Theano: Philosopher, Author, Wit

These sayings are drawn from the Gnomologium Vaticanum. For other testimonia see below.

“Theano used to say “It is shameful to be silent on matters about which it is noble to speak and noble to be silent on those shameful to mention”

Θεανὼ ἔφη· ” περὶ ὧν λέγειν καλὸν περὶ τούτων σιωπᾶν αἰσχρὸν καὶ περὶ ὧν αἰσχρὸν λέγειν περὶ τούτων σιωπᾶν καλόν.”

“Theano the Pythagorean philosopher was asked how a man and woman might live together and said ‘if they learn to bear each other’s moods’.”

Θεανὼ ἡ πυθαγορικὴ φιλόσοφος ἐρωτηθεῖσα πῶς ἂν δύναιτο γυνὴ καὶ ἀνὴρ συμπεριφέρεσθαι ἀλλήλοις εἶπεν· ” ἐὰν μάθωσι τὰς ἀλλήλων ὀργὰς φέρειν.”

“Theano suggested that a woman coming to her husband should strip off her shame along with her clothes and put them all back on again when she left.”

Θεανὼ παρεκελεύσατο ἅμα τοῖς ἱματίοις καὶ τὴν αἰσχύνην ἀποτίθεσθαι τὴν πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα βαδίζουσα<ν>, περιβαλλομένην δὲ πάλιν κομίζεσθαι.

“Theano, when asked what number of days a woman was clean from her husband and is was right for her to go to the temple, said ” ‘on the same day from her own husband, but never from another.’ “

Θεανὼ ἐρωτηθεῖσα ποσταία ἡ γυνὴ ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς καθαρεύει καὶ εἰς ἱερὸν ἰέναι δεῖ αὐτὴν ἔφη· ” ἀπὸ μὲν τοῦ ἰδίου αὐθημερόν, ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ ἀλλοτρίου οὐδέποτε.”

“Theano said ‘It is better to trust oneself to an unbridled horse than an illogical woman.’ “

Θεανὼ εἶπε· “κρεῖττόν ἐστιν ἵππῳ ἀχαλινώτῳ ἑαυτὸν πιστεύειν ἢ γυναικὶ ἀλογίστῳ.”

“While Theano was walking she showed her forearm and some youth when he saw it said “Nice skin”. She responded, “it’s not communal”.

Θεανὼ πορευομένη ἔξω εἶχε τὸν βραχίονα· νεανίσκος δέ τις ἰδὼν εἶπε· ” καλὸν τὸ δέμας·” ἡ δὲ ἀπεκρίνατο· ” ἀλλ’ οὐ κοινόν.”

“When Theano the Pythagorean philosopher was asked what eros is, she said ‘the passion of a soul with spare time.’ “

Θεανὼ ἡ πυθαγορικὴ φιλόσοφος ἐρωτηθεῖσα τί ἐστιν ἔρως ἔφη· ” πάθος ψυχῆς σχολαζούσης.”

Suda s.v. Theano (theta 83)

“Theano: from Metapontum or Thurii. A Pythagorean, daughter of Leôphrôn, wife of Karustos of Krotôn, or Brôtinos the Pythagorean. She wrote On Pythagoras, On Virtue to Hippodamos of Thurii, Advice for Woman, and Sayings of the Pythagoreans.”

Θεανώ, Μεταποντίνη ἢ Θουρία, Πυθαγορεία, θυγάτηρ Λεώφρονος, γαμετὴ δὲ Καρύστου ἢ Κρότωνος ἢ Βρωτίνου τοῦ Πυθαγορείου. αὕτη ἔγραψε περὶ Πυθαγόρου, Περὶ ἀρετῆς ῾Ιπποδάμῳ Θουρίῳ,  Παραινέσεις γυναικείας καὶ ᾿Αποφθέγματα Πυθαγορείων.

Diogenes Laertius, 8.42

“Pythagoras also had a wife, named Theanô, the daughter of Brontinus of Kroton. Others say she was Brontinus’ wife and Pyhtagoras’ student.”

[42] Ἦν δὲ τῷ Πυθαγόρᾳ καὶ γυνή, Θεανὼ ὄνομα, Βροντίνου τοῦ Κροτωνιάτου θυγάτηρ: οἱ δέ, γυναῖκα μὲν εἶναι Βροντίνου, μαθήτριαν δὲ Πυθαγόρου…

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To the Nymphs of the River: Two Poems from Moero

Moero (Moirô) of Byzantium is from the Hellenistic period.

Greek Anthology, 6.119

“You lie there beneath Aphrodite’s golden ceiling,
Grapes, full with Dionysus’ drink.
Your mother, the vine, will no longer wrap her love branch around you
And protect your head beneath her sweet leaf.”

Κεῖσαι δὴ χρυσέαν ὑπὸ παστάδα τὰν Ἀφροδίτας,
βότρυ, Διωνύσου πληθόμενος σταγόνι·
οὐδ᾿ ἔτι τοι μάτηρ ἐρατὸν περὶ κλῆμα βαλοῦσα
φύσει ὑπὲρ κρατὸς νεκτάρεον πέταλον.

6.189

“Anigrian Nymphs, daughters of the river, you ambrosial
Creatures who always step on the depths with rosy feet.
Say hello to and preserve Kleonymos who set out for you goddesses
These wooden images beneath the pines.”

