Explaining the Cuckoo: Women Know Everything

Scholion on Theokritos, Idylls 15.64

“Women know everything, even how Zeus married Hera.”

Homer has, “They traveled together to bed, avoiding their parents’ notice”. Aristokles in his work “On the Cults of Hermione”, provides something of an odd tale about the marriage of Zeus and Hera. For, as the story goes, Zeus was planning on having sex with Hera when he noticed that she was separated from the other gods. Because he did not want to be obvious and did not want to be seen by her, he changed his appearance into a cuckoo and was waiting on a mountain which was first called Thornax but is now just called Cuckoo.

Zeus made a terrible storm on that day and when Hera was going toward the mountain alone, she stopped at the very place where there is currently a temple to Hera Teleia. The cuckoo, flew down and sat on her lap when he saw her, shivering and freezing because of the weather. Hera saw the bird and pitied him and covered him with her cloak. Then Zeus suddenly transformed his appearance and grabbed a hold of Hera. Because she was refusing him due to their mother, he promised that he would marry her.

Among the Argives, who honor the goddess the most of all the Greeks, the cult image of Hera sits in the temple on a throne holding a scepter in one hand on which a cuckoo is seated.”

πάντα γυναῖκες ἴσαντι, καὶ ὡς Ζεὺς ἀγάγεθ᾽ ῞Ηραν] … ῞Ομηρος «εἰς εὐνὴν φοιτῶντε φίλους λήθοντο τοκῆας.» ᾽Αριστοκλῆς δὲ ἐν τῶι Περὶ τῶν ῾Ερμιόνης ἱερῶν ἰδιωτέρως ἱστορεῖ περὶ τοῦ Διὸς καὶ [τοῦ τῆς] ῞Ηρας γάμου. τὸν γὰρ Δία μυθολογεῖται ἐπιβουλεύειν τῆι ῞Ηραι μιγῆναι, ὅτε αὐτὴν ἴδοι χωρισθεῖσαν ἀπὸ τῶν ἄλλων θεῶν. βουλόμενος δὲ ἀφανὴς γενέσθαι καὶ μὴ ὀφθῆναι ὑπ᾽ αὐτῆς τὴν ὄψιν μεταβάλλει εἰς κόκκυγα καὶ καθέζεται εἰς ὄρος, ὃ πρῶτον μὲν Θόρναξ ἐκαλεῖτο, νῦν δὲ Κόκκυξ. τὸν δὲ Δία χειμῶνα δεινὸν ποιῆσαι τῆι ἡμέραι ἐκείνηι· τὴν δὲ ῞Ηραν πορευομένην μόνην ἀφικέσθαι πρὸς τὸ ὄρος καὶ καθέζεσθαι εἰς αὐτό, ὅπου νῦν ἐστιν ἱερὸν ῞Ηρας Τελείας. τὸν δὲ κόκκυγα ἰδόντα καταπετασθῆναι καὶ καθεσθῆναι ἐπὶ τὰ γόνατα αὐτῆς πεφρικότα καὶ ῥιγῶντα ὑπὸ τοῦ χειμῶνος. τὴν δὲ ῞Ηραν ἰδοῦσαν αὐτὸν οἰκτεῖραι καὶ περιβαλεῖν τῆι ἀμπεχόνηι. τὸν δὲ Δία εὐθέως μεταβαλεῖν τὴν ὄψιν καὶ ἐπιλαβέσθαι τῆς ῞Ηρας. τῆς δὲ τὴν μίξιν παραιτουμένης διὰ τὴν μητέρα, αὐτὸν ὑποσχέσθαι γυναῖκα αὐτὴν ποιήσασθαι. καὶ παρ᾽ ᾽Αργείοις δέ, οἳ μέγιστα τῶν ῾Ελλήνων τιμῶσι τὴν θεόν, τὸ [δὲ] ἄγαλμα τῆς ῞Ηρας ἐν τῶι ναῶι καθήμενον ἐν τῶι θρόνωι τῆι χειρὶ ἔχει σκῆπτρον, καὶ ἐπ᾽ αὐτῶι τῶι σκήπτρωι κόκκυξ.

Pausanias (2.17.4) describes a statue in a temple to Hera outside of Corinth:

“The statue of Hera—extraordinarily huge—sits on a throne made of gold and ivory, a work of Polykleitos. She has a crown embossed with Graces and the Seasons and carries in one hand a pomegranate fruit and in the other a scepter. I must pass over the reason for the pomegranate, since the tale is protected by sacred rite. But people say that the cuckoo bird sitting on the scepter is Zeus: because he was in love with Hera when she was a maiden and turned himself into this bird which she hunted to have as a pet. I record this story as much as the others of the gods which I offer incredulously—but I record them still.”

