Perictione and the Harmonious Woman

Perictione, On a Woman’s “Harmony” [=Stob. 4.28.19 p. 688]

“A woman must recognize that harmony is full of thought and wisdom. For a mind must be thoroughly trained for virtue in order to be just, brave, thoughtful, improved by self-sufficiency, and hateful to empty opinion. From these qualities, a woman gains noble deeds for herself and her husband. Her children and home benefit too. Often there is also benefit for the state if a woman like this governs cities or peoples as we observe in kingdoms.

For the one who rules her own desires and passion becomes divine and harmonious. Lawless lusts do not pursue her and she will be able to maintain her husband, children, and whole household in friendship. Indeed, all the women who become seduced by foreign beds also become hostile to all those in their home who are free and dedicated to the family. A woman like this works up tricks against her husband and manufactures lies about him so that she alone might seem to stand apart for her good mind and her conduct of the household when she really loves laziness. Truly, this is the ruin of all the things that are common for her and her husband.

But I have said enough about these things. It is necessary to arrange the body to the measure of nature for food, clothes, bathing, anointing, hair-dos, and everything that comes from gold and stone for jewelry. For all the women who eat, drink, dress, and carry these expensive things are prepared to fall into the folly of complete wickedness in their beds and criminal behavior in other things too. It is right only to sate hunger and thirst with things which are simple and to keep off the cold with wool or some cloak of hair.

No small a vice is forsworn by staying far away from food either sold for a a lot or of great renown. And it is great foolishness to don excessively thin clothing or garments decorated with due from seashells or any other expensive color. For the body wants only not to be cold or naked for the sake of propriety, but it asks for nothing else. Human opinion longs for empty and useless things because of ignorance. Also, a woman should not wrap gold around her, or Indian stone or anything coming from another place; she will not braid her hair with excessive artifice, nor will she anoint herself with scents smelling of Arabia, nor color the face by making it whiter or making it blush or darkening her eyebrows and eyes, making her hair light with dyes nor take lots of baths. The one who pursues these strategies is looking for someone who admires feminine lack of control.

“Beauty comes from intelligence and not from those things—and it commends women who do well. Necessity should not compel nobility and wealth and coming from great city and the repute and friendship of famous and royal men. If she misses these things, she does not grieve; if she does not miss them, she does not press to seek them. For a thoughtful woman is not hindered from living apart from these things. If she allows those things which she has been allotted, her mind must never doubt at the great and wondrous things, but instead let her depart far from them. For when they fall into misfortune it harms more than it helps. Conspiracy, envy, and betrayal are proper to these things so that a woman of this sort would never be at peace. Instead one needs to revere the gods to gain the good hope of happiness and to obey her country’s laws and customs.

After these precepts, I advise a woman to honor and revere her parents. For they are equal to the gods in all ways and act on behalf of their relatives. In respect to her husband it is right that she live lawfully and rightly, keeping nothing private in her thoughts but watching and guarding their bed. Everything is common in this. She must endure everything  from her husband—if he is unlucky and if he makes any mistakes because of ignorance, or sickness or drunkenness or has relationships with other women. For this fault is at home with men, but never women, and vengeance is set for it.

“She must preserve custom and not be jealous. She needs to endure anger, and cheapness, and faultfinding, and envy, and evil speech and anything else he has his nature and will put everything in a way that will be dear to him in her prudence. For a woman who is dear to her husband and works for him well is harmonious and loves her whole household and makes those outside of it well-intentioned toward it. When she does not love the home, she is not willing to see her household, or her own children, or her servants or the possessions she has safe, but in stead she curses them and prays for every kind of ruin, as if she were an enemy, and she prays for her husband to die, as if he is hateful to her so that she is a neighbor to others and hates all those who tend to him.

“I think that a woman like this is harmonious, if she is full of intelligence and prudence. For she will not only help her husband, but also her children and relatives and slaves and the whole household in which her possessions and friends, citizens and guests, reside. Her body supports things things by not being excessive, by pursuing and heeding noble actions, by following her husband in the practice of shared opinion in their common life, by following along with those he admits to their family and friendships and by believing the same things are sweet and bitter as her husband, she is not disharmonious in any way.”

