Warfare vs. Childbirth: Euripides, Medea 248-51

“They say that we live a peaceful life at home, while they do battle at spear point, but they reckon wrongly: I would rather stand armed with a shield thrice than give birth once.”
λέγουσι δ᾽ ἡμᾶς ὡς ἀκίνδυνον βίον
ζῶμεν κατ᾽ οἴκους, οἱ δὲ μάρνανται δορί,
κακῶς φρονοῦντες: ὡς τρὶς ἂν παρ᾽ ἀσπίδα
στῆναι θέλοιμ᾽ ἂν μᾶλλον ἢ τεκεῖν ἅπαξ.

One thought on “Warfare vs. Childbirth: Euripides, Medea 248-51

  1. I wonder if the pain here is not just the actual pain of childbirth but all the pains involved in having a child including the very real possibility of losing the it especially when the child is taken away from you and exposed. Here Socrates suggests that women don’t take this easily especially for their first born.

    Treat me then as a son of a midwife and having the skill of a midwife myself. And whatever I ask be careful to reply as best you can and if when I consider what you say I think it’s an just an image and not something real, and take it away from you and cast it out, don’t get angry like women over their children when they give birth for the first time.

    προσφέρου οὖν πρός με ὡς πρὸς μαίας ὑὸν καὶ αὐτὸν μαιευτικόν, καὶ ἃ ἂν ἐρωτῶ προθυμοῦ ὅπως οἷός τ᾽ εἶ οὕτως ἀποκρίνασθαι: καὶ ἐὰν ἄρα σκοπούμενός τι ὧν ἂν λέγῃς ἡγήσωμαι εἴδωλον καὶ μὴ ἀληθές, εἶτα ὑπεξαιρῶμαι καὶ ἀποβάλλω, μὴ ἀγρίαινε ὥσπερ αἱ πρωτοτόκοι περὶ τὰ παιδία.

    Plato Theaetetus 151 C

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