Plutarch’s Morals: “Conjugal Precepts: Greeting To Pollianus And Eurydice.”, 75 A.C.E.
After the customary marriage rites, by which, the Priestess of Demeter has united you together, I think that to make an appropriate discourse, and one that will chime in with the occasion, will be useful to you and agreeable to the law. For in music one of the tunes played on the flute is called Hippothorus,154 which is a tune that excites fierce desire in stallions to cover mares; and though in philosophy there are many goodly subjects, yet is there none more worthy of attention than that of marriage, on which subject philosophy spreads a charm over those who are to pass life together, and makes them gentle and mild to one another. I send therefore as a gift to both of you a summary of what you have often heard, as you are both well versed in philosophy, arranging my matter in a series of short observations that it may be the more easily remembered, and I pray that the Muses will assist and co-operate with Aphrodite, so that no lyre or lute could be more harmonious or in tune than your married life, as the result of philosophy and concord. And thus the ancients set up near Aphrodite statues of Hermes, to show that conversation was one of the great charms of marriage, and also statues of Peitho155 and the Graces, to teach married people to gain their way with one another by persuasion, and not by wrangling or contention.
§ i. Solon bade the bride eat a quince the first night of marriage, intimating thereby, it seems, that the bridegroom, was to expect his first pleasure from the bride’s mouth and conversation.
§ ii. In Bœotia they dress up the bride with a chaplet 71of asparagus, for as the asparagus gives most excellent fruit from a thorny stalk, so the bride, by not being too reluctant and coy in the first approaches, will make the married state more agreeable and pleasant. But those husbands who cannot put up with the early peevishness of their brides, are not a whit wiser than those persons who pluck unripe grapes and leave the ripe grapes for others.156 On the other hand, many brides, being at first disgusted with their husbands, are like those that stand the bee’s sting but neglect the honey.
§ iii. Married people should especially at the outset beware of the first quarrel and collision, observing that vessels when first fabricated are easily broken up into their component parts, but in process of time, getting compact and firmly welded together, are proof against either fire or steel.
§ iv. As fire gets kindled easily in chaff or in a wick or in the fur of hares, but is easily extinguished again, if it find no material to keep it in and feed it, so we must not consider that the love of newly-married people, that blazes out so fiercely in consequence of the attractions of youth and beauty, will be durable and lasting, unless it be fixed in the character, and occupy the mind, and make a living impression.157
§ v. As catching fish by drugged bait is easy, but makes the fish poor to eat and insipid, so those wives that lay traps for their husbands by philtres and charms, and become their masters by pleasure, have stupid senseless and spoiled husbands to live with. For those that were bewitched by Circe did her no good, nor could she make any use of them when they were turned into swine and asses, but she was greatly in love with the prudent Odysseus who dwelt with her sensibly.
§ vi. Those women who would rather lord it over fools than obey sensible men, resemble those people who would rather lead the blind on a road, and not people who have eyesight and know how to follow.
§ vii. Women disbelieve that Pasiphäe, a king’s wife, 72was enamoured of a bull, although they see some of their sex despising grave and sober men, and preferring to associate with men who are the slaves of intemperance and pleasure, and like dogs and he-goats.
§ viii. Men who through weakness or effeminacy cannot vault upon their horses’ backs, teach them to kneel and so receive their riders. Similarly, some men that marry noble or rich wives, instead of making themselves better humble their wives, thinking to rule them easier by lowering them. But one ought to govern with an eye to the merit of a woman, as much as to the size of a horse.
§ ix. We see that the moon when it is far from the sun is bright and glorious, but pales and hides its light when it is near. A modest wife on the contrary ought to be seen chiefly with her husband, and to stay at home and in retirement in his absence.
§ x. It is not a true observation of Herodotus, that a woman puts off her modesty with her shift.158 On the contrary, the modest woman puts on her modesty instead, and great modesty is a sign of great conjugal love.
§ xi. As where two voices are in unison the loudest prevails; so in a well-managed household everything is done by mutual consent, but the husband’s supremacy is exhibited, and his wishes are consulted.