Περὶ γυναικὸς ἁρμονίας

Τὴν ἁρμονίην γυναῖκα γνώσασθαι δεῖ φρονήσιός τε καὶ σωφροσύνης πλείην· κάρτα γὰρ ψυχὴν πεπνῦσθαι δεῖ εἰς ἀρετήν, ὥστ’ ἔσται καὶ δικαίη καὶ ἀνδρηίη καὶ φρονέουσα καὶ αὐταρκείῃ καλλυνομένη καὶ κενὴν δόξην μισέουσα. ἐκ τούτων γὰρ ἔργματα καλὰ γίνεται γυναικὶ ἐς αὐτήν τε καὶ ἄνδρα· καὶ τέκεα καὶ οἶκον· πολλάκις δὲ καὶ πόλει, εἴ γε πόλιας ἢ ἔθνεα ἡ τοίη γε κρατύνοι,  ὡς ἐπὶ βασιληίης ὁρέομεν. κρατέουσα ὦν ἐπιθυμίας καὶ θυμοῦ, ὁσίη καὶ ἁρμονίη γίγνεται· ὥστε οὐδὲ ἔρωτες αὐτὴν ἄνομοι διώξουσιν, ἀλλ’ ἐς ἄνδρα τε καὶ τέκεα καὶ τὸν οἶκον ξύμπαντα φιλίην ἕξει. ὁκόσαι γὰρ ἐράστριαι τελέθουσιν ἀλλοτρίων λεχέων, αὗται δὲ πολέμιαι γίγνονται πάντων τῶν ἐν τῇ οἰκίῃ ἐλευθέρων τε καὶ οἰκετέων· καὶ συντιθῆ ψύθη καὶ δόλους ἀνδρὶ καὶ ψεύδεα κατὰ πάντων μυθίζεται πρὸς τοῦτον, ἵνα μούνη δοκέῃ διαφέρειν εὐνοίῃ καὶ τῆς οἰκίης κρατῇ ἀργίην φιλέουσα. ἐκ τούτων γὰρ φθορὴ γίγνεται συμπάντων ὁκόσα αὐτῇ τε καὶ τῷ ἀνδρὶ ξυνά ἐστι.

καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ἄχρι τῶνδε λελέχθω. σκῆνος δὲ ἄγειν χρὴ πρὸς μέτρα φύσιος τροφῆς τε πέρι καὶ ἱματίων καὶ λουτρῶν καὶ ἀλειψίων καὶ τριχῶν θέσιος καὶ τῶν ὁκόσα ἐς κόσμον ἐστὶ χρυσοῦ καὶ λίθων. ὁκόσαι γὰρ πολυτελέα πάντα ἐσθίουσι καὶ πίνουσι καὶ ἀμπέχονται καὶ φορέουσι τὰ φορέουσι γυναῖκες, ἐς ἁμαρτίην ἕτοιμαι κακίης συμπάσης ἔς τε λέχεα καὶ ἐς τὰ ἄλλα ἀδικοπρηγέες. λιμὸν ὦν καὶ δίψαν ἐξακέεσθαι δεῖ μοῦνον, κἢν ἐκ τῶν εὐτελέων ἔῃ, καὶ ῥῖγος, κἢν νάκος κἢν σισύρη.

βρωτῆρας δὲ εἶναι τῶν τηλόθεν ἢ τῶν πολλοῦ πωλεομένων ἢ τῶν ἐνδόξων κακίη οὐχὶ μικρὰ πέφαται· ἠμφιάσθαι <δ’> εἵματα ἀπεικότα λίην καὶ ποικίλα ἀπὸ θαλασσίης βάψιος τοῦ κόχλου ἢ ἄλλης χρόης πολυτελέος μωρίη πολλή. σκῆνος γὰρ ἐθέλει μὴ ῥιγέειν μηδὲ γυμνὸν εἶναι χάριν εὐπρεπείης, ἄλλου δ’ οὐδενὸς χρῄζει. δόξα δὲ ἀνθρώπων μετὰ ἀμαθίης ἐς τὰ κενεά τε καὶ περισσὰ  ἵεται. ὥστ’ οὔτε χρυσὸν ἀμφιθήσεται ἢ λίθον ᾿Ινδικὸν ἢ χώρης ἐόντα ἄλλης, οὐδὲ πλέξεται πολυτεχνίῃσι τρίχας, οὐδ’ ἀλείψεται ᾿Αραβίης ὀδμῆς ἐμπνέοντα, οὐδὲ χρίσεται πρόσωπον λευκαίνουσα ἢ ἐρυθραίνουσα τοῦτο ἢ μελαίνουσα ὀφρύας τε καὶ ὀφθαλμοὺς καὶ τὴν πολιὴν τρίχα βαφαῖσι τεχνεωμένη, οὐδὲ λούσεται θαμινά. ἡ γὰρ ταῦτα ζητέουσα θηητῆρα ζητεῖ ἀκρασίης γυναικηίης.

