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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Juvenal (c. 40–125)

On Domineering Wives

From “Satires”

NOW tell me, if thou canst not love a wife,

Made thine by every tie, and thine for life,

Why wed at all? Why waste the wine and cakes

The queasy-stomached guest at parting takes,

And the rich present, which the bridal right

Claims for the favors of the happy night,

The charger, where, triumphantly inscrolled,

The Dacian Hero shines in current gold?

If thou canst love, and thy besotted mind

Is so uxoriously to one inclined,

Then bow thy neck, and with submissive air

Receive the yoke thou must forever wear.

To a fond spouse a wife no mercy shows;

Though warmed with equal fires, she mocks his wos,

And triumphs in his spoils; her wayward will

Defeats his bliss, and turns his good to ill.

Naught must be given, if she opposes; naught,

If she opposes, must be sold or bought;

She tells him where to love, and where to hate;

Shuts out the ancient friend, whose beard his gate

Knew from its downy to its hoary state;

And when pimps, parasites, of all degrees,

Have power to will their fortunes as they please,

She dictates his, and impudently dares

To name his very rivals for his heirs.

“Go, crucify that slave!” “For what offense?

Who the accuser? Where the evidence?

For when the life of man is in debate,

No time can be too long, no care too great.

Hear all, weigh all with caution, I advise—”

“Thou sniveler! Is a slave a man?” she cries.

“He’s innocent!” “Be’t so; ’tis my command,

My will. Let that, sir, for a reason stand.”

Thus the virago triumphs, thus she reigns.

Anon she sickens of her first domains,

And seeks for new; husband on husband takes,

Till of her bridal veil one rent she makes.

Again she tires, again for change she burns,

And to the bed she lately left returns,

While the fresh garlands and unfaded boughs

Yet deck the portal of her wondering spouse.


A rare inscription for her grave!