Marriage and Courtship in Ancient Greece

by Leslie Soule, guest blogger and author of Fallenwood

So I got a wild itch the other day and it made me want to write a retelling of the Bellerophon myth – you know, the one where Prince Bellerophon slays a fierce monster called the chimera.

The chimera is supposed to have the body of a lion, a goat’s head that sprouts from its back, and a tail that is a serpent/dragon. This creature lives in a volcano and breathes fire. It’s the stuff that great adventure stories are made of.

But in the middle of researching the various versions of the myth itself, I hit a snag. At one point, Prince Bellerophon resists the temptations of the (presumably beautiful) Queen Anteiea. Besides that she is someone else’s wife, we are not given a reason as to why Bellerophon rejects her advances.

I wondered if maybe Bellerophon had a wife – and then I realized that I knew very little about what ancient Greek marriages would have been like. A bit of research was clearly in order.

According to Cyril Edward Robinson’s book Everyday Life In Ancient Greece, “[…] When the two sexes saw so little of each other, love matches were out of the question; and the betrothal was arranged by the parents as a strictly business contract.” My reaction to this was, “Aw, man! I was SO hoping for some romance. Tell me that it isn’t just a notion invented by writers in order to keep the world going ’round! And yet I recalled reading about the love of Odysseus and his Penelope – its intensity despite twenty years of separation and longing.

As I read and thought a little further, I began to realize that ancient Greece was perhaps not so loveless after all. Robinson confirmed this by writing that, “There is much…to show that marriages begun as a business contract developed into a bond of lifelong and heart-felt devotion.”   So I ended up finding what I was looking for – a reason why Bellerophon would resist temptation. Long live romance!

Coming soon to Decadent Publishing…

Blurb: Fallenwood is the story of a girl named Ash who, running away after the death of her stepfather, finds her way to a strange and magical world. But the world she now finds herself in – a world that was once called Terra Illumina but now is known as “Fallenwood” – is a world threatening to tear itself apart. Magic is the life force of Fallenwood, and if it keeps being used up, everything will die. But magic is a weapon, and weapons are owned for the sake of power. Now Ash must find a way to destroy the Great Crystal – the catalyst through which all magic in Fallenwood is channelled – and meanwhile, the kingdoms are going to war. Can she save Fallenwood before it’s too late?

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  1. Oh, Fallenwood sounds really good! 🙂

  2. Leslie Soule


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