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Chapter XVI: Betrothal and Marriage

Chapter XVI: Betrothal and Marriage
Only one certain example of the ceremony of betrothal is known: it is in a tale recorded obviously on good authority by Plutarch.1

Kamma wife of Sinatos one of the most influential of the tetrarchs who ruled the three Gaulish tribes that had settled in Asia Minor and made their home in Galatia was a beautiful lady of kindly and excellent character; and she was much beloved by the subject peoples i.e. the conquered Phrygians who formed the bulk of the population of the tribal Galatia for the Gauls were a conquering tribe few of whom can have lived through the long journey and the constant wars with victories and defeats alternating from Gaul to Galatia. They were defeated in an attack on the high peak of Delphi when they attempted to establish themselves in Greece. They crossed into Asia fighting their way. They were defeated in several battles by the Pergamenian kings in the west of Asia Minor and were forced to concentrate in the northeastern part of Phrygia and the north-west of Cappadocia. Their three tribes remained separate but closely allied; only a remnant however of a great host survived to occupy their new country as disease and defeat and victory had all taken heavy toll. The Pergamenian kings forced them away from Pergamenian territory; and celebrated their victory in a great altar at Pergamos dedicated to Zeus richly adorned with sculpture which was excavated by the Germans and is now to be seen in a special museum at Berlin.

The Gauls gradually merged in the general population of the country and speedily adopted the native religion alongside of their own Gaulish deities whom they brought with them. An example of a purely Gaulish deity was found by J. G. C. Anderson.2
The Gauls had brought their own wives with them in their migration and both their march and their battles were encumbered by their families: women and especially children would suffer terribly in that long march and those battles and defeats. They constituted a weak point which had always to be defended and battles must have been waged round or in front of them.
The victors melted into the native population of Phrygia. They were swallowed up in Asia but as late as the fourth century A.D. Jerome mentions that they kept their language and that it resembled that of the Treviri in eastern Gaul. This fact proved that there was only a slow amalgamation of the Gauls and the natives. Doubtless they lived in separate villages and did not mix much. Their native names remained in use for centuries and spread beyond the actual bounds of the tribes. They are inscribed on the temple of Augustus at Ancyra in the first century A.D. and are recorded much later.
Even after the Gauls were settled in Galatia they renewed the war against Pergamos in 167 B.C. under a chief named Advertas and nearly succeeded in destroying the power of Eumenes allying themselves with Bithynia and even secretly supported by Rome; for the Romans did not desire to have too powerful a king in Asia Minor. The Romans had broken the might of the semi-Greek Seleucid kings of western Asia at Magnesia in 191 B.C.; and did not wish to have in their stead another powerful semi-Greek state in Asia Minor the Pergamenian against which a new war might call for Roman intervention and a Roman army in Asia.
Eumenes however triumphed over this coalition and a peace was concluded in 165 guaranteeing the freedom of Galatia which had been hard pressed and perhaps even conquered or held at least as a compulsory ally by Pharnaces king of Cappadocia from about 185 B.C. to 169 B.C.3
Sinorix or Synorix whose name ending with the frequent Gaulish element “rix” Latin “rex” (as in Gaisato-rix Dumnorix Bituriges etc.) marks him as a Gaul by race was one of the twelve tetrarchs or chiefs of the three Gaulish tribes. He fell in love with Kamma and treacherously murdered Sinatus and in wooing the widowed Kamma made a merit of having killed her former husband from love of her and not from ill-will against Sinatus. Sinorix was a man of great influence and her family urged her strongly to accept this great marriage. She pretended to comply with the wishes of her friends accepted Sinorix and invited him to complete the betrothal in presence of the goddess i.e. in the temple and before the image. There as priestess she took a cup poured a libation before the altar drank of the cup and handed it to Sinorix to drink. When he had done so she called the goddess Artemis to witness that it was for this purpose alone that she had survived her husband and now having avenged his death she was going to join him. She then addressed Sinorix: “For you let your folk prepare for you a tomb instead of a marriage.” The Gaul feeling the poison begin to work leaped on his car hoping that the exertion of driving the car and the rapid motion would work off the effect of the poison. There were no good roads in Galatia and it needed skill and care to maintain one's stand in the tossing course; but he soon changed from the chariot to a litter and died the same evening. Kamma heard of his death and died happy.
