.PA 3Q/(o UlA/y Printed in Great Britain by Mackays Ltd.. Chatham.



X.. The Lyric Poets The Milesian Tales Athens in .. V. Plato XII. 28 IV. XI. i The Early Epic . VI.CONTENTS page Introduction I. XIII. The Ionians and Hesiod 16 III. VII. Thk Socratic Circle Aristophanes 150 168 . 7 . l 7o 86 VIII. AESCHYLUS AND SOPHOCLES Euripides Euripides : . II. The Four Feminist Plays "3 3S IX. 43 57 the Fifth Century .. The Attic Orators Aristotle 183 202 .


woman was the enemy with whom bread must not be broken . a doubt often latent in scholars' minds that Greek civilisation. was an almost open For many centuries in Ionia and Athens there state of sex-war.Introduction There it is a question sometimes put to scholars. brought about the decay Athens and then of Greece. first so easily before inferior sight an altogether what seems at culture? The not solved by a reference to military resources or administrative skill. and a nation has never yet succeeded merely by pure intellect or by brute state it as well to The fact —and —that the Greek world perished from plainly force. women and classes the position of went together —were the canker-spots which. with fell — How was all its high ideals and achievements. is it is one main cause. for moral strength is difficulty is the only thing that matters in history. a low ideal of womanhood and a degradation of women which found expression both in literature and in social life. At Miletus a never sat at table with her husband. for he . first slaves — The position of for the two of left unhealed.

who used all their powers of rhetoric and literary skill to disparage and depreciate womankind. and therefore it because they were : was men's duty to keep them down. for it is hard to say how far opinions of current feminine disabilities are not unconsciously due to the long line of writers. At Sparta certainly. that some people were slaves made by nature to be slaves women were men's moral inferiors. and perhaps in North Greece. They applied to women the comforting doctrine of Aristotle.2 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE men went free. women occupied a very different place. far worse than any faction or its civil strife. men and women had but few opportunities for mutual esteem and affection. to Juvenal in the second century of our era. at Athens. the wife and the children — — poisoned at its source. The causes and results of this war. in the seventh century before Christ. Spartan women were regarded as free human beings. and domestic life the was life of the home. Greek and Latin. from Simonides of Amorgos. are lamentable enough : manifestations in ancient literature are perhaps even more important. and they therefore took the aggressive. In the whole deplorable business men were in the wrong. while all the women were : kept as slaves. be killed at and a stranger in the harem might The sexes were sharply separated sight. and the relations between the sexes were inestimably better .

Sophocles. and : have succeeded in colouring many parts of the Homeric poems with their perverse immorality the typical Athenian. and in this. pides that definitely But it is not until we come to Euri- we get the woman's side of the case stated. Apollonius Theocritus.INTRODUCTION tnan at Athens. Athens the —Herodotus. who and against the current institutions of their and in the Alexandrian poets. . Thessaly. we have no direct representation in Greek literature get their point of view only in the writings of as Plato some Athenians. kept some of the freshness of their native hills. iEschylus was an original thinker. such rebelled state. 3 But Sparta. as he put the other doctrines of the nobility of race and the nobility of war. Most of the great writers came from Ionia or from Athens the Ionians are nearly all misogynists. : man's infallibility of to doubt Euripides he put the doctrine of the nobility ventured man. and Xenophon. and those foreigners who found : their ideal in dides. Upon his own generation Euripides had a pro- . even in the midst of the luxurious city. as in many ways. Macedonia. took a different view from most of his countrymen. ThucyOrators —usually treat women as a negligible quantity. and he came to a conclusion very different from that which is expressed by the great majority of his predecessors. to the touchstone of a really critical intelligence. who.

But the idealist did not win — graded in the day. with infinite zest. Aristotle—the supreme type of the practical mind threw all the — weight of his unexampled influence into the other scale. honoured as the mother of the household. Plato. But.4 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE effect. and a fairly full statement of feminist doctrine may be found in their works. drew their undercurrent of misogyny which permeates Latin literature. disgorges the mixture in the six hundred lines of the Sixth Satire. venom of earlier writers is collected by the who adds the bitterness of his own bile. European civilisation —after Euripides' time as they had been before but his teaching did not bear its full fruit. there is still an inspiration. and feminists in varying degrees. work completed by the philosopher Greek is the source from which most Roman writers and although the position of the Roman matron. was infinitely higher than that of the too-often childless Athenian wife. and finds its fullest expression in Juvenal. All the satirist. It is true that women were at never so deleast . and the Aristotelian view of the natural inferiority of women prevailed : so that the poets of Ionia. seasoned with the highly-coloured rhetoric which the Romans loved. find their of Stagirus. libertines and profligates as most of them were. found Socrates. and finally. even as Aristotle sums up the . all Xenophon are Aristophanes.

and perhaps the most fruitful. with the general tendency. and towards the end of the second century genius gave to the world the last. . when the Greek — ters of the affections that we find in ancient literature. the first gentleman in matthe reaction came. and his hero is. by a curious turn its enough considering ends as it begins. The barbarian invasions soon came to devastate the land. of fate. ironical praise of the perfect maiden. in the Daphnis and Chloe. strikes a new note. Longus. of all its gifts in literature the romantic novel. so Juvenal represents almost the last effort of the anti-feminist school at Rome. . the romance of The Christianity of the East and the North were already beginning to modify the grosser realism of the Mediterranean world. and he is the true father of chivalry. but Longus had sown the seed. perhaps.INTRODUCTION final tendencies of Greek literature. all the love romances of mediaeval so Chloe is As Nausicaa is the first. almost the last of ancient heroines and Greek literature.


in its original the Achaean chiefs who came down was composed for into Greece from Central Europe. only a small ruling class. are in a very real sense the Greek a standard of morality is Bible. for they represent many respects far higher than that which prevailed at Athens in the great era of Greek history. It from the complex civilisation of the city- must be remembered that the Homeric poems if were not written to suit the taste of the old Mediterranean people.I. and were inclined to regard women as mere instruments shape. and they picture a state of society very different state. who. of pleasure. had but a low code of sexual morality. —The as Early Epic Any discussion of Greek literature Homer. The Epic. and in sexual matters were rather of the Scandinavian type. although aloof position the Epic in must begin with regards women and the social its first form stands somewhat The Homeric poems which in from the general current of ancient thought. of archaeology we may trust the evidence and certain signs in their language. But the Achaeans were and were soon assimilated 7 .

Hence the interest of Greek history. has been composition worked over and received fewer additions. a plain interpolation. and much of the later Greek The Odyssey later in less which. in the perhaps herself. the loves of Ares and one at that. tribes whose language they northern A second tide of invasion by the Dorian led to somewhat more permanent results.8 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE peoples. though perhaps than the original Iliad. the first lay of Demodocus Aphrodite. Samuel Butler's theory that the Odyssey was Nausicaa composed by a woman. is especially. in all Hence feminist also the of view matters between Homer literature. and the one lewd passage.C. which is one the long process of inter-blending and change renascence of the conquered and the gradual dis: appearance difference of the conquerors. but the original Mediterranean race called was always far superior in numbers. based on an entirely different idea of woman's position from that which was held after the seventh century B. and a clumsy Women indeed pull the strings in the . and unless inter-marriage was prohibited by law it was only a matter of time for the primary racial type to reappear.' (in is Book ' 8). by the conquered adopted. but at any rate women Odyssey are never degraded as they are in many of the later passages of the Iliad. is hardly capable of exact proof.

and. So Calyp- and Circe are represented as island-queens. by later writers to all women as a natural Penelope shows any womanish weakness in her constant love she bears her husband's absence with resignation. the tribe seems to go on the woman's The his wife claimants to Odysseus' chieftainship seek it through Nausicaa is the only daughter. being an active man. suffers severely from lack of occupation and lack of power. When . and . are the principal actors in the drama. : It cannot be said that the v/ise and maintains of his authority intact during a period twenty years. Athena is the guiding spirit of the whole action. Odysseus is to both very much in the position of a prince consort. On his return she is by no means the nurse over-anxious to recognise him. living in independent sovereignty. and her .takes a motherly interest in the hero. marriage so is of importance to all the tribe. Penelope and Nausicaa.. and is trace of that over-sexuality which ascribed trait. but otherwise she is pure intelligence superior to man and quite free from any desire for man's society. the Athena. nymphs. and the mortals.THE EARLY EPIC Odyssey : 9 I the goddess Calypso and Circe. The women have little of the Odyssey follow her lead. With both these latter there are traces of the old German custom of Mutterrecht : the kingship of side. and normally unconcerned with male companionship.

io tells FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE her of the slaughter of the suitors by Odysseus fool. as he comes from the bush where he has been hiding rained upon and buffeted by the wind. and although Calypso and Circe were by later writers taken as types of so. There is very little appeal to the sensual man. and finally. and threatens her with punishment for disturbing a busy woman with idle tales. says he. is a charming mixture of generosity and Moreover. this a heart of iron in her breast.' and in all her like ' a lion of the hills. She faces the half-naked Odysseus boldly. and his eyes are ablaze. the morality of the Odyssey in all sexual matters is very high. but to : fails make any impression. Nausicaa has no traces of the timid shyness and she is content to let which is counted a virtue among harem women. for. When at last she is convinced. she explains that her hesitation has been due to a well-founded distrust of their wiles. if it is not offensive fo say women's morality. and. she calls her a Telemachus eludes her for her wilful stubbornness Odysseus dresses himself in royal raiment. it is the voluptuous female. Again. is left their fascination in the Odyssey entirely to the imagination. men and her husband go off the very next morning to visit the old Laertes. dealings with him she caution. in disgust. calls to the nurse to may go off woman has make him up a bed so that he and sleep by himself. and they .

one of is the few ruthless passages in the poem there no tendency here to err on the side of indulgence to the sins of the flesh. Helen and Clytemnestra. Helen. scription is n The de- the same for both — singing in a sweet fro before voice within doors as she walked to and is the loom. appears in the Odyssey as the faithful wife. between the Odyssey and later Greek literature of the treat- the two famous sisters. then they wash and cleanse the bloody floor. ' like thrushes or doves their and they struggled with but not for long. So with the punishment meted out at the end of the accepted the First. ' I fate which Aphrodite . and when she thinks of the past it is to rejoice over her return in his palace. and for such sins harsher measure is dealt out to the woman than to the But ment as significant as anything of the gulf is man. "' home and escape from Troy. respected and self-respecting.' she says.' Little or nothing said of any physical attraction they may have possessed. to the later Greeks the type of the wanton. She lives busy with domestic duties.' It is : feet for a little while. they carry out the corpses of their dead lovers.THE EARLY EPIC are pictured as industrious housewives. and finally they are hanged story to the maid-servants who had embraces of the suitors. used to mourn over the cruel ' where. —twelve of them together— caught in a snare . of King Menelaus.

fection in mind or in body. and enough to be given for word word : We Greeks (says Nestor) were lingering over there at But he— iEgisthus Troy. the regicide. fair — Clytemnestra refused to do the shameful thing.12 sent FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE upon me. ^gisthus. the woman who dares. In all the later to kill the man set over her as ruler. and many a task did we fulfil. is^tokU twice by Agamemnon to Odysseus in — this last version is significant Hades. leaving behind and my husband dear. But in It the Odyssey the story is very different. At first. who lacked nothing of perIt is a country. the enveloping it is she who deals the fatal robe. blow. by craft and guile. where the horses feed. So Clytemnestra after the lyric poets of the seventh and sixth centuries had worked up her that most dreadful figure to King Man. of course. tried to beguile the wife of Agamemnon with soft words. entirely under the is a cowardly dominion of the woman. nonentity. story is — — Clytemnestra who arranges the details Agamemnon's death the bath. and the axe stories it is of — . my home. flying with a foreign youth from her lawful lord. and by Nestor to Telemachus at Pylos. and betraying her too fond master. at his ease in the quiet valleys of Argos. we have her in later stories. when she led me from my beloved me my daughter. for she was a woman . while her lover.' very different as picture from that of Paris' mistress.

and brought him to his death. inferior to men. a As for the queen her to his house. heaven encompassed the minstrel. for ^Egisthus left was with her a he went to Troy. and the last two sentences are a literal translation of the lines which appear thus in Pope's version : Then She virtue was no more : her guard away. 13 Moreover. fell.THE EARLY EPIC of honest minstrel. to the temple stalked the adulterous spouse of vows. heart. which had he expected to accomplish. there whom Agamemnon. when had bidden to protect his wife. Even With impious thanks and mockery to lust a voluntary prey. In the Iliad things are different. place for women its at It is true that Achilles' anger has for . and the poem. as we have it now. the Wrath of Achilles has hardly any all. to the gods when never in his heart — prey for the birds to tear asunder. he willing and she willing he led And many a sacrifice did he offer he had done that great deed. gives us three distinct pictures of ' women's position ' in life. But soon the fate of took him to a desert island and him there. which women are regarded as not in qud women. The original epic. For these are the dangers of poetical translation. But more important than any single character or episode is the general impression given by the whole poem. and it may fairly be said that the entire framework of the Odyssey presupposes a condition of society in the least. — Such is the passage.

and poem where body as the of Patroclus : makes lament over the dead a speech which served Ovid lishments —he expands the groundwork wherefrom —with ' ' many embel- letter in the Heroines. is built contributed by a poet who understood and sympathised with women. cause the but Achilles is angry.i4 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE woman Briseis .' From the same hand as Briseis of the parting speech comes the supreme scene Iliad between Hector and Andromache. are anti-social. but at the loss of a piece of property which he knows by experience service. In thought and language he has many affinities with the author of the Odyssey. In the whole Iliad she only mentioned ten times. to be of Briseis is a slave is —a considerable value and thing. All the earlier portions of the Iliad are primarily lays of battle. Iliad however. and nine times out ' of those ten she is merely cata- logued as an article of value. fair-cheeked. this hardly surprising.' attached. and woman has no part or lot in them. not a person. and the lamentation . and : all the closing passages of the the ransoming of Hector. is But They The strata. — important was and one stratum —by up of many different least no means the and he is probably responsible for Briseis appears the one passage in the as a human being. not at the loss of a woman whom he loves. with the slave-dealer's epithet.

and the loose cynicism of the and of a very much last additions to the poem. No one can read the Iliad without feeling that the moral spirit of all these passages is of a very different higher quality than the brutality of the earliest lays. — over the corpse. his mother. .THE EARLY EPIC of the 15 and Helen women — his wife. which we shall have next to consider.

is the property of the man who is her husband. between man property only conceivable and woman it is imis man and his Of these two ideas. which follows from this. the Greeks have become a nation of traders living in luxurious cities. and when the curtain goes up again on Greek history at the end of the eighth century. of these The first may be stated thus : a woman. is that. men . The period tions is of fighting. the coast towns and their adjacent islands. love between being absurd. : and tribal migra- over there has been a revival of the old Minoan culture. romantic affection between possible.II. invasions. The second. the first. —The Ionians and Hesiod Between the Homeric poems in their first shape and the next stage of Greek literature there is a gap of centuries. such as Miletus and Politically they are dependent on the Eastern land empires. the centre of civilisation is in Asia Minor. which in- volved the seclusion of women and the harem system. and from the East great they have taken ideas which vitally affect the Mytilene. 16 . position of women. even a free-born woman.

The sexes drew apart politics : the man. and of Hylas. and the inevitable crop of and perversions followed. in their dislike of women. however. were at least ostensibly artificially errors inspired by a strict code of sexual morality : a good deal of Ionian literature has for one of its objects a desire to defend the perverted sexual instinct which was the curse of ancient are life. intercourse between men and women was hampered. But the monks. and absent from experience of home most of his had little woman as a thinking animal. corollary. from Asia to It Greece. and tended to destroy all romantic love between the two sexes.THE IONIANS AND HESIOD was only partially applied in ancient Greece. 17 It flourished in Ionia and but at it period of her history. and very often all the ordinary comfortable affection which may exist without romance between husband and wife. and unfamiliarity bred contempt. immersed in his war and life. the minion of Heracles. spread fatally Italy. and from Greece to lasted for many centuries. taken up to heaven by the ruler of the sky and displacing the maiden Hebe. again later in the world's history different social As happened under the very the natural conditions of monastic life. Athens during the great never took root in Sparta. whose beauty brought him to his death. . Of this sort the stories of Ganymede. the young Asiatic. Its or in the chief cities of Hellenistic civilisation.

indeed. for who now recognised that women are vile creatures deserve vile treatment. and Penelope into a shrew. — main . and made it seem only logical that women. the young all sister of Ariadne. Heracles. and — The same frame ascribed to of mind that invented all these tales vice. Jason deserts Medea richer by the judicious use of force. in favour of a younger and force woman. and so we have a second invented to illustrate the innate vicious- class of tale ness of the female sex. by fraud . and Theseus. Leda and and so on. to roam abroad. spends his life in betraying any woman that pleases women. while the their Jason. But their exploits do not at detract from the heroic character it is of the three worthies. Theseus Heracles leaves his wife. if fraud is ineffective. if possible. the swan. capturing by him. and regard women finer chivalrous feelings as a kind of booty. and in his old age marries Phaedra. reserve all for men. Europa and the bull Myrrha and Adonis. There is the story of Pasiphae and the Minotaur. the reason for their being allowed to exist at all. should be kept prisoners in a harem and confined to child-bearing that indispensable function being. Sappho kinds of unnatural degraded Helen into a wanton. type. to be won.18 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE Narcissus and Hyacinthus are persons of the same heroes of this kind of literature. soon. being the creatures they were.

the goddess of married life. Thetis : ask Zeus to avenge her son come Hera knows to of . and . enjoyment legitimate him and unre- caprices Aphrodite. however. hundred lines of Book has of the an episode altogether out of harmony with rest the of the book. the goddess of strained physical passion. one or two passages will illustrate for example. seeking of spying to upon thwart lusts her husband in and always his the . 19 and Europa. and we have a more artistic method employed in the though useful in their passages which about this time were incorporated into the Iliad by Ionian poets. it and air of nobility it even to this stuff. is represented by these decadents as represent an interfering termagant.THE IONIANS AND HESIOD The tales of Pasiphae. character I. the last Iliad. enough way. Hera and Aphrodite. with the idea of degrading the whole conception of the two divinities who womanly love. becomes a calculating The method pursued is that same kind of false realism which has supplied our comic stage with the well-worn themes of the old maid and the mother-in need hardly be said that it harmonises with the romantic splendour of the epic very badly The heroic hexameter gives for our ears an lays. law. but in its essence is colloquial style of a rather tawdry its sort. are a little crude. the wife in her Hera. divine aspect. courtesan. Leda.

and the scene closes with the unquenchable laughter of the blessed gods. If not. to get away from me and to make up your mind without me. keeping your plans never yet have you had the decency to tell me secret : outright what you mean to do. . you have done what you liked.' and so on.20 her FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE visit. I have left you at your ease. Hephaestus. is far more reasonable You must not expect to know all my in his tone it would be too hard for you. You know ? pray. up any further appeals to her sit still better feelings. has been plotting with you again that is what you like. my dear you know. : and this is the language she uses to her husband You crafty one —you know it's true . though you are my wife. gently putting her in her inferior place. Another similar episode is the passage in Book 14. won't be of any use to you when I come close and lay my irresistible hands upon you. being a male. business.' A further edifying touch is given by the well-meant intervention of Hera's lame son. you know. who of the gods.' and she that ' ? she ' cries. But Hera ' : : refuses to listen to reason ' : What do you mean by have been only too ready in the past not to ask questions. giving proceeds to disclose her well-founded suspicions. I until Zeus. Her husband. tells her bluntly to and do what she ' is told. All the gods in heaven.

she washes her lovely skin. a sure sign of the odalisque that perfumes. first with (the hardly about what ambrosia really is. the beguiling of Zeus/ or.THE IONIANS AND HESIOD known ' 21 say. she still has to con- how to get the better of him. Every ' detail is ' lovingly dwelt upon . The story can be condensed by omitting all the ornamental epithets and turns of phrase which are used to give a very un-epic passage an epic colouring. Though she sider detests her lord. ' her husband sitting on Mount Ida.' Hera. and it runs somewhat like this. and the whole description that follows reads like a passage in the Arabian Nights. jewellery. and then ambrosia author troubles himself she anoints herself with sort. it begins. her bower. and uses it as a sort of trade word). an ' extra-ambrosial for her ' which has been specially perfumed it ' : then she combs her hair and twists beautiful. brosial ' into bright. with its She goes accordingly to close-shut doors and its secret key. Next comes the it. and abhorred the sight of him. adornment of every kind are lavished upon her by the very men who really regard her as a chattel. saw as . am- robe with dainty patterns upon pinned . themselves probably a product of the same kind of Greek genius as composed these portions of the Iliad. It is and begins an elaborate toilet. oil. as we might the tricked husband. fastens the bolt. ' ambrosial ' curls. and she decides to dress herself in her finest.

the ready.' ' ' little tion. She wants to borrow the magic cestus of Aphrodite in order to reconcile Oceanus and mother Tethys. and the crafty enters into an elaborate and entirely false explanaI have to ask. across the chest goddess is now of a Greek lady's toilette. which rob even the wise of their wits then with mutual smiles they separate. but she at once consents It is not possible or proper to refuse you.' she begins with a circumlocution. for you sleep in the arms of the mighty Zeus. she Dear child.22 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE by golden brooches. Being a woman. calls ' ' and what a Aphrodite invites her to be Hera then more plain. friend. I wonder whether you will say yes or no to says.' and she hands her in it are love magic powers and desire and sweet dalliance and alluring words.' she ' ' says.' they would ever afterwards call me their Whether Aphrodite believes the story or not ' : is best left unsaid. a pair whose matrimonial affairs have been going so badly that they are now occupying separate rooms. and finally the earrings The shining brightly with their three pendants. and as she is going abroad she puts them on upon Aphrodite. all its ' the cestus with — ' — All through the passage it will be noticed there is . If I could only get them together. and the corset belt with its hundred tassels. except for the last two articles yashmak veil and the sandals.

whom she begs to send Zeus into a deep slumber. and Sleep would have been thrown out of heaven tried a similar trick into the sea had not mother Night interfered to save him. with a footstool But Sleep raises difficulties. Hera goes off to pay her next visit.' promises the god ' on Zeus before at the lady's request. but the effect of the cestus is really quite independent of It any superbe seen ' natural aid. He has attached. the pair go to Mount Ida. and Hera reveals herself to Zeus. In fine. even a golden chair. sufficient a chair. Binding the cestus then under her breast. which has always seemed to Eastern nations the ideal of feminine beauty. this service she For a beautiful golden chair. Hera accordingly raises her offer from a chair to a woman.THE IONIANS AND HESIOD 23 a good deal of talk about magic. the same sort of magic as we get in the Arabian Nights. and when the god awoke he was very violent. to the god Sleep. something quite unbreakable. was an article such as soutiento-day advertised in a fashion and it produced that development of the gorge ' — — paper a may female bust and general appearance of embonpoint. Sleep changes himself into a bird to of the and promises him one watch the scene of beguiling. Sleep at this agrees to help. is not a reward for such a dangerous task. he asks where she is . younger Graces as his bed-fellow. As soon as the god sees her.

and she repeats again the story of Oceanus and Tethys' misadventures and her projected inter- vention. plished ' is accom- Dr. as a : climax of good taste. the crafty. that he needs her presence and that she can go there another day then. in which woman has little part.' but to other readers it may well seem thoroughly unpleasant. but the scene ends : her purpose with the god in her arms and man once again is beguiled. . like a master of the harem. Still. and his ideals are very low. he recites the long list of his mistresses. of which we have some further examples in Hesiod. of toi. it is The brutal god and the crafty goddess are plainly the poet's ideals of man and woman . real But the god tells her brusquely. beginning with Ixion's wife and ending with Leto.' replies at first with an affectation of modesty. These two passages from the Iliad may serve as specimens of the second method of attack. mon cheri/ at the end of Hera's speech of invitation. There is much ancient wisdom. in the The strange medley that now bears his name is same position as the Iliad. of To this impassioned love-making. worthy ' Don Juan himself.24 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE going. that of sarcastic depreciation under the guise of realism. Leaf finds the passage full of healthy sensuousness. Hera. both in its — language for ' its sentiment and example. the horrible reiteration a valuable document.

as told by Hesiod. and then a ploughing ox. it is has all the epic machinery. avenged her ruin by killing both Hesiod and his friend. sham linked on to I . coast of Asia Minor. while the ancient fable of Prometheus.' and there are also plainly inspired by the new Ionian many spirit. who indeed was said to have been the chief This tale. passages The few facts that we know of Hesiod's life would to suggest that he was an Ionian poet Bceotia. who migrated and incorporated into his verse the ancient lore of the country. Hesiod's father was a merchant who lived at Kyme. and then a woman.THE IONIANS AND HESIOD ' 25 Get first a house. of his life at Askra. but of his life The son passed we know little. good deal. culprit. a citizen of Locris. hospitality They repaid : his girl by seducing suicide. taking the law own hands. him in Greece. The story it very old. on the most of his death a of Miletus. and probably the details of the fact in Hesiod's life. Pandora myth are itself is his own invention. his daughter the committed into their and her brothers. which is by far the best-authenticated does not give us a very pleasant as to the poet's capacity for passing impression judgment on women. much of it as old as anything we have in Greek literature. but. He had a friend. a citizen who came to stay with The two Ionians travelling together were entertained I by one Phegeus.

chains of gold are hung about her body.' lid but not necessarily Pandora.' ' he says ' . and she is sent a dog's shameless mind and Then the doll is diessed with kirtle down to earth. ' Hephaestus mixes the paste and fashions the Athena gives her skill in weaving. then and then only did he know the evil ' thing he possessed. who takes the from the free Jar of Evil Things and lets them the world.26 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE To revenge the gift of fire to men. doll. ' A sheer and hopeless delusion. I will give them an evil thing. Hermes gives her thieving ways. It the idea that things must change for the better only risk all your fortune : that the laws . it will be remembered. Zeus resolves to make a woman. spring flowers put upon her head. Aphrodite sheds charm about her head and baleful desire and passion that eats away the strength ' of men.' Accordingly. although it comes next in the Works and Days. It is 'a woman.' is not certainly connected ' with her history. and the story of the Jar.' and girdle. fly over now remains Elpis That curse.' to be the bane of men who work Epimetheus takes her to wife. and when he had got her. is —not so is if much Hope you will as the gambler's belief in Luck.' Finally. for their bread. so that only one curse constant.' So the tale of Pandora ends. every his man in own his heart will rejoice therein and hug misfortune.

Such is Hesiod's attitude towards women.THE IONIANS AND HESIOD your benefit the belief. 27 of the universe will be providentially altered for . that so often makes the elderly misogynist take a young|wife. . and with Hesiod the first stage of Greek literature comes to an end. in fact.

With most of the other poets. In nothing is Aristotle's great doctrine of the golden mean more valuable than in matters of sex. the preservation of the the sexual appetite is wholly starved. the and as we know — unreasonably enough in her case —Sappho was included with them. we have only two reasons of the inconsiderable fragments. iambic and elegiac poetry. There are for the disappearance. If species. and her poems publicly burnt. disfigures the late until in this period ends in sheer misogyny. But in the fragments that we do possess there appears unmistakably the of sensual desire same mixture it and cynical distaste for women which Epic . general standard of morality in their verse is so low that they fell under the ban of the Early Church. In the case greatest names.III. 28 . The sexual appetite is as natural as the appetites of eating and drinking and as necessary for that which . —The Lyric Poets Of the literature of the seventh and sixth centuries before Christ. is nature's sole concern. Alcseus and Sappho. the Romans preferred the adaptations of Horace to the originals. the lyric.

Nature revenges as she does herself in the same way exceed in the matter of food or drink. is of normal man and woman alone should be considered a family —and their any real value. Archilochus. probably The paucity period literature was definitely used for the first time to degrade the position of women. has obscured the facts. and the three chief iambic poets of the Alexandrian canon. perversities of every kind begin. Sappho and Erinna mark the turning-point in literature. At the beginning of this period the . is But unfortunately and especially in this Ionian literature. Living at a time when it had not been made impossible for . lampoons is two sexes are fairly equal in their at the opportunities end the female is plainly the inferior. no great loss either in an artistic or a moral sense. but there seems little doubt that in this of material. The iambic metre was invented for the express purpose of satirical calumny.THE LYRIC POETS the result is 29 as disastrous to the race as the total deprivation of food and drink would be to the individual : if it is unduly fostered. their scanty fragments all agree chief object of their and Hipponax. in on one point the : —woman. upon those who and abnormal In sex matters the —the father and the mother of opinion alone in literature. Simonides. and most of the have to consider seem to have been unmarried and childless. the normal person writers we now the exception.

