Today is Valentine’s Day, a holiday centered on celebrating love and romance. The notion that love forms the core of romantic relationships and marriages is a rather modern concept. Indeed, throughout much of history love in many cultures had very little to do with marriage.
Marriage in ancient Greece and Rome, particularly among the upper classes, was a contractual arrangement engineered by fathers or male relatives of different families. Such betrothal agreements were primarily political and/or financial in nature, and the resulting marriages were chiefly concerned with dowries and the procreation of legitimate children to continue a family line. Lacking in love or not, the Greeks’ and Romans’ celebration of marriage was still marked by particular customs. Some of their marital traditions form the roots of modern practices today. For instance, while the Romans might not have gifted diamonds and other “bling” as frequently as suitors do now, an intending husband did solemnize his engagement with a kiss and an iron ring (anulus pronubus) placed on the third finger of his partner’s left hand.
Test your knowledge with this quiz below to see how much you know about Greek and Roman marriage customs, and perhaps learn a few new facts!
Quiz background image credit: “Roman marriage vows,” by Ad Meskens. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Featured image credit: “Wedding preparation,” by Shakko. CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.