Marriage and Customs of Roman Women

Marriage in Roman times began as a sacred institution. Divorce was unknown. Patricians married only patricians, and they were married in the stately form of marriage called confarreatio (the only legal form of marriage at the time). The patrician took his bride from her father’s family into his own, with the direct consent of the gods (revealed by the auspices), in the presence of representatives of his gens. In this form, the wife passed in manum viri (under her husband’s authority) and her husband would also become, in a way, her master. The ceremony involved the joining of hands of the bride and groom by the pronuba (a matron who had been married only once and was still living with there husband) in front of ten witnesses, representing the ten clans of the curia, an old patrician division of the people. The term confarriato came from the cake of far (spelt, an old variety of wheat), which was dedicated to Jupiter by the high priest and the priest of Jupiter.

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