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married couple, and to sing _epithalamia_ at the door of their
Epithalamia were marriage songs, anciently sung in praise of the bride
or bridegroom, wishing them happiness, prosperity and a numerous issue.
Among the Romans there were three different kinds of marriage. The
ceremony of the first consisted in the young couple eating a cake
together made only of wheat, salt and water. The second kind was
celebrated by the parties solemnly pledging their faith to each other,
by giving and receiving a piece of money. This was the most common way
of marrying among the Romans. It continued in use, even after they
became Christians. When writings were introduced to testify that a man
and a woman had become husband and wife, and also, that the husband had
settled a dower upon his bride, these writings were called _Tabulae
Dotales_ (dowry tables;) and hence, perhaps the words in our marriage
ceremony, "I thee endow."
The third kind of marriage was, when a man and woman, having cohabited
for some time and had children, found it expedient to continue together.
In this case, if they made up the matter between themselves, it became
a valid marriage, and the children were considered as legitimate.
Something similar to this is the present custom in Scotland. There, if a
man live with, and have children by a woman, though he do not marry her
till he be upon his death-bed, all the children are thereby legitimated
and become entitled to the honors and estates of their father. The case
is the same in Holland and some parts of Germany; with this difference
only, that all the children to be legitimated must appear with the
father and mother in church at the ceremony of their marriage.
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