Aetolians with a Single Shoe: Fragments on Meleager

Euripides’ lost Meleager seems to have told most of the story of the Calydonian boar hunt with a special emphasis on the tensions on Meleager coming from an overbearing mother (Althaia) and a sudden passion for the huntress Atalanta. In the fragments we have, Meleager starts out the play unusually obsessed with having a son; and Althaia voices some typical Greek attitudes about women. This leaves room for Atalanta to show up and ruin everything!

meleager

518

“Mother, this possession, indeed the finest,
Is stronger than wealth: wealth has fast wings,
But noble sons, even after they die,
Are a fine treasure for their families and parents,
a decoration that never leaves their home.”

καὶ κτῆμα δ’, ὦ τεκοῦσα, κάλλιστον τόδε,
πλούτου δὲ κρεῖσσον• τοῦ μὲν ὠκεῖα πτέρυξ,
παῖδες δὲ χρηστοί, κἂν θάνωσι, δώμασιν
καλόν τι θησαύρισμα τοῖς τεκοῦσί τε
ἀνάθημα βιότου κοὔποτ’ ἐκλείπει δόμους.

Fr. 521

“A wife who stays inside is useful, noble;
Outdoors, she is worth nothing.”

ἔνδον μένουσαν τὴν γυναῖκ’ εἶναι χρεὼν
ἐσθλήν, θύρασι δ’ ἀξίαν τοῦ μηδενός.

Fr. 522

“If men worked hard on looms
And women felt the joys of war,
Once cast from their own knowledge
They would be nothing and we would be too.”

εἰ κερκίδων μὲν ἀνδράσιν μέλοι πόνος,
γυναιξὶ δ’ ὅπλων ἐμπέσοιεν ἡδοναί•
ἐκ τῆς ἐπιστήμης γὰρ ἐκπεπτωκότες
κεῖνοί τ’ ἂν οὐδὲν εἶεν οὔθ’ ἡμεῖς ἔτι.

Fr. 527

“The only things you can’t get with money
Are nobility and virtue. A noble child
Can be born from a poor woman’s body.”

μόνον δ’ ἂν ἀντὶ χρημάτων οὐκ ἂν λάβοις
γενναιότητα κἀρετήν• καλὸς δέ τις
κἂν ἐκ πενήτων σωμάτων γένοιτο παῖς.

Fr. 530

“Telamôn had on his shield a gold eagle
As a sigil against the boar—he wreathed his head with grapes
Honoring his well-vined home of Salamis.
The horror of the Cyprian, Arcadian Atalanta
Had dogs and a bow while Angkaios brandished
A double-bladed ax and the sons of Thestios
Came each unsandaled only on their left foot
With the other foot shoed to lessen the knee’s weight,
As is the custom for all Aitolian men.”

Τελαμὼν δὲ χρυσοῦν αἰετὸν πέλτης ἔπι
πρόβλημα θηρός, βότρυσι δ’ ἔστεψεν κάρα,
Σαλαμῖνα κοσμῶν πατρίδα τὴν εὐάμπελον.
Κύπριδος δὲ μίσημ’, ᾿Αρκὰς ᾿Αταλάντη, κύνας
καὶ τόξ’ ἔχουσα, πελέκεως δὲ δίστομον
γένυν ἔπαλλ’ ᾿Αγκαῖος• οἱ δὲ Θεστίου
παῖδες τὸ λαιὸν ἴχνος ἀνάρβυλοι ποδός,
τὸ δ’ ἐν πεδίλοις, ὡς ἐλαφρίζον γόνυ
ἔχοιεν, ὃς δὴ πᾶσιν Αἰτωλοῖς νόμος.

Fr. 532

“Do good while people are alive; when each man dies
He is earth and shadow. What is nothing changes nothing.”

τοὺς ζῶντας εὖ δρᾶν• κατθανὼν δὲ πᾶς ἀνὴρ
γῆ καὶ σκιά• τὸ μηδὲν εἰς οὐδὲν ῥέπει.

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