Confarreation, the most solemn of the three ceremonies of marriage used among the ancient Romans. The other forms of marriage were coemptio and usus. These last are the only ones mentioned by Cicero, which shows that confarreation had fallen into disuse before his time. The ceremony was performed by the pontifex maximus or flamen dialu. A formula was pronounced in the presence of at least ten witnesses, and the man and woman partook of a cake of salted braad; part of which only they ate, the rest being thrown upon the sacrifice, which was a sheep. The cake was called farreum (from far, grain), whence confarreatio. By this form the woman was said to come into the possession of her husband by the sacred laws, and became a partner of all his substance and sacred rites, those of the penates as well as the lares. If the husband died intestate and without children, the wife inherited the whole property; if there were children, she received with them an equal share. The offspring of this form of marriage were called patrimi or matrimi; and from them were chosen priests and priestesses, especially the flamen dialis and vestal virgins. Tiberius wished for a priest of this pure lineage, but the ceremony had fallen into disuse, so that three patricians thus qualified could not be found.
Confarreation could only be dissolved by a form of divorce equally solemn, called disfarreatio. Bride cake is a relic of confarreation; until within 200 years it was made of wheat or barley, without fruit.