In ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, confarreatio was a traditional patrician form of marriage. The ceremony involved the bride and bridegroom sharing a cake of spelt
Spelt is a hexaploid species of wheat. Spelt was an important staple in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times; it now survives as a relict crop in Central Europe and northern Spain and has found a new market as a health food. Spelt is sometimes considered a subspecies of the...

, in Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 far or panis farreus, hence the rite's name. The Flamen Dialis
Flamen Dialis
In ancient Roman religion, the Flamen Dialis was the high priest of Jupiter. There were 15 flamines, of which three were flamines maiores, serving the three gods of the Archaic Triad...

 and Pontifex Maximus
Pontifex Maximus
The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post...

 presided over the wedding
A wedding is the ceremony in which two people are united in marriage or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes...

, and ten witnesses had to be present. The woman passed directly from the hand (manus) of her father or head of household (the paterfamilias) to that of her new husband.

Having parents who were married by confarreatio was a prerequisite for becoming a Vestal
Vestal Virgin
In ancient Roman religion, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins , were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The College of the Vestals and its well-being was regarded as fundamental to the continuance and security of Rome, as embodied by their cultivation of the sacred fire that could not be...

 or the Flamen Dialis
Flamen Dialis
In ancient Roman religion, the Flamen Dialis was the high priest of Jupiter. There were 15 flamines, of which three were flamines maiores, serving the three gods of the Archaic Triad...

. Confarreatio seems to have been limited to those whose parents were also married by confarreatio, but later, perhaps with the rise of plebeian nobiles
During the Roman Republic, nobilis was a descriptive term of social rank, usually indicating that a member of the family had achieved the consulship. Those who belonged to the hereditary patrician families were noble, but plebeians whose ancestors were consuls were also considered nobiles...

, this requirement must have been relaxed. Scipio Africanus
Scipio Africanus
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus , also known as Scipio Africanus and Scipio the Elder, was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic...

 presumably married his wife Aemilia Tertia
Aemilia Tertia
Aemilia Tertia, better known as Aemilia Paulla , was the wife of Scipio Africanus , Roman general and statesman...

 by confarreatio, because their elder son was Flamen Dialis; yet Scipio's mother Pomponia
Pomponia is the female name for the gens Pomponius of Ancient Rome. This family was one of the oldest families in Rome. Various women bearing this name, of whom five are named below, lived during the Middle and Late Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. The oldest known Pomponia was mother of a...

 was a plebeian. Likewise, Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 married Cornelia
Cornelia Cinna minor
Cornelia Cinnilla , daughter of Lucius Cornelius Cinna , and a sister to suffect consul Lucius Cornelius Cinna, was married to Gaius Julius Caesar, who would become one of Rome's greatest conquerors and its dictator...

 by confarreatio, but neither had patrician mothers, and Caesar's parents had not married by confarreatio.

Divorce for confarreatio marriages, diffarreatio, was a difficult process and therefore rare. Not much is known about how diffarreatio was carried out except that there was a special type of sacrifice that caused the dissolution of the relationship between the man and woman. She would then pass back into the manus of her paterfamilias.

Originally, the confarreatio was indissoluble, and this remained true of the marriage of the Flamen Dialis. The other two major flamens, the Flamen Martialis
Flamen Martialis
In ancient Roman religion, the Flamen Martialis was the high priest of the official state cult of Mars, the god of war. He was one of the flamines maiores, the three high priests who were the most important of the fifteen...

 and the Flamen Quirinalis
Flamen Quirinalis
In ancient Roman religion, the Flamen Quirinalis was the flamen devoted to the cult of god Quirinus. He was one of the three flamines majores, third in order of importance after the Flamen Dialis and the Flamen Martialis....

, were also required to marry by confarreatio. The three major flamens were also required to marry virgins; further, if the wife of the Flamen Dialis died, he was immediately required to resign. It is not clear if this was true of the other priests.
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