In this story which Plutarch had derived certainly from a good source there is a marked contrast between the Gaulish nobility and the subject race of Phrygians. Kamma was kind to the people whose priestess she was. Sinorix was a pure Gaul in his fiery life and passionate action and Kamma too had the heart and soul of the same stock. She would not survive her husband but she would first avenge him.
There is evident in the tale a difference between betrothal and marriage. Both are solemn ceremonies which take place in the presence of the goddess of the land: they are therefore part of the pre-Gaulish native Anatolian ritual. Van Gelder4 holds that the pre-marriage ceremonial—formal betrothal the great crowd accompanying the pair the offering of vows to the goddess the drinking from a common cup—must be Gaulish not Oriental; but why in that case should they go to the Anatolian goddess and her temple? Why offer vows before Artemis instead of one of their own native gods whom they retained? I consulted Professor Rhys in Oxford on this point that high authority on old Celtic manners in his time. He replied that he knew of no custom among the Celts for a betrothed pair to drink of the same cup as a rite in the ceremony but that the expression may possibly though not necessarily indicate that at marriage they ate of the same dish a rite like confarreatio in the old Roman religious marriage. Rhys mentioned that at the beginning of the tale of Kulhwah and Olwen a prince desires a wife of the same food with himself. That expression may perhaps refer to a marriage ceremony of eating together but more probably implies a wife of the same race and rank qualified to sit along with him at table as an equal. Even more probably as I venture to think it might refer to a difference of custom and kind of food which had come down from the Roman time in Britain and distinguished the free Celtic Welsh from the Romanised Britons of the conquered English land. It can have no place in Galatia.
To this day drinking of the same cup is part of the modern Greek marriage ceremony: we may regard it as Anatolian in origin. Kamma was hereditary priestess of the goddess and the narrative in Plutarch conveys the impression that she carried out this ceremony as part of the ritual of her goddess and that it was novel to Sinorix.5
Kamma as the chief priestess of Artemis would wear the gorgeous robes of her goddess and would be a conspicuous figure (like the priest at Ibriz adoring the peasant god). In the annual procession the exodus of the goddess to survey and sanctify and mark her ownership of her territory she would play the leading part which Plutarch describes and would attract the eyes and kindle the passion of Sinorix.
There is no difficulty in understanding that a Gaulish lady was chief priestess of Artemis the native deity. The conquerors must conform to the religion and reverence the power of the deity that owned the country and could exact reverence from the new lords. At Pessinus the priestly college consisted of ten priests five Gauls and five natives the Gauls being first third fifth seventh and ninth. Similar but probably not identical customs prevailed through Galatia. Such division of land property and even authority between conquerors and conquered was usual in Asia Minor.6 Both nations lived side by side.
The Gauls were slower in adopting Greek than Latin for the latter language seems to have been more congenial to them along with the character and customs associated with it. Even in the fourth century after Christ we hear that they were making advances in Greek. In the time of Augustus the inscriptions on the temple of Rome and Augustus show a Roman tendency not a Greek.
The actual ceremonial of marriage in the old Anatolian ritual is unknown. Layard says that the Yezidis (a scanty remnant of old pagans) have no marriage ceremonies and practise polygamy. Still the relation entered into between man and woman was closely associated with the temple service and was considered an important religious fact. It is probable though not as yet proved that some common ritual was performed in the temple and before the altar of the local deity specially the Mother-goddess.
It is practically certain that a mixed cup was a feature in the Phrygian Mysteries and that the celebrants partook of this cup. “I have drunk from the kymbalon” was a mystic formula pronounced in the Mysteries by each person that was initiated as is mentioned by Clement of Alexandria (Protrept. 2) and by Julius Firmicus. A formula used by those who were initiated in those Mysteries was “I have escaped evil: I have found a better”7 and this same formula was pronounced as part of the Athenian marriage ceremony.