§ xii. The Sun beat the North Wind.159 For when it blew a strong and terrible blast, and tried to make the man remove his cloak, he only drew it round him more closely, but when the Sun came out with its warm rays, at first warmed and afterwards scorched, he stripped himself of coat as well as cloak. Most woman act similarly: if their husbands try to curtail by force their luxury and extravagance, they are vexed and fight for their rights, but if they are convinced by reason, they quietly drop their expensive habits, and keep within bounds.
§ xiii. Cato turned out of the Senate a man who kissed his own wife in the presence of his daughter. This was perhaps too strong a step, but if it is unseemly, as indeed it is, for husband and wife in the presence of others to fondle 73and kiss and embrace one another, is it not far more unseemly in the presence of others to quarrel and jangle? Just as conjugal caresses and endearments ought to be private, so ought admonition and scolding and plain speaking.
§ xiv. Just as there is little use in a mirror adorned with gold or precious stones, unless it conveys a true likeness, so there is no advantage in a rich wife, unless she conforms her life and habits to her husband’s position. For if when a man is joyful the mirror makes him look sad, and when he is put out and sad it makes him look gay and smiling from ear to ear, the mirror is plainly faulty. So the wife is faulty and devoid of tact, who frowns when her husband is in the vein for mirth and jollity, and who jokes and laughs when he is serious: the former conduct is disagreeable, the latter contemptuous.160 And, just as geometricians say lines and surfaces do not move of themselves, but only in connection with bodies, so the wife ought to have no private emotions of her own, but share in her husband’s gravity or mirth, anxiety or gaiety.
§ xv. As those husbands who do not like to see their wives eating and drinking in their company only teach them to take their food on the sly, so those husbands who are not gay and jolly with their wives, and never joke or smile with them, only teach them to seek their pleasures out of their company.
§ xvi. The kings of Persia have their wedded wives at their side at banquets and entertainments; but when they have a mind for a drunken debauch they send them away,161 and call for singing-girls and concubines, rightly so doing, for so they do not mix up their wives with licentiousness and drunkenness. Similarly, if a private individual, lustful and dissolute, goes astray with a courtesan or maid-servant, the wife should not be vexed or impatient, but consider that it is out of respect to her that he bestows upon another all his wanton depravity.
74§ xvii. As kings make162 if fond of music many musicians, if lovers of learning many men of letters, and many athletes if fond of gymnastics, so the man who has an eye for female charms teaches his wife to dress well, the man of pleasure teaches his meretricious tricks and wantonness, while the true gentleman makes his virtuous and decorous.
§ xviii. A Lacedæmonian maiden, when someone asked her if she had yet had dealings with a man, replied, “No, but he has with me.” This methinks is the line of conduct a matron should pursue, neither to decline the embraces of a husband when he takes the initiative, nor to provoke them herself, for the one is forward and savours of the courtesan, the other is haughty and unnatural.
§ xix. The wife ought not to have her own private friends, but cultivate only those of the husband. Now the gods are our first and greatest friends, so the wife ought only to worship and recognize her husband’s gods, and the door ought to be shut on all superfluous worship and strange superstitions, for none of the gods are pleased with stealthy and secret sacrifices on the part of a wife.
§ xx. Plato says that is a happy and fortunate state, where the words Meum and Tuum are least heard,163 because the citizens regard the common interest in all matters of importance. Far more essential is it in marriage that the words should have no place. For, as the doctors say, that blows on the left shoulders are also felt on the right,164 so is it good165 for husband and wife to mutually sympathize with one another, that, just as the strength of ropes comes from the twining and interlacing of fibres together, so the marriage knot may be confirmed and strengthened by the interchange of mutual affection and kindness. Nature itself teaches this by the birth of children, which are so much a joint result, that neither husband nor wife can dis75criminate or discern which part of the child is theirs. So, too, it is well for married persons to have one purse, and to throw all their property into one common stock, that here also there may be no Meum and Tuum. And just as we call the mixture of water and wine by the name of wine, even though the water should preponderate,166 so we say that the house and property belongs to the man, even though the wife contribute most of the money.
