Intend to Get Married (Γαμεῖν μέλλε)

The Ancient Greeks had a very different conception of marriage than we do. Roughly speaking, social responsibility was more important than our modern notions of love. So, at the risk of being accused of taking this maxim out of context, I would like to imagine what Apollo would mean by this today.

Marriage, in its broadest and most modern sense, is forming an intimate and emotional bond with someone else. Almost all cultures recognize some sort of marriage. Two people enter into a relationship that is ritually and often legally sanctioned by a tribe, a religious organization, or the state. that confers certain rights among the couple themselves, their in-laws, and their children. The social responsibility has not been taken away in our current conceptions; marriage is still a function of the community.

But what fascinates me is not how marriage is defined, but how this maxim is good advice and not a commandment. “Intend” is a curious word. It can mean having a plan or a design to achieve a specific purpose. Apollo certainly understands relationships do not always work. That some lives are cut short by accident or disease. Others find themselves uninterested in romantic involvements. Then we can ask, to what deep and intimate bond with your life or experience can you intend to marry?

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