Marriage in Anatolia was certainly a religious ceremony and was in large part if not entirely a pact of the Mysteries. It was a re-enactment of the “Holy Marriage.” According to an old authority on the Holy Marriage those who are being married celebrated to Zeus and Hera the holy rites of the marriage.9 This evidently applies to Attica where Old-Ionian and Anatolian custom was strong. Probably the marriage of Mars and Nerio had the same meaning. Mars born on 1st March grew rapidly according to the Sacred Myth (at this point the detail that he killed his father should perhaps be restored); he sought in vain to marry Minerva on 15th March and his defeat by the stratagem of Anna Perenna (who impersonated Minerva and deceived Mars) was annually celebrated with obscene songs and jests by the maidens of Rome. On 23rd March Mars and Nerio worshipped both together obviously as married. The Quinquatrus (fifth day after the Ides) on 19th was transferred to Minerva: the old meaning was forgotten and the feast was prolonged for five days to 23rd March when the tubilustrium a feast of Mars (according to Verrius Flaccus in the Praenestine calendar) was held.9
The tradition of the Holy Marriage compared with the tales about the action of the priestess of Demeter and of Alliena at marriages in Athens is important. Usener attributes to Athenian ritual the above quotation from the Lexicon Rhetoricum. Our knowledge of old Italian religion is very defective as much of the ceremonial was swept away by the conquest of Roman by Greek custom: Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artes intulit agresti Latio as Horace says. It became fashionable to prefer Greek to Latin in Roman society. Italian things were considered vulgar.
Mars Marmor Mamers was an old Italian god in Italy not simply god of war but of agriculture and life generally. He is mentioned in the hymn of the Arval Brothers which is now hardly intelligible. His wife Nerio Neriênis or Neriene bears a name akin to the Greek ἠνορέη manly beauty: and the name Nero is the Umbrian “ner” i.e. vir. The same stem appears in Oscan but disappeared almost entirely from Latin. Mârcus the Roman praenomen is equivalent to Mamercus a reduplication of Mar; Mamercus was used as a praenomen in only one Roman gens the Aemilian. Mavors for Mamers with change from “m” to “v” is also an Anatolian linguistic phenomenon. The name Marbollas “the counsel of Mar” may be an Anatolian relative of Mar; reduplication as in Marmor is a characteristic Anatolian feature. The further back we can penetrate into the almost lost early Latin and Roman and Etruscan the nearer we come to the old Anatolian.
The person who undergoes initiation moves on to the perfect scene of human life the basis on which society rests. This was the mystic marriage of the god and goddess as symbolical of earth's marriage. The divine life is the model of human life. What is done rightly on earth is done simultaneously in the abode of the god (Chapter XIII.). That is the teaching of the gods to mankind. The common drinking from the kymbalon as in the formula quoted above was followed by the words “I have become a mystes of Attis.”
There can be no doubt that the mystic phrase used in the Attic marriage ceremony “I have fled from evil: I have found a better” refers to the substitution of religion and marriage for the supposed older state of violence and fraud. There was no longer marriage by capture but a mystic ceremony of marriage; and in Athens the priestess of Demeter gave instructions to the newly wedded pair.
The Mysteries at Claros and doubtless at Ephesus etc. were not like those in Attica celebrated as an annual or biennial custom. They were celebrated whenever any deputation or individual was ready to incur the expense. There was a chorus of singers youths and maidens. Foreign deputations brought such a chorus hymnodoi with them; in one case it is stated that the chorus came in accordance with an oracle. Laodicea on the Lycus sent more than one such delegation to Claros. In North Phrygia on the imperial estates in the Prepenissian land an altar was erected to the Clarion Apollo and the oracle which he had given was engraved on it.10 In Lydia at Troketta (the village of Troko or Tarku) west of Sardis11 a dedication was made to Apollo the Saviour in accordance with a Clarian oracle which is engraved on the basis.
Such altars represent the work of delegations to the oracle at Claros. The delegations were Theopropoi “inquirers” and came to get oracular advice. The Clarian inscriptions as yet known never give the response but mention only the names of the delegates and the chorus.
Some of the delegations to Claros took the expense of initiation i.e. of a special celebration of the Mysteries. The words that record this rite vary. In one case the inquirer “performed also the mystic ritual” (besides consulting the oracle). This is a very general and uninstructive record. In two other cases the inquirers performed after initiation an act called “entrance on a new life” i.e. the divinely taught life: they had learned they made the step into the better life.