Νύμφαι Ἀνιγριάδες, ποταμοῦ κόραι, αἳ τάδε βένθη
ἀμβρόσιαι ῥοδέοις στείβετε ποσσὶν ἀεί,
χαίρετε καὶ σώζοιτε Κλεώνυμον, ὃς τάδε καλὰ
εἵσαθ᾿ ὑπαὶ πιτύων ὔμμι, θεαί, ξόανα.

Image result for ancient greek grapes on vase

Beyond Sappho: Learning and Teaching About Women Authors

I went through thirteen years of Classical education and only read ancient work by one woman in one of my classes. And that was in high school when we were preparing for the Catullus AP exam: we read a little bit of Sappho to help contextualize Catullus’ Carm. 51 (Ille mi par…). It is not that Sappho was not on the official courses when I was an undergrad or graduate student—I either missed the subject in rotation or skipped it.

My scholarly world was not wholly barren of Sappho, however. When I was in graduate school I worked my way through a fairly extensive reading list of Roman and Greek authors. I had some of it completed before I arrived, but spent the better part of every break and summer for three years working on a pared down canon of Classical texts. Of all those authors, there Sappho was the only woman on the list.

(And, to make matters worse, I am sure I encountered articles equivocating on whether or not Sappho’s poems can even be taken seriously as compositions by women).

PhD comprehensive exams are not just about reading Latin and Greek: you also need to pass topic exams and literature exams. I read the Conte, the Pfeiffer; with my peers I made bibliographies and Oxford Classical Dictionary-like summaries for all the authors on the reading lists. I passed my exams and the worst error I made was confusing Plato’s Gorgias and Protagoras.

These exams are both about providing students with sufficient exposure to the CANON! Of ancient literature as it has been passed down for us to do a credible job at imitating our betters. They also prepare us with the raw knowledge to speak and teach in the field. So, I made it through a PhD and into a tenure track teaching job knowing the names of only two women authors from the ancient world: Sappho and Sulpicia (and the latter only because I was a research assistant and got tasked with finding citations of an article about her). The Latin poet has also had her existence questioned.

And, I suspect like my own teachers, I perpetuated what I had learned. The first few years after the PhD are hectic, especially if you end up in a teaching heavy program where you are also expected to publish. When I taught a “Classical Literature Survey” course in my first year, it was pretty much the authors from my PhD reading lists (excepting those I really didn’t like.)

So I taught and wrote—I professionally professed!—with such an impoverished knowledge of the ancient world that I shudder to admit it know. I somehow didn’t know of the fragmentary work of Korinna—who allegedly made Pindar a better poet—or Praxilla. I did not learn of Nossis or Erinna until I started reading through the Greek Anthology to find more material for this website. I did not learn of dozens of other names until I received an email from a professor from my undergraduate English department. Certainly, some of this is my fault since I did not go looking for these authors. (And the list of the books below makes it clear that it was possible to learn more.) But the way we build and prioritize the received canon of works that a Classicist needs to read exacerbates it.

One gets the impression from reading overviews of ancient literature that women were not engaged in its production with the exception of a very few. Given the pervasive nature of song culture in early Greece, however, it seems incredible that there were not many more women’s songs. (And Andromache Karanika does a fabulous job of thinking about this in her book Voices at Work, 2014.) We see depiction of women playing instruments and singing in art and we hear them depicted singing while weaving. And this is just the beginning.

Well into the imperial age, we have evidence that elite women were engaged in activities similar to those of men. But we have limited examples of their work because ancients did not keep them. While we have the work of Julia Balbilla (see Patricia Rosenmeyer’s book for more), it survives in inscriptions and not because it was preserved intentionally. The marginalization of women authors started when contemporary male audiences and subsequent editors did not record and circulate their poetry and songs. As Classicists we need to admit and publicize more broadly that the canon we have is not purely accidental. Women authors have been systematically left out for millennia.

And it is not just poetry and literary evidence which is either lost or ignored. We have, I think, sufficient evidence that women were actively engaged in philosophy as well. The philosophical fragments of Perictione—pseudonymous and attributed to Plato’s mother—the Pythagorian Aesara (5th Century BCE), and the Spartan Phintys (3rd Century BCE) are not included in any of the new philosophical collections in the Loeb Classical Library. Even though the editors find the time to track down nearly every testimony for most minor philosophers. A small part of Perictione’s fragmentary text preserved by Stobaeus is printed on LCL 527 (437-8) in support of other Pythagoreans.

Last year I spent some time reading through and translating poets like Nossis; this year I pushed myself through the fragments of the philosophers above. While the provenance and authority of the texts are beyond problematic, their content is important. Perictione and Phintys present what is purportedly treatises on how to be a good woman from a philosophical perspective. And they read more like male fantasy screeds. But I think we could also see them as engaged in some cultural and intellectual realpolitik. Perictione’s emphasis on what “likemindedness” really means to a wife (basically accepted everything her husband says, likes, and does) should make us re-think how audiences received Odysseus’ wish for Nausikaa in the Odyssey and reconsider James Redfield’s arguments for homonoia/homophrosune as signaling consent. Aesara’s work is fascinating to me because it breaks down the soul/body dichotomy which Plato really solidifies in Greek philosophical traditions and sees a more complex engagement between thought, anger, and desire.