§ xxi. Helen was fond of wealth, Paris of pleasure, whereas Odysseus was prudent, Penelope chaste. So the marriage of the last two was happy and enviable, while that of the former two brought an Iliad of woe on Greeks and barbarians alike.
§ xxii. The Roman who was taken to task by his friends for repudiating a chaste wealthy and handsome wife, showed them his shoe and said, “Although this is new and handsome, none of you know where it pinches me.”167 A wife ought not therefore to put her trust in her dowry, or family, or beauty, but in matters that more vitally concern her husband, namely, in her disposition and companionableness and complaisance with him, not to make every-day life vexatious or annoying, but harmonious and cheerful and agreeable. For as doctors are more afraid of fevers that are generated from uncertain causes, and from a complication of ailments, than of those that have a clear and adequate cause, so the small and continual and daily matters of offence between husband and wife, that the world knows nothing about, set the household most at variance, and do it the greatest injury.
§ xxiii. King Philip was desperately enamoured of a Thessalian woman,168 who was accused of bewitching him; his wife Olympias therefore wished to get this woman into her power. But when she came before her, and was 76evidently very handsome, and talked to her in a noble and sensible manner, Olympias said, “Farewell to calumny! Your charms lie in yourself.”169 So invincible are the charms of a lawful wife to win her husband’s affection by her virtuous character, bringing to him in herself dowry, and family, and philtres, and even Aphrodite’s cestus.170
§ xxiv. Olympias, on another occasion, when a young courtier had married a wife who was very handsome, but whose reputation was not very good, remarked, “This fellow has no sense, or he would not have married with his eyes.” We ought neither to marry with our eyes, nor with our fingers, as some do, who reckon up on their fingers what dowry the wife will bring, not what sort of partner she will make.
§ xxv. It was advice of Socrates, that when young men looked at themselves in the mirror, those who were not handsome should become so through virtue, and those who were so should not by vice deform their beauty. Good also is it for the matron, when she has the mirror in her hands, if not handsome to say to herself, “What should I be, if I were not virtuous?” and if handsome to say to herself, “How good it were to add virtue to beauty!” for it is a feather in the cap of a woman not handsome to be loved for herself and not for good looks.
§ xxvi. Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily, sent some costly dresses and necklaces to the daughters of Lysander, but he would not receive them, and said, “These presents will bring my daughters more shame than adornment.” And Sophocles said still earlier than Lysander, “Your madness of mind will not appear handsome, wretch, but most unhandsome.” For, as Crates says, “that is adornment which adorns,” and that adorns a woman that makes her more comely; and it is not gold or diamonds or scarlet robes that make her so, but her dignity, her correct conduct, and her modesty.
§ xxvii. Those who sacrifice to Hera as goddess of 77marriage,171 do not burn the gall with the other parts of the victim, but when they have drawn it throw it away beside the altar: the lawgiver thus hinting that gall and rage have no place in marriage. For the austerity of a matron should be, like that of wine, wholesome and pleasant, not bitter as aloes, or like a drug.
§ xxviii. Plato advised Xenocrates, a man rather austere but in all other respects a fine fellow, to sacrifice to the Graces. I think also that a chaste wife needs the graces with her husband that, as Metrodorus said, “she may live agreeably with him, and not be bad-tempered because she is chaste.” For neither should the frugal wife neglect neatness, nor the virtuous one neglect to make herself attractive, for peevishness makes a wife’s good conduct disagreeable, as untidiness makes one disgusted with simplicity.
§ xxix. The wife who is afraid to laugh and jest with her husband, lest she should appear bold and wanton, resembles one that will not anoint herself with oil lest she should be thought to use cosmetics, and will not wash her face lest she should be thought to paint. We see also in the case of those poets and orators, that avoid a popular illiberal and affected style, that they artificially endeavour to move and sway their audience by the facts, and by a skilful arrangement of them, and by their gestures. Consequently a matron will do well to avoid and repudiate over-preciseness meretriciousness and pomposity, and to use tact in her dealings with her husband in every-day life, accustoming him to a combination of pleasure and decorum. But if a wife be by nature austere and apathetic, and no lover of pleasure, the husband must make the best of it, for, as Phocion said, when Antipater enjoined on him an action neither honourable nor becoming, “You cannot have me as a friend and flatterer both,” so he must say to himself about his strict and austere wife, “I cannot have in the same woman wife and mistress.”
