Euripides and Women

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 13.5.35

“Euripides the poet was also a lover of women. Hieronymos writes in his Historical Researches that “When someone told Sophocles that Euripides was a women-hater, he said, “Perhaps that is the case in his tragedies, but he loves women in bed.”

φιλογύνης δ’ ἦν καὶ Εὐριπίδης ὁ ποιητής. ῾Ιερώνυμος γοῦν ἐν ῾Ιστορικοῖς ῾Υπομνήμασίν φησιν οὕτως (fr. 6 Hi)· ‘εἰπόντος Σοφοκλεῖ τινος ὅτι μισογύνης ἐστὶν Εὐριπίδης, ἔν γε ταῖς τραγῳδίαις, ἔφη ὁ Σοφοκλῆς· ἐπεὶ ἔν γε τῇ κλίνῃ φιλογύνης.’

 

Schol in Aristoph. Lys. 283 (arg.)

“For Euripides is a woman-hater and says many things against them”

μισογύνης γὰρ ὁ Εὐριπίδης καὶ πολλὰ κατ’ αὐτῶν λέγων.

 

From the Suda

“[Euripides] was gloomy and unfriendly and he avoided social engagement. This is why he appeared to be a misogynist. He still married; first Khoirinê, the daughter of Mnesilokhos, who bore him Mnesilokhos and Mnhsarkhidê. After he divorced her, hetook a second wife, although she was also shown to be unfaithful. When he was in exile from Athens he went to Arkhelaos, the king of the Macedonians, where he lived, enjoying the greatest honor.

He died thanks to the plotting of Arribaios the Macedonian and Krateuas the Thessalian. These poets envied him, so they bribed one of the king’s servants named Lusimakhos with only ten minae to release the dogs the king raised against Euripides. Others record that he was not killed by dogs but was torn apart by women at night when he was sneaking out to Krateros, Arkhelaos’ lover. (For they also report that he was predisposed to these kind of affairs too.) Others say that he was going out to meet the wife of Nikodokos of Arethusa.”

euripides-bust

σκυθρωπὸς δὲ ἦν τὸ ἦθος καὶ ἀμειδὴς καὶ φεύγων τὰς συνουσίας· ὅθεν καὶ μισογύνης ἐδοξάσθη. ἔγημε δὲ ὅμως πρώτην μὲν Χοιρίνην, θυγατέρα Μνησιλόχου· ἐξ ἧς ἔσχε Μνησίλοχον καὶ Μνησαρχίδην καὶ Εὐριπίδην. ἀπωσάμενος δὲ ταύτην ἔσχε καὶ δευτέραν, καὶ ταύτης ὁμοίως ἀκολάστου πειραθείς. ἀπάρας δὲ ἀπ’᾿Αθηνῶν ἦλθε πρὸς ᾿Αρχέλαον τὸν βασιλέα τῶν Μακεδόνων, παρ’ ᾧ διῆγε τῆς ἄκρας ἀπολαύων τιμῆς. ἐτελεύτησε δὲ ὑπὸ ἐπιβουλῆς ᾿Αρριβαίου τοῦ Μακεδόνος καὶ Κρατεύα τοῦ Θετταλοῦ, ποιητῶν ὄντων καὶ φθονησάντων αὐτῷ πεισάντων τε τὸν βασιλέως οἰκέτην τοὔνομα Λυσίμαχον, δέκα μνῶν ἀγορασθέντα, τοὺς βασιλέως, οὓς αὐτὸς ἔτρεφε, κύνας ἐπαφεῖναι αὐτῷ. οἱ δὲ ἱστόρησαν οὐχ ὑπὸκυνῶν, ἀλλ’ ὑπὸ γυναικῶν νύκτωρ διασπασθῆναι, πορευόμενον ἀωρὶ πρὸς Κρατερὸν τὸν ἐρώμενον ᾿Αρχελάου (καὶ γὰρ σχεῖν αὐτὸν καὶ περὶ τοὺς τοιούτους ἔρωτας), οἱ δέ, πρὸς τὴν γαμετὴν Νικοδίκου τοῦ ᾿Αρεθουσίου

“Why Do I Recount Odysseus’ Troubles?”

