the Arts

The phiale was a shallow dish used during sacrificial rituals in ancient Greek and Roman times. When the blood of a slain victim or wine was a necessary ingredient to a ceremony, the phiale held the contents before it was poured on an altar. If you ever wondered how the ancient Greeks made music or got married, consider the facts contained in this article.

Ancient Greek Sacrificial Practices

In the past, the sacrifice of blood was believed to connect the human and divine worlds. The use of blood was a common practice during ancient Greece. Usually, domestic animals like goats, sheep, pigs and oxen, were used for rituals. Those who participated in the sacrifice would share and eat the flesh during their worship.

The Power of Music

The first recorded mention of music is found in the Illiad , written by Homer. The text describes songs and hymns of praise to Apollo, who is best known as the sun god. Homer declared music as possessing a distinct power over humans.

Ancient Greek Instruments

When making music, the ancient Greeks had a handful of instruments that they relied on. The kithara was a plucked string instrument best associated with Apollo. The aulos was a double-reed instrument known to make quite a loud sound. This instrument was linked to Dionysus, the god of wine. Similar to the harp, the lyre was believed the instrument of choice for Apollo when he played for the gods on Mount Olympus.

Saying ‘I Do’ – Athenian Style

If you were an Athenian woman about to be married during ancient Greek times, then the day before you said your ‘I dos,’ you would enjoy a bath in a sacred spring. The water was poured onto your body from a vase called a loutrophorus. This was also the time where you would worship the goddess Artemis, where you would offer symbols of your childhood to the goddess, such as a lock of your hair or your favorite toys. Typically, your marriage would have taken place in January with the ceremony beginning after the sun had set. You would travel from your home to the residence of your groom in a chariot. If you didn’t have much money in your family, your mode of transportation was a wagon. Along the way, your family and friends would light your way with torches. Music was also played so that evil spirits would stay away.

Ancient Greek Poetry

Poets during ancient Greek times usually centered their works on three main literary approaches. Epic poetry contained a distinct meter. The man credited with producing the first kinds of epic poetry was Homer, who wrote the Iliad and Odyssey. He was called a ‘rhapsode’ during his days , an individual who paired improvised performances with musical instruments. It is believed that Terpander developed lyric poetry, which incorporated the use of a lyre. An epigram was associated with funerals, which evolved into love poetry called elegies.