THE DOWRY IN ANCIENT ROME

April 2, 2019

 

A dowry, or dos as the Romans called it, was the custom for most marriages. The Roman version probably began out of a desire to get the bride’s family to contribute a share of the costs involved in setting up a new household. And so, the bride’s father was expected to provide his daughter with a dowry appropriate to his means.

   

The dowry comes to be an issue on several occasions in the Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series. For example, in THE DEADLIEST LIE, Miriam’s mother came from a family that had once owned and operated a fleet of freighters in the eastern Mediterranean. They’d been wealthy but had lost too many ships to storms in the Aegean and piracy along the Anatolian coast to meet their expenses. Consequently, they offered her father’s family a meager dowry: some Alexandrian pearls, clothing, and cash but no landed properties. And so, the match was initially rejected.

     

The dowry, however, becomes a more serious problem for Miriam. Her father would not even permit Judah, the love of her life, in their home. He was a bastard, the illegitimate son of Ruth, who was orphaned when her parents were crushed by an overloaded oxcart. And so, without a dowry, Judah’s mother could not marry his father. In later books, we see how the custom of having to provide a dowry encouraged other parents even to abandon their female infants.

   

The books in the Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series can be read in any order, but if you want to start with the first book, begin with THE DEADLIEST LIE. Click here to watch the book trailer.

 

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