§ xxx. It was a custom among the Egyptian ladies not to wear shoes, that they might stay at home all day and not go abroad. But most of our women will only stay at 78home if you strip them of their golden shoes, and bracelets, and shoe-buckles, and purple robes, and pearls.
§ xxxi. Theano, as she was putting on her shawl, displayed her arm, and somebody observing, “What a handsome arm!” she replied, “But not common.” So ought not even the speech, any more than the arm, of a chaste woman, to be common, for speech must be considered as it were the exposing of the mind, especially in the presence of strangers. For in words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker.
§ xxxii. Phidias made a statue of Aphrodite at Elis, with one foot on a tortoise,172 as a symbol that women should stay at home and be silent. For the wife ought only to speak either to her husband, or by her husband, not being vexed if, like a flute-player, she speaks more decorously by another mouth-piece.
§ xxxiii. When rich men and kings honour philosophers, they really pay homage to themselves as well; but when philosophers pay court to the rich, they lower themselves without advancing their patrons. The same is the case with women. If they submit themselves to their husbands they receive praise, but if they desire to rule, they get less credit even than the husbands who submit to their rule. But the husband ought to rule his wife, not as a master does a chattel, but as the soul governs the body, by sympathy and goodwill. As he ought to govern the body by not being a slave to its pleasures and desires, so he ought to rule his wife by cheerfulness and complaisance.
§ xxxiv. The philosophers tell us that some bodies are composed of distinct parts, as a fleet or army; others of connected parts, as a house or ship; others united and growing together, as every animal is. The marriage of lovers is like this last class, that of those who marry for dowry or children is like the second class, and that of those who only sleep together is like the first class, who may be said to live in the same house, but in no other sense to live together. But, just as doctors tell us that liquids are the only things that thoroughly mix, so in married people there must be a complete union of bodies, wealth, friends, 79and relations. And thus the Roman legislator forbade married people to exchange presents with one another, not that they should not go shares with one another, but that they should consider everything as common property.
§ xxxv. At Leptis, a town in Libya, it is the custom for the bride the day after marriage to send to her mother-in-law’s house for a pipkin, who does not lend her one, but says she has not got one, that from the first the daughter-in-law may know her mother-in-law’s stepmotherly mind,173 that if afterwards she should be harsher still, she should be prepared for it and not take it ill. Knowing this the wife ought to guard against any cause of offence, for the bridegroom’s mother is jealous of his affection to his wife. But there is one cure for this condition of mind, to conciliate privately the husband’s affection, and not to divert or diminish his love for his mother.
§ xxxvi. Mothers seem to love their sons best as able to help them, and fathers their daughters as needing their help; perhaps also it is in compliment to one another, that each prefers the other sex in their children, and openly favours it. This, however, is a matter perhaps of little importance. But it looks very nice in the wife to show greater respect to her husband’s parents than to her own, and if anything unpleasant has happened to confide it to them rather than to her own people. For trust begets trust,174 and love love.
§ xxxvii. The generals of the Greeks in Cyrus’s army ordered their men to receive the enemy silently if they came up shouting, but if they came up silently to rush out to meet them with a shout. So sensible wives, in their husband’s tantrums, are quiet when they storm, but if they are silent and sullen talk them round and appease them.
