Thursday, April 21, 2011

GIVEAWAY + Guest Post by Kate Quinn

Today I am pleased to have Kate Quinn,

author of DAUGHTERS OF ROME, (See my review HERE) and MISTRESS OF ROME grace my blog with this wonderful post:

Marriage and Divorce, Roman-Style

            There are plenty of things about ancient Rome that I'm very happy didn't make it into the modern era.  Slavery, for example, or the mass slaughter of animals and people for public entertainment.  But there are some things about ancient Rome that I wish had stuck around, and top on that list is Roman-style marriage and divorce. 
            This was a topic I spent a lot of time researching for my second novel Daughters of Rome.  One of my heroines just happens to be the richest heiress in Rome (her grandfather is the ancient world equivalent of Warren Buffet) and her dowry is a prize that gets passed to a new husband every time there is a power change.  Since Daughters of Rome takes place during the Year of Four Emperors, my poor heroine manages to clock up a total of five husbands by the age of twenty – and three of those weddings in the same year.  She's pretty tired of weddings by the end of the book, and I can't blame her.  But at least Roman weddings were more interesting than 21st century ones. 
            There are some similarities.  The Romans started the custom of wearing a plain wedding band on the fourth finger of the left hand, since popular superstition held that a vein was supposed to run from that finger to the heart.  Romans also started the custom of getting hitched in June – they considered it lucky, since it was the month named after Juno, goddess of marriage.  But Roman brides wore a red veil, which frankly I think is an improvement – no more standing in front of a mirror trying to decide which shade of white, off-white, cream, ivory, beige or biscuit makes you look the least sallow.  Roman brides also made sure to part their hair on the wedding morning with the spear of a dead gladiator; a superstition that was supposed to ensure a happy marriage.  A little gruesome, to be sure, but more interesting than “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” 
            Roman wedding vows were simple; a recitation that began “Where you are Gaius, I am Gaia.”  Much better than these dreadful personalized vows that start with “You are the rock in my stormy sea” and only get worse.  The priest follows up with a sacrifice for good luck, a sow or maybe a goose.  I'm not really in favor of dead animals, but at least it wouldn't put me to sleep the way the inevitable reading from Corinthians does.  And after the wedding banquet, the bride gets to light the fire in her new home for the first time – and toss the wedding torch to the unmarried girls in the crowd; the one who catches it will be the next bride.  If you're the bride and you want to really nail that one slacker bridesmaid, I'm betting you could do a lot more damage throwing a torch at her than a bouquet. 
            And we have a lot to learn from the Romans when it comes to divorce.  In the modern era, divorce is expensive, painful, time-consuming, and exhausting.  It involves not just emotional pain but legal offices, arbitrations, courtrooms, and the expensive services of someone sleazy named Sid who is trying to screw the biggest alimony payments possible out of your ex, whose sleazy lawyer Gino is trying to get full custody away from you.  Divorce Roman-style was much easier:  either husband or wife announced that they no longer wanted to be married, and moved out.  You didn't even have to announce this to your spouse; more than one husband came home to an empty house with a note on the table:  “Goodbye, thanks for the memories, and by the way I'll be sending a slave next week for the rest of my things.”  You could also dissolve your marriage by marrying somebody else:  if your husband came home to the news “Actually, he's my husband now” then there was nothing he could do about it.  The law reasoned, with a certain simplicity, that if she married somebody else then she was no longer married to you, and that's an end to it.  All he could do was fume – and give back, as also required by law, at least a portion of your dowry. 
            There were some down sides to this custom.  Divorce and remarriage was so casual that even an average nobleman might go through five or six wives in the course of his lifetime.  “Sanctity of marriage” was not an idea with much weight in ancient Rome; a rich girl like my heroine in Daughters of Rome could easily have three weddings in one year, each husband divorced in turn for a better option when power changed hands.  But even if I did put the poor girl through three weddings, at least she didn't have to deal with subpoenas, alimony arbitration, custody battles, or anybody named Sid.  A world where divorce is easy and divorce lawyers are non-existent?  I'm for it.  I'm sure Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Empress Josephine would agree with me.  
            I got married myself in the middle of writing this book, and a few Roman customs leaked over into my wedding.  Nobody sacrificed a goat, and sadly I wasn't able to find a gladiator's spearhead to part my hair.  But my husband and I exchanged iron rings instead of gold – Romans picked iron because it was enduring, considered a better symbol for the coming marriage than soft malleable gold. 
            And I wore red. 