τὸ δὲ ἄγαλμα τῆς ῞Ηρας ἐπὶ θρόνου κάθηται μεγέθει μέγα, χρυσοῦ μὲν καὶ ἐλέφαντος, Πολυκλείτου δὲ ἔργον· ἔπεστι δέ οἱ στέφανος Χάριτας ἔχων καὶ ῞Ωρας ἐπειργασμένας, καὶ τῶν χειρῶν τῇ μὲν καρπὸν φέρει ῥοιᾶς, τῇ δὲ σκῆπτρον. τὰ μὲν οὖν ἐς τὴν ῥοιὰν—ἀπορρητότερος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ λόγος—ἀφείσθω μοι· κόκκυγα δὲ ἐπὶ τῷ σκήπτρῳ καθῆσθαί φασι λέγοντες τὸν Δία, ὅτε ἤρα παρθένου τῆς ῞Ηρας, ἐς τοῦτον τὸν ὄρνιθα ἀλλαγῆναι, τὴν δὲ ἅτε παίγνιον θηρᾶσαι. τοῦτον τὸν λόγον καὶ ὅσα ἐοικότα εἴρηται περὶ θεῶν οὐκ ἀποδεχόμενος γράφω, γράφω δὲ οὐδὲν ἧσσον.

 

Jupiter and Juno on Mt. Ida, by James Barry (1773)

 

Why Wives Should Learn Geometry and Plato. And, an Eclipse

Plutarch, Advice to Bride and Groom (Moralia138a-146a : Conjugalia Praecepta)

“These kinds of studies, foremost, distract women from inappropriate matters. For, a wife will be ashamed to dance when she is learning geometry. And she will not receive spells of medicine if she is charmed by Platonic dialogues and the works of Xenophon. And if anyone claims she can pull down the moon, she will laugh at the ignorance and simplicity of the women who believe these things because she herself is not ignorant of astronomy and she has read about Aglaonikê. She was the daughter of Hêgêtor of Thessaly because she knew all about the periods of the moon and eclipses knew before everyone about the time when the moon would be taken by the shadow of the earth. She tricked the other women and persuaded them that she herself was causing the lunar eclipse.”

τὰ δὲ τοιαῦτα μαθήματα πρῶτον ἀφίστησι τῶν ἀτόπων τὰς γυναῖκας· αἰσχυνθήσεται γὰρ ὀρχεῖσθαι γυνὴ γεωμετρεῖν μανθάνουσα, καὶ φαρμάκων ἐπῳδὰς οὐ προσδέξεται τοῖς Πλάτωνος ἐπᾳδομένη λόγοις καὶ τοῖς Ξενοφῶντος. ἂν δέ τις ἐπαγγέλληται καθαιρεῖν τὴν σελήνην, γελάσεται τὴν ἀμαθίαν καὶ τὴν ἀβελτερίαν τῶν ταῦτα πειθομένων γυναικῶν, ἀστρολογίας μὴ ἀνηκόως ἔχουσα καὶ περὶ Ἀγλαονίκης ἀκηκουῖα τῆς Ἡγήτορος τοῦ Θετταλοῦ θυγατρὸς ὅτι τῶν ἐκλειπτικῶν ἔμπειρος οὖσα πανσελήνων καὶ προειδυῖα τὸν χρόνον, ἐν ᾧ συμβαίνει τὴν σελήνην ὑπὸ γῆς σκιᾶς ἁλίσκεσθαι, παρεκρούετο καὶ συνέπειθε τὰς γυναῖκας ὡς αὐτὴ καθαιροῦσα τὴν σελήνην.

 

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Septicia’s Second Marriage and Final Testament

Valerius Maximus, Famous Words and Deeds, 7.7.4

“Septicia as well, the mother of Ariminum’s Trachali, because she was angry with her sons, married Publicius who was already old, even though she could no longer have children, as an insult against them. Then she took both of them out of her will.  When they appealed to him, the divine Augustus criticized both the woman’s marriage and her final allotments. He ordered that the sons have their mother’s inheritance and the dowry since she had not begun the marriage for the purpose of having children.

If Fairness herself were to judge this affair, could she have come up with a more just or more substantial opinion? You spurn the children you bore, make a sterile marriage, make a mess of a final will because of your malicious spirit, and you don’t blush to hand all your wealth over to a man whose body you climb under even when it has already been laid out like a corpse? So, since you acted like this, you are struck by divine lightning even among the damned!”

