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Advice to Bride and Groom (versus 14 and 18)


Plutarch’s Advice to a Bride and Groom reveals the author’s views that submissiveness is the proper behavior for a Roman patrician’s wife, which reflects the general gender norm of ancient Roman culture. The wife ought to mimic the husband’s mood at all times: to be happy when he is happy and serious when he is serious. The wife ought to lose her own personality and become a reflection of her husband.

This source is a part of the Cleopatra, Gender, Beauty and Power in Egypt and Rome teaching module.

"Advice to Bride and Groom," Plutarch, c. 1st century CE.


Just as a mirror, although embellished with gold and precious stones, is good for nothing unless it shows a true likeness, so there is no advantage in a rich wife unless she makes her life true to her husband's and her character in accord with his. If the mirror gives back a gloomy image of a glad man, or a cheerful and grinning image of a troubled and gloomy man, it is a failure and worthless. So too a wife is worthless and lacking in sense of fitness who puts on a gloomy face when her husband is bent on being sportive and gay, and again, when he is serious, is sportive and mirthful. The one smacks of disagreeableness, the other of indifference. Just as lines and surfaces, in mathematical parlance, have no motion of their own but only in conjunction with the bodies to which they belong, so the wife ought to have no feeling of her own, but she should join with her husband in seriousness and sportiveness and in soberness and laughter.

How to Cite This Source
Advice to Bride and Groom (versus 14 and 18) in World History Commons,