WOW! Thank you so much Kate Quinn!!
...And now...GIVEAWAY Time!

Penguin Group USA is giving away 1 copy of DAUGHTERS OF ROME to one of my lucky followers. Thank you!!
1) You must be a follower of this blog
2) Please leave a comment for the lovely Kate
3) For an extra chance, please leave a comment at my review post

Open to US and Canada

Winner Announced on May 2nd


Susan Higginbotham said...

Great post! Some fascinating info here.

Martha Lawson said...

Sounds great! Love the cover. Please enter me for this one.

follow on gfc

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Rachel said...

I'd love to read this! I'm a follower- thanks for the giveaway!

Linda said...

Interesting post. Although divorce has become terribly acrimonious and expensive, and should perhaps be more simplified, I think Roman divorce is really too easy.
Thanks for the giveaway. I really want to read this book.
I am a follower.

BurtonReview said...

How interesting the Roman customs of marriage and divorce!! The line about sending a slave to get my things would be so nice to be able to use some days.. =)

Roberta said...

Imagine a world without divorce lawyers...that would be wonderful...especially since my divorce (over 20 years ago) cost me thousands (heck it sent me to bankruptcy court) and over 3 years of my life sitting in court battle after battle. Still don't like the whole dowry part and that he gets to keep it or give it away when it wasn't his to begin with. I guess there is no perfect way to say goodbye when it involves Great post Kate ;) Fondly, Roberta

Roberta said...

Of course I'm a follower with GFC, google reader and facebook ;P

Roberta said...

Loved your review and now I'm off to add this giveaway to my sidebar. {hugs} Roberta

brokenteepee said...


The publicist would love to read your book but I am thinking I would like to eat it!
Pricilla the goat

kaiminani at gmail dot com

brokenteepee said...

I left a comment on your review.
thank you
kaiminani at gmail dot com

brokenteepee said...

I follow your blog.

It seems the whole marriage/divorce thing in ancient Rome was waaaaay to casual. How did they ever keep track of who they had married or were married to?

thank you
kaiminani at gmail dot com

Soft Fuzzy Sweater said...

I would love to own and read this book. I wonder if Ms. Quinn saw the mini-series "Rome" and what she thought of it's accuracy as far as everyday Roman life around Julius Caesar's lifetime? Anne

Loretta said...

Great post! Didn't realize how casual things were with respect to marriage and divorce back then. Wow!

Shannon said...

How did the Romans deal with the children that came out of these confusing marriages? Different names? Different custody?

I'm a follower.

tiredwkids at live dot com

Laura said...

Great post. Please enter me. I am a follower.
laura.leahj@gmail dot com

Terry said...

I loved Kate's Mistress of Rome and am so looking forward to reading this one. This was a very interesting and informative post.

tmrtini at gmail dot com

I am a follower

Holly said...

I would like the idea of wearing red to a wedding if I wasn't a redhead (I look horrible in red). Great post! Would love to read this and I am a follower .

bippityboppitybook AT ymail dot com

Anonymous said...

and also this 12 months in 2010, this branded style selection even cheer additional individuals up. Ideally, wearers should begin their Masai barefoot lifestyle with a class or lesson. More specifically in Australia there are so many markets that contain vast and huge varieties and range of ugg boots sale .
Its components of preserving the tactic cozy and consuming water resistance made it game for skiing purpose. Uggs boots are deassuranceed to be beat after socks in uggjpup2013 adjustment to aerate the allowances of affidavit. The controversy on the UGGs on the net outlet title is truly fascinating to study by way of about.
Ping are considered by most as one of the most well liked retailers to purchase golf equipment from and are a vast
are of immense importance and maybe they are an integral part of fashion. Simply wear your boots snugly, and walk around. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.

Anonymous said...

generic viagra viagra voucher - buy viagra 50mg

Anonymous said...

viagra online without prescription buy viagra australia online - buy viagra zimbabwe

Anonymous said...

viagra online without prescription order generic viagra overnight - order viagra cheap

Anonymous said...

order soma soma discount promo code - soma erowid

Anonymous said...

buy cialis online cialis 2.5 - cialis daily prostate

Anonymous said...

tramadol 50mg tramadol withdrawal night sweats - tramadol dosage recreational

Anonymous said...

tramadol online tramadol dosage pets - tramadol 37.5 mg

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol 50mg for toothache - trusted online pharmacy tramadol

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online order tramadol online with cod - tramadol hcl 100 mg er tablets

Anonymous said...

cheap xanax no prescription xanax 2 - xanax 1mg get high