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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Hippolytus Rails at Womankind

By Euripides (c. 480–406 B.C.)

From William Cranston Lawton’s ‘Three Dramas of Euripides’

O ZEUS, pray why—a specious curse for men—

Hast thou set women in the light of day?

For if thou wouldst engender humankind,

Through women thou shouldst not have furnished them,

But in thy fanes depositing as pay

Or gold or iron or the weighty bronze,

Men ought to buy the race of children, each

According to his worth; but in their homes

To dwell in liberty, from women free.

That woman is a grievous curse is clear;

He who begets and breeds her adds a dower

And sends her forth, to rid himself of ill;

And he who takes the bane into his house

Delights to put fair ornaments upon

This basest idol, decks it out with robes,

And squanders—wretched man!—his household joy!

It must be that, delighted to have gained

Good kinsmen, he endures a hateful wife,

Or, winning happy wedlock, useless kin,

He finds the evil overborne by good.

Most blest his lot within whose home is set

As wife a harmless, silly nobody!

I hate a clever woman: in my house

Be no one sager than befits her sex.

For Kypris oftener stirs up villainy

Within the clever; but the guileless wife

Is saved from folly by her slender wit!

No servant should approach the wife’s abode,

But speechless animals should dwell with her,

That she may have not one to whom to speak,

Nor ever hear from them an answering voice.

But now the wicked weave their plots within

For mischief, and their servants bear them forth;

Even as thou, O evil one, hast come

To proffer me my father’s sacred rights!—

This I will purge away with running brooks,

Cleansing my ears. Could I be evil, then,

Who hold myself defiled to hear such words?

And woman, know, my reverence saves thy life.

Were I not, unawares, so bound by oaths,

I would have straightway told my father this:

But now, while Theseus is in other lands,

I leave his halls, and we will hold our peace;

But coming with my father, I’ll behold

How thou wilt face him,—and thy mistress too!

Thy insolence I shall know, who tasted it.

Perish your sex! Nor will I ever tire

Of hating women, though men say I speak

Of nothing else: for base they always are.

Either let some one teach them self-restraint,—

Or else let me attack them evermore!