In the following passage Kassandra prophesies Odysseus’ travails in returning home. Although she seems to refer to a few events not in our Odyssey (fast rocks, talking meat), what I find interesting is the possible poetic engagement with Kassandra’s presentation in the Odyssey where she is not mentioned as the cause of Athena’s anger or marked as a prophet. 

Euripides, Trojan Women 424–447

“Really, a clever servant. Why do heralds have
the name they have, when one hatred is common to people:
the servants of tyrants and their regimes?
You say that my mother will arrive at
Odysseus’ home? Where then are Apollo’s words
which say—when I have translated them—
that she will die here? I will not insult her with the rest.
The wretched man, he doesn’t know what suffering awaits him—
how even these Phrygian horrors of mine will seem
golden to him. For ten years after sailing out added to ten
spent here he will finally arrive at his fatherland alone
< >
where the swiftest rocks [make] the passage narrow,
and dreadful Charybdis, near the man-eating, cliff-walking [Skyla],
The Kyklops, and the Ligurian, swine-witch
Kirkê, and shipwrecks over the salted-sea,
lusts for lotus, and the sacred cattle of Helios,
whose flesh will sing in human voice one day
a bitter song for Odysseus—I will cut this short:
he will go into Hades still alive and though feeling the water’s flow
he will come home and find countless evils at home.
But why do I enumerate the toils of Odysseus?
Take me right away, let me marry a bridegroom for Hades’ home.
You are evil and you will be evilly buried at night, not at day
Captain of the Danaid women, believing you are doing something good.”

Κα. ἦ δεινὸς ὁ λάτρις. τί ποτ’ ἔχουσι τοὔνομα
κήρυκες, ἓν ἀπέχθημα πάγκοινον βροτοῖς,
οἱ περὶ τυράννους καὶ πόλεις ὑπηρέται;
σὺ τὴν ἐμὴν φὴις μητέρ’ εἰς ᾿Οδυσσέως
ἥξειν μέλαθρα; ποῦ δ’ ᾿Απόλλωνος λόγοι,
οἵ φασιν αὐτὴν εἰς ἔμ’ ἡρμηνευμένοι
αὐτοῦ θανεῖσθαι; τἄλλα δ’ οὐκ ὀνειδιῶ.
δύστηνος, οὐκ οἶδ’ οἷά νιν μένει παθεῖν·
ὡς χρυσὸς αὐτῶι τἀμὰ καὶ Φρυγῶν κακὰ
δόξει ποτ’ εἶναι. δέκα γὰρ ἐκπλήσας ἔτη
πρὸς τοῖσιν ἐνθάδ’ ἵξεται μόνος πάτραν
< >
†οὗ δὴ στενὸν δίαυλον ὤικισται πέτρας†
δεινὴ Χάρυβδις ὠμοβρώς τ’ ὀρειβάτης
Κύκλωψ Λιγυστίς θ’ ἡ συῶν μορφώτρια
Κίρκη θαλάσσης θ’ ἁλμυρᾶς ναυάγια
λωτοῦ τ’ ἔρωτες ῾Ηλίου θ’ ἁγναὶ βόες,
αἳ σαρξὶ φοινίαισιν ἥσουσίν ποτε
πικρὰν ᾿Οδυσσεῖ γῆρυν. ὡς δὲ συντέμω,
ζῶν εἶσ’ ἐς ῞Αιδου κἀκφυγὼν λίμνης ὕδωρ
κάκ’ ἐν δόμοισι μυρί’ εὑρήσει μολών.
ἀλλὰ γὰρ τί τοὺς ᾿Οδυσσέως ἐξακοντίζω πόνους;
στεῖχ’ ὅπως τάχιστ’· ἐν ῞Αιδου νυμφίωι γημώμεθα.
ἦ κακὸς κακῶς ταφήσηι νυκτός, οὐκ ἐν ἡμέραι,
ὦ δοκῶν σεμνόν τι πράσσειν, Δαναϊδῶν ἀρχηγέτα.
κἀμέ τοι νεκρὸν φάραγγες γυμνάδ’ ἐκβεβλημένην
ὕδατι χειμάρρωι ῥέουσαι νυμφίου πέλας τάφου
θηρσὶ δώσουσιν δάσασθαι, τὴν ᾿Απόλλωνος λάτριν.

