A fictional account of Ekdosis: A Journey to the Marital Home

As we travel in the night on my ekdosis, my legs tremble ceaselessly. I silently wonder if it is caused by my fear of being wed, or the motions of the chariot beneath my feet. Pushing aside the thought, I decide to be more productive.  

I tip-toe to peek over the mule dragging my chariot, in an attempt to gauge how long more I have to stand. In the distance, I spot my new oikos. Made of stone and illuminated by torches, it will be the new place I am to live. I crane my neck to further inspect it, but the translucent veil across my face obscures all details. The soft fabric annoys me to no end, but I have been taught not to remove it, lest my new family thinks of me as impure. Giving up, I take a glance behind me.

 

The first person I spot is Pablo, a name suited for his petite size. In my eyes, he was the most important element of my Ekdosis, the epitome of symbols for my fertility. He has had many roles to play, the first being the bread distributor at the banquet that preceded my ekdosis held at my old oikos. Traditionally, the bread signifies my future child, and the basket represents his (hopefully) cradle.

 

He was also the child chosen by tradition to accompany me on this journey to my new oikos, for he had both living parents. As a symbol of my future child with Achilles (my soon-to-be husband), Pablo is my good luck charm. For if I am unable to fulfill my societal duties of having a child, Achilles may bar me from the house and return my family's dowry, effectively divorcing me. Or perhaps he will take on a legal concubine who is able to take on the task, as wealthy men do. Mama tells me neither choice is shameful, for they run rampant in our society, but I still do not like either one.

 

As my eyes attunes to Pablo's silhouette, I spot the crown of thorns and nuts around his head, which symbolizes how Greek culture aids Man's ascent into civilization from wildness. Although it is not my place to speak of politics, I can tell that we Greeks are proud of our culture.

 

I then divert my attention to the crowd stringing along behind him, which consists of friends and my beloved family members. I lock eyes with the woman who holds the flickering torch. Although the glow of the torches light the way, they also have a symbolic meaning. The warm fire serves to ward off evil spirits that may try to do me harm. Gazing into the woman's eyes, however, I catch a glint in her eye. Mama had been tough during the banquet dinner while my sisters bawled their eyes out, but I think she can no longer hold it in.

 

I am so thankful for Mama's help the past years, teaching me how to perform sacrificial rituals long before I menstruated. With her guidance, I was able to offer protelia to the Gods and Goddesses during the banquet and attain various blessings - healthy children from Aphrodite, smooth transition into wifehood from Artemis, and a divine quality of marriage from Hera.

 

We finally arrive at my new oikos. With one effortless motion, I am lifted off the chariot by Achilles, a stranger twice my age. All at once, I am greeted by a woman who I had never seen before. But by carrying torches, she revealed that when I become a married nymphe, she will be my new Mama. She handed me a torch and I burned the axle of my chariot, signifying that I can no longer return to my old oikos.

 

As I watch the flames lick the axle, it finally hit me that once I am married, I will no longer be a parthenos Achilles will soon be my new kyrios, my new master.