The scandal of male was inspired by a genuine and pathetic belief gossip that such a genius as hers must at least have been touched with masculine writings. both in reputation and in as we can judge actual achievement. e. but the lyric age extends roughly from the middle of the seventh to the middle of the sixth century. there is she is neither gross nothing distinctively mannish ' : nor tedious. ' Later ages. The earliest writer in order of time. the epigram on the portrait of Agatharchis and the pathetic elegy on the dead Baucis. reveal a talent at least as fine and strong as that of Alcaeus . difficult to believe that vices. The few fragments of Erinna's verse that we possess. is Archilochus. But in Sappho's which are our only real evidence. In the technique of her art. she is at least the equal of skill. exact dates are impossible. they women showed that a woman could equal or surpass the male poets of her day. metrical the music of verse. soldier of . any poet who has lived since her day in thought . Sappho.3o FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE to write.g. found it Sappho was a woman at all.. and in some ways the most important. In dealing with the Ionian poetry. the Burns or Villon of Greece— outlaw. and diction she is far superior to all her contemporaries. indeed. while of all the as Greek far lyrists. holds by far the highest place.

But amorist abruptly to misogynist. Both frank. the first 31 man to introduce his own personal feelings into literature. the daughter of a wealthy If citizen of Paros.' Beanyone trothed to Cleobule. may of be The father's Lycambes. as he says. Archilochus has his own special reasons for hating women bo ' ' — ' —and. pierced with cruel anguish through all my bones ' . he had learned the great hurts Archilochum proprio rabies armavit iamlesson. guessed. ' like a dead man I lie. you. I will get another just as good. poet. The longing .THE LYRIC POETS fortune. he found his marriage forbidden by the reasons lady's father. captive to desire. and spent the rest of his life in the poet turned from railing against his lost mistress and womankind in general. and at any rate I have His love poems are equally escaped from death. the to delight With myrtleand herself ' . All her back and shoulders were covered by hair. and.' free-spoken. boughs and roses fair she used again. hurt her in return. ' in love and war he us is uncompromisingly his shield He tells how he threw away : beside the bush in battle but deuce take the shield. even from the few that still fragments Archilochus remain.' shadow of her little But ' : to his fierce spirit such love brings comfort Wretch that I am. It is the actual image of * his mistress that torments him when he ' cries.

' full women. for example. as soon as she became a wedded wife. only three are left Of .' the falsity of women seem to have been the themes of the animal stories which folly of men and Archilochus. kicked her bonnet over the moon/ Fortunately. .32 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE from a that takes the strength mans limbs.' Soon ' his love turns to hate and loathing. Woman . is the fox . his epigrams. in the other the fire of To marry a woman now The ' is.' carries water. the story of tale is it is Gyges and in Candaules. What remains. and impossible to disentangle .' ' another man. and he is imputes to the woman own / was wronged. indeed. now the ape but the fragments are too short for a certain judgment. man is now the eagle. the fault that : really his Aye like ! and to many ruin. like JEso-p. handed down to us Herodotus' prose. she and of guile ' : In one hand she craft. is here translation of one of them Miss High-and-mighty. I have sinned. To take to one's house manifest ruin. it is that which overcomes me now. composed. will fall me His mistress now for him has Like all lost her beauty. however. methinks. of Archilochus is always a free tantalising in its incompleteness. we have preserved for us in : ' Herodotus a manner —a much The longer specimen of Archilochus' real Milesian tale. No longer does it your soft flesh bloom fair even as dry is leaves false begins to wither.

. but it is when we compare it with the same Gyges as told by Plato. seems to have been a misogynist from birth. they created.THE LYRIC POETS the shares contributed 33 by the Ionian poet and the is it Ionian historian typical of both. they usually turn out a curse to their owners. His work now only exists in fragments. Our next poet. but it is so significant frame of mind that the two longest passages that survive deserve a verbatim translation. and the second mistake enamoured of not believing Gyges when he is enlightened on the subject brings of female to a modesty. A man who lives with a wife never gets through a whole day . Simonides of Amorgos. Even if are the greatest evil that God ever they do appear to be useful at times. the interest centres in the magic ring. nor necessary . There the sensual elements disappear. His folly naturally him bad end. The of a first runs thus : Women. the story is Candaules makes the of his initial mistake of being own wife. especially signitale of the ficant The story is interesting. and the seduction of the queen and murder of the king form merely the hasty conclusion of the narraThe difference between the two stories is the tive. But Archilochus at least has once loved a woman. measure of the difference between the feminist philosopher and the libertine turned woman-hater.

you can never entertain a guest without fear of trouble. Into one kind of woman He put the mind of a pig. mind you.34 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE always finds some ground of fault and puts on her armour for battle. growling even The is she . Hunger. changes every day. and all the time we do not realise that we —the without trouble. to be merry at home by God's grace or man's service — woman — — are all in the same plight. The second woman God made out of a mischievous fox. bedraggled floor. with mud and rolling on the sits while she herself. and in her house everything lies about in disorder. She is cunning in all things alike she knows in the . the foul Moreover. in dirty clothes mire and waxes fat. her speech all that is bad and all that is is fair. unwashed. A man cannot stop . Every one will praise his own wife men are shrewd enough for that and then will talk scandal about his neighbour's. of : women. just when a man is thinking fiend. this the greatest evil that God ever created. everything. though there is no one in sight. third sort of woman was made out of a dog. but often it is evil. as we said before. may well be the most mischievous of all. the woman who seems to be most virtuous. lank and bristly. She wants to hear and know about everything she is always peering /'about and roaming around. and the true child of her mother. is From the first God made women's characters different. but his neighbours laugh to see him. Her husband gapes at her in admiration. Where there is a wife. for. the catalogue It begins longer and better known. and the mistake he is making. ever restless. Again. is The other fragment. good often and her mood . and it is no easy matter for him to drive away from his house that fiend abhorred.

The seventh was made out of a polecat. who There is nothing fair or lovable in nothing pleasant. it is with difficulty you get her to She is give way to you and do her work satisfactorily. she never will fire. all alike. She is filled with fury. detestable. friends and foes. rather they half made her and then gave her to man. woman a grievous kind. Such a one knows nothing. Though you use reproaches and force. good or bad the only business she has sense enough for is eating. her. nothing charming.THE LYRIC POETS . like a bitch guarding her cubs savage to ' : and gladness. grey of hide and stubborn against blows. and often again is driven to madness It is to the sea that such a by the thunderous waves. : less nuisance.' But another day she is II insupportable to look at or to approach. a joy to sailors in the summer tide. a A so the sea often stands quiet and harmless. and night she eats in her bedroom. She is a thief . But if a man approaches to make love to her. One day she ' is all stranger seeing her in the house will In all the world. praise better or a fairer lady. and any man comes near she fills with nausea. Soft talk is useless. not even if in sudden anger he break her teeth with a stone. . A Even is most like> The sixth woman was made from an ass. always eating. mud—or Even The fourth woman the gods in heaven made out of — if God shivering. there is not her. and she smiles has two minds within her.' says he. day she eats by the fireside. too it is all the same even if she happen to be sitting among strangers a man finds her a continual and hope. sends a bitter winter's day and she be draw her chair closer to the The fifth woman was made out of the sea. 35 her with threats no. a plaguy and . she comes forward quickly enough to welcome him.

nor throw the dung out of doors even sit near the kitchen stove. difficulty Alas for the poor wretch who holds such an evil thing . She never renders anyone a service. and often she gobbles up the sacrifice herself without offering any to the gods. and moves with she has no buttocks. and she makes her husband well acquainted with adversity. Her hair is always luxuriant and well combed. and anoints herself with unguents. nor lift up the she won't sieve. The tenth woman was made out of a bee happy the man who gets her On her alone no breath of scandal but she brings a life of happiness and prosperity. unless indeed he be a tyrant or sceptred king who has a fancy to pride himself on such delights. The eighth woman was the daughter of a mare. is a mockery to all men. such a woman. pre-eminently the very greatest curse that God ever sent to men. thought of any servant's work or labour. her legs are all bone. Every day. Her features are shamefully ugly . but all day long this is what she is seeking and looking for how to do some one as much harm as she can. : : indeed. She has a short neck. with garlands of flowers upon it. Husband and wife grow old together in love. two or three times. steppShe shudders at the ing daintily with flowing mane. Famous among all women is she. such a woman is a fine sight for the men to see. and a grace divine encompasses her in his ! them all.36 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE and annoys her neighbours. she washes every speck of dirt off her. The ninth woman came from a monkey this sort is. and fair and glorious are her children. because she is afraid of the soot. — : ! . she knows and like a monkey she does not mind being laughed at. as she walks through a town. lights. She will never lay her hand to the millstone. but she is a curse to her owner. Of course. arms But as for guile and tricks.

Such women as she are the best and wisest given by God to men all the other kinds are a bane to men. We are far removed in this world from Feed the brute/ and it must be remembered that in a Greek household the work was hard. : „ And so the fragment ends. while the master strolled about the city. is All this pure misogyny . They are chiefly the which our poet imputes two vices which a surly master will always find in his servants. was winnowed. and then the grain was put into a small hand-mill. and continual. but it is interesting to notice the especial faults to womankind. 37 She takes no delight in sitting with other women are telling when they bawdy tales. women So of the house. Every mouthful of bread or porridge eaten in a Greek home had come First it into the house as a sack of dirty grain.THE LYRIC POETS about. they work too little and eat gluttony and idleness . cleaned by hand . ' There were no labour-saving appliances. . too much. and by a laborious process . for the hard work was chiefly done by women. of pestle and mortar then was ground into flour the flour was kneaded and baked every process being attended with the maximum of manual labour and general inconvenience. also with the clothes and household fabrics : . and by God's decree a bane they always will be. monoour tonous. borne by the it made into dough.

The master contented himself with buying the sheep-skins lets us see.' Hipponax. as Theocritus handed to and dried his wife. the third ' com- who pany. had to be washed off then the wool was cut and carded . . the skins —and. if we may judge him by some was a thoroughly disagreeable he always asking and being refused . varies complaints with abuse or downright threats.38 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE every operation in their manufacture was done at home by the women. It may was unfortunate in his choice of this much Hipponax. and that the machinery of the house- hold would be put very well be that Simonides of a helpmate. It is obvious. often did that very badly —which he then First. Hold my coat. blanket and shroud. and I will knock out his eye. who was himself too busy with the higher work of politics to attend to such things. mournfully complains.' he ' cries. then by a laborious process of spinning the wool was turned into yarn. would be a great grief to her lord and master. It is hard to get a wife will both bring you a good dowry and then do all the work. he is forty short fragments. and finally on a hand-loom the the same piece of stuff. then. person 1 . for as out of gear. and I never miss when I . I've got two right hands. so excellent was the workmanship. often serving for : yarn was woven into cloth coat. that thing existed —or an idle wife — if such a a wife who ate more than her share of the laboriously prepared bread.

to women an object of scorn. and if we seek the purity of love's passion we must turn to Sappho. for he is handsome and desirable . The satiety that comes from excess of sensual pleasure is the main cause over of the much of Ionian literature. melancholy pessimism that broods Of Alcaeus and his Lycus. of chambering and wantonness. A fair sample There are only two days of his style is this fragment ' : in your life that you marry her your wife gives you pleasure: and the day you bury her. difficult unnecessary now to speak. Theognis and Cyrnus. Anacreon and his Bathyllus. it is Benecke when they try to show that a fine idealism was the inspiration of these relationships. an old man is wretched.' the day This insistence on the physical side of love runs through all the elegiac and lyric poetry of the age. Among all the foulness of her time Sappho shines out like a star. No loss in literature is so lamentable poems that the as the loss of the nine books of her .' 39 so is much the subject of women he does not say as the other two. and it depends alone on physical attractions.THE LYRIC POETS throw. but it is to believe such amiable apologists as Mr. for the range of his thought On almost confined to carnal delights. Love to Mimnermus is a thing of secret kisses. A young man is happy. Neither the character of the men's writings nor that of their time and country give much ground for such confidence.

it has us only a fragment of her work. which on the hills is Forget get it — it till found. the number of those fragments is still increasing. . new or old. as will be seen by a comparison of the two best studies of Sappho in recent years. luckily. which gives life even to the for : briefest phrase that some grammarian has quoted lines that Rossetti a rare word. Like the wild hyacinth flower. Take the adapted Like the sweet apple a which reddens upon topmost bough. Edmonds in 1912. Wharton in 1886. Which the passing tear feet of the shepherds for ever and wound. is Until the purple blossom trodden into the ground. In all the fragments.40 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE . and the brilliant monograph on the new fragments by Mr. the exquisite collection by Mr. Alexandrian library possessed ture no treasure in litera- is quite so precious as the fragments that various chances have preserved for us. is a great poet. M. but got it not. Alcaeus. Her friend and rival. left it is been has of her inspiration. J. Even since that date fresh poems have come to light. A-top on the topmost twig— which the pluckers forget somehow. there is an indeof translations issued finable quality of personal feeling. And. but a fragment of her soul. and we do not know what Egypt may have yet in store. for none could now. but he lacks the fiery intensity said. Sappho. not nay.

in pain. O Love : O D Love. — In death. fair. little daughter rare. nor lovely Greece beside. in his translations. . And this. Oh. has kept the simple charm of the Greek : much of I have a Cleis. Since Night. To my songs thou wouldst not hearken. For Cleis.THE LYRIC POETS Or. the close-shut tomb enfoldeth thee. Mr. this other : 41 Dead. come to me/ for you and I the burden of her cry. a portion of a new fragment : And often as her way she wanders. With sad longing love opprest. dead. Silent. again. alone. And on gentle Attis ponders. That's like the golden flowers My I would not take all Lydia wide. enter in. Sends her word of what she hears Across the severing main. and in her verse even a few words will suggest a picture : Come to me. and songless shalt thou be Thou wouldst not love me here on earth. Her heart devours her tender breast Till ' she cries. Edmonds. Know This tender simplicity is the soul of Sappho. . In death thou shalt loveless be. which hath the myriad ears. the inheritor. bereft of breath. Below the ground. No.

42 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE swept and garnished. ettI shalt sleep the long night Surely no one save Sappho has touched so closely the heart of love and ffT-rjOeoQ U hivxtvveiG. poetry. Everywhere Everything is is And on my bosom thou through. All my body is food for thee. prepared. . The fire of my heart burns brightly.

that of women's love. and with them intellectual activity stood in sharp contrast with moral and physical dwellers sloth. .IV. his desire for freedom and his desire for pleasure were constantly women He wished to be independent of but he was not meant by nature to be a monk. a strange medley of qualities. of Persia finally . indeed. —The Milesian Tales Ionian literature a The chief characteristic of is certain softness. He wished but he was not a born and he bought a pretence of autonomy by the payment of tribute to a Persian satrap. the discipline which alone but he was by no means a believer in makes freedom possible. . The Ionians were. The Ionian man was a convinced believer in freedom — for himself . They were essentially a race of city them the charm of the country and 43 for of nature had . Both in sexual matters and in politics. forfeiting his manhood for the sake of peace. a kind of laxity of morals corres- ponding to a looseness of political organisation. yielding to a sensuality far more degrading than to be independent soldier. and he purchased his apparent freedom by at cross-purposes.

and voluptuousness became the Like Buenos Ayres to-day. in the Iliad. No one of the three has any moral value . absent. Miletus and rule of life. but which. Sybaris were trading ports founded in a new country. a strict Puritan would probably refuse to they are at least decent in a literary form. indeed. The mixture of races was a danger. the climate favoured voluptuous pleasures. The tale of the tricked husband are fair samples of Ionian thought. and their civilisation found its most perfect expression during the seventh and sixth centuries in the splendid luxury of such towns as the Ionian Miletus. however. The moral and sexual degradation that this unbridled pursuit of pleasure sion. was invented . and in both places material prosperity led quickly to moral corruption. another and even less creditwhich literary historians tell first able class of story of us little. and the bracing stimulus of war was. let them soil his lips . and the rapid growth of riches discouraged the manlier virtues. in South Italy. and the Achaean Sybaris. There was.44 little FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE attraction. Ganymede. if they are not too closely examined. probably. until too late. but enough to be written down and to pass muster. as resulted from its found expres- we have seen. in literature. in Asia Minor. The two cities were closely connected by ties of trade and social intercourse. the episode of and the catalogue of women in Simonides.

Pierrette. and they were meant both for a male and female audience. Though sometimes written in prose. invented by Archilochus. and their tendency was so definitely to ruin any reasonable conception of sex relationships that they force themselves into notice. who appears in the Homeric hymn to Demeter. Pierrot. during the time of their greatest prosperity —the so-called Milesian Tales. in the case of the few that do survive. their influence on ancient morals was very great. many of the most typical speciall . tion of Christian moralists thirdly. and occasionally make a furtive appearance in history. Usually circulating by word of mouth. most of the stories that found a footing in literature were blotted out by the righteous indigna . But. In dealing with them as literature we are confronted with a threefold difficulty : firstly. mens of this style were never written down at secondly.THE MILESIAN TALES in such 45 towns as Miletus and Sybaris in the seventh and sixth centuries. they endured for centuries. has his female counterpart in Iambe. but their significance in sexual morality has not always been appreciated. and by her capers forces the sad goddess to smile once . desirable to introduce it is neither possible nor them to a modern audience. their natural medium was the iambic measure. Iambus the jester. though they are the least estimable part of our inheritance from ancient literature.

These were the sort of verses and images to which Aristotle alludes in the Seventh Book of the Politics of literature to degrade . But this sort of humour in Athens and Ionia soon degenerated into coarseness. shameful part in the Eleusinian mysteries of DeThe worship of the sorrowing mother Mater — —was made the cloak for nameless obsceniDolorosa and the influence of religion ties. and this is . a woman sitting on a pig. the Greeks were so much laughter . afraid. the tales is. played a prominent and a to meter. the one justification of more innocent form they were intended to purge away that feeling of melancholy of which. in their perhaps. he thinks. qualities of artistic and owed little to any tion. was added to that men's conception of women. and Iambe. than literature degraded to these ends. as we see her in the ritual statuette. and confined them to the gossip during the great of the per- . by exciting the emotion of same purpose by exciting the emotions of pity and fear.46 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE This . more. as the precursor of madness. humour or imaginafitness The sense always of which the kind of Athenians possessed kept this stories out of written literature period. to poetry one of the reasons for Plato's objection better no literature at all. her name now changed just as tragedy effects the Baubo. The worst type of Milesian or Sybaritic definitely tale was meant to stimulate the animal passions.

usually called. Pyres the and Sotades whole Maronea. notorious authors were Simus the the of Alexander iEtolian. these calls Ionian poems. little Of the man and book we have Sulla in his direct knowledge. his of Miletus. however. but on very little evidence. ' But as soon as the decadence began. put into a jar with a leaden top. as Plutarch Aristides. did not confine himself to the comparatively safe pastime of libelling women. who gives his name is to that class of licentious writings which of represented in modern times by the sotadic satire Nicholas Chorier.' 1 Hilarodoi.' who lived perhaps in the second century before Christ.' and the Lysiodoi. and Ovid tries were 'disgusted to use him as a . became a recognised branch of the ' and we hear 1 of their chief practitioners.THE MILESIAN TALES furriers' 47 and barbers' shops. But the most famous. of all the class Aristides. He ventured to write lampoons upon Ptolemy Philadelphus and his sister Arsinoe. the companion of voluptuous debauchery. is 1 or infamous. Milesian.' as Athenaeus letters. Sotades.' the ' Simodoi. and copies'of this version were found by the Parthians in the tents of the Roman by officers after the battle of Carrhae. was caught on the island where he had taken refuge. tells us. and drowned.' Among the more Magnesian. but he was translated into Latin by Sisenna. writers of facetiae. them. Even the Parthians.

and the real viler portions of the Satyricon are the most exam- was inspired by Miletus. notoriously bad. and by Milesian ideas of womankind. complains bitterly in his exile of the difference in treatment meted out to the Aristides and himself. Quotations are obviously imposliter- and indeed the genre does not depend on ary grace. Rome. * ' Aristides was not all banished. and. and yet he fathered : scandalous stories of Miletus the authors amongst us who now put together Sybaritic stories go unpunished. possesses it ' tolerable. and we can trace its popularity and in- fluence in sible. Petronius.48 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE the charge of immoral The Roman poet who. was at least free from some of the grosser vices shelter for himself against of his age. writing. but From as the beginning at Miletus the relations between men and Herodotus ' women were us.' Sybaritic and Milesian were the descriptive adjectives used even in Ovid's time for this kind of writing.' he cries. tells justification. sufficient skill to One author make ' alone. though a libertine. The natural coarseness of the Roman mind gave this sort of ples of the literature that story a greater prominence than the Greeks ever probably be correct to trace its first origin to the coast of Ionia in the seventh century and especially to the metropolis of the Ionian Statesa it will allowed. . The first settlers they had some historical at Miletus/ he says.

Domestic life was poisoned.THE MILESIAN TALES 1 49 seized the having no wives of their own. The three prominence during the sixth century. as we know . not love. to this effect : They should never eat at the same table with their husbands. an episode not unlike the story of the Lemnian women. and the harem —sexual perversion. — come into system all life. and literature caught the infection. and it is impossible for us now fully to estimate its extent. enmity. and their sons. For they had killed their fathers. This is the first incident in the history of Miletus. which they handed down to their daughters. killed the men and women of the country. nor should any woman ever call her husband by his name. and the slow process of race suicide begun. their husbands. and it explains a great deal. By action and reaction the mischief spread. But we cannot doubt the effect that Ionian literature had city of Ionia.' On account of this massacre. and after so doing had forced them to become their wives. the women established the law and imposed upon themselves an oath. and there is good reason to believe that it was just at this time that the natural increase of population was checked. in lowering men's estimate of women. In the chief was the law between husband and wife. If Ionia was the cradle of Greek culture. and thereby their ideals of social degrading all great curses of Greek civilisation infanticide.

' heard at the club and later on in the thing you ' . Sybaris once. more pleasing form of story. sometimes coarse. FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE from Ionia disease came the germs of that moral which made a fatal counterpoise to the also intellectual supremacy of Greece. we get two specimens of the style. There were the well-known animal fables which common to the whole Mediterranean and and in Msop find a Greek dress. realistic.' says the ' somegentleman in Aristophanes' Wasps. ' Tell tale of ^Esop. but always strongly ' They were them a funny old especially popular at Athens. and his name was used as a convenient shelter for of two are slightly different kinds humorous story. is hardly more a real person than Homer. also invented in Ionia about this time. play.50 it.' and although . TEscrp himself. they are in verse. its In the worse type of Milesian Tale immorality takes most revolting form but there was another and . and beside them a sort of humorous anecdote. and so a contemporary of Sappho. which occasionally is called by the same title. with a catch refrain A woman at ' : Msop one day. or of Sybaris. the lame slave who was made by tradition the fellow-servant of the fair courtesan. and is best known to us in the collection of iEsop's Fables. trivial. sometimes Asiatic world. Rhodopis.' and ' Like our Limericks. when Bdelycleon is intoxicated.

in their Milesian shape there was always an But underlying vein of satire. are brave and generous the females.' ' : The fables of Mso-p are now a nursery classic. like the Arabian Nights and Gulliver's Travels. a bold. as we see in the Greek version of Babu of Phsedrus. the eagle and the lion.' flour. even in the animal stories. Thereupon the lady said By the virgin. if ' : ! you were'to'sell that foul tongue of yours and buy some sensible. and laid a claim for damages. when a bitch began to bark at him. The male animals. are cunning and treacherous. for. . you would|be more is The other this : A woman of Sybaris once broke a jug. Moreover.THE MILESIAN TALES they are not particularly humorous. The first runs thus : a JEsop one night was going back from dinner. The jug got a friend to act as witness. drunken creature. they have been turned by the kindly irony of time to a use which their authors hardly contemplated. the fox and the weasel. there was a great deal of matter in the iEsopian stories which and the Latin was plainly misogynistic. it 51 must be of remembered that they are the witticisms drunken man. dear Thereupon said he my good bitch. Dear. separated ts though they be from the original by a gap of centuries. . if you would but let the lawyers alone and buy some sticking-plaster you would show more wisdom.

The young man . and the wolf. 32 is a curious reminiscence of Simonides : Once upon a time a cat fell in love with a comely man. we see. women's beauty. his : property. and supposing that the old dame was speaking the truth.' ' : ' ? ' It's said his wife. is mere infatuaand so is belief in their truth. as No.' heard the words. waited patiently for the meal which he thought would soon be ready.' ? who had But the What would you have I have trusted No. is the cause of all this. or suppose that I have made you beautiful I am angry with that ' : fellow there. allowed her to change her shape and take a woman's body. the mother of Desire. 16 shows : : A ' country nurse once threatened a whining child The wolf Stop. and so he thinks you fair. ' come home empty-handed been keeping house. we may take from Babrius. or I will throw you to the wolf. and glorious Cypris. who had been waiting on slow hope. and readily gave her all she asked. dirty slave-girl. Fable 10 : A man own fell in love with an ugly. She had her fill of gold fine purple robes trailing at her ankles. very unusual. Do not thank me. and appearing ' ' to the slave-girl. and soon she began to rival the mistress of the house. his mouth really agape.' and she honoured her with votive tapers. It was not till evening that the child fell asleep.' thought she. she said. came in a dream while they were asleep. wolf replied a woman.' Belief in tion.52 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE As examples. one so fair that all men desired her. The goddess of love. went off home very How is it you have hungry. going every day to sacrifice and prayer with But at last the goddess supplications and requests.

rushed after it. but not yet old. So. Moral of : Pitiable : is the man who falls into the hands women they bite and bite until they strip him to the bone. took two mistresses. the noble animal strips himself of claws and teeth. and the bride. but the best humour which put into the mouth of the satyr-poet Eumolpus. couch. Now the young woman wanted to see in her lover a young man. one old. while the old lady did the same to the black hairs. until young and old together at last pulled out all the hair he had and left him bald. and in a . the girl plucked out any hairs that she could find turning white. fell captive in his turn and arranged to wed. girl. jumping down from the high So the banquet came to an end. to please the and everything that makes him formidable. every time. and Love. a brief version in Petronius the story is . : No. Phaedrus gives depreciation. who had had a merry jest. So in the fable of the lion who falls in love with a maiden. 22 more outspoken a time a middle-aged man not young. Once upon — — the old dame desired some one as old as herself. and for his reward is beaten to these stories there is death.THE MILESIAN TALES 53 saw her. In all a note of satirical example of the cynical the whole class is to be found inspires in the tale of the Ephesian Widow. his hair a mixture of black and white feeling that he still had leisure for love and merriment. The marriage feast was just prepared when a mouse ran by. departed too for — even he could not is fight against nature. one young.

and the first sentence. where . which might come from Voltaire's Candide. the bereaved wife insisted ' exemplary constancy. There the lady with singular and signs of grief. affection in a woman — the only one they had ever known.54 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE it will perhaps bear quotation. refusing all food.' remained with it for five days. he made his way down to the vault. and not satisfied with the ordinary on following the corpse to the underground chamber where it was laid. and was surprised to find a pretty woman. The whole country was full of the story. and attended only by one servant-girl whose business it was to share her lit mistress' grief ' and renew the taper which alone up the sepulchral chamber.' so and men of every class agreed that this was a real and brilliant example of virtue and the tale runs.' So it begins. however. some robbers had been crucified near the place. and a soldier on guard over the crosses noticed the light of the taper gleaming in the darkness. husband died. Yielding to the weakness of human nature. The lady's gives the spirit in which it is written.' In the meantime. a matron of Ephesus so notoriously There was once virtuous that all the women of the neighbouring ' condensed form towns used to come and gaze upon her as at a wonderful spectacle. deaf to the entreaties of relatives and magistrates.

The girl was then able to persuade her mistress to follow her example. But he soon realised the situation that the lady could not get — over the loss of her traps man —and ' so he brought his down to the cellar her.' so says Eumolpus. for the body had . all of come . and two or three days and nights were spent in dalliance.THE MILESIAN TALES 55 he had expected to see a ghost. commonplace —only final resting-place.' His attempt at is certainly somewhat and he turned irritated the lady. a good meal the soldier was soon as successful in the matron's resolute virtue as he had overcoming : You been in overcoming her resolute desire for death. his attention to the servant (for in this sort of stories there is always a soubrette) and induced her to partake of his rations. so that it might appear that the good lady had breathed her her husband's body last over the soldier brought down all . sorts of comestibles. Meanwhile the crucified robbers were quite forgotten. and on the third morning the soldier found that one of the crosses was empty. ' Do not persist in useless to this do not rend your breast with unus will availing sobs .' The doors of the vault were closed. ' and soon all three were eating * and drinking together. though well-meant. we all have but one consolation —which. and began to address some words of comfort to grief/ said he. the result of know.