Septicia quoque, mater Trachalorum Ariminensium, irata filiis, in contumeliam eorum, cum iam parere non posset, Publicio seni admodum nupsit, testamento etiam utrumque praeteriit. a quibus aditus divus Augustus et nuptias mulieris et suprema iudicia improbavit: nam hereditatem maternam filios habere iussit, dotem, quia non creandorum liberorum causa coniugium intercesserat, virum retinere vetuit. si ipsa Aequitas hac de re cognosceret, potuitne iustius aut gravius pronuntiare? spernis quos genuisti, nubis effeta, testamenti ordinem malevolo animo confundis, neque erubescis ei totum patrimonium addicere cuius pollincto iam corpori marcidam senectutem tuam substravisti. ergo dum sic te geris, ad inferos usque caelesti fulmine adflata es.

Related image
Marriage scene on a sarcophagus

 

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.

Madness, Philosophy, and the Natural Realm

Menander, Aspis 305-310

[Khairestratos]:
“Daos, boy, I am not well
I am depressed because of these events. By the gods
I am not under my own control. I am almost completely crazy.
That fine brother of mine is forcing me
To such insanity with his vile behavior.
He is about to get married!”

ΧΑΙΡΕΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ
Δᾶε παῖ, κακῶς ἔχω.
μελαγχολῶ τοῖς πράγμασιν· μὰ τοὺς θεούς,
οὐκ εἴμ᾿ ἐν ἐμαυτοῦ, μαίνομαι δ᾿ ἀκαρὴς πάνυ·
ὁ καλὸς ἀδελφὸς εἰς τοσαύτην ἔκστασιν
ἤδη καθίστησίν με τῇ πονηρίᾳ.
μέλλει γαμεῖν γὰρ αὐτός.

Cicero, De Finibus 1.64

“In this way strength is drawn from natural philosophy against death; so too is determination against the fears of religion and a calmness of mind once the ignorance of all natural mysteries has been removed. So too comes moderation, once the nature and number of desires have been explained. And, finally, as I was just arguing, we can learn how to divine a lie from the truth, since this philosophy provides the Rule or Judgment of knowledge.”

Sic e physicis et fortitudo sumitur contra mortis timorem et constantia contra metum religionis et sedatio animi, omnium rerum occultarum ignoratione sublata, et moderatio, natura cupiditatum generibusque earum explicatis, et, ut modo docui, cognitionis regula et iudicio ab eodem illo constituto veri a falso distinctio traditur.

Image result for medieval manuscript marriage
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Madness, Philosophy, and the Natural Realm

Menander, Aspis 305-310

[Khairestratos]:
“Daos, boy, I am not well
I am depressed because of these events. By the gods
I am not under my own control. I am almost completely crazy.
That fine brother of mine is forcing me
To such insanity with his vile behavior.
He is about to get married!”

ΧΑΙΡΕΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ
Δᾶε παῖ, κακῶς ἔχω.
μελαγχολῶ τοῖς πράγμασιν· μὰ τοὺς θεούς,
οὐκ εἴμ᾿ ἐν ἐμαυτοῦ, μαίνομαι δ᾿ ἀκαρὴς πάνυ·
ὁ καλὸς ἀδελφὸς εἰς τοσαύτην ἔκστασιν
ἤδη καθίστησίν με τῇ πονηρίᾳ.
μέλλει γαμεῖν γὰρ αὐτός.

Cicero, De Finibus 1.64

“In this way strength is drawn from natural philosophy against death; so too is determination against the fears of religion and a calmness of mind once the ignorance of all natural mysteries has been removed. So too comes moderation, once the nature and number of desires have been explained. And, finally, as I was just arguing, we can learn how to divine a lie from the truth, since this philosophy provides the Rule or Judgment of knowledge.”

Sic e physicis et fortitudo sumitur contra mortis timorem et constantia contra metum religionis et sedatio animi, omnium rerum occultarum ignoratione sublata, et moderatio, natura cupiditatum generibusque earum explicatis, et, ut modo docui, cognitionis regula et iudicio ab eodem illo constituto veri a falso distinctio traditur.

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Socrates’ Marriage Advice: Damned if You Do….

Socrates is famous in ancient anecdotes for his struggles with his wife XanthippeIn this Roman anecdote, he dispenses some wonderful advice about marriage.

