By a fair semblance to deceive the world,
Wherefore, O Jove, beneath the solar beams
That evil, woman, didst thou cause to dwell?
For if it was thy will the human race
Should multiply, this ought not by such means
To be effected: better in thy fane
Each votary, on presenting brass or steel,
Or massive ingots of resplendent gold,
Proportioned to his offering, might from thee
Obtain a race of sons, and under roofs
Which genuine freedom visits, unannoyed
By women, live. But to receive this worst
Of evils, now no sooner are our doors
Thrown open than the riches of our house
We utterly exhaust. How great a pest
Is woman this one circumstance displays;
The very father who begot and nurtured,
A plenteous dower advancing, sends her forth,
That of such loathed incumbrance he may rid
His mansions: but the hapless youth, who takes
This noxious inmate to his bed, exults
While he caparisons a worthless image,
In gorgeous ornaments and tissued vests
Squandering his substance. With some noble race
He who by wedlock a connection forms
Is bound by hard necessity to keep
The loathsome consort; if perchance he gain
One who is virtuous sprung from worthless sires,
He by the good compensates for the ills
Attending such a union. Happier he,
Unvexed by these embarrassments, whose bride
Inactive through simplicity, and mild,
To his abode is like a statue fixed.
All female wisdom doth my soul abhor.
Never may the aspiring dame, who grasps
At knowing more than to her sex belongs,
Enter my house: for in the subtle breast
Are deeper stratagems by Venus sewn:
But she whose reason is too weak to frame
A plot, from amorous frailties lives secure.
No female servant ever should attend
The married dame, she rather ought to dwell
Among wild beasts, who are by nature mute,
Lest she should speak to any, or receive
Their answers. But the wicked now devise
Mischief in secret chambers, while abroad
Their confidants promote it: thus, vile wretch,
In privacy you came, with me to form
An impious treaty for surrendering up
My royal father's unpolluted bed.
Soon from such horrors in the limpid spring
My ears will I make pure: how could I rush
Into the crime itself, when, having heard
Only the name made mention of, I feel
As though I some defilement thence had caught?
Base woman, know 'tis my religion saves
Your forfeit life, for by a solemn oath
If to the gods I had not unawares
Engaged myself, I ne'er would have refrained
From stating these transactions to my sire;
But now, while Theseus in a foreign land
Continues, hence will I depart, and keep
The strictest silence. But I soon shall see,
When with my injured father I return,
How you and your perfidious queen will dare
To meet his eyes, then fully shall I know
Your impudence, of which I now have made
This first essay. Perdition seize you both:
For with unsatiated abhorrence, still
'Gainst woman will I speak, though some object
To my repeating always the same charge:
For they are ever uniformly wicked:
Let any one then prove the female sex
Possest of chastity, or suffer me,
As heretofore, against them to inveigh.
Credits: Reprinted from The Plays of Euripides in English, vol. ii.
Trans. Shelley Dean Milman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1922.
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