I have made a little noise talking about the problem with canons in classical curricula and how we overlook that what we have been taught is beautiful shapes what we look for in the world. We have to be critical in examining the way previous generations’ curation of the canon has shaped what we consider marginal and what we pass down to our students. We need women philosophers in the Loeb Classical Library. We need handbooks of the history of Classical literature and scholarship that do a more accurate job of telling us what women were doing in the ancient world and why we have such little extant evidence. And I don’t mean to imply that there are not scores of people doing this work already; but I think we need to make this kind of work more central to what we do as a discipline.

Yes, the ancients did not preserve much of the work created by women. This does not mean that it did not exist. Our discipline’s history until very recently is shaped by not having the evidence and by not teaching it. (And thanks much to the work of the Women’s Classical Caucus.) But part of figuring out whether or not Classical Studies as a discipline can survive is a critical re-evaluation of how we teach and learn about the ancient world at every level.

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Don’t look for Women in this index

There are many good texts about women in the ancient world. Below are some about women authors. Please email or comment to add some more. For great resources, please visit Diotima.

Balmer, Josephine. 1996. Classical Women Poets.

Greene, Ellen. 2005. Women Poets in Ancient Greece and Rome. Oklahoma.

Plant, I.M. 2004. Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology. Oklahoma.

Raynor, Diane J. 1991. Sappho’s Lyre: Archaic Lyric and Women Poets of Ancient Greece. Berkeley and Los Angeles

Snyder, J. M. 1989. The Woman and the Lyre: Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome. Southern Illinois.

The blog It’s All Greek to Me posted this entry with good sources for women writing

The title of this post is in part inspired by Sarah Bond’s repeated reminders that the women in the ancient world are more than Sappho.

A Woman’s Prudence? Letting her Body Serve the Needs of the State

The more things change…

Phintys, fr. 1, On a Woman’s Prudence by the Spartan Phintys, the daughter of Kallikrates the Pythagorean (=Stob. 4.23.61)

“It is necessary that a woman be completely good and well-ordered. Someone could never be like this without virtue. For the virtue which is proper to each thing causes the object which welcomes it to be more serious. The excellence of the eyes improves the eyes; that of hearing improves the ears; the horse’s virtue betters the horse and a man’s virtue improves the man. In the same way, a woman’s virtue ennobles a woman.

The virtue most appropriate to a woman is prudence. For through prudence a woman will be able to honor and take delight in her own husband. Many may in fact think that it is not fitting for a woman to practice philosophy, just as she should not ride a horse or speak in public. But I believe that while some things are particular to a man and others to a woman, there are some that are shared by both man and woman, even though some are more appropriate to a man than a woman and those better for a woman than a man.

For example, serving in an army or working in politics and speaking in public are proper for a man. For a woman, it is running the household, staying at home, and welcoming and serving her husband. In common I place bravery, an understanding of justice, and wisdom. For It is right that virtues of the body are proper for both a man and woman along with the virtues of the soul. And, just as having a healthy body is useful for both, so too is the health of the soul.

The virtues of the body are health, strength, good perception, and beauty. Some of these are better for a man to nourish and keep; and others are more appropriate for a woman. Courage and wisdom are certainly more proper for a man both die to the nature of his body and the power of his mind. But prudence is proper for a woman.

For this reason it is important to recognize what a woman trained in prudence is like, in particular from what number and kinds of traits this possession graces a woman. I propose that this comes from five things. The first is from respecting the sanctity and reverence of her marriage bed; the second is a sense of propriety for her body; the third is concerning the actions of those from her own household; the fourth is from not practicing the occult rites and the celebrations of the Great Mother; the fifth is in proper and moderate sacrifices to the divine.

Of these traits, the most important and vital for prudence in terms of her marriage bed is staying uncontaminated and fully separate from some other man. For, to start with, a woman who breaks this law does wrong against her ancestral gods, because she provides for her home and her family not true born allies but bastards.

The one who does this transgresses against the natural gods whose oath she took, following the practice of her forebears and relatives, “to participate in the common life and to produce offspring according to the law.” She also commits injustice against her country, because she does not stay with those who were assigned to her. Then she acts even beyond those for whom the greatest of penalties is assigned because of the excess of this injustice: this is because to commit an error or an outrage for the sake of pleasure is unlawful and the most unforgivable. Ruin is the outcome of all outrage.”

Φιντύος τᾶς Καλλικράτεος θυγατρὸς Πυθαγορείας

ἐκ τοῦ Περὶ γυναικὸς σωφροσύνας.

