Ancient Greek Wedding Ceremony

Eros, Himerus & Pothos, gods of love & desire | Greek vase, Athenian red figure stamnos

For my short story, The Celestial Goddess of Magic, I have been doing research on ancient Greek wedding ceremonies, and have been using Sappho’s fragments of Epithalamions (wedding hymns) to set the atmosphere and place of the story. Sappho chants numerous times to the god of weddings, Hymenaios, or Hymen for short. He is also referenced in Euripides, Trojan Women, Aristophanes, Birds and Peace, Apollonius of Rhodes’ The Argonautica, and some others.

He was a member amongst the Erotes, the youthful gods of love.

  • Anteros – the god of mutual love, or love returned. He was sometimes also the god who avenged unrequited love.
  • Eros – the ancient god of love and the agent of natural procreation. He was the eldest of the Erotes, born at the creation of the universe. He was also the most mischievous of the Erotes, who randomly shot out love-inducing darts from his golden arrow.
  • Hedylogos – the god of sweet-talk and flattery.
  • Hermaphroditos – the hermaphroditic god. He was once a handsome winged youth, like the other Erotes, but his form was merged with that of the Nymphe Salmakis in anser to her prayers that the two should never be apart.
  • Himeros – the god of sexual desire who accompanied Aphrodite from the moment of her birth.
  • Pothos – the god of passionate longing.

Because Hymenaios was one of the gods of song, he was usually described as a son of Apollo and a Muse. He appears in Greek art as a winged child carrying a bridal torch in his hand.

To hear an interpretation of Sappho’s fragment 111 taken from the collection of recreated Greek music made by Petros Tabouri go to:

It’s definitely worth a listen to, sets the atmosphere of the wedding ceremony and procession.

Ancient Greek Weddings lasted 3 days:

  • The Proaulia – pre-ceremony, bride has a feast at her father’s house with her mother and female relatives, and friends preparing for her wedding.
  • The Gamos – the wedding day with a series of ceremonies surrounding the transfer of the bride from her father’s house to that of her new husband.
  • The Epaulia – similar to a bridal groom or shower – bride and groom received most of their gifts preparing them for their journey as husband and wife
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