Kassandra is most famous in ancient art and myth for the sexual violence she suffers at Oilean Ajax’s hands. But when there is an opportunity to refer to this, the Odyssey avoids it. Instead, it creates a new reason for Ajax to suffer:

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Feeling Old? A Story about Bellerophon Probably Won’t Help

Bellerophon is an interesting figure to consider from Greek myth because his story changes over time (and because we have mostly only fragments and hints about his narrative). In early accounts he is clearly a classic beast-slayer who kills a princess, but he is also an over-reacher who suffers for hubris.

The most famous account of Bellerophon (typically called the first as well) is in the Iliad (6.152-206) where Glaukos describes his grandfather’s flight from Proitos the ruler of the Argives whose wife accused Bellerophon of rape. Bellerophon goes to Lykia and defeats three challenges (the Khimaira, Amazons and Solymoi) and also evades an ambush. Bellerophon wins a princess and a kingdom. Cryptically, Glaukos describes Bellerophon as falling out of favor with the gods and wandering alone.

Bellerophon

Homer, however, does not mention Pegasos. In Hesiod, there is a close connection between the monster, the flying horse, and the Hero:

Theogony, 319-325

“She gave birth to the Khimaira who breathes unquenchable fire,
A terrible, large beast who is swift and strong.
She has three heads: one from a sharp-toothed lion,
The other of a goat, and the third is from a powerful serpent.
The lion is in front, the snake at the end, with the goat in the middle:
She exhales the terrible fury of burning fire.
Pegasos and noble Bellerophon killed her.”

ἡ δὲ Χίμαιραν ἔτικτε πνέουσαν ἀμαιμάκετον πῦρ,
δεινήν τε μεγάλην τε ποδώκεά τε κρατερήν τε.
τῆς ἦν τρεῖς κεφαλαί• μία μὲν χαροποῖο λέοντος,
ἡ δὲ χιμαίρης, ἡ δ’ ὄφιος κρατεροῖο δράκοντος.
[πρόσθε λέων, ὄπιθεν δὲ δράκων, μέσση δὲ χίμαιρα,
δεινὸν ἀποπνείουσα πυρὸς μένος αἰθομένοιο.]
τὴν μὲν Πήγασος εἷλε καὶ ἐσθλὸς Βελλεροφόντης•

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Character: Aristotle, Cognitive Theory and the Man of Many-Ways

Euripides, Bacchae 369

“A fool says foolish things.”

μῶρα γὰρ μῶρος λέγει.

Aristotle Poetics 1450a

“Since it is the imitation of action, it is performed by those who act, by those types of people who necessarily [do those things] due to character and thought. For we believe that actions are the sorts of things which have two causes, thought and character, and that through these things everyone either succeeds or fails. And thus the story [or plot, muthos] is imitation of an action, for I claim that myth is a connection of deeds and that “characters” are those reasons that certain people do certain things, and that thought is that in which they display in talking or when they communicate an opinion.”