 

Valerius Maximus, Memorable Sayings and Deeds 7.6 ext 1b-c

“[Socrates] used to say that those who act as so that they become as they would wish to seem finish short and well-known roads to glory. With this saying he was clearly warning that humans should drink virtue itself rather than follow its shadow.

Socrates also, when asked by a certain young man whether he should take a wife or abstain from matrimony altogether, said that whichever he did he would regret it. “From second option, you will experience loneliness, childlessness, the end of your family, and a foreign heir; from the other option, you will have perpetual annoyance, a weaving of complaints, questions about the dowry, the down-turned brows of inlaws, a talkative mother-in-law, a hunter for other people’s marriages, and the uncertain bearing of children.’ He would not endure that the youth believe he was making a choice of happy material in the context of harsh matters.”

Idem expedita et compendiaria via eos ad gloriam pervenire dicebat qui id agerent ut quales videri vellent, tales etiam essent. qua quidem praedicatione aperte monebat ut homines ipsam potius virtutem haurirent quam umbram eius consectarentur.

Idem, ab adulescentulo quodam consultus utrum uxorem duceret an se omni matrimonio abstineret, respondit utrum eorum fecisset, acturum paenitentiam. ‘hinc te’ inquit ‘solitudo, hinc orbitas, hinc generis interitus, hinc heres alienus excipiet, illinc perpetua sollicitudo, contextus querellarum, dotis exprobratio, adfinium grave supercilium, garrula socrus lingua, subsessor alieni matrimonii, incertus liberorum eventus.’ non passus est iuvenem in contextu rerum asperarum quasi laetae materiae facere dilectum.

 

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Husbands and Tyrants in the Storm

Euripides, Medea 235-240

“The greatest contest in our life is this: getting a good husband
Or a bad one. For divorces do not bring women
A good reputation and it is impossible to refuse a husband.
When she enters the new ways and laws of his house
She needs to be a prophet, since she has not learned at home
How best to live with this partner. ”

κἀν τῷδ᾿ ἀγὼν μέγιστος, ἢ κακὸν λαβεῖν
ἢ χρηστόν· οὐ γὰρ εὐκλεεῖς ἀπαλλαγαὶ
γυναιξὶν οὐδ᾿ οἷόν τ᾿ ἀνήνασθαι πόσιν.
ἐς καινὰ δ᾿ ἤθη καὶ νόμους ἀφιγμένην
δεῖ μάντιν εἶναι, μὴ μαθοῦσαν οἴκοθεν,
ὅπως ἄριστα χρήσεται ξυνευνέτῃ.

Euripides, Medea 252-258

“But the same story does not apply to both me and you.
You have your city and your father’s home,
A life’s benefit and the presence of friends.
I am alone, stateless, taken violently by this
Husband, kidnapped as spoil from a foreign land,
I have no mother, no brother, no cousin
To provide me safe harbor from this storm.”

ἀλλ᾿ οὐ γὰρ αὑτὸς πρὸς σὲ κἄμ᾿ ἥκει λόγος·
σοὶ μὲν πόλις θ᾿ ἥδ᾿ ἐστὶ καὶ πατρὸς δόμοι
βίου τ᾿ ὄνησις καὶ φίλων συνουσία,
ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἔρημος ἄπολις οὖσ᾿ ὑβρίζομαι
πρὸς ἀνδρός, ἐκ γῆς βαρβάρου λελῃσμένη,
οὐ μητέρ᾿, οὐκ ἀδελφόν, οὐχὶ συγγενῆ
μεθορμίσασθαι τῆσδ᾿ ἔχουσα συμφορᾶς.

Euripides, Medea 357-356

“I am not like a tyrant in the least:
I have suffered much because of my sense of shame.
Now, even though I see you making a mistake, woman,
You will still get what you ask. But I am warning you:
If the sun rises tomorrow to see you here
And your children within the borders of this land,
You die. This speech is not uttered as a lie.
But, now, if you need to stay, remain for a day.
You won’t do any evil I fear in this time.”

ἥκιστα τοὐμὸν λῆμ᾿ ἔφυ τυραννικόν,
αἰδούμενος δὲ πολλὰ δὴ διέφθορα·
καὶ νῦν ὁρῶ μὲν ἐξαμαρτάνων, γύναι,
ὅμως δὲ τεύξῃ τοῦδε. προυννέπω δέ σοι,
εἴ σ᾿ ἡ ᾿πιοῦσα λαμπὰς ὄψεται θεοῦ
καὶ παῖδας ἐντὸς τῆσδε τερμόνων χθονός,
θανῇ· λέλεκται μῦθος ἀψευδὴς ὅδε.
νῦν δ᾿, εἰ μένειν δεῖ, μίμν᾿ ἐφ᾿ ἡμέραν μίαν·
οὐ γάρ τι δράσεις δεινὸν ὧν φόβος μ᾿ ἔχει.

Roman sarcophagus showing the story of Medea and Creusa. Ca 150 AD. Altes Museum, Berlin.

Plato’s Father Was (Probably) A Rapist

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 3.1

“Plato was the son of Aristôn, an Athenian, and Periktionê, or Pôtônê, who alleged her heritage went back to Solon. For he had a brother named Drôpides who was the father of Kritias, the father of Kallaiskhros, the father of Kritias, who was one of the Thirty. He was also the father of Glaukôn, the father of Kharmides and Perictionê. Plato, then, as the son of Aristôn and that Perictionê, was the sixth generation after Solon. And Solon claimed his family descended from Neleus and Poseidon. They also claim that his father descends from Kodros the son of Melanthos and, they are said to descend from Poseidon, according to Thrasylos.

In his work named “The Feast for Plato” Speusippus writes, as Klearkhos claims in his Praise to Plato and Anaxlaides records in his second book of On Philosophers, that there was a story in Athens that Aristôn raped Perictionê when she was an adolescent girl and failed to get her [as a wife?]. When he stopped assaulting her, Apollo came to him in a dream. For this reason, he left her untouched of marriage until she gave birth.”

Πλάτων, Ἀρίστωνος καὶ Περικτιόνης—ἢ Πωτώνης,—Ἀθηναῖος, ἥτις τὸ γένος ἀνέφερεν εἰς Σόλωνα. τούτου γὰρ ἦν ἀδελφὸς Δρωπίδης, οὗ Κριτίας, οὗ Κάλλαισχρος, οὗ Κριτίας ὁ τῶν τριάκοντα καὶ Γλαύκων, οὗ Χαρμίδης καὶ Περικτιόνη, ἧς καὶ Ἀρίστωνος Πλάτων, ἕκτος ἀπὸ Σόλωνος. ὁ δὲ Σόλων εἰς Νηλέα καὶ Ποσειδῶνα ἀνέφερε τὸ γένος. φασὶ δὲ καὶ τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ ἀνάγειν εἰς Κόδρον τὸν Μελάνθου, οἵτινες ἀπὸ Ποσειδῶνος ἱστοροῦνται κατὰ Θρασύλον.

Σπεύσιππος δ᾿ ἐν τῷ ἐπιγραφομένῳ Πλάτωνος περιδείπνῳ καὶ Κλέαρχος ἐν τῷ Πλάτωνος ἐγκωμίῳ καὶ Ἀναξιλαΐδης ἐν τῷ δευτέρῳ Περὶ φιλοσόφων φασίν, ὡς Ἀθήνησιν ἦν λόγος, ὡραίαν οὖσαν τὴν Περικτιόνην βιάζεσθαι τὸν Ἀρίστωνα καὶ μὴ τυγχάνειν· παυόμενόν τε τῆς βίας ἰδεῖν τὴν τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ὄψιν· ὅθεν καθαρὰν γάμου φυλάξαι ἕως τῆς ἀποκυήσεως.

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Tawdry Tuesday: Wanton Verse, Pure Heart. And Dicks for Sale (NSFW)

Hadrian, fr. II [A minor Latin Poet and a Major Roman Emperor]

“You were wanton in verse, but pure of thought”

Lascivus versu, mente pudicus eras.

 Martial, 12.97

“Even though your wife is a girl of a kind
A man would scarcely seek with inappropriate prayers
(rich, noble, erudite, chase, what a find!)
You bust your nut, Bassus, but on the hair
Of the the men you buy with your wife’s money.

And when to its mistress your dick is returned
Though it was for so many thousands bought
It is so limp that its full size cannot be earned
Even if by sweet whispers or soft strokings sought.

For once, have some shame or let’s go to court.
Bassus, you sold it—your dick ain’t yours.”

Uxor cum tibi sit puella qualem
votis vix petat improbis maritus,
dives, nobilis, erudita, casta,
rumpis, Basse, latus, sed in comatis,
uxoris tibi dote quos parasti.
et sic ad dominam reversa languet
multis mentula milibus redempta
ut nec vocibus excitata blandis
molli pollice nec rogata surgat.
sit tandem pudor aut eamus in ius.
non est haec tua, Basse: vendidisti.

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Wall-painting: Priapus weighing his phallus (Pompeii)