This is a Snippet from the play Medea, written in 431 B.C. by Euripides. In the play, Medea, the daughter of the king of Colchis, has been deserted by her husband Jason for another, younger woman. Sound familiar? *sigh* There is nothing new under the sun.
Ladies, Corinthians, I’m here.
Don’t think ill of me. Call others proud.
In public, in private, it’s hard to get it right.
Tread as carefully as you will,
“She’s proud,” they’ll say; “she won’t join in.”
What human being looks fairly on another?
They’d sooner hate you than know you properly,
even before you’ve done them any harm.
And when you’re a foreigner: “Be like us,” they say.
Even Greeks look down on other Greeks,
too clever to see the good in them.
As for me, the blow that struck me down
and eats my heart I least expected.
My lovely life is lost; I want to die.
He was everything to me–and now
he’s the vilest man alive, my husband.
Of all Earth’s creatures that live and breathe,
are we women not the wretchedest?
We scratch and save, a dowry to buy a man–
and then he lords it over us; we’re his,
our lives depend on how his lordship feels.
For better for worse: we can’t divorce him.
However it turns out, he’s ours and ours he stays.
Women’s cunning? We need all of it.
Set down with strangers, with ways and laws
she never knew at home, a wife must learn
every trick she can to please the man
whose bed she shares. If he’s satisfied,
if he lives content, rides not against the yoke–
Congratulations! If not, we’re better dead.
(Translated by Thomas Cahill in his book Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea. Why the Greeks Matter © 2003 by Anchor Books, registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Image by Alphonse Mucha: Medee 1898)
I recently came across this passage in my reading and was astounded that a drama from ancient Athens is as contemporary as today’s headlines. Small wonder that women are expressing their outrage over men’s sexual misconduct. Apparently it has been going on for centuries.
*another sigh* Really?