ἐπεὶ δὲ πράξεώς ἐστι μίμησις, πράττεται δὲ ὑπὸ τινῶν πραττόντων, οὓς ἀνάγκη ποιούς τινας εἶναι κατά τε τὸ ἦθος καὶ τὴν διάνοιαν (διὰ γὰρ τούτων καὶ τὰς πράξεις εἶναί φαμεν ποιάς τινας [πέφυκεν αἴτια δύο τῶν πράξεων εἶναι, διάνοια καὶ ἦθος] καὶ κατὰ ταύτας καὶ τυγχάνουσι καὶ ἀποτυγχάνουσι πάντες), ἔστιν δὲ τῆς μὲν πράξεως ὁ μῦθος ἡ μίμησις, λέγω γὰρ μῦθον τοῦτον τὴν  σύνθεσιν τῶν πραγμάτων, τὰ δὲ ἤθη, καθ’ ὃ ποιούς τινας εἶναί φαμεν τοὺς πράττοντας, διάνοιαν δέ, ἐν ὅσοις λέγοντες ἀποδεικνύασίν τι ἢ καὶ ἀποφαίνονται γνώμην…

 

Mark Turner. The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language. Oxford: 1996.

Turner 1996, 133: The stories minds tell (the ways in which we interpret the world) are based on roles and character, “formed by backward inference from such a role, according to the folk theory of “the Nature of Things,” otherwise known as “Being Leads to Doing.” In this folk theory, glass shatters because it is brittle and fragile. Water pours because it is liquid. Someone forgives because she is forgiving. A dog guards the house because it is watchful. A fool acts like a fool because he is foolish. In general, doing follows from being; something behaves in a certain way because its being leads it to behave in that way…

Character is a pattern of connections we expect to operate across stories about a particular individual with that character or across stories about a group of individual with that character. People of a particular character are expected to inhabit similar roles in different stories…

[134] A role in one story is not isolated but connects to the same role in other stories…Focus, viewpoint, role and character in narrative imagining give us ways of constructing our own meaning, which is to say, ways of understanding who we are, what it means to be us, to have a particular life. The inability to locate one’s own focus, viewpoint, role, and character with respect to conventional stories of leading a life is thought to be pathological and deeply distressing. It is a principal reason for recommending psychotherapy to people not obviously insane.”

[136] “We do not live in a single narrative mental space, but rather dynamically and variably across over very many…realism can indicate that a specific life is never contained within a single story space or even a collection of such spaces whose corresponding generic space tells us everything we want to know. The real is in the blend.”

Homer,Odyssey: Epithets of Odysseus

“Sing to me, Muse, of the man of many ways…”
1.1     ῎Ανδρα μοι ἔννεπε, Μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ

 

“Send many-minded Odysseus to his own home”
1.83  νοστῆσαι ᾿Οδυσῆα πολύφρονα ὅνδε δόμονδε,

“Ah, you are Odysseus of many-ways….
10.330 ἦ σύ γ’ ᾿Οδυσσεύς ἐσσι πολύτροπος, ὅν τέ μοι αἰεὶ

 

“[Odysseus] will know how to return, since he is a man of many-devices”
1.205 φράσσεται ὥς κε νέηται, ἐπεὶ πολυμήχανός ἐστιν.

“Divine-raced, son of Laertes, many-deviced Odysseus
5.203 “διογενὲς Λαερτιάδη, πολυμήχαν’ ᾿Οδυσσεῦ,

 

“If very-clever Odysseus were in these rooms again…”
4.763 εἴ ποτέ τοι πολύμητις ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ᾿Οδυσσεὺς

 

“So she spoke, and much-enduring, shining Odysseus shivered”
5.171     ὣς φάτο, ῥίγησεν δὲ πολύτλας δῖος ᾿Οδυσσεύς,

 

“So she spoke, and much-enduring, shining Odysseus laughed”
13.250      ὣς φάτο, γήθησεν δὲ πολύτλας δῖος ᾿Οδυσσεὺς

“And you, many-pained old man, since a god brought you my way…”
14.386 καὶ σύ, γέρον πολυπενθές, ἐπεί σέ μοι ἤγαγε δαίμων,

 

“They would not conquer me. I am truly much-enduring”
18.319 οὔ τί με νικήσουσι· πολυτλήμων δὲ μάλ’ εἰμί.”

 

“…I am a man of many-sorrows…”
19.118 μνησαμένῳ· μάλα δ’ εἰμὶ πολύστονος· οὐδέ τί με χρὴ

 

“…he is much-prayed for…”
19.404 παιδὸς παιδὶ φίλῳ· πολυάρητος δέ τοί ἐστι.”

