In proof of the barbaric simplicity of ancient Greek custom, Aristotle instances the facts that they went armed and bought their wives (Pol. 2.8.19=p. 1268 b, 39). The presents made to the bride's father, or, to speak plainly, the price paid for her, was called ἕδνα or ἔεδνα: according to the generally accepted etymology of Curtius, who refers it to the root ἁδ (ςϜαδ) found in ἁνδάνω, ἡδύς, suavis, this would mean literally a douceur or
sweetener. This was, no doubt, originally a compensation for the loss of the daughter as a domestic servant; and the English law still recognises, in cases of seduction, an action by the father for
loss of service. As Grote has pointed out, the customs of the early Jews were in this respect completely Homeric (Gen. 34.12; Ex. 22.16, &c.); but among the ancient Germans they were modified; the husband gave presents, not to his wife's father, but to herself (Tac. Germ. 18). Grote further shows, in an excellent note, the exact correspondence between the old Greek ἕδνα and the mundium of the Lombard and Alemannic laws; a term found also in the laws of England under Ethelbert, of Denmark, and of Sweden (pt. i., ch. 20, 1.475 n.). This custom of the heroic times is illustrated by many passages in Homer: the bridegroom gives ἀπερείσια ἕδνα (Il. 16.178; Od. 19.529); μυρία ἕδνα (Il. 16.190, 22.472; Od. 11.282). The amount is reckoned in oxen and other cattle (Il. 11.243), whence παρθένοι ἀλφεσίβοιαι of girls whose attractions command a high price in the matrimonial market (Il. 18.593; H. Ven. 119). On the other hand, to grant a daughter without ἕδνα was a high compliment to the intended son-in-law; Agamemnon offers it to Achilles (Il. 9.141 ff.), Alcinous to Ulysses (Od. 7.311 ff.). Sometimes the ἕδνα appear to come from the bride's family (Od. 1.277; repeated 2.196); these must be either really a marriage portion, the Homeric δῶρα, later φερνή (Nitzsch, ad loc.; L. and S. s. v.; Schömann, Antiq. 1.49, E. T.), or more probably
the ἕδνα were applied by the bride's friends, wholly or in part, to furnish her outfit and provide the wedding feast; and thus they were, so far at least, indirectly returned to the bridegroom's side (Merry and Riddell, ad loc.). In two other passages, however, referred to by the same editors and by Schömann (l. c.), ἕδνα may very well bear the usual sense: ὡς κ' αὐτὸς ἐεδνώσαιτο θύγατρα (Od. 2.53) may mean simply
that he may give his daughter in marriage (in exchange for ἕδνα); and ἐεδνωταὶ κακοὶ (Il. 13.382) may be
drivers of hard bargains (cf. συνώμεθα,
agree, in the preceding line), not
niggardly in giving back the ἕδνα.
We must hold with Aristotle that in the heroic age the purchase of wives was a reality, not, as Schömann thinks, a mere ceremonial survival. It does not follow that it was not usual for the family to give a woman a portion when she married; especially in the richer, i. e. mostly the royal and noble, classes. Andromache and Penelope are spoken of as ἄλοχοι πολύδωροι (Il. 6.394; Od. 24.294), or wives who brought many gifts to their husbands; other relatives and friends no doubt contributing presents in addition to the bride's portion from her father. These are called by the general name of δῶρα or gifts: there is no sufficient proof that the dowry so bestowed was also described by the same name of ἕδνα, as Schömann maintains; and the terms φερνὴ and προὶξ are undoubtedly post-Homeric. The μείλια offered by Agamemnon to Achilles are not specially
wedding presents, as often incorrectly explained (Hesych. s. v. ἕδνα, and many moderns); but, as the etymology implies,
soothing gifts, designed to propitiate the wrathful hero. If, on the death of the husband, the widow was not permitted by the heirs to remain in the house, the money she brought with her had to be refunded (Od. 2.132): On the other hand, it is reasonable to suppose that proved adultery on the part of the wife involved the return of the ἕδνα or purchase-money to her husband, though curiously enough the only authority for this is the mythical case of Hephaestos and Aphrodite (Od. 8.318). As was observed in ancient times, there is no direct mention of divorce in the Homeric poems.
