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Inside the Ancient Greek Family I

In ancient times, there were various aspects of the Greek family, including marriage and divorce traditions that differ from today. In this article, you will encounter information on wedding rituals, family dynamics, and the ways of a woman in ancient Greek days.

When it came to marriage, the class, status and bank account of a family played an important role. Girls who came from wealthy families typically got married at a younger age, while girls from poorer families waited until they were older to tie the knot. Since the girls were so young, they were paired with the men they were to marry. The decision regarding their husband was left to their fathers, but their uncles or brothers could also play a part in choosing a companion. It was not uncommon for a young girl to see her husband for the first time on the day of her wedding.
Men were usually between 25 and 30 years old when they got married, but the women were typically much younger , 12 and 16 years of age.

The elaborate wedding ceremonies that you see today did not exist during ancient Greek times. The parents arranged the marriages and a party followed the actual act. The parents of the girl paid her husband a dowry. Once married, the girl moved into the man’s house. If two citizens were married and the girl lived in her husband’s house, it was considered a legal marriage. If she moved out of the house they shared together, this act was considered a divorce in ancient Greek eyes.

Because marriages were arranged in ancient Greek days, unions were not based upon emotions. A marriage was based upon managing property and producing future heirs.

Once a woman was married, she was expected to give birth to legitimate children and oversee the chores of the household. In Athens, married women were expected to stay inside the home. This is because women who roamed the streets were considered prostitutes, slaves, or poor.
A “good wife” in the Athenians eyes took care of the children, spinned, and weaved. They believed that a woman should be quiet and keep to herself.  

Not all women living during ancient Greek times had to stay at home all day. In Sparta, the majority of men spent their days tending to their military duties. Because of this, the husbands, fathers and brothers of Spartan women were gone all day. They enjoy greater freedom than other cultures in ancient Greece.

Spartan women could also inherit and own property , something that Athenian women did not have the pleasure of enjoying. Spartan women could inherit the same things as their brothers. No law existed that forbade them owning property. Records show that the women in Sparta owned more than one-third of the land in the city-state.