BRIDES IN ANCIENT ROME
Weddings occur in the course of the Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series; the first is referenced in THE DEADLIEST SPORT. Miriam was likely present, but she does not record the event for us. Still you may want some insight into the rituals and customs if only to see how some have persisted. To understand them, remember the bride was expected to be pure, dutiful, and obedient.
After the betrothal formalities, the Roman bride-to-be did not party. Instead she was pampered on the morning of the wedding. Her friends and family gathered at her parents’ home to attend to her. She would take a fragrant bath to wash away evil influences and leave her smelling wholesome.
Also on the morning of the event, the bride herself picked flowers from her parents’ garden to fashion a garland to hold her veil and hairstyle in place.
Using a spearhead as a symbol to expel any remaining evil spirits, the bride’s hair was divided into six locks, which were then curled and coiled on top of her head leaving a few tendrils to frame her face and neck.
Her veil symbolized submission to her husband. Scholars disagree as to the color, whether it was flame colored or yellow, and as to whether it covered her face during the ceremony to confuse the evil spirits.
Her dress was simple, as all clothing was then. She wore a white or off-white one-piece, loose tunic to cover her from head to foot. Her mother tied a girdle at her waist using the “knot of Hercules,” who was the Guardian of Married Life. Only the groom could undo it on their wedding night.
So, how many commonalities did you recognize? Did you recognize the reference to “tying the knot?” To find out who gets married, read THE DEADLIEST SPORT and THE DEADLIEST FEVER. For more on these books, click here.