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Marriage appears to be for the creation of children. Wives should also look after the household. It is unclear whether the sources are descriptive (describing the actual state of affairs) or prescriptive (suggesting what SHOULD be). Sources such as theatre (especially comedy) suggest that wives enjoyed (or desired) greater freedoms and that this may have been a source of anxiety for men.

This is likely to have been driven for the need to procreate. So, when girls were deemed physically able to bear children, they were married off. Given the higher mortality rates in antiquity, these things needed to happen earlier rather than later. No thought was given to mental maturity Marriages were often arranged and were based on building family alliances or on money issues.

Partly it is because of the need for legitimate children (adultery always casts doubt on the parentage of children. Uncertain female pregnancy was deemed to be destabilising for the family line)

A dowry is a payment, such as property or money, paid by the bride’s family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage

It may be difficult to say for certain, and we may need to look at lots of examples to work this out. They may have been images designed to calm the fears of brides-to-be. They may be traditional images that were connected with marriage, or they may have been scenes showing actual activities. We need to be very careful with how we interpret images without explanatory texts or other things that may inform our viewing.

Socrates’ view is unlikely to have been typical, given his provocative views in other works that feature him as an interlocutor (true, the writers may not have been representing his real views, but nonetheless, his persona in these works is usually one that questions conventional thinking).


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