For me, I praise it not, nor like at all—
’Tis a snatcht thing—mischief is bound to fall.
Then there’s marriage, certainly the greatest venture of all. Don’t think of it until you are rising thirty, anyhow. And as for her:
Let her be four years woman, and no more;
In her fifth year take her, and shut the door
Till she is yours, enured to your good laws.
Take her from near at hand and give no cause
That neighbours find your wedding stuff for mirth:
Than a good wife no better thing on earth;
Than a bad one, what worse? Pot of desire,
That roasts her husband up without a fire!
That would make her sixteen or thereabouts. Poor child! But neither Homer, nor Hesiod, nor any Greek I ever read had any mercy on women. Hesiod in more than one page lets you know what he thinks about them. It comes hardly from one who in the Eoioe(if those apostrophes are his) was to hymn the great women of history and myth; but there, I think, spoke the courtier Hesiod, and not the husbandman.
Lastly come a mort of things which you must not do. Here are some—for some must be omitted from the decorous page:
Let not your twelve-year-old presume to
On things not to be moved. That’s bad. His wit
Will never harden; nor let a twelve-month child.
Let no man wash in water that’s defiled
By women washing in it. Bitter price
You pay for that in time. Burnt sacrifice
Mock not, lest Heaven be angry ... So do you
That men talk not against you. Talk’s a brew
Mischievous, heady, easy raised, whose sting
Is ill to bear, and not by physicking
Voided. Talk never dies once set a-working—
Indeed, in talk a kind of god is lurking.
I regret to record the manner of death of the mainly pleasant old country poet, still more the supposed cause of it—but it may not be true. The Oracle at Delphi, which it seems he consulted after his triumph at Chalkis, warned him that he would come by his end in the grove of Nemean Zeus. He took pains, therefore, to avoid Nemea in his travels, and chose to stay for a while at OEnoe in Lokris, “where,” says Mr. Evelyn-White, his editor in the Loeb Library, “he was entertained by Amphiphanes and Ganyktor, sons of Phegeus.” But you never knew when the Oracle would have you, or where. OEnoe was also sacred to Nemean Zeus, “and the poet, suspected by his hosts of having seduced their sister, was murdered there. His body, cast into the sea, was brought to shore by dolphins, and buried at OEnoe; at a later date his bones were removed to Orchomenos.” An unhappy ending for the instructor of Perses! But it may not be true. To be sure, these poets—I can only say that to me it sounds improbable, and so, I take it, it sounded to Alkaeus of Messene, who wrote this epigram upon his dust: