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. (~_^) )
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