Greek Women: Marriage and Divorce

Detail of pillar from the Acropolis

Most young Greek women would be married at about the age of fourteen to a man roughly twice their age. Prior to the marriage ceremony the couple would probably have met only a few times, and while the bride would normally be a virgin, the husband almost certainly was not.

Whether the couple found each other attractive was only of secondary importance, and the young bride would have been selected mainly for her dowry (the payment her father would give her husband), her fertility, and her skills at such things as weaving. Despite this, the marriage ceremony was itself rather romantic and would be sealed when the husband lifted his bride's veil and stared into her eyes.

Once married a respectable Greek wife would be confined primarily to the household since even shopping was a husband's job. Her opportunities for socializing were therefore quite restricted, though wives might meet their friends at the local water fountain, during major festivals, and for the performance of cult ceremonies.

Divorce was not uncommon and had little of the stigma that later Christian civilization would attach to it, and women could, and frequently did, remarry.