' So she told the soldier to take the ' husband's body out of its receptacle and fix it on the vacant cross. people were wondering how it and the next day was that a dead man had found his way to the cross. But the matron was as compassionate as she was I she cried. as he said. and announced his intention of committing suicide. Heaven forfend virtuous. He explained his plight to the lady. The soldier gladly followed the clever lady's ingenious idea. they have had an influence on later thought which the Ionian pornographers would never have secured.' The Ephesian Widow represents the Milesian Tales at their best . and especially in the history of the relations of the sexes. for his neglect of duty. and. and cannot bear to see two such dear men both depart from life. lie The perverse ideas that under- them were transplanted from Ionia to Athens. In themselves they are beneath contempt. . the proper penalty.56 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE been removed for burial by the relatives in the night. recommended by the literary genius o' Athenian writers. but they have a very considerable importance in the history of the world. I would rather pay over the dead than ' ' ' ! lose the living. at their worst they are only to be read by those who can touch pitch and not be defiled.

at Athens in the fifth century was a dreary to the house. the means they employed were not much better but they were successful . women work from notice.C. but without any of that luxurious ease which the harem system has I 57 .V. in their purpose. harem She was confined closely prisoner. a business. she took over from Ionia the idea of women subject as inferior creatures. When Athens took over the leaderand during all ship of Greece. became no longer necessary to B. The deal of Ionian motives which inspired the whole school of writers were utterly contemptible. but it has been necessary to quote some of the less noisome specimens. slander them A woman's life they were simply neglected. women were a It . the great period of Athenian history class. —Athens in the Fifth Century We have traced the main tendencies of Ionian thought. and have seen how the degradation of involved a corresponding degradation of Its very offensiveness protects a great literature. for it must be remembered that this immorality of literature was both the cause and the result of the low opinion in which women were held.

but the goddess was divested of feminine attributes. from public meetings and from private banquets. and a woman's day was occupied with a long round of monotonous work.58 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE loss of sometimes offered as a solace for the freedom. The legal status of women. and uncomfortable. seems to have been . was in the most remote and inaccessible part of the city. . in the general obscurity of early can be little Athenian history. The stages by which women were reduced to this condition of inferiority are. and the gymnasium. as we see the quiet line of girls marshalled on the Parthenon frieze. to Ionian influence. from the From the school Odeon and the Academy. She became the ideal Athens. but all the amusements of the town were closed against her. a conception as far remote from an anthropomorphic divinity as any race has ever possessed. women were jealously debarred. Athena. It is true that the patron divinity of the state was a woman. The whole structure of social life was arranged to suit men and to exclude women. Occasionally she was allowed out of prison to walk in some sacred procession. dark. especially in relation to property. quite unknown but there doubt that the whole position was due . An Athenian house was small. where they bought their rouge and white lead. It is doubtful whether they were permitted even to enter the theatre of Dionysus and their shopping quarter.

a woman was — the material advantages of her estate served as compensation.. women in Athens were married far too result of these early marriages young. But even as mothers they were not very efficient. a their childhood they were kept in constant seclusion.ATHENS IN THE FIFTH CENTURY changed by definite 59 sixth century B. for the average age was about fifteen. potential bearers of and the most extreme precautions known to modern eugenics were apparently practised before marriage. for their physique suffered from the narrowness of their lives. as They were regarded only children. enactment about the end of the and in the Suppliant Maidens of iEschylus there are traces of the conflict of principles on which the change was based. For girls no education was considered necessary. and the wet-nurse Titthe was — — to be found in Just as the Breton and Norman girls migrate to Paris. and the was that by the time a woman had arrived at years of discretion and might have been an intellectual companion for her husband. and throughout out. and her nearest male relative had to take charge of her person a damnosa hereditas for which the eyes of the Athenian law. her beauty too often was gone and she herself was worn premature old woman.C. Moreover. in merely an appanage of any property which she chanced to inherit. so those Athenian households that could afford the expense would hire families. most I . Henceforward.

for example. Alcibiades. distinction of sex. In Athens neither sex did. Lysistrata the Athenians can scarcely refrain their half-envious and firm. would all appear in In Asia both sexes wore bags ').' with her flying feet. and that colour. that Paionios found the model for his ' Victory. it is an Athenian lady— or correct to say an Athenian gentleman . assembles the women of Greece. when and in Aristophanes. There — was no of rank. rounded limbs .60 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE women of Sparta to take the mother's the robust place. alien Sparta. and all through the great period the Athenian race was slowly declining in numbers. trousers (OvXaKoi. There were some slight varieties in shape. or in the islands where girls wrestled and raced with young men. and was not altogether an when. In one respect alone was there little difference between the sexes at Athens that of dress. he took refuge in It was not in Athens. admiration of the buxom vigour of the Spartan Lampeto. exiled from Athens. material. of fishermen. and ' of flower-girls much the same garb. but. which the Greeks regarded with amused contempt. as there was no distinction In an Attic tragedy a chorus of generals. speaking generally. At Athens the restriction of women to one function meant that even that one function was badly performed. was suckled by a Lacedaemonian nurse. but at the Peloponnese. deep bosom.

Full dress consisted of another blanket over the first. was captive Andromache sob dragged from my royal bower down to the seaThis is ' : beach with nothing about slavery.) Slavery was a hard fate. she had to don the symbol of her This article was a kind slavery.' (Trojan Women.' ' of yashmak-veil. 109. and to escape from it the only way was to become a slave indeed. crouches on the ground to escape from the gaze of men.) And so Hecuba. But when a woman left her husband's house and went abroad. drawn across the face to protect a the gaze of strange men. It was. in ancient times but for many an . the kredemnon.ATHENS IN THE FIFTH CENTURY 61 was dressed informally when she or he had one blanket draped about their person. even I. in the Trojan Women. like our cap and apron. for the slave-woman alone could walk abroad with open face. and cries Guide me will to my bed of straw and to the stones which now hide my face.' my head save hideous (And. odalisque. 508. the badge of servitude. not her lawful It gave its wearer the white cheeks of the and shut her off from the freedom of the outside world. and the art of dress consisted in suitable pinning and the proper arrangement of the folds. a ' : slave bare-footed and bare-headed. what Euripides means when he makes the And I. woman from owners.

half in earnest. and so had ' formed the : no privileges but.' the same word used for those political associations which being closest link between man and man. To their percharm and a long and the contrast between them and the Athenian wives illustrated if may be we compare the life of an actress of the Comedie Frangaise with that of an inmate of a. on the other hand. strange mixture that he was of sensuality and The only women whose company he intellect. and stood outside the law they were not Athenian citizens. the close companions. Often highly educated. whose charms could be bought by any bidder. sonal attractions they added social training in the arts of pleasure. they were not under restraint.62 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE woman it Athenian could have had but little terror. however. the Hetairai. and did not care for slaves. half in jest. The Hetairai were foreign women. Neither his wife nor the flute-girls. Turkish harem. it was . with all his faults was a genuine lover of freedom. The French actress and the Jap- . their business to take part in all men's interests : they were their own mistresses. politi- and in many cases exercised very great influence even in affairs of state. The Athenian. desired were those called. A wife and was already the property of her husband. engaged freely in the cal life of Athens. slaves and women are commonly classed together. could really satisfy him.

ATHENS IN THE FIFTH CENTURY 63 anese geisha are the nearest modern parallels to the Greek hetaira. although parison between their views the historian is a considerably younger man. and we qhall Jind them reflected literature. In sharp contrast to the tragedian Herodotus. Such were the conditions of Athenian in life. as in most things. Herodotus. great traveller and charming personalThere is ity though he is. and in social matters especially he often represents the ideas of the first years of the fifth century. concern themselves almost exclusively with men iEschylus alone. Hacchylides. antithesis of the typical Athenian. and a compossible. Pindar. women book in The account of the native races Libya in the last chapters of the fourth of the History will afford an example. is still a true Ionian. regards women as creatures possessed of mind and is is soul. a good deal of his material goes back to an earlier date. Simomdes. a high standard of culture and intelligence. . The great lyric poets. for. frequently a Milesian flavour about his tales for instance the story of Rhampsinitus and the robber and it is not unfair to say that in his researches life — — an of into ancient tribal and folklore he is especially interested in such savage customs as put inferior place. the exact . a low standard of sexual morality. in this. and all three owe their existence as a class to much the same social conditions.

Isonomy. the struggle between Athens and Persia. raised the historian from these doubtful interests. Atossa. My men have become women and my women have ' become men/ is framed to suit the ideas of an Athenian. and that Xerxes' remark about Artemisia. as it would have suited the Romans. there the last part of the History to offend. his and in the last five books of as a work there is little depreciation of scarcely women class. So it is in the earlier books alone that the baser manner is evident. and that his equality before the law is an equality from which women were shut out for . was then acting as regent.' must be remembered that his patriotism is for males only. to give a proof of the difference spirit and one example of it will suffice between the Ionian of which brought about the enslavement . even Plato makes isonomy between men and women the last and almost incredible stage of democratic licence. But this is is little a in small point and.64 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE But the grandeur of his main theme.' he and many English race-goers will agree with says Herodotus is really ' But it of the word is most excellent. It is true that women come into the narrative. — — the very sound him ' animated by an ardent patriotism and a genuine love of liberty. who could hardly conceive of a Queen. speaking generally. It is scarcely as appropriate in the mouth of a Persian whose own mother.

The Phoenicians seized the women and to carry off women the act of a wicked man to trouble about avenging them is the act of a fool to pay no regard to them when carried off is the part of a wise man for it is clear that. The Persians say that some Phoenicians once brought a cargo of merchandise to Argos. treatment. and this is Herodotus' version Epaphus. through king of Argos. . The women of the town. Now is by violence the Persians think . was beloved by Zeus thought. . is the Persian account. the legend. they would not be ravished. 65 women and the spirit of enlightenment which rebelled We will take the story of Io. have one their main outlines were imall . personal and known to details. and interpretation could be varied to express the artist's personal daughter of Inachus. carried them off to Egypt. but as regards Io the Phoenicians do not agree. : the the jealousy of Hera she was changed into a cow. but that she had Such an intrigue with their captain when he was at Argos. and after long wanderings regained her mortal shape and Such of it: found of rest in Egypt. subjects alike for the ancient legends of Greece.ATHENS IN THE FIFTH CENTURY against that servitude. if they had not wished it themselves. as told by iEschylus and Herodotus. They say that they used no violence in taking her to Egypt. When she discovered that she was likely to become a . came down to the seashore to bargain. for : great advantage history and drama. among them Io. first where she became mother is king of the land. Io.

to add. the field Of Lerna stations of the household flock.' All the poetry and romance of the story have dis. and story it is carried off by them. O child. me miserable : till. On the worst interpretation she is a mere wanton. ridden. the Lord of Heaven. That so the eye of Zeus may ease desire. where I housed. the bed of the Highest but do this. must have been with her own consent. men. as the is at pains. thee when there waits Wedlock the highest ? He. Is waxen hot. pierced with desire of thee. and to hide her came of her own accord with them to Egypt. R. her parents. Home of thy father's herds go even thither. . and then deserts her home. although. wooing With sooth suggestion Most happiest of all Oh. E. — — With such-like dreams the kingly dark for me Was ever fraught. most huge in fortune. Go forth to where the meadow is deep. Bevan : The chambers. a virgin hidden.66 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE secret mother she was afraid of her parents. wherefore so long maiden. Now therefore foot not from thee. Io is a woman on the best interpretation of her conduct she is vain and imprudent she shows herself to strange . Yea. though not very logically. Listen now to iEschylus in the beautiful version — by Mr.' . appeared : realism has triumphed. : ' — Oh. Strange faces aye in the night would visit. maidens wherefore maiden. and with thee would tread the passages Of love's delight. She allows a sea-captain to seduce her. and her native land.

But take Io. a separate thing even to the last Confines of earth. in the Prometheus. iEschylus bases his in . is only one of the gallery of iEschylus' heroines. inquiring thing he had need to do. and makes them the chief agents . religious speculation. blind. although a liberal Athens was already becoming an thought extreme democracy. The dramatist at variance with his age. What Bringing still back burden of wavering lips. At last Sentences. terialists. theatre on women. Sent embassage on embassage. dark syllables. and re- garded religion simply as a ceremony ^Eschylus was a conservative in politics. and took an His contemporaries were ma- suspected the politics of Delphi. for in his art women is the foremost place. Finally. forth of the land. A word clear-visaged came to Machus Enjoining plainly and saying he should thrust me Forth of the house. and his fervent patriotism is almost the sole bond of union between him and his fellows. but the treatment is different. yea. To Pytho. And they came. to wander At large. To pleasure them that rule us. and even to Dodona.ATHENS IN THE FIFTH CENTURY I 67 gat me heart to open to my father And he The visions and the dreams of night. and the two passages illustrate the difference between romantic idealism and realistic depreciation. The story is the same. ^schylus is a mystic . or what word speak. he believed in interest in the Delphic inspiration.

girl that favourite Athenian story of the young roaming . knew of silence. and in the other three the female characters supply most of the dramatic interest. had Of the lost plays. even though the first idea of the plot might seem to put them in the second plan of action. while the ordinary of the woman of his time was shut out altogether from the of life. the possessed the Callisto. their titles for its central figure the sorrowing mother. as far as we may judge by and meagre fragments. active business an unconscious feminist. many. the Penelope. and the definite purpose which we find in Euripides is quite absent from his plays. however. Of the seven tragedies that the Byzantine tradition has preserved for us. would be called feminist problem plays. if of Niobe's situation needs no long speeches. if their subject was handled by a modern dramatist. full well the dramatic value and the pathos So. we Iphigenia. It shows. as some critics have done. for iEschylus. a strange lack But he is of appreciation to reproach him. The most famous. the Niobe. with neglecting the feminine interest.68 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE drama. such another as Euripides' Hecuba in the the first scene of Trojan Women. four. like most Athenian women. the legend of the maiden changed into a bear. or the Oreithyia. have the same characteristic. and represented perhaps in much the same fashion.

' ' Women realistic might well be examples of that treatment of women's life of which we have of Etna. more vividly we should appreciate even than we can now the romantic side of It is the tragedian's art. but an examination of the remaining seven plays will show that the first of Athenian dramatists was deeply with the potentialities for good and evil impressed of the female mind.' Bacchanal ' ' at any rate romantic plays with a feminine interest such others as the Women strong of the Bedchamber.' and the Women.' the ' ' the Daughters of Nereus.' of the ' an example in the Nurse plays are obviously of Libation-bearers. except in so far as the definite evidence which the they strengthen existing tragedies supply.' of lost Arguments drawn merely from the names little value. ' Such titles as the Daughters of the Sun. taken from the chorus. in seventeen of these plays.ATHENS IN THE FIFTH CENTURY on the sea-shore and carried his off 69 by the fierce god to northern fastness.' suggest .' the Water-carriers. and in the ^Eschyis lean Theatre the chorus generally the central figure in the dramatic action. title is the Moreover. nearly half are names women. and greatest . a significant fact in this titles of lost connection that of the sixty odd plays which have come down to of us.' and the Nurses of Dionysus.

addresses them. The unsymsong. but. against Thebes a patriotic drama. is the intermediary of audience. I never want to share my house with any womankind. and in the third a is woman ' is the chief character.' and says. as a matter of fact. Eteocles. and with among men and among gods. nor take them to 70 . For my own part. and also full of speeches. it is pathetic male. in two of the three the chorus. for example.' as the poet himself describes it. and the Of the — Prometheus strife —are concerned with battles. unbearable creatures ' ' and ' detestable animals. — ^ESCHYLUS AND SOPHOCLES seven plays of ^Eschylus that remain. three the Seven against Thebes. crammed full of the spirit of war. as ' true. composed between poet and women. what little action there is in falls to the women of the chorus. The The Seven male characters talk the play first . Their to save when they call on the gods them from the ravages of war. It might be expected that women here would play but a small part.VI. the Persians. was probably accompanied by more vigorous movements than anything in the rest of the tragedy.

the daughters of the sea. composed mainly odes and messengers' speeches. In the most of the characters gods — the talk. but his remarks are strictly in keeping with his unpleasant character. then. inquisitive.' The characters stand in the still.ESCHYLUS AND SOPHOCLES 71 my troubles and my ' joys . they venture to appear before a man. males. but staunch in the hour of they are just such characters as Nausicaa In these three plays. the play is a good example of what Maeterlinck calls and — demi-gods are ' manly weakness. Io. which in . the feminine interest has forced its way. static drama. certainly. . into the plot. casting away modesty. merriment danger herself. and the contrasted group of the characters. mermaid latter are chorus. as it were. Atossa. As far as they are concerned. spreads through the whole play. takes the first place in the action. a chronicle play relies on the female charSo in the of choral acters for his chief dramatic interest. but not quite without their approach. and the poet instinctively Persians. Sympathising.. These all perhaps the most charming of the poet's creations. and the psychological contrast lies between her womanly strength and Xerxes' Prometheus. and The action is hands of the female the pathetic figure of the wandering cow-maiden. but they have little dramatic significance. the queen-mother. and the fragrance that heralds when. .

for example. which was hotly debated in the poet's finally. which tells the story of the conflict .72 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE form offered ' its first women no place. that has been imported by the chorus the Persians. The question is this against a woman be compelled to marry a man she dislikes. have nothing to do with the . in spite of his advocacy. Herodotus. This feminism. accompanied by their old father. settled Should the women. dealing with the same events as those described by its point of difference the prominence given to the female character. time. a differs chiefly fragment from the table of Homer/ from the epic in the feminine element . Atossa the Prometheus. finds The full expression in the remaining four plays. relies for its dramatic interest largely episodes which. ' merely because he is the nearest male relative ? Athenian law ^Eschylus answers in the negative . The Seven against Thebes. The characters in the play are nearly all women. Suppliant Women. archaic though it seems to us. deals with a social problem and a question of law. who have fled from Egypt to Greece in . inherent in the poet's mind. strictly speaking. has for between the fierce young god and the philanthropic and Io old demiurge. the fifty daughters of Danaus. and — and to hand over to him the control of her property. decided in the affirmative. on the episodes of the Nereides main plot.

they call upon their god to help them.AESCHYLUS AND SOPHOCLES 73 order to escape from the violence of their cousins. Argos protects and gives them shelter. and the problem Swarthy daughters of universal. and the burden of the force. is that of as all womankind. but as representing women in general . the sons of ^Egyptus. : : : : — — So in F his concluding words he hints at some life : of the difficulties of a woman's . the Egyptian herald who would have taken #iem back is King of scornfully dismissed. The agony of the is crowd of girls crouching helpless at the altar depicted in the most entrancing melody their plight is . presented the South. Of the three male characters to Danaus is the most interesting. they are not regarded as separate individuals. Be not forward in your speech nor prolix people here are to take offence. the god who once found delight in the arms of their ancestress. and his advice to his applicable : daughters is ancient times women generally in let your utterance Children. who wish to marry them by It is a lyric drama. And remember to be very prone submissive you are needy foreign fugitives it is not seemly for the weak to be bold in speech. action and the music rests with the women. The . Io and in the play their prayer is answered. you must be prudent be attended before all by absence of boldness a modest face and a tranquil eye no wanton looks.

and scarcely deals with the great question of how far force may be rightly met by force. as it must question have in any society where women are kept enslaved. then. life itself.loveliness every man as he passes by falls victim to desire. Your gardens fair. and value chastity more then . . The Suppliant Women presents one particular phase of women's subjection considered impersonally. Ripe tender men are like animals.74 I FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE charge you. ' 'Is a woman ever justified in killing hex husband ? The had a special interest in Athens. too vital to escape his forms the central motive of the greatest is play in world-literature. and shoots a swift Observe. you whose youthful bloom is so attractive to men. for the tyrant always walks in dread of the assassin's knife. with his stinging irony. . Euripides. In the legend the daughters of Danaus escape from slavery by killing their husbands on their wedding night. your father's charge. then we men a matter all had better commit suicide at once kill. this glance to win her fancy. however. notice. the lady of love herself proclaims their dewy freshness. but of that iEschylus in this play The problem. and it tells us nothing. bring me not to shame. . and when a virgin comes in dainty . the Agamemnon. reveals the secret fear If women are to be allowed to shed ' : male blood/ he makes Orestes ' cry. fruit is never easy to protect they seek only to destroy. . if it is only of the will to we may be sure that .

Agamemnon. He done to death with every returning circumstance of horror home after many years' absence in a foreign land. And yet the dramatist. 75 deals women have ' The Agamemnon with this problem question. Electra and the Nurse. No one much sympathy with the murdered king. to the brutal owner. It is partly the intolerable callousness and brutal pride of Agamemnon. and rather his readers. . her hatred. the . In the Agamemnon the two women are Clytemnestra. with her own hands. the chorus of maidens in the Choephoroi. Apollo. Is it the sequel plays with a second right for a son to kill his mother in ' order to avenge his father's death ? But the trilogy of the Oresteia. murders him. besides being con- cerned with feminist problems.f jESCHYLUS AND SOPHOCLES that already. allures him to the bath. : is a living gallery of woman types Clytemnestra and Cassandra. and there. and the chorus of women furies in the Eumenides. where he has been fighting for his country. the queen who sharply contrasted will not submit to man's rule Cassandra. can read the play and feel is . who has on his daughter's life to help his political schemes. but a secret enemy she conceals . and to pass from the treacherous lover. victim predestined by fate to suffer the caprices of a master. find the wife than the husband the sympathetic sacrificed character. he finds within his house not a faithful wife. .' .

the main action is again in the hands of women. as soon as he has killed his mother. Agamemnon. by far the most interesting is the old Nurse. : tive. as strong-willed as Clytemnestra herself Orestes acts promptings Orestes. the Watchman. and : is one of the most vivid figures of Greek Drama her kindly temper and affection for her for- . the play a part vocally the most important of any. the maidens of the chorus. does the actual killing but there is this difference between brother and sister Electra acts on her own initia. She is obviously studied from the life. are and the foils helpless chorus of aged councillors. it is true. and the play ends with her triumph. comes next. is tormented by imaginary terrors. Certainly in she takes the first place. and is a woman . The contrast.76 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE whom is and now brings home with him from Troy the concubine he has compelled to share his bed. and that her sub jectionjto a man would be against the law of nature. The men. the Herald. and Cassandra. Orestes. Electra and her friends. of others. The Libation Bearers. iEgisthus. is But there also the feeling that Clytemnestra really the better ally man of the pair : that she is natu r- born to rule. indeed. sequel. Among the characters of the second play. only in obedience to the Electra feels no remorse . merely to the ' manlike ' queen. between the resolute woman and is the irresolute men in the closing scenes almost In the comic.

and at the avengers —or at a reconciliation. or ' the father who ' And again. another fatigue. the nearer relative ? Is not the murder of a husband. of A women && — — The man appeals last a third in vain for help skilful from men. for the final reconciliation satisfies the religious rather than the practical sense. plot The may be band . The iEschylus general view of women is represented by the next and Thucydides. begets the child.AESCHYLUS AND SOPHOCLES mer charge of Electra. Last comes the Eumenides. dramatist. the greatest statesman. which discusses with almost embarrassing frankness the physical problems of relationship. Sophocles. less heinous than the murder of the mother who brought you into the world ? These are some of the questions that are raised but not answered. . woman or rather her spirit urges on the chase. as we have a lonely spirit in Athens. Pericles. but. put briefly : pursuing a man over the earth pursuing relentlessly until he shall die of Whenever the pursuit slackens. 77 are contrasted with the fierce bitterness and she supplies the one touch of humour that lightens the mournful music of this play. The last of the three is particularly generation. woman by diplomacy persuades of least some them —to agree to Such said. who is ' no relation by blood. is the ^Eschylean theatre is . ' Is the mother who conceives. and historian of their time.

only come In the rest of the History they are practically never mentioned. beginning to —and History from you race. A state funeral : was given them ' at which. the mother his sons. Pericles.' In his indifference the historian faithfully follows the example of the statesman. of whose mistress. as Thucydides tells us Any one who . He probably ' would have agreed with highest glory is his hero Pericles. we hear of so much. women in the second place after the children. and of whose little. To Thucydides. concerning one-half word. Aspasia. when soldiers are being encour- aged to fight for their possessions. will not find so valuable —but.78 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE You may read through end his significant. wife. a woman's not to below the standard of such : natural powers as she possesses that woman is best of whom there is the least talk among men. you any other book if are a student of affairs in the world quite of the human in the you will get scarcely a Even hortatory speeches. In his day Athens was faced by a war that in one year robbed her of many of the bravest of her sons. hardly existed. whether in the way of praise or blame. serious business. even such a woman as Politics were to him the Aspasia. and in neither of these did women fall take part. we hear so appears never to have considered the part that nature has assigned to women in the creation and manage- ment of a state. war the great game of life. women.

and in the case of Thucydides there is a further reason. Their ignorance of women made even the greatest minds in Athens insensible to women's true position. sons. could be present women were there to mourn for their relatives at the grave. Then comes the one final cold dresses sentence addressed not to the mothers. taking them in succession as fathers. went unrealised. ' : a few words of advice/ Pericles calls and it is the language of reproof rather than that of sympathy. the failure of Athens to maintain the Periclean system. all contemporary speech dwells on the glory of these heroic deaths and resolutely the grandeur of the sacrifices made. but at the last the orator condescends to human feeling and adof Greek Most the some noble words of comfort to the men before him. and brothers of the dead. When the historian came to compose his work he was too bitterly disillusioned to concern himself with anything but his main subject. but to the widows in his audience it.^SCHYLUS AND SOPHOCLES : 79 even wished. In a world where blind chance seemed to rule and the highest political ideals position of trifle. the social women may well have seemed to him a But Thucydides' testimony is chiefly negative : .' At the end of the ceremony Pericles made that Funeral Oration in praise of Athens of which echoes are to be found in literature. stranger or citizen.

we is ' eutrapelos. Woman : and woman's love was a necessary weakness happy the man who could break free. the ministering angels like Deianira . eukolos. That was the feeling which the conditions of life at Athens engendered. for women silence is the finest robe. and in his old age tried to deprive him of the control of his property. priest. I a slave who has escaped from a mad master. hush. women whom and Tecmessa who meekly respect ' words. — His wife is one of the many anonymous women. and the softer affections outside his own in Plato's Republic. and if we believe the stories in Athenaeus.80 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE Sophocles the typical Athenian. His children did not apparently regard their father with as much affection as did the outside world. oft dinned into their ears ' — their master's ' Woman.' . Sophocles also in escaping from women fell into the Ionian snare. the wives of great men. and genget clearer evidence from Sophocles. a brilliant picture. of life.' . he was one of the most popular men of his time Of his family life we have not quite such with men.' eral. Actor. versatile and ingratiating. As to women.' he replied feel like have escaped and right gladly. In his plays women are generally a negligible quantity at least the only he succeeds in making lifelike are the slave women. poet. writing we have the anecdote The poet in his old age was ' : asked how he ' felt in I regard to love Hush.

and far superior to Ajax in moral strength. is that these two ladies. if we except the It is also. and her silent exit is the most effective touch but it is interesting to dramatise . has no female characters. married to her almost own son. the dullest play we possess. and one In impossible successfully. but they are sexless and dramatically only and most pathethic figure.^SCHYLUS AND SOPHOCLES 81 Tecmessa. The Colonus has the two girls. important as types of The Philoc- tetes. has no inde- pendent existence apart from her lord and master. who would make a modern woman despair. the Phoenician Women does succeed in who in making Jocasta a CEdipus at Ismene. has no she only wants to get her thought of resentment : master back. Antigone and real girlish devotion. here to compare Sophocles with Euripides. ever the reason. the CEdipus Tyrannus contains the mother only one woman character Jocasta — . Deianira. like the two CEdipus plays. whatRhesus. and the first of these is a signal example of the importance . beautiful character though she is. the play she takes only a minor part. are Sophocles' ideals of feminine excellence. a dreadful figure. There remain the Electra and the Antigone. deserted by her errant husband. has a male chorus and alone among Greek tragedies. and if she may prepared to stoop to any means And it is obvious regain his company. Of the other plays.

a enough in itself without any sex far is How an individual justified in . is and one independent of sex. Euripides have both left us plays dealing with the same story. on the other hand. the poet is dealing with a subject thoroughly congenial to his temperament. a girl .82 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE iEschylus and for a dramatist of choice of subject. It is not her sex but her social at least. and the play a magnificent example of his art. not life. the conflict between law and the individual. but the interest does not depend upon her sex. between the three at and women like Clytemnestra and Electra were so beyond the range of Sophocles' experience and sympathy that he is quite unable to Like everything is full that Sophocles wrote. and a vivid narrative of the chariot race in which Orestes is the play. and a comparison with the three tragedies will reveal the essential differences poets. In the Antigone. position that affects problem interest — vital ' the problem of the play. the Electra of literary accomplishment. Here certainly the central figure is a woman. least —in his characters' thoughts make them The live. or. but there situation : supposed to meet his death forms the centre of is no real grip on the dramatic it is literature. A dramatist must share —imaginatively . most ingeniously adapted to the for example. theatre. for little dramatic use is made of the Haemon episode. is epic method.

who had by no means The titles by far the greatest of his works. the only play where a woman takes a vital part. Moreover. and We barely one-fifth are called after women. rather an observer. and it is not certain that he appreciates his heroine's wilfulness in quite so favourable a light for. of irony to pit her lonely figure against the of majesty man-made law. and an Athenian audience would. . and fragments of his lost plays confirm the impression given by the extant tragedies.' so that the conscientious objector was not uncommon. But Sophocles had been a general. if doubtless. with a wonderful command of language. a close or a sympathetic knowledge of woman's character. a slave without a master and it is a crowning stroke . born out of legal wedlock. have nearly a hundred names of lost plays.' and ' their only word to obey means literally to allow oneself to be persuaded. should be for a poet. that the Antigone. He was plays. and knew by experience the way of Athenian soldiers. have sympathised with her as a rebel.iESCHYLUS AND SOPHOCLES 83 setting his or her conscience against the law of the State ' ? Antigone is a girl orphan. than an original thinker or critic of the established order and it is a curious turn of fortune . not as a woman. as we see in his other . he was essentially on the side of law. To modern readers she seems intensely pathetic. There is no word in Greek for ' for ' ' to command.

in- carnate cause trouble . the . among men Procris. Of the other two we ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' . that any one of the five was written with much Water-carriers. they show plainly how it is to keep a close guard over women. bought by a paramour Tyro. have a little definite information. considering the titles. Pandora. by the young princess. and becoming there the of father Neoptolemus. Eriphyle. did not disappoint the expectations of his audience. Philostratus tells us that the Women pleasant tale of the girl in of Scyros treated of the not very young Achilles. and it may be suspected that Sophocles. Helen. : . the Lemnian Women. and the Captive Women and it is very unlikely. and sympathy with feminine ideals. the Women of Scyros. .84 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE those plays that bear will reveal the fact that the majortitles of a consideration of the one woman's name ity were probably rather anti-feminist than feminist. sold her husband of for gold . seduced by a second lover the legends of these ladies were arranged : to please the Athenian public. Procris. Pandora. Spartan Lemnian women were at Athens almost proverbial for unwomanly females a Water-carrier was synonymous with a gossip. Tyro deserted her husband and her home Eriphyle. Venal and necessary fickle creatures. disguised as a the king's harem. who who Helen. in his treatment of the plot. the . In live plays only is the title taken from the chorus. the Spartan Women.

. . It is not. genius. impossible that an author even to-day might regard the troubles of women in war as a fit but things have advanced so far subject for a jest that we should hardly regard him now as a flawless . it 85 Of the Captive Women we know that plot as Euripides' Trojan had the same but the incidents were treated —humorously. Women. or hold him up as the highest product of our civilisation.ESCHYLUS AND SOPHOCLES Deidameia. perhaps.

it lends itself to interpretation and Euripides has suffered more than most authors from his . more ority truthful. and irony a double-edged sword which can be turned against who dare to use it. and such a misconception not altogether our own is fault. as indeed were ^Eschylus and Sophocles. interpreters. It is partly due to Euripides himself. The is ancient belief that Euripides was a misogynist is still sometimes held. with some little and leaves the judgment to others.' Neither the poet nor his audience would have cared for such brutal frankness. is more unselfish : in reality this superi- a mere figment of your imagination. to make all his women angels and all his men the Euripides exhibits the malicious arrangement. Euripides does not say You men think plainly and straightforwardly those ' yourselves naturally superior to women : braver. —Euripides one peculiar quality. Many of his women have 8(5 very obvious . As the tribe of scholiasts and translators have found literature has All Greek from the beginning.VII. He is too good an artist. facts of life. reverse. for the poet's favourite weapon is irony.

Now the exact opposite of the truth was what the audience at the performance of an Attic comedy It was allowed. he represented by Aristophanes life. We draw the inference that Euripides did really dislike women. But often our belief in Euripides' misogyny has quite another source : our inveterate habit of taking a joke seriously. 1 ' Euripides therefore. if An he read our literature at the time of a general election and took the election posters . a misogynist. in the case of a comic poet. it was considered proper expected.EURIPIDES faults. that he should turn his facts upside down. represents him as a woman- danger from woman's vengeance. always professed himself unable to teach anything and thought the practice of taking fees for teaching the immoral. There are similar cases in our own social intelligent foreigner. he is represented in Clouds as keeping a school and teaching for hire. Socrates. who probably knew Euripides the man and his plays better than — — anyone in hater in this world. Therefore. and can shut your eyes to more than half of the action you will probably find in what remains convincing proof of woman's weakness. for example. is the champion of is woman's equality as . so 87 to his plays with a fixed conviction of the superiority of and comfortable that if you come man. Aristophanes.

the basis of as been reared.88 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE would form a very wrong idea of the estiwe will say the Prime Minister seriously. always been a serious class and while they recognise the grossness of Aristophanes they often fail to see his humour. The irony of Euripides and the humour of Aristophanes are both alien to the Puritan spirit. Euripides championed the cause of woman's freedom against the decadents of Ionia as he championed the cause of religious freedom against the reactionaries of Delphi. his case Open militancy was impossible. for the dramatic poet was . when they first it is are understood. A perversion of his countrymen. But behind the playwright stands the poet and idealist. mation in which is — — held by most of the facts is in politics. main business with his play. a man not at all inclined to look on life with philosophic detachment. have Aristophanes. is first of all. and to appreciate the a close study of all the a dramatist. and necessary to make plays. his Euripides was. He realised that the best method of defence is to attack the other side : that successful rate defence is impossible. however. unless at any you are in prepared to take the aggressive. even with us regarded as humorous and it is thus that we should regard Classical scholars. terly as injustice but feeling. any man has on which too often human society has deeply and as bitever done.

he does not paint with a heavy brush. But is find much that — interesting so. so that he is compelled to work in exactly the opposite method to that of the : does not labour his argument misogynists. With the first two of these dogmas we are not now concerned. according G to . but by no means all. that women are by nature inferior to men. then of his plays. In Euripides that is criticism directed chiefly to the testing of three : assumptions current in his day his purposes to effect that God reveals men. those four relations dramas which are particularly concerned with the between men and women. some criticism of life. first we shall get the clearest view if we consider the characters of his theatre. will appear more or less plainly through the dramatic action of his plays.EURIPIDES ostensibly a servant of the state 89 and the majority. and his unrivalled sense of dramatic effect. has some groundwork which of thought. and every dramatist. consciously or unconsciously. of his countrymen supported the doctrines of the infallibility of the Delphian god and the Athenian man. the light music of his verse. The two sexes may be sub-divided. If you like to disregard this point of view still He you can do his supremely gift of vivid narrative. the general body and lastly. As to the real nature of Euripides' ideas on the third. that war has an ennobling on a nation and on individuals.

Cadmus and Teiresias in the Bacchae are characters They are meant to be humorous. old its men in Euripides are impotent : when they are allowed to act. restored by magic art. As regards the divinity of the new god Dionysus. and the scene between the two is Aristophanic in outspoken frankness. young man. man.90 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE six Greek fashion. into classes : Old man. of the sort. wagging their hoary heads. woman. their . as The fellow anyhow is my daughter's son it is my duty as head of the family to make out that he is a great god Cadmus and Amphitryon are at least to ' : '. Generally speaking. like most Greeks. who believes that his virility can be . his sentiments are that. old woman. culous. The old gentleman. which the two old men. prepare to dance and sing is pure Cadmus agrees with Amphitryon in burlesque. same and the scene in his religious views : he is . but when serious counsel or vigorous action are necessary he is useless. His old is quite lacking in are apt to for age. is a child in Medea's hands. partly self-deceived ^Egeus is a mere butt. young woman and it must be acknowledged at once that Euripides. men : any reverence be dotards and are treated with humorous contempt. Amphitryon in he lives in a world of illusion the Hercules is a type : he sees visions and dreams dreams. . if it is profitable ready to accept the miraand he scarcely troubles make any pretence.

Menelaus is a worse type and one that the poet especially disliked. they succeed but in either case their sometimes they fail essential weakness is a foil to the presumptuous . and they are strong in body . in the Andromache treacherous is and cruel.EURIPIDES energies 91 vant —Tyndareus in the Ion— are is for example. we get three main types : man. StiD conscious of their they are handsome. . strength of their opponent. He adds to meanness the vices of cruelty and treach- ery and is the slave of passion. In the Orestes he coldly treacherous. and the old ser- mischievous. Jason and selfish and cowardly : capable of asking a risk of her woman to save their lives at the own. as with Peleus and Iolaus. Sometimes. In one case only do old men play a worthy part are resisting when they some full- the wanton violence of grown man who attacking women and children. but they have . but unfaithful. but incapable of gratitude. merely other plays where he appears Then come the blusterers despicable. and quite unown shortcomings. the blusterer. untruthful and self-indulgent they seem to be Agamemnon and The first : : strong. two are the ordinary sensual man brave enough and capable of great deeds. Lycus and Eurystheus. in the : Heracles. Admetus are mean men mean. . Coming now to the second class. that of grown there is the mean men. : and the simpleton. good company.

92 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE Lycus and Eurystheus are mere bullies depending solely no strength of mind. These two latter occupy very subordinate positions. men on of a lower type. the male counterpart of Athena. Helen Priestess. Thoas and Theoclymenus —an easy prey the clever women —the Iphigenia. but they are in every way more manly. the King class. more lovable If we than the great men whom they serve. for who use them as they will. and Euripides does not attempt to make Lastly. them interesting. When we come brighter world. there are the simpletons : Xuthus. But soon the shadows of the prison house draw in. of to the young men we is are in a Euripides essentially the poet youth. The heroic boy Menceceus and the kind lad Ion are figures drawn with a tender hand. there is not a grown man in the whole theatre of Euripides who can be regarded with sympathy. a patriotic abstraction. and his younger characters are always lovable. more generous. : such as the herald Talthybius and the peasant farmer in the Electra. except them. ' — one person an official rather than a living character and some few persons in the second plan of action — . . And they almost exhaust the list in our second ' There remain only Theseus. the name is given to more than Creon. force. They are the men who with advancing age will be such as iEgeus and Amphitryon.

and he would have agreed to her death.' consulted I : — is deeply hurt to think that he ' . most impressionable time of a man's Hippolytus is something of a prig and into his at the mouth. conduct they are thoroughly self-denying reliable and courageous : but they are cruelly hampered by an environment which shuts out the influence of the influence of woman life. Achilles and Hippolytus are very in much : like the public school boy of our day . men Hippolytus is an ascetic and exaggerates Achilles a more manly character. but he does not carry them into effect. many spheres of truthful. ' He ' has moreover. and still more in Hippolytus. a young man's vanity. Countless girls are setting traps to catch me as husband is he not says . good or bad they : : are literature. His first impulses are is : generous. the views of other expressed in books and unconsciously assimilated by the younger generation.EURIPIDES and the slight hardness 93 is which visible even in Ion becomes intensified in Achilles. in the well-known speech. The words are not the lad's own views of had much experience he is too young to have women. the less attractive he becomes. Euripides puts all the stock invective against women. for he is too much under the influence of other people's ' opinion : good form all ' is his guide in life. but I was not so I will help you. if I had been asked. The older the person.

They are murderers first and The other pairs. Medea. Let us now contrast it them in their to the poet or monotony of type impute the sex as you will with the infinite — — variety of his women : Phaedra. The remaining five characters. Pentheus is the typical tolerant. ' ' self-pleaser : wilful. are less interesting. . but full-grown. Megara. require little notice. There is every shade of conduct here and nearly every form of marital complication. if we remember that none of these wives are in love with their husbands and that romantic affection between is husband and wife impossible. is His mode of thought votaries wrong. violent and in- That he happens to be right in his particular case does not make him more sympathetic nor does it alter the justice of his fate. and Pylades. Helen. Andromache. and chiefly interesting to the criminologist. Her- mione. Creiisa. Eteocles and All four have the Polynices. men unmarried. Alcestis.94 This FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE is the best champion that Clytemnestra can find to save her daughter. Clytemnestra. draw the sword and curse of Cain upon them they fall by the sword. when they have afterwards . is to deal with a cause Savage repression is not the way which enlists women as its chief and kept active by their enthusiasm. children —mothers They first are all — the childless woman— Hermione' and wives and. Orestes : foremost. So much then for Euripides' men.

an old man. So with the old women. Phaedra's foster-mother is a mischievous and . They are some- times malignant. Medea after abandoning everything for her husband by him. The poet married to her sister. however wrong or mistaken some their actions may be. Helen runs away from her lord Clytemnestra has no words bad enough to use of himself. None saint— in real of these women are impeccable is — Alcestis is the only flawless character and she meant to be a their tempers are as composite as . not one is altogether unsym- pathetic.EURIPIDES 95 is embittered by her state and apparently. girl Megara has been abandoned by her roving husband is deserted ' ' : she and her children are on the point of being killed by a stranger when Heracles returns and murders them hers. who years had seduced Andromache has been forcibly taken by the son of the man who slew her first husband. Creiisa has been seduced as a and as a pis aller has married an elderly man. Creiisa her conduct also is abnormal she is anxious to take : — life because she has not given is life. . we find them of life but. Her- mione has been compelled give for political reasons to up her cousin-lover and marry a stranger. Their worst deeds are prompted by maternal affection. but they are never contemptible. at pains to show the impossibility Phaedra before of is married love under Greek conditions.

Hecuba in the Trojan Women. and Macaria are subtle variations and upon the figure of the first the poet spends all his skill. Iphigenia. in the baser sense of the word. But Euripides pictures of is especially successful with his not extinct —anxious and willing to young girls. in the soft wrappings of my veil and would not take my baby brother in ' my arms nor kiss my sister on the lips —I felt ashamed before them. miserable.' she says. so full of timid modesty that the very thought of marriage fills her with shame. No. but she a murdered son. her grandchildren killed. to gratify Hecuba takes a is ruthless vengeance on the Thracian king. a mother avenging It is a favourite motive with the pathos of the old mother. sold into slavery.96 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE is immoral old lady. old figures. her sons Euripides her daughters ravished. " I hid my face. unkempt. and yet they supply the poet with some of his most poignant in these passages. virgin martyrs —the type is sacrifice them- selves for their male relatives. Jocasta in the Phoenician Women. Polyxena of one character. but her only wish her foster child. At the time of the sacrifice at Aulis she is a sentimental girl. the chorus of old women in the Suppliants all represent the reverse The men triumph side of war's pomp and glory. . The method is realistic : romance. : and the women there is little suffer. I laid up for myself many a .

a married woman. she still cherishes some affection. Electra's loneliness . her brother Orestes. and on . frauded of the joy of motherhood.EURIPIDES fond embrace which I 97 should come back. but infinitely less lovable. She performs her horrible task against mankind. For Iphigenia both marriage and sacrifice prove she is dea delusion. against Helen. him she seen ' concentrates her frustrated motherhood final stage of this rancour against life is in the character of Iphigenia's sister Electra — unwed ' —as we have her in the Orestes and the play and suffering. and spends many years of lonely virginity among strangers and in a strange land. indeed.' would give them when I The argujustify her sacrifice ments she uses to her mother to : are poor enough vague talk of honour. but her heart right. of human sacrifice with no very great reluctance . Her thoughts are all : vengeance against Menelaus. her long brood- the that bears her name. She never returns home . When we see her again she is a bitter woman. sympathy for kindred when any Greek victims fall into her hands but killing them all the same. For one person alone Parcelling out a tear in ' ' blood . than the simple girl. whom The she had left a baby at home. patriotism Tis better that and the insignificance of women — ' one man should live than ten thousand is women ' . more of sensible.

but a real for her brother. the chorus. It might be expected that a who was a feminist at heart would usually his chorus have composed of women. all We have now taken the characters of the Euripidean theatre. her love She is a dreadful figure. Fire is she and the knife murder. indeed. ing. but her pride cannot alter spirit outcome of many : the situation. these un- married women. Her character is the logical : : years of injuries and insults She is a proud of denial of rights and of subjection. arson ready for all. for Euripides does not shrink from the darker side of a woman's revolt. a gloomy picture. except one.98 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE : revenge have turned her mad she again has only one sound sentiment. is At last the strain of hopeless rebellion too great. and will not submit. As Medea bitterly says none.' Even a bad husband is better than and for the unwedded girl there are only ' two alternatives. a voluntary sacrifice. her craving for one. while a poet . whereby Macaria escapes from tries to or a hopeless struggle against the powers that be. such as Elect r a wage. The chorus is the ideal spectator. treachery. and that one the most important of all —the permanent character of tragedy. and she becomes mad. such as that life. They make. the interpreter of the poet's poet own thoughts. the intermediary between audience and actor.

the chorus is composed five times of women.. The chorus In Sophocles the proportion is exactly reversed. are drawn from the theatre of Sophocles. most readers (Edipus will feel that a chorus of women would be more appropriate . In the first two cases. is five times composed of men. the chorus the statuesque movements. or the Antigone. twice only of men. In our extant plays this is exactly It is a curious fact that most of the received ideas about the Greek drama . —the Heracles. the chorus with the old men because man of Sophocles are old is the poet's ideal in only three character. the chorus . what happens. the dignity of tragedy. of elders. as in jEschylus.EURIPIDES who had little 99 prefer sympathy with women would a chorus of men. it is not the dramatic action that chorus in the fixes either the sex or the age of the Tyrannus. of their old age In both cases they are old men. twice of women. In the latter play. Moreover. Of the seventeen plays — cases is Euripides. the Heraclidae and the Alcestis the chorus composed of men. indeed. and the weakness is necessary to the dramatic action. etc. the CEdipus Colonus.. the ineffectiveness of old men in actual danger is part of the plot . In the seven plays of ^Eschylus. etc. the tists : most academic of the three drama- they would never be deduced from the usage of iEschylus or Euripides.

— — get you home at last " ? Then I fled from my dear couch. like some Dorian maid. and then J . spear on peg. In the other fourteen plays the chorus is composed of women. In the Alcestis. no help found I there. my was lying no longer had he to keep one ringlet of hair I had still to bring to order under I my tight-bound snood. But woe is me. As for me. Dinner was over and upon men's eyes sweet sleep began to spread. and crouched by Artemis' holy shrine.ioo FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE strengthens the impression made by Iolaus and Amphitryon. with only my smock upon me. I saw slain before me . Sometimes it is the most intimate part of a scene of home life as describes her last in the Hecuba where a woman night in Troy. ah will you sack the watch tower of I lion and when. and was gazing into the I infinite reflections of my golden mirror ere should ! throw myself upon the pillows of my bed. my bed-fellow. that the chorus are part of the general irony of the play. My own man. All the songs had been sung my lord had done with : the sacrificial feast and in its revelry and bower. It was at midnight that ruin came. for watch against the throng of shipmen who had set foot on our Ilian land of Troy. and it is into the mouth of these women is men that Euripides puts his all work. But lo a cry went through the city and a cheer rang out " in Troy-town Sons of the Greeks when.

Children to help their sorrow. where the humbler sort of women could meet and enjoy a little that pleasant evil.' and gossip together. There I met a friend who was washing pieces of fresh-dyed cloth in the river water and laying them in the warm sun upon the flat stones. There is the trouble of child birth.' — (Phoenissae. such as the picture of the washing-place. promise of children's children to be. ' ' ever. .' woman's mind is Every mood now ' sad — of a represented : Discordant is the music of a woman's life : pitiable indeed. Women take a kind of pleasure in talking insincerely about one another. for us to catch in our pitchers. to make more sweet their pleasure. men say. an evil housemate. There is a rock that drips.) or — ' A censorious thing is womankind.' Sometimes it is 101 shore.' — (Hippolytus. and in anguish a vivid description of outdoor life. From her lips first this news of my lady came to me.running stream.EURIPIDES was dragged down to the sea swooned away. with water from the Ocean's bed and sends from the cliff an leisure. the trouble woman's weakness. of helplessness is her lot. If women get a small basis for scandal they soon add more.) now triumphant ' — Children.

and yet it is wondrous good to use your own judgment and yourself.) ' : — Sometimes the question takes a wider range the difficult chorus of the Iphigenia in Aulis. of that there is no doubt. Man's love when it is excessive is neither excellent But still. Humble modesty a form of wisdom . I bless them and cleave to the or— better good. Give me children at home. Wealth denied.' — (Ion. and a gracious. than a palace of pride.) A strange and wondrous thing for women are the Womankind loves a children they bear in travail. I say. Children given. Let the miser plead for the childless side I will none of it. ' as in The stuff of : which men and women are made is different is their ways are different too. A moderate temper. Verr all's translation. indeed. for that I pray avaunt.' (Medea. Then life is your duty for honourable and your frame see . contentious anger and the ceaseless bickering that drives a husband astray to another woman's arms. But what The differ- really good.) the questions of sex are considered and judged with clearest sense.102 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE To speak with Rather. if kept within bounds. influence is ent methods of rearing and education have a great on ideas of excellence. All — (Phoenissae. creditable. baby. right heritors of : my blood. sex is a divine thing nor. their enemy ! than gold.

No longer will pestilent scandal attack women.' and But the topic on which Euripides insists most is the scandal of literature. Go Ye The lyric libels. and change your music. go. Else I would soon have raised a song that would have stayed the . now be just. and keep not their pledges by the gods the scandal will turn and honour come to a woman's life. Tis coming respect for womankind. It is 103 a great thing to seek after excellence. Another way than once ye ran. — . the unfair ideas of woman that have been created and fostered of writers. harping ever on woman's perfidy. and vex faithless found. One from Ye scandal-masters That harping still upon the Of losel women never tire.) another from the Medea ' : It is men now that are crafty in counsel. Verrall's translation. state and the thronging crowd make a city to increase prosper. and women alone. of the lyre. Phoebus is the guide of melody and in my heart he never set the wondrous music of his lyre. For us women the quest is secret down the secret ways of love for men the marshalled . lust Her lewdness How ever. by the perversity the Ion ' : — Two quotations will suffice. the elder sex.' (Ion. doth her faith superior show ! Beside the lust of losel man See it.EURIPIDES grows not old. The music of ancient bards will die away.

men as well as of This last sentence represents Euripides' reasoned judgment on the problems of feminism. but they are not inferior : all the arguments that are used to prove woman's weakness could be used equally well against men. the Helena is a burlesque of the tragic manner. The long years have many a women. Of the remaining sixteen. willing to * for existence offers her no very pleasant prospect. written to glorify Athens as the champion interest is oppressed nationalities. are political plays.104 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE of brood tale to male of singers. manly wrote is political. two. the Supis pliant Women of and the Children of Heracles. and to remain quiet within doors. and their But nothing that Euripides altogether lacking in vivid of feminism. for example. Of the complete dramas that we now possess. the Cyclops is a comic play.' So speaks the maiden Macaria before she consents to a voluntary death. Women are different from men. A friendless girl— ' she says * who will take me for . She has had bitter experience of life and she is die. So we may leave the characters and turn now to the separate plays. there is one character who in a few words reveals the position of 1 women in Athenian life : For a woman silence and discretion are best.' tell. the Rhesus probably spurious. touches In the Children of Heracles.

Death A counted the surest potion against pain. Here it is but a married woman. I know not where to turn. of her own accord much I die.' the same : for the sake of a noble repute she cries 1 that I may surpass is. I die. nobly (the word recurs as often does in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler). and her last leave the ignoble servitude of request is that at least she may die not among men. cannot bring himself to see her die.' a childless woman. But Iolaus.EURIPIDES his wife ? 105 is Who me better for to die.' similar incident forms the most striking scene is of the Suppliant Women. These are her words ' : For my people that . Her father is anxious that she should nurse him in his old age. final but in the arms of women. But her motive is ' not a young girl. all women in is Her husband dead. Evadne. she generous courage. and she refuses to live on as a widow. brave old man though he is. who goes to death. She begs Iolaus to deal the death-blow and to cover her dead body. but with strange perversity she prefers death and H . part that there be nothing there we mortals who must die shall find life's business in that land also. not have children by me ? It to die. to woman's lot.' Her one pathetic desire will life is —to escape from in Euripides as on compulsion but it as a willing sacrifice. That is my treasure in death : I if take instead of children and my : virgin bloom I if pray for my indeed anything exists below.

the ate interest. a political crime. but sons are not so pleasant when we need fond endearments. make lament. but coldly . They are concerned with war but war. he cries. The two hypocrite Menelaus and the honest servant Talthybius are of quite subordin- The play is an accumulation of sorrow upon sorrow. the woman's side. women glory of conquest disappears and children are seen paying the price of - All the ' : men's ambition and pride. Cassandra and Andromache are only particular all representatives of the sufferings which the women in the play endure. A son's life is a thing of greater importance. Written according to the oldest formula of tragedy. lustful male characters. the and the . a thing of unredeemed and useless suffering. Hecuba. but the climax is the murder of the little child Astyanax. The Trojan Women is the most lamentable and the most effective of the series. Nothing so sweet as a daughter when a father grows old. Trojan Women. as seen from Women.' The main same interest of the Suppliant : Women is the as that of three other plays the Phoenician Hecuba. the chorus are the chief persons in the action. not inspired by any of the human feelings of hatred and revenge.106 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE man ' the old is is left to ' dead . My daughter she who used to draw down my ' face to her lips and would hold is my head fast in her arms.

As for her dear youngling nestling in your mother's arms. I never admitted within our house the fantastic talk that some females enjoy : I found my own sound sense the best teacher in domestic matters. the thing in itself brings a woman and name when So I she does not remain ever within doors. away and hurled down to death. I may not say rate. your skin so sweet and fragrant. To begin with whether censure pursuits for — —but at any an evil should attach to women for it or not. Moreover. in safety.EURIPIDES calculated It is 107 by men for the sake of future advantage.' he is torn boy . who have to suffer. A I was what to And now and is she has her reward : she is become a concubine in the house of her husband's murderer. she has always followed out the whole duty of woman. Those things that have been invented as virtuous ' women. But Andromache is not worse treated than the other women. and silent made myself tongue and a quiet rendered to my lord. to sweep the floor and grind the .' face —that sufficing. put aside the desire for going out stayed at home. the women. at those I laboured ever in Hector's house. Hecuba is handed over to Odysseus to be his slave. told that one night in the arms of her new baby lord will ' make her forget the past. the mother and grandmother of the child. that men may sleep As Andromache bitterly says.

If any one. but Euripides does not forget ' to ' draw the feminist moral. dedicated to the service of the god. is has spoken ill of women in the past. Beguiled into the captive is The sacrifice in the same spirit. and in a scene of the grimmest irony the unhappy girl sings her own marriage hymn. The scene where he comes reeling out with blood-dripping eyes reaches the limits of the horrible.' from time to time knows what they can . or now in the act of speaking — as or will some listen —Neither : day speak. and she too has her reward.108 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE The virgin Polyxena is reserved to be over the tomb of Achilles for it is not enough . slain that living men should make women their chattels even the dead hero demands the tribute of a maiden's Cassandra has lived a vestal. consummated and Hecuba takes women's tent he sees his own children murdered and is then blinded.' the king says. daily corn. . great king deigns to take her to his bed. The Hecuba deals with the same events as the Women and Polyxena vengeance on one of her children's murderers. The life. There is all the music —the figure Trojan of of the hymeneal chorus. only the I will cut all his words short sea nor land breeds such a race women are man who has to do with them do. the Thracian king Polymnestor. but we have one solitary unwedded bride instead of the joyful — procession of youths and maidens.

his would have been different and so the thoughts his logic chorus 1 tell him. the Heracles. Both writers the three have been exhaustively studied — historian and the dramatist —know that human nature does not change. and so we have the half-mad. Verrall. If the aggressor had been a man. things happened. the Orestes appears in another and the Electra. the Iphigenia in Tauris.EURIPIDES 109 The unhappy victim of a single woman forgets and imputes the fault of an individual to the sex. says half- Euripides .' The particular note of realistic horror that marks the closing scenes of the Hecuba group of four plays. and it is enough now to say that the methods of criticism which Thucydides and Euripides use upon the Trojan War. comes when . its own scene of but the perhaps. The first by Dr. and they strip away reIf such morselessly the glamour of ancient legend. are here applied to other tales of the remote and heroic past. this is how they happened. Each play has climax. and most terrible of all the unsexed woman horror. : heroic figure of Heracles the sinister Orestes always the ludicrous yet ready to unsheath his dagger : pitiable Phrygian eunuch stuttering and trembling in panic fear. There is no need to blame all womankind. Electra. over-fierce Be not against us nor bring the feminine element into your troubles.

struggle. written in old age and in exile at deal with the double problem. enemy and The bastard son of would probably oust the her natural legitimate but younger children of the wife from their father's throne and himself seize the power. the Bacchae can be protected. a is young woman married to an old husband. When she finally gives up the secures her children's safety death or banishment.no FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE in both Electra takes the head of the murdered ^Egisthus hands and pours forth all her bitterness into the deaf ears. the best known of all the plays. in Aulis. Theseus. strikes an entirely different note. Phaedra. but it is only thus that her children's future plays. she She by ensuring Hippolytus' knows Theseus and knows that he will bitterly resent any trespass and punish that trespass with all the severity in his power. Phaedra's position and motives are often mis- Hippolytus is enemy if of her children. the But in spite of all this. his father died. used as by Ovid and transposed into a romantic Professor Murray. The charge is a false on his property one. she but she struggles against her passion for her children's sake. The Hippolytus and is. the sacrifice . possessed by a physical desire for the young man. drama by understood. material has been adapted by Seneca and Racine. The still last two and the Iphigenia Macedonia. It perhaps.

ready : for is any crime to gratify his passions. is the Adept —an imposter. God and the sacrifice to man and they are There religion constructed on the same lines.EURIPIDES to in . it is a real spiritual benefit : — of Bacchus was the one chance of escape in a Greek harem woman's life from home. The ecstasy of such an escape has never found more tains. Agamemnon the ordinary middle-aged man. afraid of his wife . Menelaus is the meanest the slave of desire. foils of the Bacchae. In the Bacchae the men are of three sorts. For a few days at least she became a free creature. as a trade are ' the old ' men Cadmus and is Teiresias : who ' religious for social and family reasons ' finally the young Pentheus who and comes to a bad end. openly irreligious The women alone believe they are deceived by the adept. but The ritual to them. : : : intense expression than in the narrative speeches and the choric songs three types. who has taken to . In the Iphigenia at Aulis the men again are of all and each to the idealism of Iphigenia and the practical sense of Clytemnestra. and much of their belief is delusion. allowed to roam at large upon the mounthe stifling seclusion of the The thyrsus of the god took the place of her master's company the the sky was her roof was her bed she could put aside the wine grass press and the flour mill and live on milk and honey.