Τὸ μὲν ὅλον ἀγαθὰν δεῖ ἦμεν καὶ κοσμίαν· ἄνευ δ’ ἀρετᾶς οὐδέποκα γένοιτό τις τοιαύτα. ἑκάστα γὰρ ἀρετὰ περὶ ἕκαστον γινομένα τὸ αὐτᾶς δεκτικὸν ἀποδίδωτι σπουδαῖον· ἁ μὲν τῶν ὀπτίλων τὼς ὀπτίλως, ἁ δὲ τᾶς ἀκοᾶς τὰν ἀκοάν, καὶ ἁ μὲν ἵππω τὸν ἵππον, ἁ δ’ ἀνδρὸς τὸν  ἄνδρα· οὕτω δὲ καὶ <ἁ> γυναικὸς τὰν γυναῖκα. γυναικὸς δὲ μάλιστα ἀρετὰ σωφροσύνα· διὰ γὰρ ταύτας τὸν ἴδιον ἄνδρα καὶ τιμῆν καὶ ἀγαπῆν δυνασεῖται. πολλοὶ μὲν ἴσως δοξάζοντι, ὅτι οὐκ εὐάρμοστον γυναικὶ φιλοσοφέν, ὥσπερ οὐδ’ ἱππεύεν οὐδὲ δαμαγορέν· ἐγὼ δὲ τὰ μέν τινα νομίζω ἀνδρὸς ἦμεν ἴδια, τὰ δὲ γυναικός, τὰ δὲ κοινὰ ἀνδρὸς καὶ γυναικός, τὰ δὲ μᾶλλον ἀνδρὸς ἢ γυναικός, τὰ δὲ μᾶλλον γυναικὸς ἢ ἀνδρός. ἴδια μὲν ἀνδρὸς τὸ στραταγὲν καὶ πολιτεύεσθαι καὶ δαμαγορέν, ἴδια δὲ γυναικὸς τὸ οἰκουρὲν καὶ ἔνδον μένεν καὶ ἐκδέχεσθαι καὶ θεραπεύεν τὸν ἄνδρα. κοινὰ δὲ φαμὶ ἀνδρείαν καὶ δικαιοσύναν καὶ φρόνασιν· καὶ γὰρ τὰς τῶ σώματος ἀρετὰς ἔχεν πρέπον καὶ ἀνδρὶ καὶ γυναικὶ καὶ τᾶς ψυχᾶς ὁμοίως· καὶ ὡς ὑγιαίνεν τῷ σώματι ἀμφοτέροις ὠφέλιμον, οὕτως ὑγιαίνεν τᾷ ψυχᾷ· σώματος δὲ ἦμεν ἀρετὰς ὑγείαν ἰσχὺν εὐαισθησίαν κάλλος. τὰ δὲ μᾶλλον ἀνδρὶ καὶ ἀσκὲν καὶ ἔχεν οἰκῇόν ἐντι, τὰ δὲ μᾶλλον γυναικί.

ἀνδρότατα μὲν γὰρ καὶ φρόνασιν μᾶλλον ἀνδρὶ καὶ διὰ τὰν ἕξιν τῶ σώματος καὶ διὰ τὰν δύναμιν τᾶς ψυχᾶς,  σωφροσύναν δὲ γυναικί. διὸ δεῖ περὶ σωφροσύνας παιδευομέναν γνωρίζεν, ἐκ πόσων τινῶν καὶ ποίων τοῦτο τἀγαθὸν τᾷ γυναικὶ περιγίνεται. φαμὶ δὴ ἐκ πέντε τούτων· πρᾶτον μὲν ἐκ τᾶς περὶ τὰν εὐνὰν ὁσιότατός τε καὶ εὐσε-βείας· δεύτερον δὲ ἐκ τῶ κόσμω τῶ περὶ τὸ σῶμα· τρίτον <δ’> ἐκ τᾶν ἐξόδων τᾶν ἐκ τᾶς ἰδίας οἰκίας· τέταρ-τον δ’ ἐκ τῶ μὴ χρέεσθαι τοῖς ὀργιασμοῖς καὶ ματρῳασμοῖς· πέμπτον δ’ ἐν τᾷ θυσίᾳ τᾷ πρὸς τὸ θεῖον εὐλαβέα ἦμεν καὶ μετρίαν.

τούτων δὲ μέγιστον αἴτιον καὶ συνεκτικώτατον τᾶς σωφροσύνας τὸ περὶ τὰν εὐνὰν ἦμεν ἀδιάφθορον καὶ ἄμικτον θυραίω ἀνδρός. πρᾶτον μὲν γὰρ εἰς τοῦτο παρανομοῦσα ἀδικεῖ γενεθλίως θεώς, οἴκῳ καὶ συγγενείᾳ οὐ γνασίως ἐπικούρως ἀλλὰ νόθως παρεχομένα· ἀδικεῖ δὲ τὼς φύσει θεώς, ὥσπερ ἐπομόσασα μετὰ τῶν αὑτᾶς πατέρων τε καὶ συγγενῶν … συνελεύσεσθαι ἐπὶ κοινωνίᾳ βίω καὶ τέκνων γενέσει τᾷ κατὰ νόμον· ἀδικεῖ δὲ καὶ τὰν αὑτᾶς πατρίδα, μὴ ἐμμένουσα τοῖς ἐνδιατεταγμένοις. ἔπειτα ἐπὶ τούτοις ἀμβλακίσκεν, ἐφ’ οἷς τὸ μέγιστον τῶν προστίμων ὥρισται θάνατος διὰ τὰν ὑπερβολὰν τῶ ἀδικήματος, ἔκθεσμον καὶ ἀσυγγνωμονέστατον ἦμεν ἁδονᾶς ἕνεκεν ἁμαρτάνεν καὶ ὑβρίζεν· ὕβριος δὲ πάσας πέρας ὄλεθρος.

