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form the religious worship of the family, was due not only to the gods, but to the Manes of the departed. Such were his highest motives for entering into the married life. In addition to these, there would naturally be others of an economical character, such as the desire to provide himself with a prudent and trusty housekeeper, to form a good connexion, or to obtain a valuable dowry. In regard to the last point, it was deemed most eligible to espouse a woman of equal fortune and condition. Such a one was less likely to give herself airs, or dispute her husband's supremacy.
A maiden was seldom, if ever, consulted about the choice of her husband. The whole thing was managed by the relations. Plato deplored this, and thought that the young people ought to have an opportunity of seeing each other. But what could be expected in such a state of society? We read of match-makers, πроμvýστρial Οι προμνηστρίδες, who made it their business to effect matrimonial alliances between their neighbours; though it would seem, they were not in very good repute.
We will now consider marriage in its legal aspects.
It was essential to a strictly legal marriage at Athens, that both parties should be citizen-born. The laws of Solon did not prohibit a citizen marrying a foreigner, and some eminent men in early times, as Cimon and Themistocles, were the sons of foreign mothers; but, as the Athenians became a powerful people, they grew jealous of foreign intermixture, and Pericles passed a law, by which such a marriage was declared illegal, and children by it were deprived of the civic franchise. He himself had a son by Aspasia, in whose favour he procured a special decree of the people, to exempt him from the operation of this law. The violation of it subjected the parties to an indictment, as we have already seen. (Vol. III. Appendix VIII. p. 345.) The speech against Neæra furnishes an example of such a proceeding. The prosecutor accuses Stephanus of having lived in wedlock with Neæra, who was a slave and woman of infamous character, and of passing off her children as his own legitimate issue. Stephanus denies the charge, and says that he kept Neæra only as a mistress, and his children were not by her. This speech, though denied by critics to have been the genuine production of Demosthenes, to whom it is attributed, is undoubtedly a genuine Attic production, and full of instructive information upon the present subject.
We must observe the distinction between a legitimate child, yvotos, and a free-born, λevlepos. A man might live with a concubine, and declare the children that he had by her to be free. (See the law cited in the oration against Aristocrates, Vol. III. p. 184.) Such children, though free, would not have heritable rights, and, if the mother were not an Athenian, they would by the law of Pericles be deprived of the civic franchise.
To make a legal marriage, it was further necessary, that the bride should be affianced, or given away, by her guardian (kúptos,) whoever
that was, i.e. her father, her brother, her paternal grandfather, or other nearest relation. (See the law cited by Demosthenes in the speech against Stephanus, page 1134.) Such regular espousals were necessary to give the rights of legitimacy to the children. Cohabitation without espousals was regarded as mere concubinage.
The contract itself was made not (as with us) between the man and his intended wife, but between him and her guardian. Women were incapable of entering into a contract, and therefore (whatever their age) they were required to be given away by the persons, to whom they were subject in law. (See Meier and Schömann, Att. Proc. p. 409.)
A husband might direct by will, that his widow should marry this or that person. So the father of Demosthenes gave his widow to Aphobus, Pasion gave his to Phormio, and the practice seems to have been common. (See ante, pp. 94, 211.) It is somewhat doubtful whether such a testamentary direction was compulsory on the widow; but at all events it superseded the necessity of further espousals.
It would have been odd if Athenian nuptials (like those every where else) had not been attended with various ceremonials. There was the sacrifice to the tutelar gods of marriage, the bath taken by the bride and bridegroom in the sacred fountain Callirrhoe, and of course there was the wedding day, with its bridal dresses and garlands, its cakes and sweetmeats, &c., &c. Nor must we forget, that the ladies were allowed to be present on this special occasion. To return however to the legal part of the matter-it appears that no ceremony was actually necessary to bind the contract; the parties might proceed to live together immediately; but it was customary to give a marriage feast on the occasion, and to invite the friends and relations, partly in compliance with religious feeling, and partly to give public notoriety to the wedding, and preserve testimony to its legality. (See what Demosthenes says, ante, p. 140.)
If a woman had no property of her own by inheritance, (and she could have none, if she had a brother,) a marriage portion was usually given to her by the next of kin, by whom she was betrothed. To be married without a portion, if the relations had the means of giving one, was a disgrace either to her or to them, and might cause a doubt to be raised as to the nature of the connexion. The Athenians were liberal in these matters, and many a person would advance money out of his own purse, rather than suffer a friend's daughter to marry portionless. (See ante, p. 110, and Volume II. p. 99.)
The money thus given to a woman upon her marriage was paid to her husband, but was intended as a provision for her, and was usually secured to her by a mortgage of the husband's real estate, or (if he had no real estate) of his personal. The husband had the use and sole management of his wife's property, while they lived together; (1) Tporéλela yauwv. As to this, and as to the whole subject of the nuptial solemnities, I refer the reader to the Charicles, Translation, p. 482, &c.
but, on a separation, he was bound to restore it to her guardian, and to pay eighteen per cent. interest, so long as he kept it in his own hands. The interest so paid was called alimony or maintenance, as being the interest of that fund out of which the woman had a right to be maintained. The next of kin, to whom the money was restored, became the legal owner thereof, but was bound in honour to apply it to the woman's benefit, and to give it to her again upon a subsequent marriage. Such was the custom of the country; and custom had the force of an obligation.
After the death of the husband, if the wife had no son by him, she returned to the guardianship of her next of kin; if she had a son, the choice was given her, either to stay with him and live under his protection, or to return to her original family. In case she stayed with her son, he became her guardian and the owner of her property, (that is,) if he was of full age; if he was a minor, his guardian of course acted for him.
If the wife died before the husband, her property returned to her next of kin, unless she had children, in which case they took it according to the rules of inheritance.
