On the Roman Marriage of
Spurius Coruncanius Lactucus
By Michael Huang, Manuj Shah. See Suetonia's(the bride's) story at Manuj's (mshah99) tackk!
II Nones of Maius
Today my father told me of the plans for my marriage to a young girl, of 15 years. He took me to see her today, and I was displeased by her appearance and manner. It's obvious that her father only wants to be on good terms with our family because of the upcoming election, of which her father would be participating in. Of course I tried convincing my father to stop the marriage, but he is determined to carry it through. He says the marriage will give our family lots of wealth, as well as good favor with the emperor. It look’s like I'll have to endure the rest of my life with this woman.
Calends of Iunius
Today my father and I went to the forum to buy engagement gifts for the bride. We(rather, my father) spent some time walking through the stalls looking for a good gift. Eventually, after a few hours, we settled on an expensive silver ring. I thought it was a waste of money, but my father insisted. When we got back, we received a formal spondeo(engagement promise) from a nuntius(messenger) sent by my brides’s family. I was about to take the opportunity to send a repudium renuntiare (to send a rejection), but my father cut me off and sent the messenger back.
VI Calends of Quintilis
The day before the wedding, my family organized a pre-wedding party with my friends. Although tomorrow's grim consequences hung over me, I still enjoyed drinking the finest Flavian wine and chatting about the gossip of the day.
V Calends of Quintilis, septima hora
After I awoke, a couple of the family slaves dressed my up in my best toga, and I donned a wreath made of flowers and sacred plants. Dreading what was before me, I walked through the streets to Suetonia's house.
V Calends of Quintilis, undecima hora
The Confarreatio was so tedious. Everything was extremely rigid and formal, so I already knew what was coming. First, Suetonia and I stood before the preist, and she recited "Quando tu Gaius, ego Gaia." (When-and where-you are Gaius, I then-and there-am Gaia.). After that, we sat before the alter as the priest offered a part of the weding cake to Jupiter. I presented my ring gift to Suetonia, who seemed delighted. When we got our turn to eat the cake, I was surprised how dry and flavorless the cake was. Surely Jupiter was not that pleased! During the dinner party, we watched acrobats and participated in a small ceremonial skit in which I symbolically tore the bride away from her mother's arms.
The people who came were all just there to win the favor of my father. Among them, I met my bride’s family. Like my father, Suetonia's father was also in it for the benefits of the marriage. He just wanted our family's support and influence in the election. Because I didn't want to be married, I kept all conversations with them short, and exchanged few pleasantries. After dinner, we lead a procession back to my house, where onlookers through nuts at us. At the doorway of my house, Suetonia dropped a coin for the god of crossroads, gave me another as a symbol of her dowry, and offered our lares a third gold coin. She bound the doorposts with wool(to signify her future work as the mistress of her house), and annoited our doorway with oil and fat(symbols of plenty), while I threw out sweetmeat, sesame cakes, and nuts to the guests. Finally, to complete the ceremony, Suetonia blew the torch out, and tossed it towards the guests, who scrambled for it...