Married Life in Greco-Roman Antiquity  book cover
1st Edition

Married Life in Greco-Roman Antiquity

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 30, 2021
ISBN 9780367345044
November 30, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
264 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Beyond the institution of marriage, its norms, and rules, what was life like for married couples in Greco-Roman antiquity? This volume explores a huge range of sources over seven centuries to uncover possible answers to this question.

On tombstones, curse or oracular tablets, in contracts, petitions, letters, treatises, biographies, novels, and poems, throughout Egypt, Greece, and Rome, 107 couples express themselves or are given life by their contemporaries, and share their experiences of, and views on, marital relationships and their practical and emotional consequences. Renowned scholars and the next generation of experts explore seven centuries of source material to uncover the dynamics of the married life of metropolitan and provincial, famous and unknown, young and old couples. Men’s and women’s hopes, fears, traumas, prides, endeavours, and needs are analysed, and reveal an array of interactions and behaviour that enlighten us on gender roles, social expectations, and intimate dealings in antiquity. Known texts are revisited, new evidence is put forward, and novel interpretations and concepts are offered which highlight local and chronological specificities as well as transhistorical commonalities. The analysis of married life in Greco-Roman antiquity reveals the fundamental yearning to be included and loved, and how the tensions created by the sometimes contradictory demands of traditional ideals and individual realities can be resolved, furthering our knowledge of social and cultural mechanisms.

Married Life in Greco-Roman Antiquity will provide valuable resources of interest to scholars and students of classical studies as well as social history, gender studies, family history, the history of emotions, and microhistory.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of contributors


1. Life within an ancient knot: the extraordinary within the confines of the ordinary

Claude-Emmanuelle Centlivres Challet

2. Mind the gap: evidence (?) for non-elite couples in the Hellenistic period

Bonnie MacLachlan

3. From ideal to reality: married couples on Hellenistic inscribed grave epigrams

Charlotte Golay

4. Vilicus and Vilica in the De Agri Cultura: the elder Cato's script for a farming couple

Judith P. Hallett

5. Literary models and social challenges: marital love according to Ovid in the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto

Jacqueline Fabre-Serris

6. ‘For better or for worse’: conjugal relationships of writers and intellectuals

under the challenges of the Empire

Ida Gilda Mastrorosa

7. Worth her weight: worthy women, coupling and eating in Petronius’ Satyrica

Karen E. Klaiber Hersch

8. Reading Plutarch’s Marriage Precepts

David Konstan

9. Looking ordinary: ideals and ideologies in the iconography of married couples in Roman society

Mary Harlow and Lena Larsson Lovén

10. Material aspects of marriage: economic transactions between spouses in Roman Egypt

Marianna Thoma

11. ‘For I have no other sun but you’: emotions and married life in Greek papyri

Maryline Parca


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Claude-Emmanuelle Centlivres Challet is Scientific Collaborator at the Institut d’Archéologie et des Sciences de l’Antiquité at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Her research interests and publications include genders and couple relationships (Like Man, Like Woman: Roman Women, Gender Qualities and Conjugal Relationships at the Turn of the First Century, 2013), family, sexuality, breastfeeding, breast pumps, infant feeding, Pliny the Younger, and Juvenal. Her next book explores gender pressure in Roman times.