At some time which cannot be determined, but which was undoubtedly earlier than the age of Solon, the dower in the modern sense arose, and the bride was portioned by her father or guardian (κύριος). In its origin this custom must have implied a return of the price paid; and conversely, during the period of transition from one system to the other, the father would doubtless regulate his demands with the view of indemnifying himself for the dowry to be expected when the marriage came off. Hence in lyric and tragic poetry we find ἕδνα used in the latter sense (Pind. O. 9.16; Eurip. Androm. 2, 153, 942). When Euripides (ZYYEur. Med. 236) makes Medea complain, among the disadvantages of her sex, that they had to purchase husbands with great sums of money (χρημάτων ὑπερβολῇ), the Scholiast points out the anachronism; the poet is transferring to the heroic age the practice of his own time.
The Doric term for a portion was δωτίνη, and Müller (Dor. 3.10) observes that we know for certain that daughters in Sparta had originally no dower, but were married with a gift of clothes only; afterwards they were at least provided with money and other personal property (Plut. Lys. 30). But in the time of Aristotle (Pol. 2.9.15=p. 1270, 23), so great were the dowers given and so large the number of ἐπίκληροι, or female representatives of families (οἶκοι), that nearly two-fifths of the whole territory of Sparta had come into the possession of females. At Athens the terms (φερνὴ and προὶξ were probably (according to K. F. Hermann and his editor Blümner) at first distinguished; φερνὴ being the outfit or trousseau and the wedding presents which the bride brought to her husband; προὶξ the sum in money or realty which her father
settled upon her (to use the modern expression), of which the husband had the usufruct, but for which, as we shall see, he had to give security. In aftertimes the words (φερνὴ and προὶξ were used indiscriminately; the Roman dos is usually rendered in Greek by (φερνή, whence parapherna, paraphernalia [ crossDOS Roman]. The statement in Plutarch (ZYYPlut. Sol. 20) that the Athenian legislator did not allow a woman, unless she were an ἐπίκληρος, to have any (φερνὴ or dower except a few clothes and articles of furniture, must therefore be understood in the earlier sense of (φερνή, not as excluding any settlement of money upon her; though Plutarch no doubt took it in the later sense, and attributed to Athenian institutions a more Spartan simplicity than really belonged to them. In the orators we find that the dowers of women formed a considerable part of the taxable capital of the state (Boeckh, P. E. p. 514=Sthh.
3 1.598); even with poor people they varied from ten to a hundred and twenty minae, and Isaeus says that no decent man would give his legitimate daughter less than a tenth of his property (Or. 3 [Pyrrh.], § 51). Hipparete, as the daughter of Hipponicus the richest man in Athens, brought Alcibiades ten talents on her marriage, with the promise of ten more on the birth of a child. Yet, according to Demosthenes, even five talents were more than was usually given even by wealthy men (c. Steph. 1. p. 1112.35; p. 1124.74). Dowries of five or ten talents in Lucian (Dial. Meretr. 7, p. 298, Reitz) and the comic poets must be ascribed, as Boeckh puts it, to the liberal donations of comedy. The daughters of Aristides received from the state, as a portion, only thirty minae each (Plut. Arist. 27 ; Aeschin. c. Ctes. § 258). We may observe, too, that a dowry was thought necessary to mark the distinction between a wife and a παλλακή: hence, persons who took portionless girls appear to have given their guardians a ὁμολογία προικός (Isae. l. c. § 35), or acknowledgment in writing by which the receipt of a portion was admitted, in proof of the legitimacy of the marriage. Compare the proverb νύμφη δ'ἄπροικος οὐκ ἔχει παρρησίαν (Menand. Monost. 371, Meineke). On gifts to παλλακαὶ themselves, see [ERROR: no link cross:]CONCUBINA (Greek). Moreover, poor heiresses (τῶν ἐπικλήρων ὅσαι θητικὸν τελοῦσιν were either married or portioned by their next of kin, according to a law which fixed the amount of portion to be given at five minae by a Pentacosiomedimnus, three by a Horseman, and one and a half by a Zeugites (Dem. c. Macart. p. 1068.54: cf. Ter. Phorm. 2.1, 75, 2.2, 62; EPICLEROS).
