How Did You Propose in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, marriage was considered a sacred bond between two individuals and proposing marriage was a significant event. The customs and rituals surrounding proposals varied across different regions of Greece and were influenced by the prevailing social norms and traditions of the time.

Marriage in Ancient Greece

Marriage in ancient Greece was arranged by families and was primarily seen as a means to create alliances, strengthen social ties, and ensure the continuation of the family line. Love and personal choice played a lesser role compared to these practical considerations.

Proposing marriage marked the beginning of this process, where the suitor expressed his intention to marry the woman he desired. Let’s explore some common ways in which proposals were made during that time:

1. Traditional Arrangement

In many cases, marriages were arranged by the families involved. The suitor would express his interest in marrying a particular woman to her father or male guardian. If the father approved, negotiations would begin regarding dowry, financial arrangements, and wedding preparations.

2. Courtship

Courtship played an important role in ancient Greek proposals. Suitors often courted their potential brides through various acts of kindness, such as bringing gifts or assisting with household tasks. This period allowed both parties to get to know each other better before formalizing their commitment.

The Role of Oracles

In some cases, suitors sought guidance from oracles or priests before proposing marriage. Oracles were highly respected individuals who were believed to possess divine knowledge and could provide insight into matters of love and relationships.

Suitors would visit an oracle temple and present their offerings while seeking advice on whether their proposed union would be favorable or not. The oracle’s response influenced the decision of both parties involved.

Symbolic Gestures

Ancient Greeks loved symbolism, and proposals were no exception. Suitors often used symbolic gestures to convey their intentions and feelings towards their potential brides.

One such gesture involved presenting the woman with a piece of fruit, usually an apple or a pomegranate. By accepting the fruit, the woman indicated her acceptance of the proposal. This act symbolized her willingness to bear children and contribute to the continuation of the family line.


In ancient Greece, proposing marriage involved a combination of traditional arrangements, courtship, and symbolic gestures. It was an important step towards forming a lifelong partnership and ensuring the stability and prosperity of both families involved.

While methods may have varied across regions and social classes, the underlying principle remained the same – marriage was not solely based on personal choice but rather on considerations of family, society, and tradition.