§ xxxviii. Rightly does Euripides175 censure those who introduce the lyre at wine-parties, for music ought to be 80called in to assuage anger and grief, rather than to enervate the voluptuous still more than before. Think, therefore, those in error who sleep together for pleasure, but when they have any little difference with one another sleep apart, and do not then more than at any other time invoke Aphrodite, who is the best physician in such cases, as the poet, I ween, teaches us, where he introduces Hera, saying:
“Their long-continued strife I now will end,
For to the bed of love I will them send.”176
§ xxxix. Everywhere and at all times should husband and wife avoid giving one another cause of offence, but most especially when they are in bed together. The woman who was in labour and had a bad time said to those that urged her to go to bed, “How shall the bed cure me, which was the very cause of this trouble?”177 And those differences and quarrels which the bed generates will not easily be put an end to at any other time or place.
§ xl. Hermione seems to speak the truth where she says:
“The visits of bad women ruined me.”
But this case does not happen naturally, but only when dissension and jealousy has made wives open not only their doors but their ears to such women. But that is the very time when a sensible wife will shut her ears more than at any other time, and be especially on her guard against whisperers, that fire may not be added to fire,179 and remember the remark of Philip, who, when his friends tried to excite him against the Greeks, on the ground that they were treated well and yet reviled him, answered, “What will they do then, if I treat them ill?” Whenever, then, calumniating women come and say to a wife, “How badly your husband treats you, though a chaste and loving wife!” let her answer, “How would he act then, if I were to begin to hate him and injure him?”
§ xli. The master who saw his runaway slave a long 81time after he had run away, and chased him, and came up with him just as he had got to the mill, said to him, “In what more appropriate place could I have wished to find you?”180 So let the wife, who is jealous of her husband, and on the point of writing a bill of divorce in her anger, say to herself, “In what state would my rival be better pleased to see me in than this, vexed and at variance with my husband, and on the point of abandoning his house and bed?”
§ xlii. The Athenians have three sacred seedtimes: the first at Scirus, as a remembrance of the original sowing of corn, the second at Rharia, the third under Pelis, which is called Buzygium.181 But a more sacred seedtime than all these is the procreation of children, and therefore Sophocles did well to call Aphrodite “fruitful Cytherea.” Wherefore it behoves both husband and wife to be most careful over this business, and to abstain from lawless and unholy breaches of the marriage vow, and from sowing in quarters where they desire no produce, or where, if any produce should come, they would be ashamed of it and desire to conceal it.182
§ xliii. When Gorgias the Rhetorician recited his speech at Olympia recommending harmony to the Greeks, Melanthius cried out, “He recommend harmony to us! Why, he can’t persuade his wife and maid to live in harmony, though there are only three of them in the house!” Gorgias belike had an intrigue with the maid, and his wife was jealous. He then must have his own house in good order who undertakes to order the affairs of his friends and the public, for any ill-doings on the part of husbands to their wives is far more likely to come out and be known to the public than the ill-doings of wives to their husbands.
§ xliv. They say the cat is driven mad by the smell of perfumes. If it happens that wives are equally affected 82by perfumes, it is monstrous that their husbands should not abstain from using perfumes, rather than for so small a pleasure to incommode so grievously their wives. And since they suffer quite as much when their husbands go with other women, it is unjust for a small pleasure to pain and grieve wives, and not to abstain from connection with other women, when even bee-keepers will do as much, because bees are supposed to dislike and sting those that have had dealings with women.
§ xlv. Those that approach elephants do not dress in white, nor those that approach bulls in red, for these colours render those animals savage; and tigers they say at the beating of drums go quite wild, and tear themselves in their rage. Similarly, as some men cannot bear to see scarlet and purple dresses, and others are put out by cymbals and drums,183 what harm would it do wives to abstain from these things, and not to vex or provoke husbands, but to live with them quietly and meekly?
§ xlvi. A woman said to Philip, who against her will was pulling her about, “Let me go, all women are alike when the lamp is put out.”184 A good remark to adulterers and debauchees. But the married woman ought to show when the light is put out that she is not like all other women, for then, when her body is not visible, she ought to exhibit her chastity and modesty as well as her personal affection to her husband.
