In his Advice to the Bride and Groom, Plutarch famously pronounces: “A married woman should therefore worship and recognize the gods whom her husband holds dear, and these alone. The door must be closed to strange cults and foreign superstitions. No god takes pleasure in cult performed furtively and in secret by a woman.” These comments represent a patriarchal ideology that the wife (along with the whole household) should follow the worship practices of the husband. It also suggests the possibility that this counsel was not always followed and that wives might bring their own gods into a marriage, attempting to maintain ritual practices in their honor, perhaps secretly.
* Many thanks to colleagues and friends who have read and commented on drafts of this article: Denise Buell, Laura Nasrallah, Jennifer Knust, Shelly Rambo, Ann Braude, Carol Duncan, Fatima Sadiqi, Alex Cuffel, Katherine Shaner, Carly Daniel-Hughes, John Lanci, Mary Ebbott, Ellen Perry, David Karmon, Eugenia Lao. Sarah Bidgood was an invaluable research assistant. My thanks also to James Walters for inviting me to present an early version of this work for the Brown Lecture at Boston University, October 2007.