Achilles is the young r brought up to despise and to think that every girl is anxious to women. but their schemes are detected useless by the keen wit of Clytemnestra and rendered by the unselfish devotion of Iphigenia. become their his wife. The men quarrel and plot for own selfish ends. man of the governing classes. but capable of deceiving the one and ruining the other. .H2 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE and fond of his family.

but necessary operation.VIII. They were meant for an audience of men. Ion and Andromache. the Alcestis. Medea. They should be regarded as the painful . to women at readers. —to use — plays which are especially concerned with the relations between women and men. The . realist. relations between the sexes are a delicate thing humanity any rate. main and feminist The Four Feminist Plays The three interests of Euripides' mind. needed to rid a patient of some long-festering ulcer. plays : They are not pleasant indeed. male generally none the worse for discreet reticence and tender handling. and the dramatist deserves the thanks that surgeon. to a lover of sentimental idealism they would be conspicuously unpleasant if they were Nor are they to be recommended fully understood. grown callous by time and custom and the treatment is ruthless. But in these plays Euripides uses the surgeon's knife. pacificist to be found in all our ugly j argon are his theatre but there are four . is and human nature. —Euripides. we give to the skilful The particular flaws in the male character with 113 .

a little melodramatic. — They are not the faults.' in the sense in which we use the word. the cruel facts will justify the poet. quite so cowardly and selfish as Apollo . the Ion and Andro- mache. cowardice. Jason.ii4 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE which Euripides deals in the four plays are these meanness. None of the four are tragedies. that are especially appropriate to a ruling class. then again he fails in an artistic sense. then Euripides fails altogether though possible. Some may think that no one could be quite so mean in his lesson : their actions. It is of psychology probable that they were not originally composed for public representation in the great theatre of Dionysus. it will be noticed. pride or his weaknesses are of a less manly sort. cruelty ' ' : It is his position as the natural lord of creation that is questioned and If put to the test of dramatic action. as Jason. Man is not indicted on the score of haughtiness. They are as ' good examples as ' we are ever likely to see of la haute comedie . the Alcestis and the Medea in places almost farcical but all . Apollo and Menelaus are if impossible characters. Admetus. are improbable. and Admetus. selfishness. and treachery. They are intimate studies of humanity . quite so treacherous but ' as Menelaus if we apply of life the test of experience. perhaps. depending eventually on a subtle study and social relationships.

child-actors are important the Ion. Pyrrhus does not appear in person .THE FOUR FEMINIST PLAYS and can quite chorus. Between the Ion and the Andromache there is a curious resemblance of plot. and Orestes who has been the affiThe husbands. He is is one of the greatest masters of irony and there nothing that is so apt to vanish in translation. but a son by an irregular union. In both plays a husband has a childless There are wife. are the action . and in each case there is another man in the background. : hero a lad. put as plainly as The frequency translation essentials must not blind us to the is fact that in Euripides untranslatable. and which are in- What of Euripides' the ironical spirit will allow. just emerging from awkward age of boyhood. children. is left is own teaching. anced lover to Hermione. prologue dependent of the dramatic action of the play. important figures in the indeed. or create confusion in the English mind. two women to one man. Xuthus least and Pyrrhus. has for the ' part in the its ' action required and play an the fourth play. easily 115 official be divested of the epilogue. especially male children. All four plays are concerned with problems of motherhood and In three. The case was probably not uncommon that in the circumstances of race-degen- eration prevailed at Athens during the fifth century. Apollo who has seduced Creiisa.

anxious to also. probably the natural result of their past history. Hermione uses her father's help and nearly succeeds in murderCreiisa employs her father's ing the boy Molossus. in their jealous are kill their husband's bastard.n6 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE They are represented as colourless characters and personal courage. . old slave as her agent. and the plays are studies of wifely jealousy my husband have a child. Their young wives. Hermione and Creiisa. but generally negligible. Both wives attribute : their barrenness. that she a god. when roused. The interest is concentrated on the women. and behaves in an abnormal and anti-social fashion. . Euripides knows well that motherhood is a woman's natural sphere a childless woman is for him an abnormal woman. Creiisa goes his to Delphi to propitiate the divinity aid. to supernatural causes. perhaps. regard them with a mixture of contemptuous fear and at all. Hermione accordingly proposes to break the spell by killing the witch . dangerous. while I — ' Why should ' —and maternal am childless ? love. and Ion. all but poisons the boy In neither case is the crime accomplished. men of position jealous affection. and seek hate Both women. Hermione believes that the foreign concubine Andromache has has incurred the bewitched her anger of : Creiisa.

They are embittered against life and ready to requite evil for the evil. not the the holy state.' In the Ion Pythia consents to an even harder disparage them. In the Andromache a bitter attack is made upon the You a Spartan system in the person of Menelaus. the unwedded mothers her life ' in both plays are ready to sacrifice themselves for their children. but they are saved marital. for me not to die on behalf of the child : Children. saves him thereby from the guilt of murder and makes him prince of Athens. ' What pleasure have I in : life ? she In him all my it would be a disgrace I bore. The women have been injured past and they are childless. You left your hearth and home A . but they are miserable in their happiness. political and religious. but the criminal purpose in is there. that robbed your wife. a Phrygian. are those who in ignorance may feel less pain than we do. her son — ' Andromache hopes centre life offers to save cries. Andromache and the Priestess have been injured in the past. On the other hand. sacrifice : she hands over her child to another woman. ' man ? men you ? ' old Peleus cries. But cated in both plays the feminist interest is compli- by other motives. of What claim have you to be counted among fine man it was. is by their children : the maternal. indeed. ' You dastard son of dastard parents.THE FOUR FEMINIST PLAYS for the plays are not ' ' 117 tragedies .

even to his temple. as though. supplies the following summary of the action. and a vein of bitter irony runs through the play. And the God had humbled her. They leave the shelter of home and go about with young men their legs bare. by reason of her fear and shame. to be abominable. she who was the worst of all women. in the cave wherein Creusa. their dresses and run and wrestle like men. you had a virtuous wife within doors. Way. So ironical is the poet's method that. Apollo wrought violence to the king's young daughter ' having borne a son. if to the statements there made. and left .n8 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE without a lock. even if she wished. And in process of time Erechtheus died. In the days when Erechtheus ruled over Athens. who gives the traditional interpretation with the greatest clearness. . Dr. It all seems open . and ministered in the courts of the God's house. left him. But Apollo cared for him. she. We need not be surprised that your system of education does not produce virtuous women. we take the prologue seriously and confine ourselves we are apt to get a somewhat misleading idea of the play's purpose. without a servant to guard. Why. Therein was the child nurtured. for example.' In the Ion the system of Delphi and the oracle is assailed. none of your Spartan girls could be virtuous. forsooth. and caused the babe to be brought to Delphi.

and an heir was given to the royal house of Athens. that she was hard bestead in Then Xuthus. is of being conveyed by subtle hints and innuendo as Creusa. through the blind haste of mortals. after many years. day He drags her into a cave. and for guerdon of victory received the princess Creusa to wife. The real plot. that the lost was there the God ordered all things so found.' and their little faith. is The prologue satisfies convention realistic and one of the chief charac: as follows : —the facts are put down crudely instead girl.THE FOUR FEMINIST PLAYS 119 no son nor daughter save Creusa. wandering they are in the Greek. slain This summary as well as quite faithfully . Yet. so. war. and so became king-consort But to these twain was no child born. was the son well-nigh by the mother. the play itself is ters is a woman of whom the prologue tells us nothing. represents the but Euripides that gods do not walk the earth and that children are not miraculously wafted statements of the divine Hermes knows we do through the air. and the mother by the son. in Athens. a chief of the Achaean folk. they journeyed to Delphi to And inquire of the oracle of Apollo touching issue. A young Athenian alone in the fields one attacked by a brutal satyr. fought for her and prevailed against her Eubcean enemies. as opposed to the idealistic version. and evil days came upon Athens. violates her and then makes .

women becomes fortune named Xuthus. conceals Apollo. Ion. who has was a being from another world she had seen him in the full sunlight he is the sun-god . Meanwhile. girl wrapped by and placed. ignorant of his paternity. and on awakening imagines disappeared as suddenly : that her assailant. The child is born. together with a golden bracelet as token. his escape. and the woman is soon Her child. the mother in a piece of cloth. is reared within the temple precinct and to regards the priestess as his foster mother. ask advice of the oracle. the result of the former hasty connexion. her condition and when her time comes. a mother. They have no Xuthus children. matters —remaining and come to Delphi to The priestess recognises and so arranges unseen as the father of her son. Then he is abandoned.120 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE She faints. as he came. and of in a wicker basket. in one of those About the same time periods of promiscuous sexual intercourse allowed and encouraged by temple ritual. makes her She tells way alone to the same cave. no one of her adventure. the soldier Xuthus makes his way Athens and marries Creusa. his fate we hear no more. herself —that after a conversation with the boy he acknowledges him as his child. ostensibily a foundling. after appointed priestess of the temple. . at Delphi. one of the Delphian by a roving soldier of The latter leaves Delphi.

a piece of cloth which the dead baby was wrapped. Creiisa with joy. Ion with an ingenious subterfuge some painful doubts. Creiisa's and the own bracelet which has been used in poisoning plot. and with the help of a slave. denounces the god as the author of her ruin. She has in her similar to that in possession a baby's wicker cradle. attempts to poison Ion.THE FOUR FEMINIST PLAYS But though Xuthus has now got a still 121 is son. Creiisa In passionate anger she reveals her long hidden secret. Alcestis depend more ' ' They are one-part the strong woman Medea and the weak man plays Admetus and they have many points of resem- on a psychological — — blance. details not unlike Then the on the point of priestess once more is She has heard Creiisa' s story —in some sufferer. sued as a murderess by Ion and being put to death. in the Medea and the interest. accept the new relationship and so the play ends. In the Medea a mother kills her children to save her I own pride : in the Alcestis a mother . and she now arranges a second trick whereby Creiisa shall believe Ion to be her child. own—and she determines to help a fellow though more lamentable than her She has already given up her son to his father. The Ion and the Andromache both abound incident : . The plot fails. she is pur- a childless wife. intervenes. By she makes all three appear to be the recognition tokens of Creiisa's child.

women in its bitterest form. then our life is enviable. we women are the most miserable we are merely a thing that exists. If we work our task aright. When a woman comes to fresh ways and pastures new. consents to death to save her children's Alcestis devil. — a knave or an honest man. we must outbid each other to buy ourselves a lord and take a master we may get 'Tis a risky business of our body. have to be ejected.til FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE Medea—to meant position. but one we women soul. away his heart's A man. goes out and purges annoyance ever . To begin with. is a saint : some to be a people— a pleasant Medea character. ' ' Of all things that draw breath/ she cries. if he vexed with the company of are his household. and our lord keeps house with us. is If not —better to be dead. is certainly not She has laboured too long under a sense of injustice to be pleasant either in her thoughts or behaviour. for she has never been taught at home how best to use the man who now shares her bed. ' You are always abusing the gov' ernment and so you will Jason says to her. and we may not refuse our lords. . To leave her husband brings a woman no honour. she needs must be a prophet. and have understanding.' She expresses the revolt of ' .' compelled to look at . and does not kick against the yoke.

natural. King Creon and King -dEgeus to do. are masterpieces of satirical humour. enough. Jason keeps cool and so far has the best of the reason : argument. but still. You have made it surprising though the best of your case. may seem to you. outward show and have a great regard for Both say with some emphasis that quite of a family of two children is Both have the same opinion is large . I think you . how Jason concludes — women and this Men ought : to be able to : the children from some other source female sex should not exist and then there would get their be no trouble for mankind. I am a very fine figure of a man and it was only you fell in love with me ' : . With her husband her cleverness fails her she is too angry to ' ' : she hisses her scorn and foams her disgust. The comment of the chorus ' is.' Jason lovers of is in many ways like Admetus.' Such sentiments naturally fail to please either the chorus or Medea.THE FOUR FEMINIST PLAYS woman's ing. 113 This isolation was the worst feature in a Greek life : to a clever is woman it was soul-destroy- and Medea ' man in the play. but you are only a woman. not what they want. Both are men's opinion.' he says. incomparably cleverer than any The scenes where she forces the ' two old men. 1 You certainly are a clever woman. but what she wants.

' Medea gives full vent to her she contemptuously refuses the help in anger money which Jason says he is ready to give with : ' an ungrudging hand.' I will. you will. You are yearning for the — ' new girl you have broken her.' his Jason ' acknowledge that I patronising and friendly in : approve your present attitude. against the fire-breathing bulls. shall Certainly her. I do not blame your past behaviour woman is a thing of moods. : indeed.' she says.' and at last scornfully dismisses him Be off with you.' And as in the past she had given him an antidote him the bride. and I fancy that persuade ' Yes. just women. Go the time that you and play the bride- groom with But in the next scene Medea has mastered her ' temper and pretends to submit.' to be expected only : answer I : : He consents to I ask his ' new wife ' for a remission of the children's exile. too. all linger outside her house. ' We are but not You must take pattern by the evil foolishness. it is indeed. what we are. I nor answer I folly with give way is was wrong. and. if she is one of us all women are alike.' Medea says. But I will help you once again in this enterprise.124- FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE woman who has are acting unfairly in betraying the shared your bed.' in. so now she gives fiery robe which is to destroy the young Then comes the crucial scene of the play : Medea .

but whether she minded or not. should be a You remember. this fashion.THE FOUR FEMINIST PLAYS kills 125 her children and is we ? are faced by the problem — when killing murder kills A mother who her child is to us a dreadful figure. when done by and the exposure of children after birth was crime. was not a it a fit subject for a jest in the Thesetetus (p. pregnant. There the wife says to her — ' husband.' The mother who did mind was regarded as a difficult person. and by no means held to be a reprehensible act.' The . 161). as ' baby from a young mother with her 1 first child ? Oh. a common. The Self Tormentor. Plato.' answers the other. ' Do you think. no. Theaetetus will not mind he is not at all hard to get on with. that it is right in all cases to rear if we take we might take a ' your own child it —the : — argument from ? Will you be very angry you. decision lay with the father as we see in Terence's play. indeed. The father to decide whether the child whom was allowed his wife had brought forth should be reared. Greek law and custom went further and in a different direction. don't you. perhaps because no punishment can be adequate. when I was you told me emphatically that if the child girl you would refuse to rear it.' says Socrates. thinks ' Child killing in the father. and the death penalty is invoked against the no punishment is inflicted deserted girl-mother : upon the father.

that we live a life free from danger within doors. no answer to for a an unnatural crime it is mother to kill her children. while men are fighting like heroes with the spear.' than bear one life A mother had already risked . if justified such be her will than the father in ending that child's ? Moreover. in bringing a child to birth is she not far more life. and in sport of different type from a pigeon Now Athenian ' women were less not Amazons.' cries Medea. valuable. There killing kill. Is it right that the party who wilfully breaks the compact should retain possession of the securities ? Such I believe are some is of the It is questions that Euripides meant to them to say that it suggest. for equally unnatural . But men are fools. when you You your own A soldier is not is a fox-hunter shooter. from murder the question of risk you do not murder. the securities given for a business arrangement. Rather would her I stand three times in the battle line of shields child. children are the pledges of marriage. and unless the circumstances their birth were exceptional. a man the a murderer. but they fought a battle no ' dangerous. child proved to be a and so without further Male children were more of question it was got rid of.126 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE girl. as in the case of Paris and (Edipus. They say of us. life. they were not often exposed. is this further point is : what differentiates risk.

and Admetus is in love with The affection which. but her a type that it common usually passes unnoticed.THE FOUR FEMINIST PLAYS and criminal killed their 127 and yet ancient fathers children without compunction and withfor a father. by the strongest of all female passions and that which comes nearest to the divine. Now. is taken for granted in the very different is conditions of Euripides' time. self-preservation. this a cardinal error. Alcestis lacks their sound common-sense guided by passion. may usually be expected to exist between husband and wife. There are no villains in the Alcestis. the maternal passion of self-sacrifice. The Medea then Alcestis. and demands a fuller treatment. Mutual affection and esteem did not reign in an ordinary Athenian household. the first and little else : the is in time of Euripides' plays. Pheres and Heracles. Admetus. she is prepared to give commonly assumed ' allows this —and even Verrall to go unchallenged —that Alcestis ' tacitly ' is in ' love with Alcestis. as we have seen. and there are no heroes. a blend of style. Husband and wife were . It is life once. . happily for us. in varying degrees are animated by the she is strongest of all male motives. Admetus. The three men. is realistic out blame. She it has given again. heroism is There of so is one heroic character.

The mother and the children on them he spends all — the resources of his unrivalled pathos the husband It is because is a mark for his bitterest irony. in the of all the plays of Sophocles. but love for her children. Euripides. Alcestis' motive is not love for her husband. ancient times was the fatherless tion of the chief's son The orphan in child. That a wife should give up her life out of love for her husband is a state of things so agreeable to the perhaps. Alcestis does not wish her children to be left father- — —as indeed. examined. second book of by Andromache in the twentythe Iliad and by Tecmessa. the most Euripidean . knew that maternal love is following iEschylus. not surprising if the language of the play has never been too closely natural man that it is. even when the latter exists. widow is implied is definitely worse than that of the widower. in our language by the form of the word — The position of the less that she consents to death. and the posihis whose father died in childhood was particularly unenviable. It is described in two of the most pathetic passages in Greek literature. and even this indifference was an improvement upon the Ionian relationship when husband and wife were often natural enemies.128 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE usually indifferent one to another. a far stronger force than conjugal affection.

and in particular has rendered some quite exceptional services to the arch-physician. that he is hope to six live much longer —three months. But he has been a generous benefactor to the profession. at the most. The problem vitality. Let us now examine a very bad the play itself. chief of Pherae. indeed. to some one — — very small. perhaps that. has been told by life : his medicine man .THE FOUR FEMINIST PLAYS Ajax. indeed. He deal with the reverse picture —the prefers. in life. Under the old tribal system. Admetus. find the man or woman for his family is is. to sorrows of the motherless children and especially of the motherless for the pathos of the sacrifice is partly this. so depended very largely that old men like Laertes and Pheres found it expedient to retire in favour of their grown-up son. and not so much for the girl. a chief s and his father's death would life. girl It is for the sake of the boy and his future position . 129 power on personal ascendency. a special provision is made in his case. Admetus goes to his father and his . he cannot months. Apollo himself. If Accordingly he can get of his own family to transfer to him their the operation may be feasible. probably have meant considerable danger to his All this in Euripides' time was a commonplace and needed no emphasis. A small boy like Eumelus could not have maintained his father's position. that the mother dies. say.

and it will be noticed that in the picture of the household details about Alcestis are which she draws for them the central point is the marriage bed. refuse for. even his mother. Admetus is not a very sympathetic character. It is of her children that Alcestis : thinks : for make on them she prays she has no petition to her husband's behalf. forms the prologue. indeed. and the burlesque dialogue between Death and the Doctor. The first intimate who can cure all diseases but one. mother. One himself. Admetus what he is told Alcestis believes what she . but both. the mother of his Finally he asks his young two little children. Twice already has Alcestis risked her life upon that bed. husband scarcely appears. believes is told : the sixth death. and she consents. where the arch-physician. that of is confronted by But the prologue and the entrance the chorus need not detain us. A childless woman might refuse. Thanatos and Apollo. In all the narrative. wife. given by the servant woman in her long speech to the chorus. the The chorus . At this point the play opens.130 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE . Her husband demands her it for the sake of and she must give the children whom on that bed life. month is ending and she is marked out for So Death appears. and now another sacrifice has to be made. as we shall see. she has borne. or likely to arouse the spirit of self-sacrifice even in a mother's heart.

The lamentation of of Alcestis. but in the pathetic speech that follows. his bedfellow. and it is plain that she is terribly afraid that marry again and inflict a step-mother upon them. answered iambic are regular intervals style place. is expressed in lyrics at the purest quality. by Admetus thought in couplets where and alike cruelly common- Alcestis who has been standing. : this is the answer they get Oh. Admetus himself hesiwill Admetus . supported her women.' first on you we all depend to live or Alcestis makes her final effort.THE FOUR FEMINIST PLAYS 131 —of men —notice the and ' omission and enquire of him. Admetus in the ' name of the children begs her not to forsake him this is worse for m: than any death die. : He begging her not to have. sinks to the ground and with one by Then last cry to her children thrice repeated seems toV { faint away. yes he is weeping as he holds the woman is he loves.' abandon him he wants what he cannot The chorus then burst into a lament which is interrupted by the appearance of Alcestis and her husband outside the house. The following scene is an extreme example of that combination of pathos and irony from which Euripides never shrinks. in both arms. her last words are for her children. and for the : — time addresses her husband by name.

With Alcestis disappears the pathos of the play. To us Admetus seems almost : inconceivably selfish and callous probably many an Athenian never realised that his conduct was reprehensible. he is not heroic either to us or to Euripides.' he seems to say. to-day a vegetarian has considerable difficulty in proving to the ordinary man that it is unjustifiable selfishness to take life for the gratiso fication of appetite. and. father Such are the and son : behold your ordinary sensual man.i32 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE and it is tates to give the promise. —comes mother is prudently omitted from the is to convey his sympathy. ' Even I always have eaten meat. a beautiful illustration of Euripides' insight into the weakness of the ' male character. scene between Pheres and Admetus where the old father —the action. unconsciously influenced by centuries of romantic literature in which the The relations of the sexes have been idealised. doubtless.' . But it does not follow that an Athenian audience would share our or the master's views. Verrall spends some time and pains in showing that Admetus is not a hero. one of the chorus the dying wife. Dr. private are We Athenians treated still women much as the baser sort treat animals. pair. The rest is ironical. a realistic criticism of the resur- who answers But the rection story and hardly concerns us.

there remain so many other threads of interest realism and — romance. chorus. in spite of the bitter criticism of the two doctrines. and Apollo the seducer. : 133 such an one will say I always shall and so did my father. Heracles the ravisher. the slave of passions which he : is unable to control. very full of absurd superstitions and very fond of having strangers in the house to divert him from himself. is. And so we may leave him in his character Euripides explodes the fallacy that in all cases and in all circumstances man is the superior animal. the existence of the supernatural and the superiority of man. But the in the play itself no one is of delusion as to Admetus. Animals were created for use.' The Athenian might have used the same language under any sort herself all about his wife.THE FOUR FEMINIST PLAYS ' . The servant woman. But the wonder of the Alcestis is this in spite : of the irony and cruel satire. They know too well constant reference to this in the ' ' —and there — play that he is is foolish in the Euripidean sense of the word. for the know him what he is a coward. appreciate him as an excellent boon companion his own household do not share : their views. pathos and humour that a well-disposed reader can shut his eyes to the unpleasant. Alcestis selfish : attendant. and — . Very : religious certainly he and very hospitable in other words.

realist with a taste the other composed by a lyric poet. for the Euripides is a compound of the two neither will be final. one version written in prose by a for irony. Neither version will be satisfactory apart. . for translations quickly age and spirit of : Euripides is ever young.134 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE What is usually does. wanted is meaning of Euripides' plays to bring out the full a double translation .

—The Socratic Circle Sophocles earlier is almost the last representative of the their and happier period of the Athenian Empire. and for lectual fifth men Progress indeed there freedom of thought. Athens contained within herself the seeds of decay and destruction. The wealth of her intellectual achieve- ment barely concealed the poverty of her social morality.C. was. when to the complacent imagination of the male citizen all things seemed to be working together in the direction of progress and freedom. all possible Then came the shock of the Peloponnesian War and the inherent weaknesses 135 of a free State which ..IX. for the intel- atmosphere of Athens in the middle of the century B. and it was only by dint of firmly closing their eyes to the degradation of their women and the misery of their slaves that the Athenians maintained for a time the fond illusion that everything was for the best in the best of cities. golden age as it seemed later. But as a society. has never been already surpassed. with its combination of clear knowledge and bracing speculation.




freedom to more than half


population were cruelly revealed. For nearly thirty years, with some few breathing spaces, the struggle



while Athens tried to force a culture

intellectually superior but morally inferior to that



other of the Greek peoples upon a reluctant and in the end she failed and fell.

After the fifth century the political importance of Athens disappears her intellectual pre-eminence is saved for her by a small group of men who under

the hard teaching of war discerned the flaws of her social system and set themselves resolutely The nobility to the task of criticism and reform.
of war, the nobility of birth, the nobility of sex

some of the prejudged questions that the Socratic Circle ventured to dispute, and their conthese are
tentions, as
of the

we have them

recorded in the literature

and the early fourth centuries, form perhaps the most valuable legacy that the Greek mind has left us. But, like so much of Greek
late fifth

thought, their ideas require interpretation for a modern reader. Some of the greatest of the Circle,

and Antisthenes,



in the writings of other

we only men, and we have to

disentangle the master's ideas from those of his

Plato and

Xenophon were drawn away

by metaphysics and form only a part of




their interests.

Euripides and



Aristophanes were compelled to conform to the conventions of Attic tragedy and comedy, and we must always discount the influence of the stage




serious than suits

and Aristophanes more our ideas of a tragic and a comic

Lastly, for all the group except


irony was the favourite weapon of attack, an irony so deftly veiled that it made the bitterest criticism



often passes undetected.

But even

were not popular and Socrates was reforms were not accepted
so the critics

put to death
of his


Plato found a shelter in political

Euripides, like -ZEschylus, passed


away from Athens


Xenophon took up

in their lives they a stubborn majority, and when they fought against were dead the social organisation of Athenian life


in the Peloponnese

remained apparently unchanged. But their teaching lived on after them, and on feminist questions it derives almost an additional value from the
general hostility of their fellow-countrymen. In their criticism of the problems that we call

feminism Euripides and Socrates were the initiative

study of the former's plays is indispensable for any one who wishes to understand the position of women in Athenian life. But

and a


the plays of Euripides throw also a certain light on Socrates and the position of Socrates himself.



we know were
close friends


which of

the two gathered the sticks

and which made the

faggot/ so runs the ancient saying,







points of family relationship

they had the same experience.

Euripides' mother, the greengrocer/ Socrates' wife, Xanthippe the scold/ are two of the rare women in Athenian

history of

whom we know
lovers of

even the names.

men were


Both the nobler sense, and

the later misogynists revenged themselves by enIn the case larging upon their marital infelicities.
of Euripides there


real evidence to support

these scandals, and even
of strong temper,


if Xanthippe was a woman men were well enough satisfied

with the married state to take another wife in
helpmate, when a special law, rendered necessary by the waste of male lives in the great war, gave formal sanction to such a step.
addition to their


alike agreed in

condemning the misogyny


day and knew that a man who habitually thinks



has probably no very good reason to

think well of himself.
well as to

Both applied to women as men the great doctrines of liberty, equality,


Euripides saw in woman the equal and not the slave of man, Socrates regarded her as his natural friend

In Xenophon's Socratic books, the Memorabilia, the (Economicus, and the
his natural

and not




Symposium, we get the best record of the master's view of the women, for Socrates was himself too

commit himself to the written word, and perhaps the most characteristic of the episodes
cautious ever to

the visit to the

fair hetaira, the

one faithful


the lovers of Alcibiades, described in the

There lived in Athens a fair lady called Theodote, whose habit it was to give her society to any one who could woo and win her. One of the company made mention of her to Socrates, remarking that the lady's

beauty quite surpassed description. he, go to her house to paint her
' '

Painters,' said


and she

displays to them all her perfection Socrates, manifestly, we too must go
It is impossible

Well,' said and see her.

from mere hearsay to realise something which surpasses description Thereupon his informant Quick, then, and follow me.' So off they went at once to Theodote, and found her When the painter had at home, posing to a painter. finished, Friends,' said Socrates, ought we to be more grateful to Theodote for displaying to us her beauty,





I suppose or she to us for having come to see her ? this display is going to be more advantageous to her,

But if it is we who she ought to be grateful to us. are going to make a profit from the sight, then we ought to be grateful to her.' Very fairly put,' said one, and

Socrates resumed, The lady is profiting this moment by the praise she receives from us, and when we spread the tale abroad she will gain a further advantage. But, as for ourselves we are beginning to have a desire to when we are touch what we have just now seen


going away we

shall feel the smart,



we have

that is a fine thing to have.' No. it would be much more appropriate for you than for spiders. to weave a hunting net?' friends are to or do 1 ' ' ' 1 . You know how they hunt for their living. you use some mechanical device ? Why. of friends is far better than a flock of sheep. I suppose your household brings in a good income.' ' ' ' ' flock By our lady. and that her mother's dress (for her mother was in the room) and general appearance was by no means humble. Theodote. not a factory either. then ' ? No. and ' respects the household was luxuriously ' arranged.140 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE gone we shall still long for her. showing in all little signs of neglect in their attire.' she replied. ' have you any land of your own ' ? I have not. Tell me.' Thereupon Theodote if that is so. accepts our service. or goats. it would be only proper for me to thank you for coming to see me. Well. then. I have not a house.' Afterwards Socrates ' : noticed that the lady herself was expensively arrayed.' said he. and anything that comes their way they take for food. They weave gossamer webs. There were a number of comely maidens also in attendance.' How then do you get what you need ? When I find a friend. I believe. how could I find any device in this matter ? Surely. and he is kind enough to help me. and that she Well.' ' ' you 1 Have you a factory. then my livelihood is assured. So we may reasonably say that it is we who are the servitors. But do you leave it to chance whether ' A wing their way towards you like flies.' Do you advise me. then. or oxen.



