So far I’ve written three Egyptian weddings in two books. And there’s more to come. After all, I’m writing about royal women, those who were used as pawns to solidify claims to the throne and sometimes political alliances. So it’s kind of inevitable.
Modern Western society makes a big to-do about weddings with the happy couple often going into debt to put on the perfect ceremony and reception, but I think the ancient Egyptians may have had the right idea. In ancient Egypt, a woman was considered married as soon as she moved into her husband’s house. There are no records of any sort of ceremony, any documents that had to be signed. You shack up together and viola! You’re married!
There’s also a fair amount of love poetry that exists from ancient Egypt, some rather suggestive. Those Egyptians were no Puritans (even though Matt informed us via Bane’s blog that those Puritans were far from saintly). An example, one that’s PG-13ish:
My lover is a lotus blossom
with pomegranate breasts;
her face is a polished wooden snare.
And I am the poor bird
into the teeth of her trap.
There are also many poems using the words brother and sister as terms of endearment. These don’t mean sibling in the literal sense as it was really only the royal family that intermarried. It’s important to keep the crown in the family, you know.
This is one of those examples where I’ve had to stretch history a little. It’s hard to write a wedding scene, especially one between two royal siblings, without elaborating a little. I think modern audiences expect a gala event. So I’ve added some symbolic actions in the wedding, but tried to focus mostly on the parties that would have followed. Normally I’m a stickler when it comes to history, but embellishing on fact in this instance only makes a better story. And if the scenes are mostly about the parties, I figure the ancient Egyptians won’t mind. After all, their lives were short and they certainly knew how to party!
I heard somewhere that the Ancient Egyptians didn't have a word in their language for "virgin." Apparently, they didn't put too much stock in women staying "pure" until marriage.
'Tis very interesting, though I don't know how true it is.
Actually, Matt, it is true. Women weren't expected to be chaste and only had to be monogamous once they were married. Considering standards of the rest of the ancient world, women had it pretty good in Egypt.
Ha; wait til I tell my boyfriend that we're already considered married.
I got all excited when I saw this title and you didn't disappoint! I love weddings, and I love ancient Egypt!
I love that you embellished a little. What fun would it be without a little ceremony? Fascinating stuff about the customs too. Parents could save a lot of money if all you had to do to be married was move into your husband's house! 🙂
It sounds like you are giving history a twist, and that tends to make reading interesting.
Yeah, though it can be frustrating to read 'historical' fiction that goes too far off the path, I believe some embellishment is definitely necessary to bridge the cultural/temporal divides.