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Ruins of Sparta

Sappho’s Equal? Some Epigrams Assigned to the Poet Nossis

Nossis is one of the best attested woman poets from the ancient world. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of her.

Greek Anthology, 6.353

“Melinna herself is here. Look how her pure face
Seems to glance gently at me.
How faithfully she looks like her mother in every way.
Whenever children equal their parents it is beautiful.”

Αὐτομέλιννα τέτυκται· ἴδ᾿ ὡς ἀγανὸν τὸ πρόσωπον
ἁμὲ ποτοπτάζειν μειλιχίως δοκέει·
ὡς ἐτύμως θυγάτηρ τᾷ ματέρι πάντα ποτῴκει.
ἦ καλὸν ὅκκα πέλῃ τέκνα γονεῦσιν ἴσα.

7.718

“Stranger, if you sail to the city of beautiful dances, Mytilene,
The city which fed Sappho, the the Graces’ flower,
Tell them that the land of Lokris bore for the Muses
A woman her equal, by the name of Nossis. Go!”

Ὦ ξεῖν᾿, εἰ τύ γε πλεῖς ποτὶ καλλίχορον Μυτιλάναν,
τὰν Σαπφὼ χαρίτων ἄνθος ἐναυσαμέναν,
εἰπεῖν, ὡς Μούσαισι φίλαν τήνᾳ τε Λοκρὶς γᾶ
τίκτεν ἴσαν ὅτι θ᾿ οἱ τοὔνομα Νοσσίς· ἴθι.

6.275

“I expect that Aphrodite will be pleased to receive
As an offering from Samutha, the band that held her hair.
For it is well made and smells sweetly of nektar,
That very nektar she uses to anoint beautiful Adonis.”

Χαίροισάν τοι ἔοικε κομᾶν ἄπο τὰν Ἀφροδίταν
ἄνθεμα κεκρύφαλον τόνδε λαβεῖν Σαμύθας·
δαιδαλέος τε γάρ ἐστι, καὶ ἁδύ τι νέκταρος ὄσδει,
τοῦ, τῷ καὶ τήνα καλὸν Ἄδωνα χρίει.

9.332

“Let’s leave for the temple and go to see Aphrodite’s
Sculpture—how it is made so finely in gold.
Polyarkhis dedicated it after she earned great
wealth from the native glory of her body.”

Ἐλθοῖσαι ποτὶ ναὸν ἰδώμεθα τᾶς Ἀφροδίτας
τὸ βρέτας, ὡς χρυσῷ διαδαλόεν τελέθει.
εἵσατό μιν Πολυαρχίς, ἐπαυρομένα μάλα πολλὰν
κτῆσιν ἀπ᾿ οἰκείου σώματος ἀγλαΐας.

Nossis.jpg
Bust by Francesco Jerace

Women’s History Month, Week 2

For the first week of posts, go here.

 

Women Authors

Telesilla, Argive Warrior-Poet

Theano, Philosopher

 

Documentary Evidence

Hades’ Newest Bride: An Epitaph

“If it is a girl…” A Letter on (female) child exposure

Inscriptions for Women Doctors from the Roman Empire

Septicia’s Marriage: Legal Testament and Marriage from ValMax

Roman Epitaphs for Wives

 

Philosophy

Plato on Gendered Differences and Love

 

Cultural Material

Boccacio on Flora, a “dishonorable” woman, Part 1 and Part 2

Plutarch on Women Causing Earthquakes

Sex, Slaves, and Sin in the Odyssey

What Did Helen Look Like?

Gellius on the Original Virgin Suicides

ValMax on Indian and Phoenician Women

First Wives: Paris’ Oenone and her Son

Helen’s Serving Girl and the First Sex Manual

Woman with mirror, Louvre CA587
Woman with mirror, Louvre CA587

Theano: Philosopher, Author, Wit

These sayings are drawn from the Gnomologium Vaticanum. For other testimonia see below.

“Theano used to say “It is shameful to be silent on matters about which it is noble to speak and noble to be silent on those shameful to mention”

Θεανὼ ἔφη· ” περὶ ὧν λέγειν καλὸν περὶ τούτων σιωπᾶν αἰσχρὸν καὶ περὶ ὧν αἰσχρὸν λέγειν περὶ τούτων σιωπᾶν καλόν.”

“Theano the Pythagorean philosopher was asked how a man and woman might live together and said ‘if they learn to bear each other’s moods’.”

Θεανὼ ἡ πυθαγορικὴ φιλόσοφος ἐρωτηθεῖσα πῶς ἂν δύναιτο γυνὴ καὶ ἀνὴρ συμπεριφέρεσθαι ἀλλήλοις εἶπεν· ” ἐὰν μάθωσι τὰς ἀλλήλων ὀργὰς φέρειν.”

“Theano suggested that a woman coming to her husband should strip off her shame along with her clothes and put them all back on again when she left.”

Θεανὼ παρεκελεύσατο ἅμα τοῖς ἱματίοις καὶ τὴν αἰσχύνην ἀποτίθεσθαι τὴν πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα βαδίζουσα<ν>, περιβαλλομένην δὲ πάλιν κομίζεσθαι.