No, no. You must not suppose that it is such a simple matter to catch that noble animal, a lover. Have you not noticed that even to catch such a humble thing as a hare people use many devices? Knowing that hares are night -feeders, they provide themselves with night-dogs, and use them in the chase. Furthermore, as the creatures run off at daybreak, they get other dogs to scent them out and find which way they go from their feeding ground to their forms. Again, they are swift-footed, so that they can get away in an open race, and a third class of dogs is provided to catch them in their tracks. Lastly, inasmuch as

some escape even from the dogs, men
runs, so that they

set nets in their



into the meshes

and be


But what

sort of contrivance should I use in hunting

for lovers


A man, of course, to take the place of the dog some one able to track out and discover wealthy





able also to find


of getting


into your nets.' What sort of nets have Nets, forsooth

I ?

One you have certainly, close enfolding and well And within your body there constructed, your body. is your heart, which teaches you the looks that charm and the words that please. It tells you to welcome
true friends with a smile,

and to lock out overbearing when your beloved is sick, to tend him with anxious care when he is prospering, to share his joy

in fine, to surrender all

am sure you know


your soul to a devout lover. Love needs well how to love.

a tender heart as well as soft arms. I am sure, too, that you convince your lovers of your affection not by mere phrases, but by acts of love.'

Nay, nay,


do not use any

artificial devices.'



Well, it makes a great difference if you approach a man in the natural and proper way. You will not catch or keep a lover by force. He is a creature who can only be captured and kept constant by kindness

and pleasure.' That is true.'

should only ask then of your well-wishers such them little to render, and you should requite them with favours of the same sort. Thereby you will secure their fervent and constant love, and they will be your benefactors indeed. You will charm them most if you never surrender except when they are sharp set. You have noticed that the daintiest fare, if served before a man wants it, is apt to seem insipid while, if he is already sated, it even produces a feeling of nausea. Create a feeling of hunger before you serve then even humble food will appear your banquet
services as will cost
; ;




How can


create this hunger in my friends ? never serve them when they are



Never suggest

until the feeling of rehas quite disappeared and they begin again to pletion be sharp set. Even then at first let your suggestions



be only of most modest conversation. Seem not to wish to yield until Fly from them and fly again


pinch of hunger. That is your moment. they The gift is the same as when a man desired it not but wondrous different now its value.'
feel the


' :


do you not join


in the hunt,

and help me
to come.'

to catch lovers


I will, certainly,'

said he,


you can persuade me

Nay, how can


do that



You must

look yourself, and find a



you want








Socrates, jesting

house, then, often.' at his own indifference to

business, replied
It is

no easy matter for me to take a holiday. I am always kept busy by my private and public work. Moreover, I have my lady friends, who will never let me leave them night or day. They would always be having me teach them love-charms and incantations/ What, do you know that, too ? Why, what else is the reason, think you, that Apollodorus and Antisthenes never leave my side ? Why have Cebes and Simmias come all the way from Thebes

me ? You may be quite sure that not without love-charms and incantations and magic wheels may this be brought about.' Lend me your wheel, then, that I may use it on you.' Nay, I do not want to be drawn to you. I want
to stay with
' '

you to come

to me.'


I will


But be sure and be


some lady

I will

be at


to you, unless there be


me who


dearer even than yourself/

It is a significant incident,

charmingly related by

Xenophon, but not altogether charming in itself, although the humorous irony of Socrates may hide
from careless readers

the darker sides of the

But Socrates himself

entirely lovable.


nothing furtive, nothing patronising in the He behaves to Theodote philosopher's attitude.

as he

would behave to every one.

He admires








a benefactress


But while he knows the strength

of her position,


realises its




and there


a shade

of pity in his admiration.

A similar appreciation of women is shown in many
for example, when need no perfume Women they There is are compounds themselves of fragrance.'

passages of the Socrates says,





that Socratic paradox, also, after the dancing-girl's



1 This is one proof, among very many, that woman's she has no lack nature is in no way inferior to man's

either of


or physical strength.'

teach their wives

by advising his friends to and he deals with the weakest point in woman's life the ignorance in which they


continues his argument

were kept.



not be


he says




that you would wish your companion to



Thereupon Anthisthenes puts the pertinent quesIf that is your idea, Socrates, why do you

not try and train Xanthippe,


is, I

believe, the


difficult of all wives, present, past,

and future




he gets the following reply

I have noticed,' says Socrates, that people who wish to become good horsemen get a spirited horse, not a tame, docile animal. They think that if they can manage a fiery steed they will find no difficulty with an ordinary horse. My case is the same. I wanted to be a citizen of the world and to mix with all men.

she had lived under careful surveillance to see and hear. I do not spend my days indoors my wife is quite capable of managing our household without ' my help.' Ah. Did you train your wife yourself to be all that a wife should be ? Or.' Thus Socrates draws wife. Socrates' interlocutor.THE SOCRATIC CIRCLE 145 So I took her. when you took her from her parents. is Ischomacbus. that is what I want to know. The dialogue begins by Socrates asking Ischomachus how he won his sobriquet of honest gentleman surely not by staying ' • — ' at ' home : ! No. did she possess enough knowledge to perform her share of house ' management ' ? Possess knowledge when and I took her ? Why. All that she knew was how to take wool and turn it into a dress. and ask as little as possible. benefit even from a shrewish His ideas of a happy marriage. and the whole passage should be compared with those delightful stories of conjugal happiness the tale of Panthea. and the wife of Tigranes which the historian gives us in the — — Education of Cyrus. I shall find no difficulty in ordinary company. I am quite sure that if I can endure her. and the best of securing that happiness. are set out for us means by Xenophon in the CEconomicus. she fifteen years old. was not — until then she . for all practical purposes Xenophon himself.' replies Ischomachus. All that she had seen was how the spinning-women have their daily tasks assigned. As regards control of appetite.

in future any children that may be born to them. For a woman to stay quiet at home. God God has to imposed upon her the indoor work. Finally. Custom agrees with the divine ordinance. The husband then exthe true functions of man and woman and Man has a greater capacity cold.' business. men and women memory.' the and praying that fortune and learning what is best for soon as the wife is tamed to the ' husband explains that they are now in partners together. and self-control. as hand. Then. is all-important/ of Ischomachus then proceeds to detail his system It begins with husband and wife education. was to be modest and temperate/ plains their points of difference. instead of roaming abroad. at present in the house.146 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE that. my Everything depends on you. and I think. alike in equal measure. ' she says . Woman has less capacity for bearing fatigue more affectionate. she woman for enduring heat and wayfaring and route-marching. but doubts her own capacity. mother said. is God meant for him outdoor . They have each contributed a portion to the common stock. than work. had certainly received a sound education. The wife agrees ' to this. and must now work together in protecting their joint interests. and not too frightened to take part in conversation. more timorous. gives carefulness. aid in teaching offering sacrifice together may both. .

and ignorance. and a better guardian of the home of . and to make me your servant not fear that as the years roll on you will lose your place . too. . your honour will increase you even as you become a better partner to myself and the for it is children. this beautiful sentence the first conjugal lesson 1 whom ends : But your sweetest joy will be to show yourself then you need superior. and henceforth everything is order — ' expatiating the while on the for a beauty like the cadence of in its proper place. but virtue. on .THE SOCRATIC CIRCLE is 147 is no disgrace all : for a man to remain indoors discreditable. He of deals faithfully. though are no longer young. the desire to please. my honour in the house you will be sure that. that . confine his teaching to He explains to Socrates how once he asked which she could his wife for some household article not find. that nurtures the growth of a good name. of the various rooms and beauty of sweet music dwells even in pots and pans set out in neat array. how deeply she blushed at her heedless So he gives her a practical lesson in household management by taking her over the house and explaining the uses different utensils. with that most pardonable woman's weaknesses. not beauty. and with servants. . The wife is like the queen bee.' But Ischomachus does not words. the work of the hive depends and a good mistress soon wins the loyal love of all her So the conversation proceeds.' His wife profits by the lesson.

to shake the With one last anecdote we must end. So when one day he finds his wife with powder and rouge upon her cheeks. surely not. would you hold me as more lovable if I were to anoint myself with pigments and paint my eyes ? Nay. and sham purples. to see what punishment I should bear and what fine I should pay. and have had to stand my trial. always hearing Yes. I am not better pleased with this white powder and red paint than I should be with your natural hue. would you think me a good partner in our ' if I were to make a display of unreal wealth. And as regards my body.' she replies.148 leads FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE some ladies to attempt to improve upon nature. I would rather look into your eyes and see business ' false 1 ' ' them bright with ' health.' ' ' And how do you get on ? says When I have the advantage of ' Socrates. ' knead the dough and roll the paste coverlets and make the beds.' Of course I have. then. money. dear wife.' Believe me. and debating cases in my own household.' So after that day the young wife gives up cosmetics. wood coated with gold ? Nay. he begins like this ' : Dear wife. and wearing high-heeled shoes.' to . ' wisdom ' I am says Ischomachus. Socrates asks his friend whether beside his practical he has any rhetorical and judicial skill. . truth on my side. and on her husband's advice takes healthy exercise instead the physical training he recommends being . and before to-day I have been taken on one side.

THE SOCRATIC CIRCLE well ' 149 I but when I have not truth with me enough can never make the worse cause appear the better. .' And how is that ? Who is the judge ? . as far with she is whom removed from the humble drudge the ordinary Athenian was familiar as from the painted odalisque who to the Ionian ideal of the perfect was the woman.' Ischomachus' home. is no doll's-house. at His wife is least. ' 'My wife.

music. and serious purpose than commonly supposed. and they both possess the divine gift of melody. were born to be lyric poets. all his hardly one which in language. and in social reform. that art with them often takes the so many second place. But they were interested in other things. and dramatic technique does not reveal the intimate harmony that exists between the two men. like our Shelley. and explaining the essential similarity of their functions). and most of his obscenity is an empty parade made necessary by the conditions of the Attic stage which Aristophanes phanes is himself in the course of his career rendered obsolete.X. —Aristophanes pendant to that of often inspired by a much more is The work of Aristophanes is a is Euripides. He was a member of the Socratic Circle (the famous Symposium ends with Socrates expounding to Agathon and Aristophanes the nature of tragedy and comedy. and is in his early manhood he Of fell under the spell of the great tragedian. in feminism. Aristo- no mere vulgar buffoon. in politics. As men they 150 are incomparably . comedies there Aristophanes and Euripides.

must have some foundation of serious purpose. is obvious that he enjoys indulging his humour to the utmost. constant in the Parody. The wit of Euripides is restrained and ironical. that useful perhaps for politicians war is a curse and soldiers. and because Aristophanes knows Euripides so well. Aristophanes in of most of his plays has the exuberance youthful spirits and an overflowing stock of fantastic inventions. his and Aristophanes. and is in such intimate sympathy with him. fantastic But a dramatist.ARISTOPHANES 151 greater than such self-centred poets as Sophocles . indecency even. however and inventive his humour may be. even a comic dramatist. with something of the bitterness of old age . that the style parody of the Euripidean comedies never becomes wearisome. gross humour. those of the tragedian it is : firstly. having chosen obey the it medium of expression. — only brings disaster to real workers secondly. . Moreover. is compelled to restrictions of the comic stage. as artists they neither aim at nor achieve his academic perfection. these were the qualities that a comic poet at Athens had necessarily to display. that a belief in gods made in mortal shape is absurd — such a belief will certainly lead to farcical situations. and that foundation Aristophanes takes very largely from His three chief themes are the same as Euripides. but . it is Their methods are curiously alike.

152 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE realistically will . and Aristophanes. and the Women Women at in Assembly. The comic poet is rather interested in the woman's cause than devoted to it. which if treated for a be excellent material comic poet thirdly. that intellectually of and morally. Plato. abuse of Euripides. the feminist plays are the the Lysistrata. it and there part of the it is it is is foolish to merely take plenty in the comic game. as women are as capable. It is not to be supposed that all the members of the Socratic Circle thought alike on all subjects. too hard for men. Euripides. the Peace. and Socrates were as intimate one with the other as are our leading and to speak of Aristophanes attacking Euripides and Socrates is to misread the situation. the Plutus the . and ' ' politicians. men their experience — house-management especially fits them for carrying on the business of a State. comedies. all close friends. seriously. and the the second in the Birds. and in many of his plays . Festival. difference even as regards feminism there are some points of between Euripides and Aristophanes. As for the . and a feminist administration might solve many problems The first of that have proved these themes appears in the plot of the Acharnians. and Knights . the Frogs. It is obvious that the treatment of these themes in tragedy and comedy will be different but the initial point of view is very much the same.

described. Often. men In the Clouds there is a vivid picture of Socrates at are all home : house. role. but we have household : the women part in the action are there. but for his wife he has no message. saints that he may be lucky enough a price for his mother and his wife. Trygaeus. Bull to keep him company his ' : ' — domestic arrangements are in the hands of slaves. too. before setting off on his adventurous voyage. but they are persons of no no women take importance. and then prays to to get as A tury. for even under the harem system the L . depicting life at Athens in the fifth cenall his was compelled to give women an insignificant but even in this group of plays Aristophanes makes one exception. perhaps. in his theatre women occupy as insfgni- ficant a place as they did in the actual life of his In the Wasps. furniture. The Megarian sells his two daughters for a handful of leeks and a measure of salt. that proves the rule. good realist.ARISTOPHANES 153 he certainly hesitates between the gross realism of the phallic god and the new ideas of feminist doctrine. bids an affectionate farewell to his little children. household apparently consists of his grown-up son and the attendant slaves nothing is said of wife : or daughter. Philocleon's time. the exception. — In the Knights. for example. but nothing of Xanthippe. and pupils So in the Acharnians and the Peace scenes. Demos John Bull has no Mrs.

and the although reasons of this difference are instructive. she takes no part in the play. is Of all the episodes in the Birds there none quite so freshly humorous as the arrest of Iris. she is just able to hold her own with her feeble. foolish husband. In the Clouds.154 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE woman al masterful will sometimes come to the front. the girl messenger of the Gods. on a compromise when their opinions But of it is possible to make for too much of the absence women characters. followed . the daughter of a noble family and herself of determined character. . Using all these advantages. the conditions of perfestival formance at the Lenaean were all against feminine interests. and even in the midst of the fierce political raillery of the Knights there comes the delicious interlude of the lady triremes meeting in council . his wife is a lacking both in will-power and intellectual force woman of property. Strep: and Haroun siades himself is a person of inferior social position. Strepsiades is married and by no means independent of his wife the lady is mentioned. addressing the assembly first and revealing the goings-on of the Government. Raschid goes in fear of Zobeida. and to insist at least differ. the old stager Nauphante. there are constant flashes that reveal the author's feminist sympathies. and even though the plot of many of the comedies has little to do with women.

He goes round to his friends to save him (the scene is a parody on the Alcestis). the real surprise less is that no than three of the remaining eleven plays the Lysistrata.' Indeed. and is really a very revue. and all he can do for imputed him : his . burlesqued. written in open advocacy of the lightest of the three. Circle.ARISTOPHANES ' 155 by the shy young thing who has never come near men/ and is determined to keep her independence. intend to have him and put to death. But is Agathon.' and is ' ' — The Women — Thesmophoriazusoe part in most of the incidents. and the Women — in Assembly —should be concerned with the feminist at the Festival movement and be the women's cause. no man shall ever be my master. firstly for being a playwright secondly as a slanderer of womenkind. the Women at the Festival. He has heard that the women. ' heaven forfend. whose music is then too is much like a woman to be of any He another of the inner Socratic but in the is way to of jest the most infamous conduct appearance is as ambiguous as his morals. considering the state of Athens and the necessity that lay upon a comic poet of suiting the tastes of his audience. Agathon. now assembled in their own festival to which no men are admitted. and first of all to his fellow-dramatist. assistance.' Euripides is brilliantly written feminist in various disguises takes the compere.

' ' Finally.e. and lock up the store cupboards. : spy on their wives. Old men who once would take young wives now remain unmarried. the buffoon of the piece.' he says to be annoyed with him for talking about one or much ' two of our weaknesses —we have ten thousand which . the lady is master. by his atheistical doctrines. and in an elaborate burlesque of a public meeting recount their grievances against It is because of the poet that men have Euripides. he exchanges his rough white blanket for a finer yellow one . Mnesilochus. for the poet has told them. He is now appearances a woman and goes to the Thesmophorian Festival to find out the details to all of the women's proposal. Euripides has ruined many an offer garlands now honest flower-girl. so suspicious become they scent a lover everywhere. shaved i. When an old man marries a young wife. over and arrayed in woman's garments.. . I detest the fellow as but it is unreasonable you do. Then Mnesilochus ' gets up as for the defence. winds a band-corset round his breast and puts on a hair-net and bonnet. The old gentleman undressed. So Euripides has to fall back on his father-in-law. The women assemble. for men do not to the gods. and there follows one of those scenes of disrobing with which we are familiar on is the modern all stage.156 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE is Euripides to lend him some articles of women's dress for the purpose of a disguise.

who tells the assembly that a real man is on Mnesilochus. between the two acts is a humorous statement of the women's case on strict Euripidean lines : Each and every one [the chorus sings] abuses the of women we are everything that is bad. until their arguments are interrupted one of by the appearance of Cleisthenes. then. ' but he is There stopped by his angry nothing so bad as a woman ' who is it naturally shameless —the chorus say— except ' be a woman. skin.' A fierce discussion begins. among them. the child's wrappings.' dilate 157 He then proceeds to on some of the . as we might call it. Well. full not a baby. first part of the The intermezzo. he is discovered by plain evidence to be of the male He makes a gallant sex. which the lady has brought for it is her private refreshment during the proceedings. Suspicion at once falls attempt to escape by snatching a baby from a woman's lap.ARISTOPHANES he has never mentioned. frailties is which Euripides has omitted audience. He then decides to send to Euripides for help. but a leather of wine. when he unfastens . and holding it to ransom (a parody on Euripides' Telephus) but. and a parody of the Palamedes ends the play. and is seized by the women. why do you marry us ? Why do you keep tribe : . those womanish men so unpleasantly familiar in Athens.

chooses a good one. The second act is to rescue his defender. Andromeda. and comes the hand a young and attractive leading female. and the scene is supposed to change to Egypt. . and he is finally handed over to a north-country police- man. less vulgar they alone are the mothers of heroes. less dishonest. queen. very Why. as though precious . Euripides tries the effect of another Disguised as Perseus he insists that the captive maiden. illiterate gentleman with a very strong On him is tragedy.158 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE ? we were something very. does every man want to get a good view of our face ? As a matter of fact. him- an old woman. not worse us indoors. they are less greedy. and when the plump flute-girl sits down on his knee he capitulates. by The policeman begins at once to soften. if we peep out of a window. he disguises in. ' murmuring. having to choose a title. women are better than men. faiblesse for the self as weaker sex. an accent. lastly. a series of attempts by Euripides In the first episode the tragedian appears disguised as the Menelaus of his Old Mnesilochus is the fair but frail Helen. and . Then Euripides plays his last Remembering that all policemen have a obdurate. and that he has come to release her. But the women refuse to let their captive free. But the policeman Mnesilochus proves card. ' ! What a swaat toong : it's reaal Attic A last vestige of professional caution hooney makes him ask the old lady her name. Euripides.

and pray God that we make no is mistakes. ' Artemisia. and the play ends with the policeman's des- pairing cry.' is a much and the heroine is a masterpiece of ' you? The Lysistrata.' ' Artamouxia in his which the policeman enters as note-book. Artamouxia. The other pair hasten to make their escape. and frowning with impatience although a frown spoils her until the looks. dramatic characterisation. for the when women From the beginning of she stands in the darkness waiting she has summoned. Bceotia. and the other .ARISTOPHANES ' 159 says. she can say. The the lead of Lysistrata the women of Athens make a league with the women of Sparta. — ' — 1 Let man stand by all.' she a real living woman. except only the incomparable Jane. end. where are breaker up of armies.' as her one companion tells her her purpose accomplished. and then. Corinth. the action. Lysistrata shows that he understood the female mind almost as well as Euripides himself : better far than most women authors. and independence resemblance. when. Good luck to more of these If woman and woman by man. Aristophanes had written nothing else. stronger play. handing he over the custody of his prisoner to the old lady retires indoors with his young aquaintance. to whose Emma in masterfulness the Athenian lady bears a close Under plot of the play is simple. ' Artamouxia.



the solidarity of women is one of the key-notes of the play), to stop the war. For

Greek States

purpose they put into effect both active and passive measures they bind themselves by oath to have no further intercourse with their husbands

until peace is




at first object, but

under the lead

of the athletic

Spartan finally agree),

and they also seize the Acropolis with the treasury. The old men left at home, and the officials, for most
of the


are at the war, try to use force



Lysistrata has marshalled and drilled her


In a very vivid scene the


attack, but,


and the cries Lysistrata guards, and at them forces of male law and order, as represented by

the Scythian policemen, are put to ignominious Then the men think it expedient to propose flight. a friendly meeting, and the conversation between

Lysistrata and the Chief Commissioner
instructive part of the play.


the most

have you seized the treasury ? he asks. Lysistrata explains that all wars depend on financial





and that the women mean to stop argument, that women have no

administrative skill or financial knowledge, is countered by the plain facts of home management. It is not the same thing/ says the Commissioner



this is a




war has

to stop

—now, at once.


Lysistrata declares that



In our retiring modesty we have put up long enough with what you men have been doing. You would not let us speak, but we have not been at all satisfied with you. We knew what was going on, although we indoors. Over and over again we were told stay With pain of some new big mistake you had made. What in our hearts we would put on a smile and ask, But have you done to-day about the peace ? Hold your what's that to you ? our man would say. And so I did, then (says Lysistrata), but I tongue.' am not going to now. I have heard the strain quite long enough, Men must see to war's alarms.' This is Women shall see to war's my version of the tune and if you listen to my advice you will not alarms be troubled by war's alarms any more. All you have to do is to hold your tongue, as we used to do.










this the

Commissioner breaks in furiously



accursed baggage,



tongue before


Why, you

are wearing a veil


to hide


I die rather.'

his anger does











says Lysistrata,

she puts




and now

hold your tongue
basket, so "

moreover, here



now And so the

you may munch beans and card the wool Women, women never shall be slaves."

scene ends with the triumphant chorus. Between this, the first act, and the second there

a short interval of time


and when we

see Lysis-

trata again she

having some

difficulty in




together and away from

their husbands.


long for your



she says


don't you think
sure they

they are longing for






very hard.


and bear

for a little while longer.'

good Her

arguments are successful, and soon the first man comes in, with a baby in his arms, prepared to
submit to any terms. But till the peace is made, no arrangement is possible and the poor husband



Finally, a joint deputation

of Spartans

She, as a

and Athenians appear before Lysistrata. woman, and therefore, she says, a person
difficulty in arranging for

of sense, has
of peace

them terms

which are satisfactory to both


so the play ends with a




men and


dancing hand

in hand.

But this brief summary gives little idea of all the devices of stage-craft in which the Lysistrata abounds.
It is

eminently an acting play, and can

still fill



The language


certainly gross




entirely lacking in


reticence, but

a glance at the French adaptation by M. Donnay, of the Academy, and especially at the additional


episodes there introduced, will prove that grossness not the worst thing in the world, and that a quiet

tongue does not always mean a virtuous mind.



in Assembly, Ecclesiazusce,




the Lysistrata,


Written twenty years later than shows plain signs of old age and

failing powers.


passed away


Euripides and Socrates have both the Socratic Circle has broken up.



dead, and



dying, for Aristo'

phanes has lost most of that vis comica which was Ms most wonderful possession. The influence
of Plato

substituted for the influence of Euripides, and the play is a parody of feminist theories as they

are developed in the Republic.

The construction, however, is poor the action and changes midway in the play the first part is effective enough, but it would be more






did not remember the Lysistrata,
repeats with less vigour. of the play Praxagora

whose themes

At the beginning
to appear.
selves as



in the darkness for the


she has


They have resolved to disguise themmen, and to attend the assembly which

has been called for that morning. There they are to propose and carry a resolution that the State

be handed over to the management of women. their husbands Presently they begin to assemble

are safely in

bed and

asleep, for their wives



measures that they should have a restful Sticks, cloaks, shoes, and false beards are
set out to

produced and adjusted, but before they

pack the assembly Praxagora proposes a rehearsal of their arguments. The ladies who have confined
their attention to looking like

men prove

not very



expert at speaking in the male style, and Praxagora herself has to give them a sample speech.

Things go wrong [she says] because we choose our government on wrong principles. It is a government by classes, and every one considers his own personal

money is paid away for private gain. women would alter all this, for women by experience in house management know how to get full value for money. Secondly, women are conserva-





and would never agree

the finances or the

to any violent change in they are natural economists,

and specious cries of upon them. Thirdly,
to be successful


trade would have no effect

ministers, they are certain their experience in providing meals will ensure that the soldiers are well fed, and they are



not likely to risk unduly the lives of their own sons. Lastly, women are so used to trickery that it will be very hard to trick them. Therefore, without any further
talking or inquiry as to what women are likely to do, the best thing is to entrust them with the government.

their parts,

The women by the end and with one
all set

of the speech

have learnt

last instruction to thrust

their elbows into the face of

to interfere they

any policeman who tries out for the assembly. Then

Blepyrus, the elderly husband of Praxagora, appears, and the play begins to deteriorate, for it is one of the most dexterous touches in the Lysistrata that the

husbands are for the most part away from home, and therefore can take no part in the action. Blepyrus



neighbours have found that their wives

have disappeared together with their cloaks and



While they are standing in doubt they hear strange news. The assembly convened that morning to consider the vital question of State reform is
already over
to time that


was so well attended and so punctual
too late to vote or to

many men came

receive their attendance fee.


resolution has been

passed unanimously that tailors shall provide clothes and bakers bread, free gratis to all and, further;

more, that the government shall be in the hands of women. A good-looking young man, who made a


effective speech,


chiefly responsible for

change of policy. He pointed out that women could keep a secret far better than men that they were in the habit of trusting one another, and

that they never would be likely to plot against the






government had been tried already without much success, and the experiment was well worth making. Blepyrus and his friends acquiesce in the fait

and when Praxagora returns she learns from her husband that women are now in authority.


socialistic State begins at

once to take shape.
of property

Praxagora decrees a
food, slaves, belong



to the

—land, —every one State

possesses everything.


are part of the


of goods,


women and men are

but to avoid disputes the less wellto have the first choice

of partners,

and such unions are purely temporary.




gambling saloons, and night clubs are

summarily closed

for these appurtenances of

civilisation are

incompatible either with socialism

or feminism.


difficulty of



by the convenient

institution of slavery,

disposed and a

rigime of universal happiness and feasting begins. Thus far the first section of the play. The second





attempts to show the

working of the new system. Praxagora disappears, and the characters are mere mechanical figures.





a man,




three old


a young man a young The scenes are coarse

and uninteresting, nor is the prosiness

of the dialogue

by any mark the

of the vivid touches of






like the first,

ends with a banquet,

given by the State, and open to


Ecclesiazusce is plainly inspired

theories of

communism and feminism
and the Laws.


by Plato's we have

them now

in the Republic



example and the philosopher
a Platonic

of the connection

between the comedian

the Aristophanic tale of the

origin of sex in Plato's


is so good a myth with a both of Aristophanes' humour and of specimen the gay fashion in which the Greeks anticipate

difference —

The story


science that

it is

a pity


length prevents


and that is why men and . cannot be decided. and so in pity the god turned their bodies round. and forms as clearly the basis of Plato's serious philosophy as does of the humorous apologue of Aristophanes. two faces. Apollo was bidden to heal the places. The man and the woman are not separate and opposite. In the pride of . but the doctrine of the identity of sexqualification is common it possession of all the Socratic Circle. the children of . and men became in shape such as we see them now. and the moon. . the how far Plato's. How far the tale Aristophanes' invention. with four feet and hands.he sun. women is yearn one for the other. and they. but the two halves pined one for the other. There are many other details. were able both to walk and to roll.jeir rebelled against heaven. Men were round ii _hape. and Zeus cut strength they them in twain.ARISTOPHANES 167 In ancient days [according to Aristophanes] there were not two sexes but three. which once included both they are a divided whole. the earth. but the most striking original point in the story is the recognition of the identity of sex. but rather complementary halves of one organism.