Some interesting light is afforded by inscriptions as to the practice in other less-known states. A long inscription of the Macedonian period recently discovered in Myconos gives a sort of marriage register of the island (Ἀθήναιον 2.235 ff. (1873); Hermes, 8.191 ff.; Bull. de Corr. hellén. 6.590). In one case we find that out of a dowry of 1300 drachmas 200 are to be in clothes (1. 4-7); in another, 300 εἰς ἐσθὴν (sic) out of 700 (50.17); in a third, 1000 drachmas equally divided between outfit and money; the highest figure given is 3500 and two female slaves (50.32). Another, from Tenos, is in the British Museum (printed in C. I. G. 2338). Land and houses form part of a dower in C. I. G. (add.) 2347 c; Ross, Inscr. Ined, p. 126; cf. Dittenberger in Hermes, 16.200 (1881). At Massilia in Strabo's time (4. p. 181) no higher dowry was allowed than 100 aurei in money, 5 in clothes and 5 in gold trinkets (Hermann-Blümner, Privatalterth. p. 262 f. ; Fränkel on Boeckh, n. 187).
The security exacted from the husband consisted generally of a piece of real property (ἔγγειος οὐσία), and was called ἀποτίμημα, the usual word for a mortgage (cf. L. and S. s. vv. ἀποτιμᾶν, ἀποτίμημα). Demosthenes, proceeding to levy execution on the house and lands of Aphobus, finds them mortgaged to Onetor, whose sister Aphobus had married and divorced, and who now, as her κύριος, holds them as security for her dowry: the young orator's case is, that mortgage and divorce are both fictitious, and that Aphobus and Onetor are really in collusion to keep him out of his estate (c. Onet. i. passim). The dowry would have to be accounted for in other cases besides those noticed under crossDIVORTIUM Thus, if a husband died, and the wife left the family (ἀπέλιπε τὸν οἶκον), she might claim her portion even though children had been born (Dem. c. Boeot. de Dot. p. 1010.6); and in the event of the wife dying without issue, her portion reverted to her κύριοι (Isae. Or. 8 [Ciron.], § 8; Or. 3 [Pyrrh.], § 36). After the death of the wife, her portion belonged to her children, if she had left any; and if they were minors, the interest was set apart for their education and maintenance (Dem. op. cit. p. 1023 § 50; p. 1026.59). When the husband died before the wife, and she remained in the family (μενούσης ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ), the law appears to have given her portion to her sons, if of age; subject, however, to an allowance for her support (Id. c. Phaenipp. p. 1047.27). The actions for dowry and alimony (προικὸς καὶ σίτου), discussed elsewhere as they affected the husband [ crossDIVORTIUM], lay also against the heirs (οἱ τὸν κλῆρον ἔχοντες) who wrongfully withheld her rights from the widow; and such actions would be brought by her guardians (Isae. Or. 3 [Pyrrh.] § 78; Hudtwalcker, Ueber die Diäteten, n. 84). We may add that a δίκη προικὸς was one of the ἔμμηνοι δίκαι or suits that might be tried every month (Pollux, 8.63, 101). Compare Schömann, Antiq. 1.516, E. T., and especially Att. Process, pp. 416-427 (=513-527 Lips.). [[ERROR: no link cross:]R.W] [[ERROR: no link cross:]W.W]
NA , A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (Trustees of Tufts University, Albemarle Street, London) [word count] [antiquities_dico5].