Thus might property be settled upon a wife at Athens not very differently from the way that it is with us. The various points of law the reader has seen illustrated in the cases of Aphobus, Onetor, Bootus, and Spudias. The settlements, as we might expect, were not always made in the simple form that I have supposed. For example, in the case of Spudias, the plaintiff says that his wife's fortune was not all paid down to him at the marriage, but one fourth of it was agreed to be paid after her father's death, and it was secured by the mortgage of a house. Demosthenes asserts that the marriage portion of Onetor's sister was not paid down to Aphobus, but it was arranged that the principal should remain in the hands of her former husband, Timocrates, who was to pay Aphobus ten per cent. while he retained it.
That wedding presents, (such as clothes, jewellery, &c.) were sometimes given in addition to the settlement, and so as not to form a part of it; and on the other hand, that such things might be given in lieu of money, and taken into account in making up the dowry, if the parties chose so to agree, as seems to have been the case upon the marriage of Spudias; these are points that may deserve a brief notice, as they have given rise to some discussion. The amount of these wedding presents, (the pépin, or bride's trousseau, as we might call it,) was limited, as Plutarch tells us, by the sumptuary law of Solon. (See the Charicles, Transl. page 481; and the Attic Process, page 415.)
Hitherto I have been speaking of the marriage of girls who did not
(1) The action to recover this was called din σitov. That to recover the principal was called din TроIKós. Such actions would of course only be brought by the κύριος.
inherit their father's estate, which a girl could not do, if she had a brother; for the estate went to him, and she was only entitled (by the custom of the country) to a suitable dowry, that is, one corresponding to her father's or brother's position and means, and such as would do credit to their liberality. A girl however, who had no brother, stood upon a different footing. She inherited the patrimony, and was called an heiress,1 whether the estate were great or small, or even if there were no estate; for she was still the representative of the family, succeeding to its traditions and religious usages. The regulations of the Athenian law with respect to heiresses were peculiar, and arose from the care of the legislator, that all civic families, with their traditions and usages, should be perpetuated.
It was the business of the archon to see that an heiress was duly married. The next of kin, not in the ascending line, had a right to claim her hand, and, if there was any dispute as to the right, the archon held a court for its decision. So far from having power to choose a husband, the heiress was considered as little better than a part of the estate, and was taken with it as a sort of incumbrance. The father however could not disinherit his daughter; for, if he devised his property, the devisee was obliged to marry her. And, as the girl was deemed an heiress in law, whether she had an estate left her or not, if she became by succession the representative of the family, the next of kin was bound, either to take her for a wife, or to give her a portion corresponding to his rank. This was but fair. It was his privilege to marry a rich heiress; his duty to provide for a poor one. And thus the object of the Athenian law, that no civic family should become extinct, was accomplished.
If there was but one daughter, she was the sole heiress; if there were more, they inherited equally, like our co-parceners, and were severally married to relatives, the nearest having the first choice.
The husband of an heiress took her property until she had a son of full age, who was usually adopted into his maternal grandfather's family, and took possession of the estate. He then became his mother's legal protector or guardian, and was bound to maintain her.
It appears by these regulations concerning heiresses, that consanguinity was no bar to a matrimonial union at Athens. Uncles frequently married their nieces; and even brother and sister were allowed to marry, provided they were not by the same mother. Such a union however was not sanctioned by public opinion; and marriage was only allowed in the collateral branches. (See the Attic Process, 406. Charicles, Transl. 477.)
I have lastly to speak on the subject of divorce.
In case of adultery committed by the wife, we have already seen, that the husband was compelled by law to dismiss her, and that she
(1) She was called érikλnpos. The girl who received a dowry only was called ἐπίπροικος, the portioned, or endowed. See the Archæological Dictionary, titles Dos Epiclerus.
was subjected to infamy and severe punishment. (See Volume III. Appendix VIII. page 348.)
In other cases, there is a doubt whether the husband had an unlimited power of dismissing his wife, or whether some cause must not have been assigned. Becker inclines to the latter view, which is in some degree favoured by the mention of an Attic form of action for unjust dismissal. Such an action however may have related rather to the method of proceeding adopted by the husband, than to the causes of divorce. For example, we may presume that he could not get rid of his wife by turning her out of doors, but was obliged to take or send her back to the house of her legal protector, with her clothes and paraphernalia, and in a decent and proper way. Beyond this indeed very little ceremony seems to have been necessary. The main thing which the wife's friends required was, that her portion should be returned with her. Meier observes, that the practice of divorcing, (so frightfully common at Athens in later times) was unknown to the Greeks of the heroic age. Besides the various motives, which naturally incline men to seek a new connexion or break off the old, the Athenian law created artificial causes of divorce. The heiress became the property of the next of kin. He, or she, or both of them, might be married at the time when the inheritance devolved upon her. In such a case the man was tempted to put away his wife, the woman might be obliged to leave her husband.
If a woman desired to obtain a divorce, and could not get her husband's consent, she went in person to the archon, and stated in writing the grounds of her application. Her right to a separation would depend on the treatment she received. Of the nature of this proceeding we know but little. It was the general duty of the archon to protect the interests of married women, and to take cognizance of all complaints against the husband for ill usage, for refusal to pay alimony to his wife, or to return her portion. He also kept a register of all divorces, whether made by consent or otherwise.
A mad freak is recorded of Alcibiades; that having by his ill treatment forced his wife Hipparete (daughter of Hipponicus) to leave his house and sue for a divorce, he seized her in the archon's presence, and dragged her home.
(1) δίκη ἀποπέμψεως.
(2) Einer für christliche Begriffe schrecklichen Gewohneit. (Attic Process, 413.)