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Now in regard there have been many such, as well among us as among the barbarians, who can bear with those that reproach Venus that, being coupled and present with Love, she becomes a hindrance of friendship? Whereas any sober and considerate person may rather revile the company of male with male, and justly call it intemperance and lasciviousness, [p. 304]
A vile affront to Nature, no effect
Of lovely Venus or of chaste respect.

And therefore, as for those that willingly prostitute their bodies, we look upon them to be the most wicked and flagitious persons in the world, void of fidelity, neither endued with modesty nor any thing of friendship; and but too truly and really, according to Sophocles,

They who ne'er had such friends as these,
Believe their blessing double;
And they that have them, pray the Gods
To rid them of the trouble.

And as for those who, not being by nature lewd and wicked, were circumvented and forced to prostitute themselves, there are no men whom these always look upon with greater suspicion and more perfect hatred than those that deluded and flattered them into so vile an act, and they bitterly revenge themselves when they find an opportunity. For Crateas killed Archelaus, who had rid him in his youth; and Pytholaus slew Alexander of Pherae. Periander tyrant of the Ambraciotes asked his minion, whether he were not yet with child; which the lad took so heinously that he stabbed him.

On the other hand, among women that are married, these are but the beginnings of friendship, as it were, a communicating and imparting of great and sacred mysteries. The pleasure of coition is the least thing; but the honor, the submission to mutual love and fidelity which daily germinates from this, convince us that neither the Delphians raved, who gave the name of Arma (union) to Venus, nor that Homer was in an error, who called the conjunction of man and woman by the name of friendship; but that Solon was a lawgiver the most experienced in conjugal affairs, who decreed that a husband should lie with his wife thrice a month at least,—not for pleasure's sake, but [p. 305] that, as cities renew their treaties one with another at such a time, so the alliance of matrimony might be renewed by this enjoyment, after the jars which may have arisen in the mean time. But you will say, there are many men in love with women that act amiss and furiously. But are there not more enormities committed by those that are enamored upon boys?

So often as these eyes of mine behold
That beardless youth, that smooth and lovely boy,
I faint and fall; then wish I him to hold
Within mine arms, and so to die with joy;
And that on tomb were set, where I do lie,
An epigram, mine end to testify.

But though there is this raging passion after boys, as well as a dotage upon women, yet can neither be said to be truly love. And therefore it is an absurdity to aver that women are not capable even of other virtues. For why speak of so many signals of their chastity, prudence, justice, and fidelity, when we find others no less eminent for their fortitude, resolution, and magnanimity; after all which, to tax them of being naturally incapable of friendship only—not to mention the other virtues—is a hard case. For they are naturally lovers of their children, affectionate to their husbands; and this same natural affection of theirs, like a fertile soil, as it is capable of friendship, so is no less pliable to persuasion, nor less accompanied with all the graces. But as poetry, adapting to speech the conditements of melody, measure, and rhythm, renders the wholesome and instructive part of it so much the more moving, and the noxious part so much the more apt to corrupt the mind; so, Nature having adorned a woman with the charms of beauty and persuasive language, a lascivious woman makes use of these perfections to please herself and deceive others, but in a modest and sober woman they work wonders towards the gaining and fixing the good will and favor of her husband. Therefore Plato exhorted Xenocrates, otherwise [p. 306] generous and brave, but very morose in his humor, to sacrifice to the Graces; but he would have exhorted a virtuous and modest woman to sacrifice to Love, for his propitious favor to her marriage, in ordering it so that her behavior may prove a sufficient charm to keep her husband at home,... and that he may not ramble after other women, and then be forced to exclaim, as in the comedy,

Curse to this rage of mine, so given to roam;
What a good wife do I abuse at home!

For in wedlock to love is a far greater blessing than to be beloved; since it preserves and keeps people from falling into many errors, nay, all those that corrupt and ruin matrimony.

1 Soph. Frag. 778.

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