 

Schol. ad Demosthenes. Orat. 20

“For a man of many ways changes himself in accordance with the nature of the matters at hand.”

πολύτροπος γὰρ ὁ ἀνὴρ καὶ πρὸς τὴν τῶν πραγμά-των φύσιν συμμεταβάλλεται.

 

Schol. ad Odysseam 1.50 ex

“Antisthenes in interpreting this asks “why, then, is wretched Odysseus called polytropos? Really, this is the way to mark him out as wise. Isn’t it true that his manner never indicates his character, but that instead it signals his use of speech? The man who has a character difficult to penetrate is well-turned. These sorts of inventions of words are tropes/ways/manners

λύων οὖν ὁ ᾿Αντισθένης φησὶ, Τί οὖν; ἆρά γε πονηρὸς ὁ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς ὅτι πολύτροπος ἐκλήθη; καὶ μὴν διότι σοφὸς οὕτως αὐτὸν προσείρηκε. μήποτε οὖν ὁ τρόπος τὸ μέν τι σημαίνει τὸ ἦθος, τὸ δέ τι σημαίνει τὴν τοῦ λόγου χρῆσιν; εὔτροπος γὰρ ἀνὴρ ὁ τὸ ἦθος ἔχων εἰς τὸ εὖ τετραμμένον· τρόποι δὲ λόγων αἱ ποιαὶ πλάσεις.

John Peradotto. Man in the Middle Voice: Name and Narration in the Odyssey. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990: 44

“Events in a narrative are determined by its end. In the telling, however, a narrative gives us the illusion of being motivated, as a historical account appears to be motivated, from the opposite direction, from beginning to end…It is in effect a process of retroactive necessity in composition generating in performance, the illusion of progressive contingency.”

 

“The Dog’s Grave”: Did Odysseus Kill Hecuba?

At the end of Euripides’ Trojan Women, Hektor’s mother Hekabe (Hecuba) is taken as a servant by Odysseus. Hekabe, however, does not make it back to Ithaka or appear in the Odyssey. What happens?

 

Apollodorus Epitome, 5.23

“After killing the Trojan men, they burned the city and divided the spoils. Once they had sacrificed to all the gods, they threw Astyanax from the towers and sacrificed Polyxena on Achilles’ tomb. As a reward, Agamemnon took Kasandra, Neoptolemos took Andromakhe, and Odysseus took Hekabê. Some report that Helenos took her and he crossed to the Chersonnese with her and buried her there after she turned into a dog. This place is now called “Dog’s Grave”.

[23] κτείναντες δὲ τοὺς Τρῶας τὴν πόλιν ἐνέπρησαν καὶ τὰ λάφυρα ἐμερίσαντο. καὶ θύσαντες πᾶσι τοῖς θεοῖς Ἀστυάνακτα ἀπὸ τῶν πύργων ἔρριψαν, Πολυξένην δὲ ἐπὶ τῷ Ἀχιλλέως τάφῳ κατέσφαξαν. λαμβάνει δὲ Ἀγαμέμνων μὲν κατ᾽ ἐξαίρετον Κασάνδραν, Νεοπτόλεμος δὲ Ἀνδρομάχην, Ὀδυσσεὺς δὲ Ἑκάβην. ὡς δὲ ἔνιοι λέγουσιν, Ἕλενος αὐτὴν λαμβάνει, καὶ διακομισθεὶς εἰς Χερρόνησον σὺν αὐτῇ κύνα γενομένην θάπτει, ἔνθα νῦν λέγεται Κυνὸς σῆμα.

This story seems a bit strange, but it is not the only passage that combines a remarkable burial place for Hecuba and Odysseus’ winning of her.

Suda

“Dog’s Grave”: Odysseus, once he sailed to Marôneia during the departure from Troy and because he did not agree to leave the ships assailed them in war and took all their wealth. There, because she was cursing the army and making a ruckus, he killed Hekabe by stoning her and buried her near the sea, naming the place the “Bitch’s Grave”.