This act was the climax of the initiation: the initiated had stepped into the presence of the god. In the other case they received the sacred mystic objects and then made the entrance on the divine life.12
The ceremonial of the initiation symbolised the approach of man to god and the identification of man with the god. The promise was given to the purified and initiated “Happy and blessed thou shalt be god instead of mortal.” The priest and priestess played the part of the god and goddess in the mystic scenes. The goal of human life was to be identified with the god and the goddess. That goal was attained at blissful death as many Anatolian epitaphs show. The dead returns to the mother who bore him13 and he is identified with the god (or goddess) by his descendants who worship him annually on the day of his death and entrance into the new life.
It is useful to refer the reader to Makridi's articles in the Österreichische Jahreshefte 1906 and 1912; bodies of Hymnodoi (maintained in readiness at public expense doubtless) are mentioned at Akmonia Hypaipa etc. see Keil and von Premerstein Österreich. Jahreshefte 1908 p. 105 and my Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia vol. i. Part II. pp. 630 646 359.
The marriage ceremony was naturally followed by a feast. Only one direct mention of such a feast has been found. Near Dorla (Isaura Nova) a flat stone in its natural state as broken shaped like a platter roughly rounded about 18 inches in diameter and 2 to 4 inches thick (what might be called an ostrakon) bore the following inscription published by Calder:
Those who were feasting
at the marriage of Goullas14
dedicated Victory to him.
This is the original monument engraved by one of a group of merry-makers at a village festival and it sets before us a scene of rustic revel and gaiety. It shows the first simple stage of rural literary effort out of which developed in various directions and in various lands the poems of Theocritus the Eclogues of Virgil and the coarse Fescennine verses of Italy. It is now (as I believe) in the museum at Konia where we deposited it.15
One of the merry-makers took the first suitable stone that came to hand as the villagers lay feasting on the grass and inscribed on it this simple memorial. It is common to dedicate the statue of one god to another; see above Fig. 3. Here the statue of Victory is dedicated to the bridegroom who has taken the place of the god in the mystic marriage. Victory as the goddess that is dedicated to him presides over the feast. Professor Calder suggests that Nike may have been the name of the bride and that this would give the inscription more point (as it seems to the modern Western mind); but I think that the religious idea of dedicating god to god is more in the spirit of an Asian rural scene. The idea of god is rarely absent from the Asian mind even in a scene like this. Every feast or party of friends met in the worship of some deity in this case Nike and Goullas here is the chief god for the time being.
A marriage even rouses a decree of the Demos. Meetings of the people had rarely any real business to transact. The imperial government did all that needed to be done in the way of political interrelation between cities or tribes and practically forbade such direct relations. The “alliances” celebrated on coins of the Roman period are almost certainly mere arrangements for participation in games or festivals. In one case16 the Demos of a division of the nation called Homanadeis congratulates a leading citizen Bianor on a marriage by which he was doing honour to the whole nation. The Demos joins in the marriage rejoicings and festival.17 The inscription is difficult to understand except on the supposition that this leading citizen gave a splendid feast on the occasion of the marriage of his son Ingenas18 while the bride is not named.
Such decrees were in most cases paid for by the person honoured and thus each little state tried to maintain its finances in reasonable order.
A remarkable statement occurs in Xanthus of Lydia.19 Sadyattes had a legitimate son Alyattes his successor by his own sister and two illegitimate sons Attales and Adranys by other women sisters to each other. This points to some Anatolian or Lydian marriage custom according to which inheritance and kingship was transmitted through the female line and the son of the sister of Sadyattes was the rightful heir. This custom led to those abominable marriages against which Basil of Caesarea legislated and inveighed during the fourth century A.D. Strange tales are still told about the religious assemblies of certain heretic sects in Asia Minor especially Takhtaji abominated by the true Moslems.