κάλλος γὰρ τὸ ἐκ φρονήσιος, οὐκὶ δὲ τὸ ἐκ τούτων, ἁνδάνει ταῖς γινομέναισιν εὖ. ἀναγκαῖα δὲ μὴ  ἡγεέσθω εὐγενηίην καὶ πλοῦτον καὶ μεγάλης πόλιος πάντως γενέσθαι καὶ δόξαν καὶ φιλίην ἐνδόξων καὶ βασιληίων ἀνδρῶν· ἢν μὲν γὰρ ἔῃ, οὐ λυπέει· ἢν δὲ μὴ ἔῃ, ἐπιζητέειν οὐ ποιέει· τούτων γὰρ δίχα φρονίμη  γυνὴ ζῆν οὐ κωλύεται. κἢν ἔῃ δὲ ταῦτα ἅπερ λελάχαται, τὰ μεγάλα καὶ θαυμαζόμενα μή ποτε διζέσθω ψυχή, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἄπωθεν αὐτῶν βαδιζέτω· βλάπτει γὰρ μᾶλλον ἐς ἀτυχίην ἕλκοντα ἢ ὠφελέει. τούτοισι γὰρ ἐπιβουλή τε καὶ φθόνος καὶ βασκανίη προσκέεται, ὥστε ἐν ἀταραξίῃ  οὐκ ἂν γένοιτο ἡ τοιήδε. θεοὺς δὲ σέβειν δεῖ ἐς εὐελπιστίην εὐδαιμονίης,  νόμοισί τε καὶ θεσμοῖσι πειθομένην πατρίοισι.

μετὰ δὲ τούτους μυθεύομαι [τοὺς θεοὺς] γονέας τιμᾶν καὶ σέβειν· οὗτοι γὰρ ἴσα θεοῖσι πάντα  πέλουσι καὶ πρήσσουσι τοῖς ἐγγόνοισι. πρὸς δὲ τὸν ἄνδρα τὸν ἑαυτῆς ζώειν ὧδε δεῖ νομίμως καὶ κρηγύως, μηδὲν ἐννενωμένην ἰδίῃ, ἀλλ’ εὐνὴν τηρεῦσαν καὶ φυλάσσουσαν· ἐν τούτῳ γάρ ἐστι τὰ ξύμπαντα. φέρειν δὲ χρὴ τῶ ἀνδρὸς πάντα, κἢν ἀτυχῇ, κἢν ἁμάρτῃ κατ’ ἄγνοιαν ἢ νοῦσον ἢ μέθην, ἢ ἄλλῃσι γυναιξὶ συγγένηται· ἀνδράσι μὲν γὰρ ἐπιχωρέεται ἁμαρτίη αὕτη· γυναιξὶ δὲ οὔκοτε, τιμωρίη δ’ ἐφέστηκεν.

σώσασθαι ὦν τὸν νόμον δεῖ καὶ μὴ ζηλοτυπέειν· φέρειν δὲ καὶ ὀργὴν καὶ φειδωλίην καὶ μεμψιμοιρίην καὶ ζηλοτυπίην καὶ κακηγορίην καὶ ἤν τι ἄλλο ἔχῃ ἐκ φύσιος, καὶ τούτω θήσεται πάντα ὅκως φίλον ἐστὶν αὐτέῳ σωφρονέουσα. γυνὴ γὰρ ἀνδρὶ φίλη οὖσα καὶ τἀνδρὸς πρήσσουσα κρηγύως, ἁρμονίη ὑπάρχει, καὶ οἶκον τὸν ξύμπαντα φιλέει καὶ τοὺς θύρηθεν εὐνόους τῇ οἰκίῃ ποιέει· ἐπὴν δὲ μὴ φιλέῃ, οὔτε οἶκον οὔτε παῖδας τοὺς ἑωυτῆς οὔτε θεράποντας οὔτε οὐσίην ἡντιναῶν ἐθέλει σῴαν ἐσιδέειν, φθορὴν δὲ πᾶσαν ἀρεῖται καὶ εὔχεται εἶναι, ὡς πολεμίη ἐοῦσα, καὶ τὸν ἄνδρα εὔχεται τεθνάναι ὡς ἐχθρόν, ὅπως ἄλλοισιν ὁμουρέῃ, καὶ ὁκόσοι ἁνδάνουσι τουτέῳ ἐχθαίρει.

ἁρμονίην δὲ αὐτὴν ὧδε δοκέω, εἰ πλεῖος τελέθει φρονήσιός τε καὶ σωφροσύνης. οὐ γὰρ μοῦνον ὠφελήσει τὸν ἄνδρα, ἀλλὰ καὶ παῖδας καὶ συγγενέας καὶ δούλως καὶ τὴν οἰκίην ξύμπασαν, ἐν ᾗ καὶ κτήματα καὶ φίλοι πολιῆταί τε καὶ ξένοι εἰσί· καὶ ἀπεριεργίῃ τὸ σκῆνος διάξει τουτέων, λεσχαίνουσά τε καὶ ἀκούουσα καλά, καὶ ἀκολουθέουσά τε αὐτέῳ καθ’ ὁμοδοξίην τῆς ξυνῆς βιοτῆς, καὶ οἷς ἐκεῖνος αὔξει ξυγγενέσι τε καὶ φίλοισι ξυνομαρτέουσα, καὶ ταὐτὰ ἡγεομένη γλυκέα τε καὶ πικρὰ τὠνδρί, ἢν μὴ ἀναρμόνιος εἰς τὸ πᾶν ἔῃ.

NOT for a ‘harmonious woman’. A Make-up pot from Paestum.

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