“Theano, when asked what number of days a woman was clean from her husband and is was right for her to go to the temple, said ” ‘on the same day from her own husband, but never from another.’ “

Θεανὼ ἐρωτηθεῖσα ποσταία ἡ γυνὴ ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς καθαρεύει καὶ εἰς ἱερὸν ἰέναι δεῖ αὐτὴν ἔφη· ” ἀπὸ μὲν τοῦ ἰδίου αὐθημερόν, ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ ἀλλοτρίου οὐδέποτε.”

“Theano said ‘It is better to trust oneself to an unbridled horse than an illogical woman.’ “

Θεανὼ εἶπε· “κρεῖττόν ἐστιν ἵππῳ ἀχαλινώτῳ ἑαυτὸν πιστεύειν ἢ γυναικὶ ἀλογίστῳ.”

“While Theano was walking she showed her forearm and some youth when he saw it said “Nice skin”. She responded, “it’s not communal”.

Θεανὼ πορευομένη ἔξω εἶχε τὸν βραχίονα· νεανίσκος δέ τις ἰδὼν εἶπε· ” καλὸν τὸ δέμας·” ἡ δὲ ἀπεκρίνατο· ” ἀλλ’ οὐ κοινόν.”

“When Theano the Pythagorean philosopher was asked what eros is, she said ‘the passion of a soul with spare time.’ “

Θεανὼ ἡ πυθαγορικὴ φιλόσοφος ἐρωτηθεῖσα τί ἐστιν ἔρως ἔφη· ” πάθος ψυχῆς σχολαζούσης.”

Suda s.v. Theano (theta 83)

“Theano: from Metapontum or Thurii. A Pythagorean, daughter of Leôphrôn, wife of Karustos of Krotôn, or Brôtinos the Pythagorean. She wrote On Pythagoras, On Virtue to Hippodamos of Thurii, Advice for Woman, and Sayings of the Pythagoreans.”

Θεανώ, Μεταποντίνη ἢ Θουρία, Πυθαγορεία, θυγάτηρ Λεώφρονος, γαμετὴ δὲ Καρύστου ἢ Κρότωνος ἢ Βρωτίνου τοῦ Πυθαγορείου. αὕτη ἔγραψε περὶ Πυθαγόρου, Περὶ ἀρετῆς ῾Ιπποδάμῳ Θουρίῳ,  Παραινέσεις γυναικείας καὶ ᾿Αποφθέγματα Πυθαγορείων.

Diogenes Laertius, 8.42

“Pythagoras also had a wife, named Theanô, the daughter of Brontinus of Kroton. Others say she was Brontinus’ wife and Pyhtagoras’ student.”

[42] Ἦν δὲ τῷ Πυθαγόρᾳ καὶ γυνή, Θεανὼ ὄνομα, Βροντίνου τοῦ Κροτωνιάτου θυγάτηρ: οἱ δέ, γυναῖκα μὲν εἶναι Βροντίνου, μαθήτριαν δὲ Πυθαγόρου…

Image result for ancient greek Theano

To the Nymphs of the River: Two Poems from Moero

Moero (Moirô) of Byzantium is from the Hellenistic period.

Greek Anthology, 6.119

“You lie there beneath Aphrodite’s golden ceiling,
Grapes, full with Dionysus’ drink.
Your mother, the vine, will no longer wrap her love branch around you
And protect your head beneath her sweet leaf.”

Κεῖσαι δὴ χρυσέαν ὑπὸ παστάδα τὰν Ἀφροδίτας,
βότρυ, Διωνύσου πληθόμενος σταγόνι·
οὐδ᾿ ἔτι τοι μάτηρ ἐρατὸν περὶ κλῆμα βαλοῦσα
φύσει ὑπὲρ κρατὸς νεκτάρεον πέταλον.

6.189

“Anigrian Nymphs, daughters of the river, you ambrosial
Creatures who always step on the depths with rosy feet.
Say hello to and preserve Kleonymos who set out for you goddesses
These wooden images beneath the pines.”

Νύμφαι Ἀνιγριάδες, ποταμοῦ κόραι, αἳ τάδε βένθη
ἀμβρόσιαι ῥοδέοις στείβετε ποσσὶν ἀεί,
χαίρετε καὶ σώζοιτε Κλεώνυμον, ὃς τάδε καλὰ
εἵσαθ᾿ ὑπαὶ πιτύων ὔμμι, θεαί, ξόανα.

Image result for ancient greek grapes on vase

Sappho’s Equal? Some Epigrams Assigned to the Poet Nossis

Nossis is one of the best attested woman poets from the ancient world. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of her.

Greek Anthology, 6.353

“Melinna herself is here. Look how her pure face
Seems to glance gently at me.
How faithfully she looks like her mother in every way.
Whenever children equal their parents it is beautiful.”

Αὐτομέλιννα τέτυκται· ἴδ᾿ ὡς ἀγανὸν τὸ πρόσωπον
ἁμὲ ποτοπτάζειν μειλιχίως δοκέει·
ὡς ἐτύμως θυγάτηρ τᾷ ματέρι πάντα ποτῴκει.
ἦ καλὸν ὅκκα πέλῃ τέκνα γονεῦσιν ἴσα.

7.718

“Stranger, if you sail to the city of beautiful dances, Mytilene,
The city which fed Sappho, the flower of the muses,
Tell them that the land of Lokris bore for the Muses
A woman her equal, by the name of Nossis. Go!”

