Euripides, fr. 54 (Alexander): On the Educational Merits of Poverty?

Earlier in the week we posted a passage from Xenophon’s Memorabilia about the rich and the poor (focusing more on having or not having…)

Here’s a fragment from Euripides:


“Wealth and too much luxury

Are the wrong lessons for manly men.

Poverty is wretched but at least it raises up

Children better at working and getting things done.”


κακόν τι παίδευμ’ ἦν ἄρ’ εἰς εὐανδρίαν

ὁ πλοῦτος ἀνθρώποισιν αἵ τ’ ἄγαν τρυφαί·

πενία δὲ δύστηνον μέν, ἀλλ’ ὅμως τρέφει

μοχθεῖν τ’ ἀμείνω τέκνα καὶ δραστήρια.


This is from a play named Alexander, probably about how Paris (of Trojan War fame) grew up outside his household. I guess that the argument made here is that such an upbringing is better for “manliness” (εἰς εὐανδρίαν). But I am not sure Hektor would agree…

4 thoughts on “Euripides, fr. 54 (Alexander): On the Educational Merits of Poverty?

  1. Another reason for poverty from Heraclitus (or someone pretending to be Heraclitus as it highly unlikely that he wrote the letters ascribed to him)

    Οὐκ ἀφαιρούμενος πλοῦτον κολἀζει θεός, ἀλλὰ καὶ μᾶλλον δίδωσι πονηροῖς, ἴν’ ἔχοντες δι’ ὧν ἁμαρτανούσι ἐλεχθησόνται καὶ περιουσιάζοντες σκηνοβατῶσιν αὑτῶν τὴν μοχθηρίαν. ἡ δἐ ἀπορία παρακάλυμμά ἐστιν.

    God does not punish by taking away wealth but even gives more to the wicked so that having the means to do wrong they will be brought to the proof and with their excess of wealth they display their wickedness as if on a stage. Poverty is a mask.

    Heraclitus Epistle VII (Bywater edition)

    1. I think that the passage may be intentionally ironic, but without more context from the original, it is a little hard to say. But you’re absolutely right.

      There’s not much Paris is good for except a roll in the hay….

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