XI. based not on any actual experience. and he lacks that he is. Plato is deeply influenced by Spartan teaching. but on ideal theory. and he saw that the main cause of this condition was the indifference to women and children which the ordinary Athenian prided himself on displaying. a visionary and a theorist. a masculine genius (with him we essentially hear nothing of wife and children). He regarded the Euripides. but the main structure is his own work. In this idealism lies both the strength and weakness of his feminist doctrine. instinctively possesses. In his feminism and his educational reforms.— Plato Plato differs from most of the Socratic all Circle in things. condition of society in his native city with a mixture of dislike and contempt. above He is that grip of reality which the natural feminist. He refuses to allow himself to be influenced. but which should be the opposite of the degenerate Athens of his day. as Aristotle after him was influenced. by the actual state of inferiority to which Athenian women had been reduced . he is inclined in forming a society 168 .

and in the excellent version Republic by Davies and Vaughan. But of it the may be convenient to give a brief ment. moreover. seventh. pretended to Nemesis — ' I am begins on a with a prayer road. for we can never reproduce the delicate music of Plato's prose. and his subtle irony evaporates in English) in Jowett's translation. It has. been made is applicable to wives and children. most clearly stated book of the Republic and the sixth. rh t&v <\>L\wv ('among friends everything is common property ') has been laid down. and eighth books of the Laws. rather. community of women is of importance and must be explained at The philosopher accordingly. summary of his argu- In the fifth book of the Republic the ideal State is being discussed. slippery I and fear lest missing my footing drag my M . but unanimously resolved that the question of vital once. with some reluctance. their rough substance is accessible. These works Plato's feminist doctrines are in the fifth are accessible to English readers (or.PLATO to disregard 169 some of the invincible facts of human nature. and the rule Koivh. tion of the communistic regime in detail then The organizacomes up for consideration. for Plato at first hardly escapes from the fallacy that a man's wife piece of property as a as much a dog or a it is table.

then. to make our men. guardians of a flock ? Yes/ Let us keep on the same track and give corresponding rules for the propagation of the species. as it were. and for and let us observe whether we rearing the young ' ' ' . and hunt with them.' Is it possible to use animals for the same work if you do not give them the same training and education ? ' ' It is not. a military education and treating them in the same way as the men. I believe.' ' Then we must The refrain professional humorist is then requested to from the obvious jokes suggested by the idea . and share in all their other duties or that the females ought to stay at home.' If. because they are disabled by having to breed and rear the cubs. besides. we are to employ the duties as the men. the care of the flocks ' ' ? We expect them we to share in whatever only ' treat the females as the weaker. find ' ' them suitable or not. is to be done and the males . while the males are to labour and be charged with all .' arts.' ' How do you mean ? Thus. Do we think that the females of watch-dogs ought to guard the flock along with the males.' 1 To the men we give music and gymnastic* ' Yes. as the stronger.170 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE down with me : ' friends —and thus approaches his subject ' The aim of our theory was. we must give ' women in the same them the same in- structions ' ' ? Yes. train the women also in the same two giving them.

then. but he may be just as good a cobbler.' A bald-headed man is different from a long-haired man. women should engage in the same pursuits. appropriate none to women ?' ' ' all virtues to men and How can w§ ' ? . man ' though in than the man. or The all is real human whether she the employments wholly unequal to .' : all of them the woman is weaker Precisely so. but we must not be misled by the word different. if so.' Shall we. so far as her nature is concerned. belong to woman as woman. or a statesman. or equal to to some and not to others and. whether the nature of the as to enable her to share in of the male. ' Women certainly are different from men. such things are question is female is such purely matters of custom. . that none of the ocwhich comprehend the ordering of a State cupations I conclude then.PLATO of 171 women stripped for exercise or old ladies practising and to remember that all athletics. any. So from men in the part they play in the but that difference propagation of the species does not affect the question as to whether men and women differ . nor yet to man as man but natural gifts are to be found here and there in both sexes alike and. which class military service belongs. and this point is reached : my friend. The argument of the adaptability of the sexes to various is occupations ' discussed. the woman is admissible to all pursuits as well as the .

' Then. I imagine.' shall we not also say. labours of the duly since we find that they are competent qualified men to the work. we shall hold. may there not be a love of knowledge in one. that one woman may have talents for medicine. indeed. as marking their fitness for that office ? ' ' Yes. for Plato's is an aristocratic State and he is chiefly legislating for his guardian class. another unmusical ' ' ' ? Undoubtedly. and others who are unfit. for the office of guardians. and a distaste for it in another ? And may not one be spirited.' Then we shall have to select duly qualified women also to share in the life . and another be without them and that one may be musical and . all men training and the same duties and all women.' official and It seems to Plato that it is desirable that men and women . and another be unwarlike and without a taste for And ' gymnastics ' ? think we shall/ Again. but only various degrees weakness and strength ? ' 1 Apparently there is none. both practicable and should have the same not. there are some women who are fit. that one woman may have qualifications for gymnastic exercises and for war.172 ' FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE On the contrary. For were not those the qualities we selected. .' that be so. and of kindred nature with the men. and another spiritless ? I 1 ' ' True If again. as far as the guardianship of a state is concerned. in the case of men. there is no difference between the natures of ' 1 the of ' man and of the woman. they were.

that the useful is noble and the hurtful base. inasmuch as they will put on virtue instead of raiment. and of the first importance to science that the best citizens should have the largest of children. in consideration of the weakness of their sex. his ridicule is but unripe fruit plucked from the tree of wisdom. and ever will be. ' : Thus the fully first wave : of the discussion is success- the second and more dangerous is the proposition that wives and children shall be held surmounted in common. what he is laughing at or what he is doing for it is. to all appearance. human nature and a double soon line of will bring about even closer associations. number Therefore marriages and births must . So he does not shrink from absolute similarity of education : Then the wives of our guardians must strip for their exercises. But as for the man who at the idea of undressed women going through laughs gymnastic exercises. The company it is refuse to admit without discussion that either desirable or practicable. a most excellent maxim. Any irregular union it is would be an offence against the State. If men and women are educated and live together. and must engage in no other occupations though of these tasks the lighter parts must be given to the women rather than to the men.' and he knows not. as a means of realising what is : most perfect. argument is used.PLATO but at least the better 173 the better men and women. and must bear their part in war and the other duties comprised in the guardianship of the State.

if the breed of the guardians is to be kept pure.174 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE be a matter of State regulation. I suppose. and so it ought to be. and any possible discontent must be averted by an elaborate system of pretence. these officers.' ' The second argument may be : briefly stated. as is fitting. if and must they not the mothers have not enough take care to limit the time during which the mothers ' ' : are to suckle the sitting ' up children. and other troubles incident of to infancy.' will. In the ideal State there will be no such thing as private a man will not have a house or dogs of property his own. in some . but taking every precaution that no mother shall know her own child. ' The details are fixed : As fast as the children are born they will be received by officers appointed for the purpose.' And will not these same officers have to superintend the rearing of the children. committing the task at night.' Yes. and all imperfect children that are born to the others. bringing the mothers to the nursery when their breasts are full. to nurses and attendants ' ? You make child-bearing a very easy business for the wives of the guardians. will take the children good parents and place them in the general nursery under the charge of certain nurses. and providing other women that have milk. will be concealed. whether men or women. living apart in of a particular quarter of the city while the issue of inferior parents.' : 1 They'. or both for I presume that the State offices also will be held in common both by men and women. mysterious and unknown hiding-place.' Yes. therefore (for our philosopher again seems .' 1 Well.

The whole subject con: cludes with a return to the original topic of equality of opportunity in these terms Then you concede the principle that the women are to be put upon the same footing as the men.' I all this.PLATO 175 hardly to realise that the analogy between house and wife is not quite exact). he will not have a wife and children of his own. like the children of all other craftsmen. and join with them in the chase like dogs. I suppose it is easy to see how they will be conducted.' I proceeded. and have everything in common with them so far as it is at all possible. in order that. in education. in bearing children. according to our description. : .' As for their warlike operations. when grown up. they may be spectators of those ' Why. they are to share the duties of guardianship with the men. and that whether they remain at home or are sent into the field. and in watching over the other citizens. they will themand they will require them. will also carry the field together and they with them such of their children as are strong enough. to determine whether this community can possibly subsist among men as it can among other animals. not remain for us. both sexes will take occupations in which. besides selves be engaged to act as servants and attendants in all the looking on. and that in so doing they will be following the most desirable course and not violating the natural relation which ought to govern the mutual fellowship of the sexes 1 ' ' ? he replied. and what are the conditions of its possibility ? You have anticipated me in a suggestion I was about to make.' ' do concede Then does ' it ' ' ' ' How ? ' he asked.

and they usually recover more quickly from wounds. The strength that is required in modern warfare is chiefly women have endurance : weather. but the proof that the individual has passed through the period of training necessary to qualify him as a defender of the fatherland. marching capacity. lack of sleep the power to stand exposure to the and comfort . and skill. man is unwilling or unable to defend his country. a steady hand and . the skill to handle a gun and the power of shooting straight are matters almost entirely of training : ships as well as men.176 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE of duties war. and to wait upon their fathers and mothers. nor has a woman. insufficient food. The female tramp the natural qualities. It may reasonably be argued that the qualification for a vote is neither property nor sex. he certainly has no claim to citizen rights. Finally. No one who knows the vagabonds and strollers of our English roads will say that women are not capable of supporting all these hardis every whit as sturdy and hardy as her male companion. acquainted with women can doubt that they in the passive courage which a possess the first No one : modern soldier chiefly needs it is possible that a slight advantage over men.' It will be noticed that Plato does not shrink from If a the question of military service for women. strength. for a soldier are three : The qualities necessary courage.

PLATO 177 a sharp eye. the first In the inner circle of University College of which terms. perhaps. where the art of war in branches shall be taught to males and females Gymnastics and horsemanship are as suitable to women as to men. that help such a training are by no means predominantly male characteristics. the javelin. even that which allowed the educated woman to become herself a teacher. men and women met on equal shared responsiblities and privileges. and we know. and in every well-ordered community at least one day a month shall be set aside for warlike exercise. the Academy. and of rank with male colleagues. that Plato stands apart from modern sentiment most : of his other ideals of feminine education are in process being realised. It is on this point of military training. the grown Finally. woman will study evolutions and tactics. in all public festivals girls shall and competitions the unmarried compete with the youths in running and in contests in armour. and the sling. learn the use of the bow. in which men. The State all its is to maintain schools. Boys and girls together must alike. and returns to it several times in the Laws. Plato for his part is very insistent on this question. The names . women and children shall take part. Female education training : the girls a definite military will learn how to use their weapons will include and to move about lightly in armour .

and on the question of marriage his doctrine is most sound. but we should ' the spirits of men into believing try and charm that their children ' more importance than themselves. he shall not share in any of the honours which the State gives to the aged. deprive himself of immortality is impiety. obeys the law shall be free and pay no fine but the disobedient shall pay a yearly fine. not after the marriage which most pleasing to himself. ' who even used to wear male attire. in spite of his idealism. and ' every is man shall follow.178 of FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE (neither of them. Plato realises that children are the State's vital . is often very practical. but after that which is most beneficial to the State. . : The simple law of marriage is this A man must marry before he is thirty-five if not. in order that he may not imagine that his celibacy will bring him ease or profit moreover. be it two such women noted.' hold out their hands across the centuries to Mrs. and that a disposition will depend upon the happy blending of its parents. Plato. Mankind are immortal because they leave children behind them and for a . indeed. : man to He who Marriage is to be regarded as a duty. he shall Jbe fined and lose all his privileges. Bryant and Miss Busk. Athenians) are recorded for us by Dicaearchus and Lastheneia of Mantinea and Axiothea of Phlius. This cannot be effected ' by definite are of child's regulations. .

found the best definition of pleasure to be ' a gentle motion. He anticipates Aristippus. Then comes the proper management of infants. proper attention is given to anything. Husband and wife are to consider how they are to produce for the State the best and fairest specimens of children which they can. Their care is to be expressly extended to the future mothers.' and he is his ideal state for infants at least prepared to make a pleasant one. and be encouraged and kindness. who in a Greek housePlato is hold was often closely bandaged in swaddling clothes and left to its own resources. The first soul of very principle in relation both to the body and young children is that nursing and moving is about by day and night good for them all. success is certain and the eugenic system is to be under the If .PLATO interest. benevolence. who. who shall meet every day and spend a third part of the day in ensuring that the regulations for perfect births are duly carried out. kept from excessive pleasures or pains. 179 and his concern for them extends to the period before birth. definite control of a committee of women. to cultivate habits of gentleness. for the period of a child's life before birth is equally decisive. and very convinced of the importance of constant motion for the young child. and the young wife must be carefully tended. holding that pleasure was the chief end of life. and that .

of training. Infants should live. of boys contrasted with girls : Of all animals. that constant friendly inter- course between young men and women may lead to undesirable results is discussed at some length in the Laws. and be begin to receive instruction. yet regulated and insubordinate of creatures therefore he must be . when the child will begin to find out its own natural modes of amusement in company with other children period will last till : from three to play together : six. as if they were always rocking at sea. Plato speaks with a rather uncertain His general theory presupposes an identity and the free mingling of boys and girls. . On the subject of co-education. boys and girls should live and after six they should separate. bound with many bridles. The further difficulty.180 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE the younger they are the more they will need it. 835. which may regarded as the best practical solution for the cure of sex-ignorance. Exercise and motion in the earliest years greatly contribute to create a part of virtue in the soul the child's virtue is cheerfulness. if it were possible. But he young is disturbed by his conviction of the natural badness voice. in sport and work. p. the age of three. : and good nursing makes a gentle and a cheerful This first child. and the very sensible conclusion is . inasmuch as he has the fountain of reason in him not he is the most insidious. men and women. sharp-witted. the boy is the most unmanageable.

The minister of all . at any rate one or the other. Women. and that the general sentiment will be the strongest of checks upon undue licence.' he says. ' Sometimes he ' sometimes he is wrong. right. . but to be always carrying out your own admonitions in practice. Finally. and. are too prone to secrecy and stealth they are accustomed to creep into dark resist places and being dragged into the light. must be fifty years old. The import- ance of example in education and morals insisted is rightly upon : at the The best way of same time : training the young is to train yourself not to admonish them. he does not hesitate at times to play the part of the candid friend. and have children of his own. but a careful reading of the Republic and the Laws will reveal many further issues and many side-lights on the main thesis. of education is the officer of State . both boys and girls by preference. like Euripides. These are some of the salient points of Plato's teaching. education is of supreme importance to a country : most important appointments his is the greatest he will rule according to law.' .PLATO 181 arrived at that a healthy public opinion will be the first result of these natural conditions of comrade- ship. and to point out what he thinks are the natural is weaknesses of the female sex. Plato does not trouble to be rigorously consistent.

Colette in contemporary French literature. Like ostriches. it is you woman's and not a man's charactersecretiveness.182 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE hit the truth. as . it the saving grace. But it is. as istic. take another typical and strongly differentiated trio) dissemble their facts as much (to George Sand they dissemble their names. unlike though they are in the circumstances of their lives. or Jane Austen. is if a Few women Mme. and should never be written. Sincerity in writing book or is not frank. do all make a fail serious attempt at Most women in frankness towards themselves and their readers. who. Ouida. and usually does no particular harm. gives a certain aggrav- ating charm to the female mind. truth. George Eliot. they hide their faces under a cloud of words. The result of many cenit —which one turies of self-suppression. authors resemble Sappho. the chief reason of women's comparative failure in literature. perhaps. If — quality is Here Plato seems to peculiarly a there will is call it virtue or vice.

Neaera was known to have sat at dinner with her husband and .XII. and compelled the to master of the house to hide under the bed. putting him thus shame before his womankind. as we during the fourth century have it revealed in the pages of life the orators. — — Demosthenes. we find it imputed to Androtion. it is The women if watched for presumed that they will be unthey can : faithful to their husbands they live secluded in the women's quarter of the house the gynaeconitis and for any strange man to In enter their rooms is a grave impropriety. is equally an offence against morality. That a wife should appear publicly with her husband at a dinner party. that in his capacity of tax-collector he forced his way into the women's apartments. and take a share in men's pleasures. for example. of the We all see the working harem system. —The Attic Orators the actual To turn from Plato's ideal State to condition of woman's in Athens. with and . as a proof of unbearable insolence. its atmosphere of are closely secrecy suspicion. close-shut room. is like passing from a breezy hillsid into a dark.

The sister of man she called her husband. .' The doctrine that a wife is her husband's property is applied to the fullest extent. where the wife-beater was regarded point of as a less offensive character than the poacher. have been legally married. to be protected at equally the master's any cost. and any offence against that property is punished with the utmost A husband who finds another man rigour of the law. At no pretence of the sanctity of marthe offence and the punishment is the same riage whether the intrigue is with the master's wife or in his harem is Athens there ' : ' is with his concubine : each is property. taken as an obvious proof that she was a woman Nicodemus. man than to offer her violence for the a woman viewed solely from the owner's side. testified by witnesses. or expect to join in festivities. could not of abandoned character. : view being much the same as used to hold in English law. The lover deeply than the is put to death the ravisher pays a fine raging her .184 his is FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE friends. for she was often seen at entertainments with the Isaeus argues. and who willingly yields to another is outlawful if master's amour propre more she were taken by force. and this fact. allowed to put him to death. and ' wedded wives do not go out to dinner with their husbands. It is a more heinous crime to to another offence is make love to a woman who belongs .

revenge. in requiring to be divorced to appear publicly in person. the case however violent his methods of was very different when the woman was the offended party. in order to obtain a legal separation. Nor does the violence used in this case seem to be contrary to the laws either of society in general or of that republic in particular. For the law of Athens. probably intended to give the husband an opportunity to meet with her and to recover her. There is an anecdote in Plutarch's Life of Alcibiades which reveals the attitude of the Athenian lawgivers. we see. her who wants Plutarch. wife seeking to escape from an unworthy husband. both strangers and Athenians. Alcibiades went on with his debaucheries.' Langhome's Translation. Hipparete made a prudent and affectionate wife. and carried her through the market-place to his own house. Alcibiades rushed in. When she came to do this according to law.THE ATTIC ORATORS But if 185 the husband of an erring wife had the sup- port of the law. From that time she remained with him until her death. to give in a bill of divorce to the archon. but at last growing very uneasy at her husband's associating with such a number of courtesans. 'Alcibiades. and all the resources N . when Alcibiades was upon his voyage to Ephesus. no one presuming to oppose him. and to appear perfor the sending of it by another hand sonally with it would not do. she quitted his house and went to her brother's. or to take her from him. . caught her in his arms. — . is regarded in the same light as a slave A seeking to escape from his owner. and gave himself no pain about his wife but it was necessary for her. which happened not long after.

chastity. at womankind has the wit to see that the establishment of a female government would have as one of its first results the forcible abolition of all such recognised and legal forms of vice. She was the property of her owner. and the institution of slavery certainly one of the most powerful agents in the degradation of women from at Athens. as Professor Murray that people do not become slaves they become slaves when contact with superiors who will to use by a legal process they are brought into have the power and the them as tools.186 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE law are put at the disposal of the husband and the master. . and she was free all restraints of moral sanction. were for her things and over the things impossible of attainment . must be remembered. and in ancient they will often apply equally well to women. whole business was cast the protection and encouragement of the law. Women and slaves then were linked together it and says. modesty. in the eye of the law. . to physical and moral whose very existence was an insult least. There came into existence a class of — degradation a to women condemned class . There was a constant tendency to think of the of women and was slaves together . tests of slavery. . A a slave-girl was. so that Aristophanes. a thing —not all human being. and her only duty was to obey him in : virtue. ancient or life There are three principal modern.

and doubtless This was continually insisted upon one result was to produce. soon produces a feeling of despair. it offers such a convenient basis . the condition of dependence. slaves are a 187 class. and therefore should be paid on a higher scale. Or again. are so completely : one of the sure signs of slavery. Thirdly. especially when the servile state has existed for many centuries. are lacking in spirit lacking that they impetus to revolt are happy in servitude the must come from without. There is the theory. and the super-abundant leisure of the male citizen was devoted to the political life. Many estimates of women's basis. Slavery may be defined as the economic exploitation of the weaker and. The harder work was left in the hands of slaves or women. their work is despised. The Slaves willingness to die. is which is so noticeable in Euripides' some. heroines. in a certain degree.THE ATTIC ORATORS Firstly. though it does not exist in our time and land. . degraded and immoral . as unworthy of men. if performed by different persons. for civilisation that various devices are used even now to take its place. requires different remuneration. for example. once fully established. who did not receive any pay. the vices falsely imputed to nature. that the same work. indeed. free Secondly. inferiority have ultimately an economic The more lucrative . that some kinds of work are higher than others.

the estimate of woman's character was very low. for the better. moral rectitude. It is the business of lawyers to defend the law. closely connected with their legal status. if the law is bad. is necessarily warped if in the process so that it is not surprising the private speeches of the Attic orators. although they exhibit the natural subtlety of the Athenians in a striking light. where women by various devices outwitted the law and became possessed of some degree of economic independence. In Alexandria and at Rome. where women could not hold property. life. It is a noticeable fact that all these general con- ceptions of women's weakness have always been In Athens.188 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE trades and professions are those for which it is considered that women are temperamentally unfit. their moral changed feminism begins with the Married Women's perty Act. is not it recognised by was to ancient tion. social or economic. their moral sense . and. by no means of give an equally All strong impression orators are the same in this respect. it cannot be the curse that it In Athens to owing its validity much was a legal instituthe same mode of thought as made the wife also her husband's chattel. position also In England Pro- But as long as slavery. and an heiress was taken over by the nearest male relative as a necessary encumbrance on the estate. the law. the Demosthenes .

. extremely unreliable. and obviously delights in such a client as the shameless old cripple for whom by it he writes his most ingenious speech. even on simple questions of fact. was a high-minded as a lawyer he is. . Lysias so forgets the man in the advocate that he seems to reserve his highest powers for his worst cases. as is like her charms.THE ATTIC ORATORS in matters of State 189 patriot . to put mildly. like the rest of his colleagues. perhaps. are. a pro- fessional liar. Her men had lost the vigour and courage that brought their country safe through the dangers of the Persian Wars the : her women. Impotent old men and designing young women are the chief figures in most of Isaeus' speeches and. in no better case. Isaeus has no regard for veracity. the orators give us an impression of cunning subtlety which far transcends the bounds that we if But even now allow to lawyers. their clients are. By the middle of the fourth century Athens was in all full decadence. he bids his fair client display the calculated boldness of the slave-dealer offering his girls to the highest bidder. and it has been found painful experience that his unsupported statements. . is As for Hyperides. were even worse than men —corruptio optimi pessima —and had sunk into a state of utter degradation. he careless of shame so long as he wins his case and his gesture. and does not scruple to falsify and misrepresent the truth.

for example This —the the case of Euctemon. and that bastards had the rights of legitimate Isaeus in a cloud of sophistical but every detail is enveloped arguments which — — children. into dispute. to live with her in the drinking-shop over which she is put in charge.iqo FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE have any confidence There is as his editor says. reluctantly consent to help in an adoption which ran counter to the first principles of Attic son. to live with his slave-woman. that concubinage was recognised by law. remove her from the den of infamy which has been one of the sources of his wealth. own The law his . divorces his wife old man who and leaves Alee. but . threatened by a second marriage. and it is not until the old man's death. All three statements are untrue . degraded for her master's when to the old man grows senile. whose youth has been profit. to in the veracity or virtue of his clients argues a truly Arcadian simplicity. his children. that his (so ' when ' property with the woman describes them) falls misfortunes come the advocate euphemistically to light. has her revenge She induces him unfortunate. and finally to recognise one of her bastards as his family. The facts of the . case are utterly sordid by show both a complete absence of moral sense in the advocate and so great a faculty of deception that modern writers have inferred it need not be said with how little reason that polygamy was not illegal at Athens.

In a third. when his male clients seem to have the law against them. would be merely moral rectitude which feriority of In all of them we of see degradation was the natural result of the inin the eyes of the Attic law. does not hesitate to appeal to the natural sympathies of . the estate of Pyrrhus. at least. his speeches hard from how far they have any actual existence. and absence social women Women. and the usual imputations upon the bride's motives form one of his strongest arguments. . In another of his cases it is an old man at death's door who marries may fairly a young girl. intermediary by her father.THE ATTIC ORATORS they 191 be deduced from the ever-shifting arguments that the lawyer uses. and the claim is is then made that she his legal wife. whom the estate is transmitted as through marriage to a male of the same blood it is A : woman's disabilities are painfully plain in Isaeus to discover as for her legal rights. The orator. for the law says. But that to go through the details of Isaeus' cases tedious. males must prevail a daughter cannot inherit in her own person she is only an ' ' . . even if it is only to purchase a bushel of corn the son of a brother has a stronger claim to an intestate property than the son of a daughter. like children. cannot legally enter into a contract. a woman of notoriously bad life is foisted by her brother upon one of her old lovers.

self of and determines to him- her by the simple process of selling her into a . one Philoneos. first is The . but two : cases are especially significant * Antiphon's murder Lysias' speech Against the stepmother. could be despoiled by her guardian and her brother. It is generally assumed that this male superiority had a religious sanction.' grimly horrible in its sordid realism as Antiphon says. Athenian. but divested now of all its tragic romance. that women were the inferior sex. which could only up be done by a man. the necessity the family worship. If we were speaking of a primitive society the argument would have some force. women contributed themselves to their degradation all may be studied in ' the orators' speeches.192 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE . the wife of the murdered man the other a slave. before the law of keeping but the Athenians of the fourth century were at the end rather than the beginning of their national life religion was dead. . and the foundations of : morality undermined only the law remained unHow far altered. the mistress of the man's friend. the male jurymen and in the tenth oration we see how shamefully an heiress. it is the story of Clytemnestra repeated.' and Defence for the murder of Eratosthenes. The facts are these : Philoneos gets tired rid of his mistress' devotion. in spite of the law's formal protection. Two women are the chief characters : one a free-born .

indeed. and relies for on the plea that his victim was taken in and therefore lawfully put to death. before carouse. who is She makes the acquaintance still passionately devoted to her worthless master. a deadly poison) into their cups. who has found her husband as false to her as Philoneos is to his lover. law. and dies some days afterwards. at Athens a written. that even .THE ATTIC ORATORS life 193 of utter degradation. the only surviving speech in which it It seems. The orator's client his defence is . unknown to her. Antiphon's pleadings throw a lurid light on the relations between men and women in a slave State the speech of Lysias in defence of Eratosthenes' murder is an even more invaluable document. The slave-girl is taken and broken on the wheel the wife is in this speech accused . last and the He reveals his intention two men decide to have one upon them. The is girl agrees. by her stepson of her share in the crime. not an unwritten code. Philoneos falls dead im- mediately . accused of murder. of the slave-girl. giving the larger share to her own false lord. The adultery. But the man's wife. the girl waiting she goes to her ruin. the other man collapses. is definitely on the accused man's side is . to his friend. intervenes. and persuades her to regain his affection by a love-potion which she will provide. and when the two men meet at dinner she pours the potion (which. but it is curious that this is pleaded as an excuse.

very ingeniously. I did not leave her too much her own I kept as close mistress to do whatever she pleased. The speech. . and then Lysias.194 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE the Athenians hesitated to use the ferocious power that the law gave them and we may imagine. probable that in this speech he had the satisfaction both of defending the established and it is order of social morality. by one of the Socratic circle. brought. In any event. to try the validity of the law in the face of the new feminist doctrines. makes his client tell the simple story of his life.) to feel confidence. perhaps. (This to conciliate the jury and to show that the any lack of precautions damage done was not due on the owner's side. a guard over her as was possible and took all reasonable care. After a time a child was born and then I began to and handed over to her the charge of all my goods. and brought a wife into my house. which is a model of art. she was the . and also of striking a shrewd blow at his personal enemies. gentlemen. thinking that this was the surest bond of union between us. begins with some compliments to the jury. I made this my rule of behaviour. gentlemen. whose honeyed pen was at the service of the highest bidder. I did not annoy her with excessive vigilance. but on the other hand. if we will. was a person thoroughly distasteful to Plato and his friends. When I decided to marry. At first. the Ionian Lysias. that this was a test case.

leaving so that crying. I must tell my humble home is built in two you. went death has been the cause of all my troubles. Now when our baby was born. gentlemen.) He watched my wife's maid who goes to do the marketing.THE ATTIC ORATORS best of in all her 195 women. My wife to her funeral that fellow saw her walking in the funeral procession. . and her . and the floor. a clever housewife and a thrifty. women came down to the ground we soon got into the way of my wife me to go and sleep with the baby downstairs.) This went on for a long time and I never suspected Such an arrant simpleton was I that I thought my wife the most virtuous woman in Athens. and after a time succeeded in corrupting her. time passed away. and to avoid any risk of her coming down stairs at bath-time. of might should not be disturbed. she might give him the breast and prevent him course. the mother began by nursing it herself. the other the men's rooms. and soon effected his purpose of seduction. essential that the master's rest at (It is. Then my mother died. and the jury will agree that this was a legitimate reason for a wife's absence from her proper place. and one day anything. exact management. one containing the women's apartments. (The jury are meant to draw the inference that women should never leave the house one appearance : in public may mean ruin. I took up my quarters in the upper rooms. that storeys. the upper part similar in style to the ground floor. I came back home unexpectedly from the country. Moreover. made a proposal to her. Well. gentlemen.

and of my misfortune. however. night.' At that I smiled. yes. and she got up and went away. In this case the husfeeling : band is distracted by a double gratification at his wife's apparent desire to please him. (White cheeks she procured them artificially. and when a lady wished to be especially attractive. I asked her then why the doors had been banging in the and she pretended that the child's lamp had blown out. and taking away the key. when I to get angry and bade her be off. It was getting on^for day- break when she returned and opened the f door. when one day an . the house in silence. I said nothing and believed her tale. Finally. I soon fell asleep. I did. I told my wife to go and give it the breast to stop it crying. gentlemen. and she had gone next door to get a light. you want to stay here and make love to the I caught you pulling her about the parlourmaid other day when you were drunk. : and was glad to get rest. — — were highly esteemed at Athens. and dis- gust at her obvious disrespect for a male relative.196 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE After dinner the baby began to cry and make itself the maid was hurting it on purpose to unpleasant cause a disturbance. for I had just come from the country : : ' ' . I did not think anything of it. but at first she would not go she pretended that she was so delighted to see me after my long absence. pulling the door to in pretended jest. notice that her face was covered with powder although her brother had not been dead a month but still I I went out and left said nothing about her conduct. as I heard afterwards. Oh. for the fellow was in the house.) Some time I had no inkling elapsed after these events.' began she said. nor had I any suspicions indeed.