 
Κυνὸς σῆμα: ᾿Οδυσσεὺς κατὰ τὸν ἀπόπλουν παραπλεύσας εἰς Μαρώνειαν καὶ μὴ συγχωρούμενος τῶν νεῶν ἀποβῆναι διακρίνεται τούτοις πολέμῳ καὶ λαμβάνει τὸν πλοῦτον αὐτῶν ἅπαντα. ἐκεῖ δὲ τὴν ῾Εκάβην καταρωμένην τῷ στρατῷ καὶ θορύβους κινοῦσαν λίθων βολαῖς ἀνεῖλε καὶ παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν καλύπτει, ὀνομάσας τὸν τόπον Κυνὸς σῆμα.

 

Why did Hecuba turn into a dog?

Scholia to Lykophron’s Alexandra, 1176. 14-17

“They say that Hekabe was a witch and a follower of Hekate and for this reason, even if they are speaking nonsense, Hekabe turned into a dog when she was killed with stones. They also say that black, frightening dogs accompanied Hekate.”

ἑπωπίδα δὲ καὶ ἀκόλουθον τῆς ῾Εκάτης φησὶ τὴν ῾Εκάβην, ὅτι, καθάπερ ληροῦσιν (13128), ἡ ῾Εκάβη κύων γεγονυῖα λίθοις ἀνῃρέθη· καὶ τῇ ῾Εκάτῃ δέ
φασιν ἕπεσθαι κύνας μελαίνας φοβεράς. (Ap. Γ 1217)

 

It is not always the case that Odysseus stoned Hekabe:

Scholia to Euripides’ Hecuba 1259.10-12

“The story is that Hecuba was turned into a dog’s shape and then climbed down to the lowest part of the mast or the sailyard. He threw her into the sea and she drowned.”

μυθεύεται γὰρ ὡς εἰς κυνὸς εἶδος μεταβληθεῖσα ῾Εκάβη καὶ ἀνελθοῦσα ἐν τῷ ἀνωτάτῳ τοῦ ἱστοῦ, ἤτοι τοῦ κέρατος, ἔρριψεν αὑτὴν εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ ἀπεπνίγη.

 

And some see Euripides’ play Hecuba as anticipating the famous tomb:

Scholia to Euripides’Hecuba, 1271-2:

The tomb will have your name: You grave, he means, will take your name in popular knowledge. For everyone will call it the tomb of the dog. Asclepiades says that people call it the “Tomb of the Ill-fated Dog”

An enchanter of form”: Instead of a nickname based on my form, the grave will be named for what I have now or something else you said. As Polymestor predicts. The grave will not be named for Hekabe, but will be known to sailors as the “Dog’s Grave”. Whenever sailors come to that place where Hekabe’s grave is, then they will know they are nearing dry land.”

† τύμβῳ δ’ ὄνομα σὸν κεκλήσεται: ὁ τάφος σου, φησὶν,τὸ σὸν ὄνομα εἰς κλῆσιν λάβῃ. πάντες γὰρ κυνὸς τάφον αὐτὸν καλοῦσι, καὶ ᾿Ασκληπιάδης φησὶν ὅτι κυνὸς καλοῦσι δυσμόρου σῆμα: —A

† μορφῆς ἐπῳδόν: ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐπώνυμον τῆς ἐμῆς μορφῆς κληθήσεται τὸ σῆμα ἧς ἔχω νῦν, ἢ τί ἕτερον εἴπῃς. καί φησι Πολυμήστωρ· οὐ τάφος ῾Εκάβης κληθήσεται, ἀλλὰ κυνὸς σημεῖον τοῖς ναύταις ἐπίδηλον· ὅταν γὰρ ἀπέλθωσιν εἰς ἐκεῖνον τὸν τόπον οἱ ναῦται ἔνθαἐστὶν ὁ τῆς ῾Εκάβης τάφος, τότε γινώσκουσιν ὡς εἰς ξηράν εἰσιν: —A

Schol. to Euripides’ Hecuba 1273.1-2

“Of a wretched dog”: Asclepiades also says concerning the Dog’s Grave that some people call it the “Tomb of the Ill-Fated Dog.

