“the greatest pain of all”

men have been trying to figure out what to do about (us) women for…well, for millennia, apparently!

here is the poet semonides of amorgos writing about the fair sex in the seventh century b.c. (he must’ve had a HORRIBLE wife, if he was married at all). see if you can recognize any of these types (~_^) …

From the start, the gods made women different.
One type is from a pig–a hairy sow
whose house is like a rolling heap of filth;
and she herself, unbathed, in unwashed clothes,
reposes on the shit-pile, growing fat. (5)
Another type the gods made from a fox:
pure evil, and aware of everything.
This woman misses nothing: good or bad,
she notices, considers, and declares
that good is bad and bad is good. Her mood (10)
changes from one moment to the next.
One type is from a dog–a no-good bitch,
a mother through and through; she wants to hear
everything, know everything, go everywhere,
and stick her nose in everything, and bark (15)
whether she sees anyone or not.
A man can’t stop her barking; not with threats,
not (when he’s had enough) by knocking out
her teeth with a stone, and not with sweet talk either;
even among guests, she’ll sit and yap; (20)
the onslaught of her voice cannot be stopped….

Another type a horse with flowing mane
gave birth to. She avoids all kinds of work
and hardship; she would never touch a mill
or lift a sieve, or throw the shit outside,
or sit beside the oven (all that soot!). (60)
She’ll touch her husband only when she has to.
She washes off her body every day
twice, sometimes three times! then rubs herself
with perfumed oil. She always wears her hair
combed-out, and dressed with overhanging flowers. (65)
Such a wife is beautiful to look at
for others; for her keeper, she’s a pain
–unless he is a king, or head of state
who can afford extravagant delights….

Another type is from a bee. Good luck
in finding such a woman! Only she (85)
deserves to be exempt from stinging blame.
The household that she manages will thrive;
a loving wife beside her loving man,
she’ll grow old, having borne illustrious
and handsome children; she herself shines bright (90)
among all women. Grace envelops her.
She doesn’t like to sit with other women
discussing sex. Zeus gratifies mankind
with these most excellent and thoughtful wives.

But by the grim contrivances of Zeus (95)
all these other types are here to stay
side by side with man forever. Yes,
Zeus made this the greatest pain of all:

If she seems to want to help
that’s when she does her keeper the most harm. (100)
A man who’s with a woman can’t get through
a single day without a troubled mind.
He’ll never banish Hunger from his house:
unwelcome, hateful lodger, hostile god.
Just when a man seems most content at home (105)
and ready for enjoyment, by the grace
of god or man, that’s when she’ll pick a fight,
her battle-helmet flashing, full of blame.
A household with a woman is at a loss
to give a decent welcome to a guest. (110)
The wife who seems the most restrained and good,
she’s the most disastrous of them all;
for while her slack-jawed husband gapes at her
the neighbors laugh at how he’s been deceived.
Each man will diligently praise his own (115)
and blame the next man’s wife; we just don’t see
that we all share alike in this hard luck.
For Zeus made this the greatest pain of all
and locked us in a shackle hard as iron
and never to be broken, ever since (120)
the day that Hades opened up his gates
for all the men who fought that woman’s war.

“that woman” was helen, of course.

i didn’t quote the whole poem. you can read it in its entirety here.

(i have been spending waaaay too much time @chateau heartiste. (~_^) )

(note: comments do not require an email. boobies!)


  1. There’s a lot of useful knowledge to be gleaned from CH – not just for men, but for women as well – but the nihilistic misogyny it’s mixed with can be really dispiriting after a while, according to female friends of mine. If you find yourself depressed or hating yourself after reading a bunch of it, don’t be afraid to take a break! I’d encourage you to read his stuff critically and try to take the good while leaving the bad.


  2. @hbd chick – “..if he was married at all..”

    I think he had some experience with women, by the sound of it ;-)


  3. @luke – “Wow. Never read anything like that before.”

    no, me, neither. really something, huh?!

    i just happened across it because i was hunting around for info on marriage/mating patterns in archaic/classical greece.


  4. @pwyll – “…but the nihilistic misogyny it’s mixed with can be really dispiriting after a while….”

    yes. well, red pill stuff in general (not just the male/femaled differences stuff) can be a downer. always good to take a break every now and again and watch sherlock or surf the r/awww subreddit or something. (^_^)


  5. @jonathan – “The battle of the sexes is actually a common theme in Aristophanes. Check out the plays Ecclesiazusae, Lysistrata and Thesmophoriazusae.”

    ah ha! i didn’t know. thanks! (^_^)


  6. @hbdchick “here is the poet semonides of amorgos writing about the fair sex in the seventh century b.c.” Gee you really have to admire women. The things they have to go through to get men to do whatever it takes to run a society.


  7. @ jonathan – I agree with you, we are all a mix of good and bad, us men and women both.

    However it often seems as though the media and society in general don’t portray it that way. It can seem almost as though we only hear positive stories about women in the media, versus either neutral or negative stories about men. In my opinion, the media want to tell women what they want to hear and appeal to that market since women supposedly control the majority of household spending decisions, hence greater advertising revenue for them.
    In addition to that, in my experience on average men seem better able to admit our own faults, weaknesses and mistakes, and be able to take criticism (without getting too offended, upset, or taking it very personally) as compared with women. So we also have a situation whereby men are scared to criticise women, for fear of upsetting them, making them angry, or being labelled a misogynist.
    Also, research appears to suggest that people associate positive attributes with women more than they do with men (and so may be more likely to overlook any negative attributes that women may have): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E2%80%9CWomen_are_wonderful%E2%80%9D_effect
    “The “women are wonderful” effect is the phenomenon found in psychological research which suggests that people associate more positive attributes with the general social category of women compared to men. Related to ambivalent sexism, this effect reflects an emotional bias toward the female gender as a general case.”

    Just for the record, I am happily married, and am neither a “mysogynist”, a sexist, a male chauvinist, nor a so-called “mens’ rights activist”!


  8. It looks a bit like it’s written with a tounge-in-cheek attitude. The real misogynist will probably not even offer criticism but prey on women’s weaknesses. He would typically be a self-help writer.


    “In addition to that, in my experience on average men seem better able to admit our own faults, weaknesses and mistakes, and be able to take criticism (without getting too offended, upset, or taking it very personally) as compared with women.”

    Hm. In my exeperience women take things personally but, perhaps for this reason, are able to respond with actual change. Men will not be as upset by criticism but they will not be impressed either. They just shrug their shoulders and move on.


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