Matrimonial market in Antiquity

Matrimonial market in Antiquity

Imagine a market where young women are sold to men seeking a wife. No, do not precipitate yourself... such a thing no longer exists! But think of a physical market with a presentation stand and auctioneer, similar to the animal markets. Offers, discounts, sales! Quite cynical and primitive, isn’t it? And yet, if we fully update these elements, you will find that there are still modern forms of this kind of matrimonial “commerce”, consciously assumed, even sought assiduously in virtual environments, through which single individuals seek their “soul mate”. So the moral excuse would be “consciously assumed”. Good to know that!

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the existence of such ancient trade festivals in his famous Histories. According to his notes, once a year, in each major city, a bridal auction took place. Many attractive women, eligible for marriage, gathered in one place in front of groups of men who were looking to find their pair. One by one, women were sold in decreasing order of bids. The richest men were struggling to bid for the exceptional “exhibits”, whereas the poor, unable to pay the “price of the market” for what they would have liked, had to be content with “discounts”.