Ὦ ξεῖν᾿, εἰ τύ γε πλεῖς ποτὶ καλλίχορον Μυτιλάναν,
τὰν Σαπφὼ χαρίτων ἄνθος ἐναυσαμέναν,
εἰπεῖν, ὡς Μούσαισι φίλαν τήνᾳ τε Λοκρὶς γᾶ
τίκτεν ἴσαν ὅτι θ᾿ οἱ τοὔνομα Νοσσίς· ἴθι.

6.275

“I expect that Aphrodite will be pleased to receive
As an offering from Samutha, the band that held her hair.
For it is well made and smells sweetly of nektar,
That very nektar she uses to anoint beautiful Adonis.”

Χαίροισάν τοι ἔοικε κομᾶν ἄπο τὰν Ἀφροδίταν
ἄνθεμα κεκρύφαλον τόνδε λαβεῖν Σαμύθας·
δαιδαλέος τε γάρ ἐστι, καὶ ἁδύ τι νέκταρος ὄσδει,
τοῦ, τῷ καὶ τήνα καλὸν Ἄδωνα χρίει.

9.332

“Let’s leave for the temple and go to see Aphrodite’s
Sculpture—how it is made so finely in gold.
Polyarkhis dedicated it after she earned great
wealth from the native glory of her body.”

Ἐλθοῖσαι ποτὶ ναὸν ἰδώμεθα τᾶς Ἀφροδίτας
τὸ βρέτας, ὡς χρυσῷ διαδαλόεν τελέθει.
εἵσατό μιν Πολυαρχίς, ἐπαυρομένα μάλα πολλὰν
κτῆσιν ἀπ᾿ οἰκείου σώματος ἀγλαΐας.

Nossis.jpg
Bust by Francesco Jerace

A Woman’s Prudence? Letting her Body Serve the Needs of the State

The more things change…

Phintys, fr. 1, On a Woman’s Prudence by the Spartan Phintys, the daughter of Kallikrates the Pythagorean (=Stob. 4.23.61)

“It is necessary that a woman be completely good and well-ordered. Someone could never be like this without virtue. For the virtue which is proper to each thing causes the object which welcomes it to be more serious. The excellence of the eyes improves the eyes; that of hearing improves the ears; the horse’s virtue betters the horse and a man’s virtue improves the man. In the same way, a woman’s virtue ennobles a woman.

The virtue most appropriate to a woman is prudence. For through prudence a woman will be able to honor and take delight in her own husband. Many may in fact think that it is not fitting for a woman to practice philosophy, just as she should not ride a horse or speak in public. But I believe that while some things are particular to a man and others to a woman, there are some that are shared by both man and woman, even though some are more appropriate to a man than a woman and those better for a woman than a man.

For example, serving in an army or working in politics and speaking in public are proper for a man. For a woman, it is running the household, staying at home, and welcoming and serving her husband. In common I place bravery, an understanding of justice, and wisdom. For It is right that virtues of the body are proper for both a man and woman along with the virtues of the soul. And, just as having a healthy body is useful for both, so too is the health of the soul.

The virtues of the body are health, strength, good perception, and beauty. Some of these are better for a man to nourish and keep; and others are more appropriate for a woman. Courage and wisdom are certainly more proper for a man both die to the nature of his body and the power of his mind. But prudence is proper for a woman.

For this reason it is important to recognize what a woman trained in prudence is like, in particular from what number and kinds of traits this possession graces a woman. I propose that this comes from five things. The first is from respecting the sanctity and reverence of her marriage bed; the second is a sense of propriety for her body; the third is concerning the actions of those from her own household; the fourth is from not practicing the occult rites and the celebrations of the Great Mother; the fifth is in proper and moderate sacrifices to the divine.

Of these traits, the most important and vital for prudence in terms of her marriage bed is staying uncontaminated and fully separate from some other man. For, to start with, a woman who breaks this law does wrong against her ancestral gods, because she provides for her home and her family not true born allies but bastards.

The one who does this transgresses against the natural gods whose oath she took, following the practice of her forebears and relatives, “to participate in the common life and to produce offspring according to the law.” She also commits injustice against her country, because she does not stay with those who were assigned to her. Then she acts even beyond those for whom the greatest of penalties is assigned because of the excess of this injustice: this is because to commit an error or an outrage for the sake of pleasure is unlawful and the most unforgivable. Ruin is the outcome of all outrage.”

Φιντύος τᾶς Καλλικράτεος θυγατρὸς Πυθαγορείας

ἐκ τοῦ Περὶ γυναικὸς σωφροσύνας.