If you take the maid who goes to market and does your errands. of Oea for this he has seduced your wife and many other ' ' : : . master left .THE ATTIC ORATORS old person afterwards. and then events move The husband takes the servant. and by quickly. don't think that I have come in any spirit of she. When next the lover comes to the house — it is alleged by the prosecution that he husband. and although this as a quite legitimate plot is is beguiled there denied. his arms are pinioned. as I heard by another woman that fellow had seduced and then abandoned. as it happens. maid informs her . who. women besides : that is his trade. witnesses are hastily summoned unfastened by pushed open and the Eratosthenes guilty pair are discovered together. So the warning comes. but to betray her mistress. Well. is struck dow n. it is by the —the regarded the door. a mixture of promises and threats compels her not only to confess. and then the girl. in her rage and indignation had spied on him until she found out the reason of his desertion. 197 came up to me. the old lady came to me near my where she was watching. and the speaker . he is responsible The man is Eratosthenes.' said house. and torture her. concludes by reminding his said. you will find out everything. and Euphiletus. The scene its is is like the last act of Scheherazade without Of the woman nothing barbaric magnificence. She was sent. officious interference the man who is wronging you and your wife. is an enemy of mine. is T in the name of the law and in cold blood he is killed.

it will is marriage relationship. such as we find in Lysias' . infidelities. The husband smiles at much his own but claims the right to commit murder when his wife retaliates.198 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE judges that his cause is theirs. perhaps. Women are either cowed into hopeless submission or else they are shamelessly profligate. during the time of bearing children anything of the sort occur. suiting his arguments to a male audience. The point expressed of view. Lysias. and they attach the same stigma to either of the parties who break the contract. the most vivid picture we have of home-life in Athens. and that the only way to prevent illicit love is to take summary vengeance on the lover. The occasional exceptions. as regards the very different from that Plato regards by Plato or Aristotle. but the general impression given by all the orators is much the same. 7. marriage as a temporary connection dictated by mutual interest and : dissolvable at will. The philosophers see that marital fidelity is im- portant chiefly in relation to children and the State. takes lower ground. Aristotle says (Politics. let it be held disgraceful for to be unfaithful when they are man any man and wife. 16) As or If woman to adultery. The Eratosthenes is. let the guilty person be punished with a loss of privileges in proportion to the offence. be noticed. as a lawyer.

and both eyes closed. after his encounter with the Fighting Cocks' Club he is carried home. the ladies of his establishment.THE ATTIC ORATORS ' 199 speech Against Diogiton. ' life In Lysias' speech Against Simon. begin to weep and wail over his sad condition but they do nothing else. When. there — fetch a doctor. Even to as ministering angels the Athenian women seem relatives Only in the case of the imprisonment or the death of their male do they come actively forward. ' ' his cloak stolen. his mother and his female attendants. : their prison however.' where a widow defends her children's interests with skill and vigour. a bachelor living in an abominable relationship. again a bachelor.' his un- fortunate client.' for example. . are incapable of energy has deprived them of the power and will to act. and the business of mourning and funeral lamentation was by convention left almost entirely in their hands. his lip split. nature. has his mother keeping house for him. has his sister ' : and nieces as inmates of his house. show that the fault rather than to woman's was due to the marriage system Most of the women.' In Demosthenes' speech Against Conon. the speaker. His male acquaintances carry him off to the public bath. of a friend. and he says These ladies' life has been so decent and orderly that they are ashamed even for the men of their own household to set eyes ' upon them. and finally remove him to the house have been ineffective.

of the King-Archon. Such an one her described ' the mother of iEschines. the orators Of women who were both virtuous and capable tell us singularly little. mother and daughter. . and then. are is open in their profligacy. Neaera. Here the mother. a woman of notoriously bad character. and her daughter Phand. and the men of Athens had no ideals or examples of . as we have ' by Demosthenes in the speech On the Crown such also the abominable pair. ' the Antigona in Hyperides' speech Against Athenogenas. as are we see them in the writings of the orators. . and the probable is reason that such women in Athens had almost his ceased to exist. mere passive least suc- by no means the cessful. wife the Archbishop is of fair Canterbury. finally. head of the State of as we might say. as vicious as by one of those strange turns of fortune only possible in a real democracy.200 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE women B Most of the Athenian animals a few.' a lady who combined the professions of broker and courtesan. Demosthenes and contempor- aries represent the last stage. when their country was already on the brink of political extinction. Such another. a person herself. succeeds in marrying an Athenian citizen. and was equally successful in both. the becomes the wife religion.' which is attributed to Demosthenes. who are the chief characters in the speech ' Against Neaera.

The lack of good women was a fatal disaster. struggle against the great military .THE ATTIC ORATORS womanly virtue to encourage 201 them in their vain power of the North. and it led them straight to ruin. but it was a disaster which the Athenians had brought upon themselves.

and his judgment of women's position in society a view sincerely held and on the whole — most temperately expressed has had far more effect on the world than have the idealist theories of Plato. the influence of Aristotle must nearly all our intellectual life even now In every department of civilised existence still be taken into account. littdrature.' Hence human greatest unique importance in the history of not merely is he. ' : after his time. so the creative force of the Greek genius ceases As with Aristotle. the thought his : mind that Greece produced. perhaps. of — His statement of the moral disabilities is women to be found best in the Ethics in . The following quotations are 202 from the English trans- .XIII. of their social disabilities the treatise On Generation. but rely for all the originality of their thought they on their of Aristotle c'est is the last the creators tout le teste. There are some brilliant and many charming writers great predecessors. but he has the last in advantage of coming the long line of thinkers on whom depends. Aristotle the political life of Athens ends with Demosthenes.

To begin with the moral Aristotle several times repeats the statement. that women are less temperate and continent in their desires than men. in discussing certain morbid habits.' f Ibid.'* A open line from The Beguiling of Zeus is quoted to support this view by the authority of Homer. perhaps. 203 works by Welldon. comseems mon enough now open in ancient literature. Aristotle has the significant remark : * Now whenever nature is the cause of these habits nobody would call people who give way to them incontinent. any more than we should call women incontinent from being not males but females. such as the practice of biting one's nails or eating cinders. He does not blame them. for a woman is naturally in such matters weaker than a man a man's love is passionate and ' : desire and are cunning. 7. 6.' f It is. . So.ARISTOTLE lations of those Piatt. vii. though it to serious objection. and the philoso. * bashful modesty. Jowett. Ethics. women feel pher himself agrees with the common Greek view that for a woman to wish to keep her husband to herself was a proof that she was both unreasonable and lascivious. this belief in the natural incapacity of women for virtue that is the cause of the depre' ciatory remarks concerning the essential excellence of an Athenian woman. but rather regards them with pity. and situation in the Ethics. vii.

as conceived by Aristotle. for it is more like an emotion than a moral state at least it may be denned as a kind of fear of : ignominy. have a deep voice and a sedate manner of speaking and be slow in his movements he will not be in a hurry : or emphatic in speech. iv. for people blush when they are ashamed and It is clear. then. are hinted at in the remark : ' It is only exceedingly slavish people ' who eat and drink beyond the point of surfeit and in the well-known description of the Magnanimous Man/ . unlike the shrill. nor does he regard anything as very important. .\ The a love * excellence of females beautiful — is (a) physical.voiced woman.ve\evdepiaQ. body . and these are the causes which make people speak in shrill tones and use rapid movements. (b) — Ethics. v. ' Aristotle's ideal. for there are not many things he cares for. The passage is significant <T(t><f>po<rvvr] OrfKeL&v he apery crojfiaroe fiev kclWoq kcu jieyedog^ \pv^r}^ he Kal <f>i\epyia avev a.204 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE It would not be right to speak of a sense of shame as a virtue. % Rhet. A. and in its effects it is analogous to the fear of dangers. a large and mental. 15 f Ibid.* Other slighter defects in the female character. iv. turn pale when they are afraid of death.! These are some of the deficiencies in women : : we have to go to the Rhetoric to get Aristotle's idea of their merits. 6. and this seems to be the mark of an emotion rather than a moral state. will who. virtuous moderation and but not a sordid love of work. 9. that both affections are in a sense corporeal.

comes physical attractiveThe excellent woman must be good-looking. nor is it right to expect they should be. There is a different virtue in each. —and —love. : ' ' the chief virtue in a ' doing without etc. These friendships are of different sorts the love of a husband for a wife is not the same as that of wife for upon : a husband. in the Ethics are in the Eighth Book. with the restriction that a woman must not be a slave to work she has other really did : even more important duties for example —and —her master's pleasure. it will 205 ness. Thirdly comes industry. ' tion. In all such friendships as depend upon the principle of . unlike the Romans. : the faculty of pleasure. a different function. considerait is Greeks. and different motives. the friendship or love of a father for a son. good-looking for ethereal grace does not suit the harem-master's and by Secondly. instructive passages. of a ruler for a subject.ARISTOTLE First. of a husband for a wife. It follows that the services rendered by each party to the other are not the same. Pericles' negative ideal. she will be temperate in her desires the word virtuous moderation. the woman food. however. but he has not got very The most considered. conception of work must not be allowed In his to interfere unduly.' taste. female virtue Aristotle has advanced somewhat from far. admire this passive merit even in men. where friendship is There is another kind of friendship or love depending superiority.' is Sophrosyne. ' ' we mean tall and stout. be seen.

f Ibid. more useful. should receive more affection than ne gives.. ' the husband is lord of ' everything.' or Friendship leads to a discussion of domestic associations. viii. The procreation of children is the universal function of animals. the affection should be proportionate to the superiority i. In the case of other animals. and here. and ' his only doubt ' is as which adjective is most appropriate to man. for then he acts unfairly ' and not in virtue rules of his superior merit. this is the limit of their association but men and .e. This ' may sound : to us humorous. viii. 12.* ' husband's rule depends upon merit and to its proper sphere. is confined all He assigns to the wife If that suitably belongs to her. the better or the more useful . or simply superior. the association of husband is judged to be for the aristocratical.206 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE superiority. and while the rule of a slave-master seems a right and wife form of despotism. Sometimes the wife as being an heiress. but Aristotle is is quite serious it part of his great doctrine of ' proportional equality to ' ' . 8. * Ethics. party. . he changes the association to an olig- archy .'* better. at we need make no criticisms : It is evident why mothers love their children more than fathers. but such rule is not based merit. or whoever may be the superior.' f upon Last comes the question of children least. .

and by nature a slave hence.' as Aristotle slave. between women and slaves. 8. has distinguished between the female and the slave. Ethics. As soon as they unite. Some are prohence per to the husband and others to the wife they supply one another's needs.ARISTOTLE women 207 unite not only for the procreation of children but for the purposes of life. master and * slave. . each contributing to the common stock. It of the should be noticed here that the essential quality master is not physical strength. however. a distribution of functions takes place. for Aristotle never attempts to rise above the conditions of life : about him. but its basis will be virtue.* The and. Children are a bond of union. : . slaves and women are treated together He who can foresee with his mind is by nature intended to be lord and master and he who can work with his body is a subject. viii. comparatively little difficulty. Nature. ' capacity it is the mind and not the body that makes the natural live tool. too. Utility and pleasure seem alike to be found in the marriage relationship. the ' ' defines him. For she is not niggardly she makes each thing for a single use. and such marriages as are childless are dissolved with . and every instrument is best made when intended for one and not for many But among barbarians no distinction is made uses. Man and woman. Politics begin with a discussion of slavery. master and slave have the same interest. . by an association of ideas natural in Greek society. but mental .

and the discussion It is clear. . he thinks. others for rule. woman. and then an and Aristotle has no difficulty right. and the female inferior all . then a ' ox for the plough .2o8 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE As Hesiod these are the foundations of the family. The male is by nature and the one rules and superior. ' says : First a house. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only from the hour of their birth necessary but expedient some are marked out for subjection. but this So the string closes : of assertions goes on. therefore. holds through all nature : animals have a better nature than wild. in finding the arrangement He puts the question : Is there any one intended by nature to be a slave. Tame the other is ruled . to all mankind. for then they are preserved. that free is and others slaves. or. . some men are by nature and that for these latter slavery both expedient and right. of freemen and slaves does not hold universally. and tame animals are better off when they are ruled by men. so that for him the condition of slavery is expedient and right . between the bodies this principle of necessity extends Nature would like to distinguish . The law. rather. is not all slavery a violation of nature ? And gives the immediate reply : There is no difficulty in answering this question on grounds both of reason and of fact.

' says Aristotle. just as the elder and full-grown is superior to the younger and more immature. over his children it is but the rule differs free. the same there is merely a difference in outward • form.ARISTOTLE Having thus justified slavery to his 209 own satis- faction. Aristotle proceeds to deal with household : management. For. which he subdivides into three parts the rule of a master over slaves. although there may be exceptions to the order of nature. Amasis and his foot-pan. Aristotle quotes the saying good story. is the relation between male and female is but there the inequality permanent. who became position. the male is by nature fitter for command than the fe- A husband and a father both : male. To of it illustrate his point. to prove to his subjects the essential equality of all matter. to which all the people made humble obeisance. of a father. . although does not exactly strengthen the philosopher's Amasis was a commoner. over his wife a constitutional rule. and of a husband : rules over wife and children. Of this kind. and the business of household management to we are faced at once by a . a King of Egypt . a royal. Then Amasis drew his is moral ' : the substance of both bath and statue . he had his metal bath melted down and re-cast as a statue.' It is ensure excellence. although they had treated the foot-pan with contempt.

a criticism of the Republic. The ruler must have moral virtue in perfection . but with her . and comes to the conclusion that it is the same. the virtue of the irrational part of the soul. and Aristotle solves the difficulty thus : and slaves have a sort of virtue. of a woman These are hard sayings. in the Meno.210 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE : difficulty virtue. The objections raised are of a severely practical nature. A great part of the Politics in fact. in what can a slave possess virtue ? If he has will he differ from a freeman ? A similar question children : ought just may be raised about women and a woman to be called temperate. and they bring Aristotle into direct conflict with Plato. : . who. is followed by a close consideration of Plato's communistic State. is. e. Women it is inconclusive. ? brave. man is shown in command- ing. but it will not be the same virtue the courage of a in obeying. which occupies most of the first book. and it is a curious is point how far his low estimate of women not the result of the pupil's unconscious reaction against a master's enthusiasm. and the dis- cussion on slavery.g. But Aristotle never hesitates to criticise his former teacher. discusses the question whether the virtue of a man and a woman is the same or different. e. the subject requires only that measure of virtue which is proper to him.g. Virtue will be com- mon to : man and woman.. The slave has no deliberate faculty at all the woman has it.

are destroyed in the communistic State . although he makes no acknowledgment. are distinctly Platonic in their tone : husband and wife. however. and. first. though of them. on his master's teaching and scarcely harmonise with his own views on women. of detail. but such evils as there are in property are due to a cause that laws cannot eradicate the wickedness of human nature. and private property is retained. liberality in the matter of proThe legislation of such a State may have a perty. than there is among the all to private property. will have to be relations of their several virtues. The criticism. we see that there among those there are not who have vast majority of many men who keep is much more quarrelling things in common. what in their intercourse with one another is good and what is evil. and how we may pursue the good and escape the evil. in the Politics. : And again Two virtues : Indeed. the men will see to the fields but who will see to the house ? . parent and child.ARISTOTLE 211 If the women are shared in common. specious appearance of benevolence. . for example. although acute on points does not touch the essentials of feminism. The discussed when we speak of the different forms of . Aristotle often reveals himself unconsciously as Plato's former disciple. The concluding sentences of the first book. temperance towards women (for it is an honourable action to abstain from another man's wife for temperance' sake) secondly. His re- marks on education are based very largely.

at fit what age should to marry. his citizens marry.212 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE For inasmuch as every family is a part and these relationships are the parts of a family. and the Platonic influence is plainly seen in all the chapters which treat of marriage and education : Since the legislator should begin by considering how the frames of the children whom he is rearing may be as good as possible. and half the free persons in a State are women. the State divided into : — a sentiment taken. And for the children grow up they must make a difference to be citizens. And therefore women and children must be trained by education with an eye to the State. half the city may be regarded as having no laws* family. 2. . and men at seven-and-thirty . with a slight difference of application. make any difference in the virtues of the State. in those States where the condition of the women is bad. 9. . therefore. if the virtues of either of them are supposed to government. directly from Plato himself. but the hardly agrees with modern ideas of should marry when they are about eighteen then they years of age. Women * Politics. So in discussing the Spartan constitution he says A husband and a wife being each a part of every : may be considered as about equally men and women and. and who are conclusion eugenics : So the discussion starts reasonably enough. the virtue of the part must have regard to the virtue of the whole. his first care will be about marriage. of a State.

it existed.ARISTOTLE 213 are in the prime of life. but the actual practice of his time. as Euripides . again tells us (f r. where a young wife could be more easily kept in subjection and large families were neither desired nor customary and because . if their birth takes place at the time that may reasonably be expected. when the fathers are already in the decline of life and have nearly reached their term of three-scores years and ten. remaining unmarried until the age of thirty-seven. therefore to Aristotle it seemed right. The gap in age between husband and wife is far too great for moral companionship. a practice which Euripides (fr. Aristotle here seems to be following not any ideal system. if neither he nor his sons married till they were thirty-seven : his daughters. The whole arrangement is obviously wrong. Furthermore. moreover. will succeed in their prime. 319) had already condemned. can hardly be supposed to any real physical or have escaped from the illicit connections which were allowed and encouraged by Athenian custom to say that such an one is in his prime is surely to : mis-state the case. The husband. and the decline in the powers of both will coincide. . of course. for a man could hardly hope to see grandchildren of his own. 320) on marriage passed altogether out of their father's life. also The art of being a grandfather under this system tends to disappear. but it suited the conditions of Athenian domestic life. the children.

716. is also considered by Aristotle to be in the treatise physically inferior to the male. and anatomically by certain parts essentially the male is that which is able to generate in another. found to be inferior in a moral and The political sense. . 10. a. b.214 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE female. % accordingly are Sex-characteristics described mainly tions. as the business of is to produce seed and fruit.* . as would be the case if a first : principle is changed. % Ibid. t is The treatise concerned : chiefly with the phenomena nothing a plant of reproduction For the business of most animals is. 717. the female is that which is able to generate in itself and out of which comes into being the offspring previously existing in the parent. and On and Generation he deals with this question frequently at some length : Male and female differ in their essence by each having a separate ability or faculty. The distinction of sex is a first principle : An animal is not male or female in virtue of an isolated when that which distinpart or an isolated faculty guishes male and female suffers change many other changes accompany it. else than to produce young. in accordance with their reproductive func- As regards the * origin of sex a. and the causes of male De Generatione. you may say. 18. 20. 716. t Ibid.

the formed from a mixture of both. is not altogether unreasonable for the right of the body is hotter than the left. superior to the left. places the more honourable part in the more honourable So it is that the heart. He begins thus : 215 of prejudice To suppose that heat and cold are the causes of male and female. when no more important purpose stands in the way. ele- of generation different. the male is active It is : female : through a certain incapacity that the female is females are weaker and colder in nature .ARISTOTLE and female. : The analogy used is that of a bed the female is the wood. it is an unquestioning belief that the right in nature. With him is. is. superior to the female. but the female conmale is the active agent. organ. is in the is is stomach the male upper part of the body. the . the front to the back upper to the and nature. who. or that the different sexes come from the in itself. which is the nobler position. while the As he is equally sure that in the lower. absolutely The according to child is not tributes the material. the male the carpenter. lower. right and left. But the part taken by the male and female ments in the process Aristotle. Aristotle is a curious mixture and insight. makes the bed. The female is passive. the male elements in reproduction will come from the right or noble part of the body. from the wood.

. . 784. It certainly seems that female children progress more quickly than male. are rather plants than animals animal differs from the plant. Aristotle's for the view. but that is merely a proof of for all inferior things come sooner formed by to their perfection or end.216 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE than males. Women do not go bald. it is true of what quotations will illustrate that curious depreciation of the female element in nature and especially in These man which It is is one of the weaker points . the sensitive soul is not present.* Women. a. the male fashions it the body is from the female. just as the artist stands outside his creation. in the treatise. continually recurring for example. in . f Ibid. and we must look upon the female character as being a sort of natural deficiency. their inferiority . because his brain is much the largest and moistest. in describing the hair of animals these are the reasons given for baldness : front part of the head goes bald because the there and man is the only animal to go bald. If chiefly in having sense-perception. who can stand outside the body corpse. and this sensitive soul the male. and as this is true of is works of art so nature. the soul from the male.] The brain is * De Generatione. the body is is no better than a supplied only by The female provides the material. 728 a.

less simple. the nature of man is the most rounded off and complete. With all animals. and more attentive to the nurture of the young. is the sooner tamed. 787. The traces of these differentiated characteristics are more or less visible in every species. to the nobler nature. In the case of these latter the female is softer in character. caressing. is more mischievous. admits more of readily and is more apt in the way of learning. . and consequently in man the qualities above referred to are found in * De Generatione. a.ARISTOTLE So in the discussion of voice we read : 217 The voice of the female is higher than that of the male : in all animals. Nature makes a similar differentiation in the mental characteristics of the two sexes. inferiority of the female confined to the De Generatione it permeates the History of Animals. more impulsive. and most of all in man. but they are especially visible where character is the more developed. The fact is. of superiority. and consequently the mental. and in man A deep note is better this is especially noticeable.* than a high pitched depth belongs and depth of tone shows a sort Nor is this view of the physical. except the bear and the leopard. and finds its clearest expression there in a passage : which perhaps gives the ultimate reason of error : Aristotle's In all genera in which the distinction of male and female is found. This differentiation is the most obvious in the case of human-kind and in that of the larger animals and the viviparous quadrupeds. the female is softer in disposition than the male.

little if he had not been Aristotle —he might have taken . 608. more false of speech. and. more shrinking. Thompson). and of more retentive memory. more apt to scold. another view life but considering the facts of Athenian in his day. and Aristotle's disposition to cling to facts. given it is Aristotle's character and scientific method. An. more querulous. more difficult to rouse to action. at the The Athenian women the of the fourth century were women that Aristotle knew best. more prone to despondency and less hopeful than the man. more of a poet and idealist —in he had been a other words. more void of shame or self-respect. b (trans. .. but by his blind followers in ages as when his slightest word was regarded Aristotle almost inspired truth. for in his time the position of women could hardly have been altered for the worse. She is. She is also more wakeful. more deceptive. more easily moved to tears.218 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE Hence woman is more compassionate same time is more jealous.* their perfection. and does not profess to give anything but the some* Hist. The Aristotle's influence in this matter has been an enormous hindrance to —was later human progress done not by the philosopher himself. than man. furthermore. real mischief—and we need not wonder at his estimate. not the surprising that he should judge Woman If in abstract to be an inferior animal. himself is never dogmatic (he leaves that to weaker men). and requires a smaller quantity of nutriment.

by the they are inferior by the laws of nature. for example. those that go in herds. where : .' and although he knows that this inferiority : them was the business result of the conditions of their is life. Women therefore For him. monarchy which had overhe has no belief in abstract freedom or in right. who hunt in pairs and are monogamous. ' social reform.ARISTOTLE what casual expression and opinions. he to distinguish between innate teristics. He and are polygamous in their habits deer. : But he generalises from insufficient data Woman for him means the women of his time. of his 219 personal knowledge own It is hardly right to blame him women in his time undoubtedly were the inferior sex. and although he points out the influence of environment. Insects he almost disregards. The protege* of the absolute thrown the ' city-states. the female tends to be equal in every respect to the male. in treating of the female is sex in nature. what is is and slaves are inferior. and the micro- .' he says conditions of existence as I see to himself. where the male has a distinct advantage in size and strength while he says little of the carnivora. mammals. his only with facts. fails and accidental charac- And so again. and Aristotle : is always the prophet of things as they are. he to the higher too inclined to confine himself emphasises the case of the herbivorous animals.

and if Aristotle's theory of he had possessed our knowledge been modified. the male is weak and subservient. Often the male is an accident .' The male that in species is is the stronger and more active. sex. at least. The female mantis that devours her feeble mate is the some others reverse side of Nature's picture. So again. has opened up for us a world from which Aristotle was debarred by the material limitations of his instruments. Aristotle's chapter on bees suffers materially from lack first-hand knowledge. feminism reigns the female is . in the weaker and plays a passive role. at least. whereby the female may produce for several births without the intervention of the male. and. have received a light new of from the close study of the hive. his theory might have In the world of insects. We see now that Nature. in the hands of a naturalist of genius like M. although it it is greatly to his credit for hard thinking. has no favoured ' : and that Euripides' words are as true in a zoological as they are in a sociological sense All of the female. of bee-generation Of course. that can be said of the male can be said equally well and vice versa. reveals the fact that he knew next to nothing about the subject. as Professor Piatt says.120 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE scope. Fabre. all the fascinating problems of parthenogenesis. : the ruler. the whole method is totally at variance with male superiority.

chiefly the fault of his times tions. spoken indeed about bees. facts. own almost in- It is unfortunate that his experience of women was misleading. and to given theories only if what they affirm agrees with observed . but equally applicable to other social animals : Such appears to me to be the truth. M.ARISTOTLE the female would have sufficed. judging from theory and what I believe to be the facts. then credit must be prehended to observation rather than to theories. he is the limits of his fallible. And with Amicus that quotation we may arnica well leave Veritas. magis If the . But although Aristotle can understand all scarcely be said to the mysteries of sex. can vary Aristotle's analogy and compare the female to the clock and the male to the necessary key that winds up the mechanism. and in all questions of pure science. Remy de Gourmont. writing under the influence of Fabre's discoveries. But up to the present the facts have not been sufficiently comif ever they are. him : Aristoteles. he anticipates fruitful investigations of some of the most modern research. 221 So true is this that a modern essayist. and their social condi- and those who live in other days and amid other surroundings should remember his own significant words. within experience. and that the problems of feminism do not always fall within the confines That he was wrong in this matter is of science.

perhaps. and to Euripides and Plato. then. . name cause of the destruction of Greece. for reasons which this brief survey of Greek literature has. of his prejudices. A nation that degrades women will inevitably suffer degradation itself. the facts of women's nature were certainly not Euripides and Plato are almost the only authors who show any true appreciation of a woman's real qualities. In Aristotle's time. made plain. its His mistake was that he failed to realise the moral aspects of feminism. Aristotle lent the weight of his and helped to perpetuate the malady which had already been the chief to a profound error. should judge for himself on the evidence that his own observation gives. are we moderns But every man justified in holding that opinion. was opposed. Aristotle.222 FEMINISM IN GREEK LITERATURE modern existence show women to be the inferior sex. by the whole trend sufficiently comprehended. and then only. and not be influenced by the facts of theories of other men or by the literature of the past.






Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful