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Textiles in Alkestis' thalamos

Smith, A. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0224-428X (2021) Textiles in Alkestis' thalamos. In: Between words and walls: material and textual approaches to housing in the Graeco-Roman world. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

In Greece, as elsewhere, marriage is or has traditionally been the key to maintaining the family unit that occupies the house in which it resides. Despite the resulting importance of marriage to the household and to the preservation of its inhabitants—that is, family— scholars have hardly tried to understand the role of the house and its furnishings in Greek marriage rituals. This paper addresses these elements that, at least in Greece, have traditionally made a house into a home, namely the marriage on which was built the oikos or family unit and the and furnishings that were provided for that unit, initially through the wedding rituals. By furnishings I refer particularly to bedding and other textiles that cover furniture, drape house interiors and thus endow a home not only with warmth because they bring comfort and visible wealth, thus luxury, to the bride’s new home. In this paper I bring together marriage and textiles in the thalamos or private chamber that housed the bed on which the marriage was consummated. I suggest moreover that bed furnishings played a larger part both in the ancient marriage festivals than hitherto recognised. As evidence of the bedchamber, its furniture and furnishings, like marriage ritual, is scant in the philological and archaeological records, I also employ ethnographic analogies and consider more recent Greek folklore studies in my reading of the visual and textual sources.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Classics
ID Code:95826
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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