Another reference of only legendary or semi-legendary character to a marriage ceremony during the second century occurs in the tale of Saint Abercius (who was in history Avircius Marcellus). In real history Avircius Marcellus was a bishop of a fairly well Christianised district of Phrygia called the Pentapolis; his date was the second century after Christ. His historical importance lay in his being a strong antagonist of Montanism and a champion of orthodoxy; and this has given him a place in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. Aberkios or Abirkios as the name is written in an inscription not far distant probably at Prymnessos perhaps at some place even nearer the Pentapolis was transformed by mythopoeic fancy into the saint that converted a purely pagan country to Christianity. In the legend that grew around his name20 and his epitaph there are many details that nearly (but not quite) fit into history. One concerns us here. The Emperor Marcus Aurelius had a daughter Lucilla whom he desired to give in marriage to his colleague L. Verus. To take Eckhel's account Lucilla was born in A.D. 147 and was married to Verus in 164. Verus was in the East and her father conducted her to Brundisium whence she sailed to Ephesus the great harbour through which the East then looked out on the West. Here Verus met her. According to the legendary biography she was taken ill at the age of sixteen i.e. in A.D. 163 and she was in the legend cured by the Saint who was summoned to Rome by the Emperor for the purpose. Then followed her journey and her marriage to L. Verus in 164 in the temple.
This fits very well; but it imputes to the writer of the legendary biography too minute and perfect knowledge of the facts to be treated as history. Probably he was simply concocting a tale of edification to suit the epitaph which was found by us much mutilated in Phrygia and which is now in the Lateran Museum of Christian Antiquities at Rome.
The epitaph mentions the wide journeys of the Saint westwards towards Rome and eastwards beyond the Euphrates as far as Nisibis. In Rome he saw a king (i.e. the Emperor of the legend) and a queen (probably the Church) wearing gold robes and gold shoes. This queen the historic and infamous Faustina presented in gratitude for her daughter's cure 3000 bushels of corn annually to the poor of the Saint's own city (as the Saint requested) and this donation continued until Julian A.D. 363–365 put a stop to it.
The biographical or hagiographical legend was composed later than A.D. 363; but it has some historical foundation at which we can hardly even guess. The historical Avircius Marcellus ordered his epitaph to be engraved on a stone of the altar type common at the time; and this stone still exists. He stood by and saw that there was engraved on it a hexametrical epitaph in which he recited the chief events of his life and the chief
FIG. 5.
principles of the orthodox faith; but all is expressed in a cryptic form so that it would seem to the outer pagan world susceptible of a suitable interpretation to them but bore a very different meaning to the Christians. Any traveller might go to Rome and see an emperor and an empress; and a pure virgin still unmarried might enter into the story; the people who wore a brilliant signet ring could be interpreted as the Roman aristocracy. The “faithful letters”21 which the Saint bore were to the Christians letters or credentials which would serve as his introduction to the Church wherever he went but any one might carry letters for friends; and the Saint found everywhere orthodox friends thinking like himself; and he partook of the Holy Sacrament everywhere. The Virgin grasped the (sacred) fish to her bosom. Fish were sacred in many parts of Anatolia and Syria. Nothing is glaringly Christian; but all has an esoteric meaning. The very name Euxenianus (used in the legend) was used on the Lydo-Phrygian frontier lands not far away (see Fig. 2) in the form Euxenion.
In these circumstances while paganism was still struggling for life the marriage of Lucilla might quite naturally be understood even by the archaeologist if any there were as taking place in the temple like the betrothal of Kamma and Sinorix and as implying a mystic ceremonial. It was mystic alike to the pagan and the Christian.
The historical character that underlies the legend of Saint Aberkios (the historical Avircius Marcellus) is proved not merely by the approach to real facts but also by the occurrence of the name in his own country. The Councils of the Church supply one other instance of the name. The second is shown in the accompanying inscription found at Seulun (Prymnessos) on the gravestone of a deacon Abirkios son of Porphyrios and his wife. Β and Οϒ are almost equivalent in Anatolian Greek spelling of the third century.
The name is a very rare one. I once thought that it might have come from Gaul (Cisalpine or Transalpine) as the syllables can be traced separately in the Celtic tongue; but a Celtic scholar now long dead refused to recognise it and I did not dare to contravene his authority. Since then a German scholar took up the same idea independently.