§ xlvii. Plato185 recommended old men to act with decorum especially before young men, that they too might show respect to them; for where the old behave shamelessly, no modesty or reverence will be exhibited by the young. The husband ought to remember this, and show no one more respect than his wife, knowing that the bridal chamber will be to her either a school of virtue or of vice. And he who enjoys pleasures that he forbids his wife, is like a man that orders his wife to go on fighting against an enemy to whom he has himself surrendered.
§ xlviii. As to love of show, Eurydice, read and try to 83remember what was written by Timoxena to Aristylla: and do you, Pollianus, not suppose that your wife will abstain from extravagance and expense, if she sees that you do not despise such vanities in others, but delight in gilt cups, and pictures in houses, and trappings for mules, and ornaments for horses. For it is not possible to banish extravagance from the women’s side of the house if it is always to be seen in the men’s apartments. Moreover, Pollianus, as you are already old enough for the study of philosophy, adorn your character by its teaching, whether it consists of demonstration or constructive reasoning, by associating and conversing with those that can profit you. And for your wife gather honey from every quarter, as the bees do, and whatever knowledge you have yourself acquired impart to her, and converse with her, making the best arguments well known and familiar to her. For now
“Father thou art to her, and mother dear,
And brother too.”186
And no less decorous is it to hear the wife say, “Husband, you are my teacher and philosopher and guide in the most beautiful and divine subjects.” For such teaching in the first place detaches women from absurdities: for the woman who has learnt geometry will be ashamed to dance, nor will she believe in incantations and spells, if she has been charmed by the discourses of Plato and Xenophon; and if anyone should undertake to draw the moon down from the sky, she will laugh at the ignorance and stupidity of women that credit such nonsense, well understanding geometry, and having heard how Aglaonice, the daughter of the Thessalian Hegetor, having a thorough knowledge of the eclipses of the moon, and being aware beforehand of the exact time when the moon would be in eclipse, cheated the women, and persuaded them that she herself had drawn it down from the sky. For no woman was ever yet credited with having had a child without intercourse with a man, for those shapeless embryos and gobbets of flesh that take form from corruption are called moles. We must guard against such false conceptions as these arising in the minds 84of women, for if they are not well informed by good precepts, and share in the teaching that men get, they generate among themselves many foolish and absurd ideas and states of mind. But do you, Eurydice, study to make yourself acquainted with the sayings of wise and good women, and ever have on your tongue those sentiments which as a girl you learnt with us, that so you may make your husband’s heart glad, and be admired by all other women, being in yourself so wonderfully and splendidly adorned. For one cannot take or put on, except at great expense, the jewels of this or that rich woman, or the silk dresses of this or that foreign woman, but the virtues that adorned Theano,187 and Cleobuline, and Gorgo the wife of Leonidas, and Timoclea the sister of Theagenes, and the ancient Claudia,188 and Cornelia the sister of Scipio,189 and all other such noble and famous women, these one may array oneself in without money and without price, and so adorned lead a happy and famous life. For if Sappho plumed herself so much on the beauty of her lyrical poetry as to write to a certain rich woman, “You shall lie down in your tomb, nor shall there be any remembrance of you, for you have no part in the roses of Pieria,” how shall you not have a greater right to plume yourself on having a part not in the roses but in the fruits which the Muses bring, and which they freely bestow on those that admire learning and philosophy?190
154 This tune is again alluded to by Plutarch in “Quæstion. Convival”., p. 704, F. See also Clemens Alexandrinus, “Pædagog.” ii. p. 164, Α ταῐς δὲ ἵπποις μιγνυμέναις οἷον ὑμέναιος ἐπαυλεῖται νόμος αὐλωδιας ἱππόθορον τοῦτον κεκληκασιν οἱ Μουσικοί.
155 Peitho means Persuasion, and is represented as one of the Graces by Hermes anax. See Pausanias, ix. 35.
156 Compare the Proverb Εικελὸς ὀμφακίζεται, and Tibullus, iii. 5, 19: “Quid fraudare juvat vitem crescentibus uvis?”
157 Cf. Shakspere, “Romeo and Juliet,” A. ii. Sc. vi. 9-15.
158 Herodotus, i. 8.
159 An allusion to the well-known Fable of Æsop, No. 82 in Halm’s edition.
160 This comparison of the mirror is beautifully used by Keble in his “Christian Year:”
“Without a hope on earth to find
A mirror in an answering mind.”