Τὸ μὲν ὅλον ἀγαθὰν δεῖ ἦμεν καὶ κοσμίαν· ἄνευ δ’ ἀρετᾶς οὐδέποκα γένοιτό τις τοιαύτα. ἑκάστα γὰρ ἀρετὰ περὶ ἕκαστον γινομένα τὸ αὐτᾶς δεκτικὸν ἀποδίδωτι σπουδαῖον· ἁ μὲν τῶν ὀπτίλων τὼς ὀπτίλως, ἁ δὲ τᾶς ἀκοᾶς τὰν ἀκοάν, καὶ ἁ μὲν ἵππω τὸν ἵππον, ἁ δ’ ἀνδρὸς τὸν  ἄνδρα· οὕτω δὲ καὶ <ἁ> γυναικὸς τὰν γυναῖκα. γυναικὸς δὲ μάλιστα ἀρετὰ σωφροσύνα· διὰ γὰρ ταύτας τὸν ἴδιον ἄνδρα καὶ τιμῆν καὶ ἀγαπῆν δυνασεῖται. πολλοὶ μὲν ἴσως δοξάζοντι, ὅτι οὐκ εὐάρμοστον γυναικὶ φιλοσοφέν, ὥσπερ οὐδ’ ἱππεύεν οὐδὲ δαμαγορέν· ἐγὼ δὲ τὰ μέν τινα νομίζω ἀνδρὸς ἦμεν ἴδια, τὰ δὲ γυναικός, τὰ δὲ κοινὰ ἀνδρὸς καὶ γυναικός, τὰ δὲ μᾶλλον ἀνδρὸς ἢ γυναικός, τὰ δὲ μᾶλλον γυναικὸς ἢ ἀνδρός. ἴδια μὲν ἀνδρὸς τὸ στραταγὲν καὶ πολιτεύεσθαι καὶ δαμαγορέν, ἴδια δὲ γυναικὸς τὸ οἰκουρὲν καὶ ἔνδον μένεν καὶ ἐκδέχεσθαι καὶ θεραπεύεν τὸν ἄνδρα. κοινὰ δὲ φαμὶ ἀνδρείαν καὶ δικαιοσύναν καὶ φρόνασιν· καὶ γὰρ τὰς τῶ σώματος ἀρετὰς ἔχεν πρέπον καὶ ἀνδρὶ καὶ γυναικὶ καὶ τᾶς ψυχᾶς ὁμοίως· καὶ ὡς ὑγιαίνεν τῷ σώματι ἀμφοτέροις ὠφέλιμον, οὕτως ὑγιαίνεν τᾷ ψυχᾷ· σώματος δὲ ἦμεν ἀρετὰς ὑγείαν ἰσχὺν εὐαισθησίαν κάλλος. τὰ δὲ μᾶλλον ἀνδρὶ καὶ ἀσκὲν καὶ ἔχεν οἰκῇόν ἐντι, τὰ δὲ μᾶλλον γυναικί.

ἀνδρότατα μὲν γὰρ καὶ φρόνασιν μᾶλλον ἀνδρὶ καὶ διὰ τὰν ἕξιν τῶ σώματος καὶ διὰ τὰν δύναμιν τᾶς ψυχᾶς,  σωφροσύναν δὲ γυναικί. διὸ δεῖ περὶ σωφροσύνας παιδευομέναν γνωρίζεν, ἐκ πόσων τινῶν καὶ ποίων τοῦτο τἀγαθὸν τᾷ γυναικὶ περιγίνεται. φαμὶ δὴ ἐκ πέντε τούτων· πρᾶτον μὲν ἐκ τᾶς περὶ τὰν εὐνὰν ὁσιότατός τε καὶ εὐσε-βείας· δεύτερον δὲ ἐκ τῶ κόσμω τῶ περὶ τὸ σῶμα· τρίτον <δ’> ἐκ τᾶν ἐξόδων τᾶν ἐκ τᾶς ἰδίας οἰκίας· τέταρ-τον δ’ ἐκ τῶ μὴ χρέεσθαι τοῖς ὀργιασμοῖς καὶ ματρῳασμοῖς· πέμπτον δ’ ἐν τᾷ θυσίᾳ τᾷ πρὸς τὸ θεῖον εὐλαβέα ἦμεν καὶ μετρίαν.

τούτων δὲ μέγιστον αἴτιον καὶ συνεκτικώτατον τᾶς σωφροσύνας τὸ περὶ τὰν εὐνὰν ἦμεν ἀδιάφθορον καὶ ἄμικτον θυραίω ἀνδρός. πρᾶτον μὲν γὰρ εἰς τοῦτο παρανομοῦσα ἀδικεῖ γενεθλίως θεώς, οἴκῳ καὶ συγγενείᾳ οὐ γνασίως ἐπικούρως ἀλλὰ νόθως παρεχομένα· ἀδικεῖ δὲ τὼς φύσει θεώς, ὥσπερ ἐπομόσασα μετὰ τῶν αὑτᾶς πατέρων τε καὶ συγγενῶν … συνελεύσεσθαι ἐπὶ κοινωνίᾳ βίω καὶ τέκνων γενέσει τᾷ κατὰ νόμον· ἀδικεῖ δὲ καὶ τὰν αὑτᾶς πατρίδα, μὴ ἐμμένουσα τοῖς ἐνδιατεταγμένοις. ἔπειτα ἐπὶ τούτοις ἀμβλακίσκεν, ἐφ’ οἷς τὸ μέγιστον τῶν προστίμων ὥρισται θάνατος διὰ τὰν ὑπερβολὰν τῶ ἀδικήματος, ἔκθεσμον καὶ ἀσυγγνωμονέστατον ἦμεν ἁδονᾶς ἕνεκεν ἁμαρτάνεν καὶ ὑβρίζεν· ὕβριος δὲ πάσας πέρας ὄλεθρος.

File:Ancient Sparta ruins (3).jpg
Ruins of Sparta