κυνὸς ταλαίνης: περὶ τοῦ κυνὸς σήματος καὶ ᾿Ασκληπιάδηςφησὶν ὅτι κυνὸς καλοῦσι δυσμόρου σῆμα: —B

 

Polyxena

Polyxena. Another one of Hecuba’s children slaughtered

Fragmentary Friday: Fire For Women

Euripides, fr. 429

“In exchange for fire we women
Were made, another fire, greater
Much harder to fight.”

ἀντὶ πυρὸς γὰρ ἄλλο πῦρ
μεῖζον ἐβλάστομεν γυναῖ-
κες πολὺ δυσμαχώτερον.

Fr. 464

“Get married already, get married, and then die
Either by poison or a trick from your wife.”

γαμεῖτε νῦν, γαμεῖτε, κᾆτα θνῄσκετε
ἢ φαρμάκοισιν ἐκ γυναικὸς ἢ δόλοις.

Fr. 493

“Hating the female race is the most painful thing.
If those who have fallen share shame
With the women who have not and the wicked ones
Share repute with those who are not, and they don’t
Seem to men to be trustworthy when it comes to marriage.”

ἄλγιστόν ἐστι θῆλυ μισηθὲν γένος·
αἱ γὰρ σφαλεῖσαι ταῖσιν οὐκ ἐσφαλμέναις
αἶσχος γυναιξὶ καὶ κεκοίνωνται ψόγον
ταῖς οὐ κακαῖσιν αἱ κακαί· τὰ δ’ εἰς γάμους
οὐδὲν δοκοῦσιν ὑγιὲς ἀνδράσιν φρονεῖν.

Fr. 162

“When a young man faces up to Aphrodite,
He is unguardable: even if he is useless in everything else,
Every man is very clever about sex.”

ἢν ἀνδρὸς δ’ ὁρῶντος εἰς Κύπριν νεανίου
ἀφύλακτος ἡ τήρησις, ὡς κἂν φαῦλος ᾖ
τἄλλ’, εἰς ἔρωτα πᾶς ἀνὴρ σοφώτατος·

If the New Year Makes You Feel Old, Don’t Read This

Euripides, fr. 25 (Aeolus):

“Alas, the ancient proverb holds well:
We old men are nothing other than a sound
and an image, lurking imitations of dreams.
We have no mind and but we think we know how to think well.”

φεῦ φεῦ, παλαιὸς αἶνος ὡς καλῶς ἔχει·
γέροντες οὐδέν ἐσμεν ἄλλο πλὴν ψόφος
καὶ σχῆμ’, ὀνείρων δ’ ἕρπομεν μιμήματα·
νοῦς δ’ οὐκ ἔνεστιν, οἰόμεσθα δ’ εὖ φρονεῖν.

This is certainly uplifting. Not sure if I prefer to age with Euripides in mind or this:

Democritus, fr. 296

“Old age is the perfect handicap: it has everything and lacks everything.”

γῆρας ὁλόκληρός ἐστι πήρωσις·
πάντ’ ἔχει καὶ πᾶσιν ἐνδεῖ.

If not, maybe we can take some solace in Pindar:

Pindar, Olympian 4.25-27

“Sometimes even young men grow grey hair before the right time of life”

φύονται δὲ καὶ νέοις
ἐν ἀνδράσιν πολιαί
θαμάκι παρὰ τὸν ἁλικίας ἐοικότα χρόνον

But if we get too high on that, we can always rely on Cicero to bring us back to earth:

Sophocles,  fr. 65

“No one loves living as much as a man growing old”

τοῦ ζῆν γὰρ οὐδεὶς ὡς ὁ γηράσκων ἐρᾷ

 

Cicero, On Old Age 24

“No one is so old that he thinks he could not live another year”

nemo enim est tam senex qui se annum non putet posse vivere