Marriage in ancient Greece had less of a basis in personal relationships and more in social responsibility. The goal and focus of all marriages was intended to be reproduction, making marriage an issue of public interest. Marriages were usually arranged by the parents; on occasion professional matchmakers were used. Each city was politically independent and each had its own laws concerning marriage. For the marriage to be legal, the woman's father or guardian gave permission to a suitable male who could afford to marry. Orphaned daughters were usually married to uncles or cousins.
Women in Classical Athens
Rape and infidelity: threats to the athenian Πόλις and Οίκος
Marriage traditions in ancient Greece differed depending on the city-state, and majority of the sources are about the upper classes. Love, sex, and marriage in ancient Greece are portrayed in Greek literature as distinct, yet closely intertwined, elements of life. For many upper-class men, marriages did not take place for love, and other relationships, be it with men or other women, took on this role. Due to this, a lot of the literature discussing love is about the relationships men had outside marriage, often pederastic relationships. For women, marriage was a social and financial decision made by their father and, particularly in classical Athens, women were expected to stay indoors so as to avoid any accusations of infidelity. Marriage traditions in ancient Greece differed depending on the city-state, and majority of the sources, both literary and material, are about the upper classes.
Marriage in ancient Greece
The study of the lives of women in Classical Athens has been a significant part of classical scholarship since the s. The knowledge of Athenian women's lives comes from a variety of ancient sources. Much of it is literary evidence, primarily from tragedy , comedy , and oratory; supplemented with archaeological sources such as epigraphy and pottery. All of these sources were created by—and mostly for—men: there is no surviving ancient testimony by Classical Athenian women on their own lives.
James Robson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. A new exhibition at the British Museum promises to lift the lid on what beauty meant for the ancient Greeks. But while we gaze at the serene marble statues on display — straining male torsos and soft female flesh — are we seeing what the ancients saw?