Wednesday before Easter.
161 Does this throw light on Esther, i. 10-12?
162 By their patronage.
163 “Republic,” v. p. 462, C.
164 By the power of sympathy. This is especially true of eyes. Wyttenbach compares the Epigram in the Anthology, i. 46. 9. Καὶ γὰρ δέξιον ὄμμα κακούμενον ὄμματι λαίῳ Πολλάκι τοῦς ἰδίους ἀντιδίδωσι πόνους.
165 Reading καλον with Hercher.
166 The ancients hardly ever drank wine neat. Hence the allusion. The symposiarch, or arbiter bibendi, settled the proportions to be used.
167 Compare the French proverb, “Le beau soulier blesse souvent le pied.”
168 Thessaly was considered by the ancients famous for enchantments and spells. So Juvenal, vi. 610, speaks of “Thessala philtia,” and see Horace, “Odes,” i. 27. 21, 22; “Epodes,” v. 45.
169 Wyttenbach well compares the lines of Menander:—
ἔνεστ᾽ἀληθὲς φίλτρον εὐγνώμων τρόπός,
τούτῳ κατακρατεῖν ἀνδρὸς εἴωθεν γυνή.
170 An allusion to Homer, “Iliad,” xiv. 214-217.
171 Called by the Romans “pronuba Juno.” See Verg. “Æneid,” iv. 166; Ovid, “Heroides,” vi. 43.
172 See Pausanias, vi. 25. The statue was made of ivory and gold.
173 Compare Terence, “Hecyra,” 201. “Uno animo omnes socrus oderunt nurus.” As to stepmotherly feelings, the “injusta noverca” has passed into a proverb with all nations. See for example Hesiod, “Works and Days,” 823, ἄλλοτε μητρυιὴ πἐλει ἡμἐρη, ἄλλοτε μήτηρ.
174 Wyttenbach compares Seneca’s “Fidelem si putaveris facies.” “Ep.” iii. p. 6.
175 Euripides, “Medea,” 190-198.
176 Homer, “Iliad,” xiv. 205, 209.
177 See Mulier Parturiens, Phaedrus’ “Fables,” i. 18.
178 Euripides, “Andromache,” 930.
179 Proverb. Cf. Horace, “Oleum adde camino,” ii. “Sat.” iii. 321.
180 See Æsop’s Fables, No. 121. Halme. Δραπέτης is the title. All readers of Plautus and Terence know what a bugbear to slaves the threat of being sent to the mill was. They would have to turn it instead of horses, or other cattle.
181 That is, Yoking oxen for the plough.
182 Procreation of children was among the ancients frequently called Ploughing and Sowing. Hence the allusions in this paragraph. So, too, Shakspere, “Measure for Measure,” Act i. Sc. iv. 41-44.
183 The reference is to the rites of Cybele. See Lucretius, ii. 618.
184 See Erasmus, “Adagia.” The French proverb is “La nuit tous les chats sont gris.”
185 “Laws,” p. 729, C.
186 From the words of Andromache to Hector, “Iliad,” vi. 429, 430.
187 Theano was the wife of Pythagoras.
188 See Livy, xxix. 14. Propertius, v. 11. 51, 52. Ovid, “Fasti,” iv. 305 sq.
189 And mother of the Gracchi.
190 Jeremy Taylor, in his beautiful sermon on “The Marriage Ring,” has borrowed not a few hints from this treatise of Plutarch, as usual investing with a new beauty whatever he borrows, from whatever source. He had the classics at his fingers’ end, and much of his unique charm he owes to them. But he read them as a philosopher, and not as a grammarian.
Translated with notes and index Arthur Richard Shillitoe, MA. The copyright for the original of this document is held in the Public Domain. Font, formatting, spelling modernizations, typo/transcription corrections, and explanatory footnotes for this version of Plutarch’s “Morals” Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal.