Golden Rain or Incest? Early Fragments on Perseus

Perseus, Andromeda, and a Sea Monster
Perseus, Andromeda, and a Sea Monster

Hesiod, Fr. 129.8-18

“And she bore both Proitos and king Akrisios
And the father of gods and men established them in different places
Akrisos ruled in well-built Argos…
[three broken lines describing the marriage of Akrisios to Eurydike, daughter of Lakedaimon]
She gave birth to fine-ankled Danae in her home
Who in turn was the mother of Perseus, the mighty master of fear.
Proitos lived in the well-built city of Tiryns
and married the daughter of the great-hearted son of Arkas
the fine-haired Stheneboia…”
Continue reading “Golden Rain or Incest? Early Fragments on Perseus”

Fragmentary Friday: Euripides Confuses (Himself?) On Women

Euripides is sometimes held up to be among Athens’ greatest misogynists. Close readings of his full plays can contradict this (sometimes). A handful of fragments can confound

Euripides, fr. 320 (Danae)

“There is neither fortress nor fortune
Nor anything else as hard to guard as a woman.”

οὐκ ἔστιν οὔτε τεῖχος οὔτε χρήματα
οὔτ’ ἄλλο δυσφύλακτον οὐδὲν ὡς γυνή.

Euripides, fr. 276 (Auge)

“We are women: in some things, we hesitate.
But in others, no one can surpass our courage.”

γυναῖκές ἐσμεν• τὰ μὲν ὄκνῳ νικώμεθα,
τὰ δ’ οὐκ ἂν ἡμῶν θράσος ὑπερβάλοιτό τις.

Euripides, fr. 358 (Erechtheus)

“Children have nothing sweeter than their mother.
Love your mother children, there is no kind of love anywhere
Sweeter than this one to love.”

οὐκ ἔστι μητρὸς οὐδὲν ἥδιον τέκνοις•
ἐρᾶτε μητρός, παῖδες, ὡς οὐκ ἔστ’ ἔρως
τοιοῦτος ἄλλος ὅστις ἡδίων ἐρᾶν.

Euripides, fr. 137 (Andromeda)

“Best of all riches is to find a noble spouse.”

τῶν γὰρ πλούτων ὅδ’ ἄριστος
γενναῖον λέχος εὑρεῖν.

Perhaps this is at the root of the problem:

Euripides, fr. 26 (Aeolus)

“Aphrodite has many shades:
She can please or aggrieve men completely.”

τῇ δ’ ᾿Αφροδίτῃ πόλλ’ ἔνεστι ποικίλα•
τέρπει τε γὰρ μάλιστα καὶ λυπεῖ βροτούς.

 

(And, yes, these are just some fragments from his lost plays A-E!)

Euripides on Marriage: Misleading Fragments

Euripides, fr. 137 (Andromeda)

 

“Best of all riches is to find a noble spouse.”

 

τῶν γὰρ πλούτων ὅδ’ ἄριστος

γενναῖον λέχος εὑρεῖν.

 

This might be one of the few positive comments about marriage from Classical Greece. But, then again, it comes from a woman in a play about a girl rescued from a sea monster…And the positive comment is really about class…

 

The following is much more typical:

 

Euripides, fr. 78 (Alcmeon)

 

“A wife brings her husband

The greatest aid and the greatest

Sickness.”

 

γυναῖκα καὶ ὠφελίαν

καὶ νόσον ἀνδρὶ φέρειν

μεγίσταν….

 

Every sickness contains its own cure?