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The previous post in this series is found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/have-fun-with-your-wife-plutarchs-marriage-advice/

Section 14: 

Now a mirror is worthless—even if it is covered in gold and gems—if it does not show a true likeness. In the same way, a rich wife yields no profit if she does not produce a manner of life like her husband and show harmony of manner.

If a mirror portrays a gracious man as sullen; or a vexed, peevish man as cheerful and laughing; the mirror’s broken, throw it away.

It’s the same with a wife. It doesn’t help; it’s …unfitting for her to be grumbly when her husband starts to laugh and sport; or, when her husband has a matter of serious contemplation she starts joking and laughing. For the first smacks of disgust and the second of disregard.

This is important:  It’s like when mathematicians say that lines and surfaces do not move by themselves, but only move with some other body.  In same way, a wife shouldn’t fall into a solo passion but rather she should have a common heart with her husband:  whether he is serious or playful, contemplative or laughing.


Greek Text, Translation and Notes:


ὥσπερ ἐσόπτρου κατεσκευασμένου χρυσῷ καὶ λίθοις ὄφελος οὐδέν ἐστιν, ειʼ μὴ δείκνυσι τὴν μορφὴν ὁμοίαν, οὕτως οὐδὲ πλουσίας γαμετῆς ὄνησις, ειʼ μὴ παρέχει τὸν βίον ὅμοιον τῷ ἀνδρὶ καὶ σύμφωνον τὸ ἦθος. ειʼ χαίροντος μὲν εἰκόνα σκυθρωπὴν ἀποδίδωσι τὸ ἔσοπτρον, ἀχθομένου δὲ καὶ σκυθρωπάζοντας ἱλαρὰν καὶ σεσηρυῖαν, ἡμαρτημένον ἐστὶ καὶ φαῦλον. οὐκοῦν καὶ γυνὴ φαῦλος καὶ ἄκαιρος ἡ παίζειν μὲν ὡρμημένου καὶ φιλοφρονεῖσθαι τοῦ ἀνδρὸς ἐσκυθρωπακυῖα, σπουδάζοντος δὲ παίζουσα καὶ γελῶσα· τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἀηδίας, τὸ δʼ ὀλιγωρίας.


δεῖ δέ, ὥσπερ οἱ γεωμέτραι λέγουσι τὰς γραμμὰς καὶ τὰς ἐπιφανείας ουʼ κινεῖσθαι καθʼ ἑαυτὰς ἀλλὰ συγκινεῖσθαι τοῖς σώμασιν, οὕτω τὴν γυναῖκα μηδὲν ἴδιον πάθος ἔχειν, ἀλλὰ κοινωνεῖν τῷ ἀνδρὶ καὶ σπουδῆς καὶ παιδιᾶς καὶ συννοίας καὶ γέλωτος.




            Just as


This anticipates a comparison.



            a mirror: Why the genitive? source. From a mirror



            having been arranged. Perfect passive participle


χρυσῷ καὶ λίθοις

            by gold and by (precious) stones


ὄφελος οὐδέν ἐστιν,

            worth nothing is


ειʼ μὴ δείκνυσι

            If it doesn’t show


 τὴν μορφὴν ὁμοίαν

            the true likeness


morphe here cannot merely merely outward likeness, in that the word homoios which comes immediately afterward means “of the same nature, like, similar”.  It is thus a representation – a morphe – is in the actual likeness (homoios) of the husband. This idea is supported by the verb deiknumi, which BDAG glosses as “to exhibit something that can be apprehended by one or more of the senses”.


This word has significant affection upon NT Christology due to its use in Philippians 2:6, “Who, though he was in the form of God”.[1]





οὕτως οὐδὲ πλουσίας γαμετῆς ὄνησις,

            thus neither a rich wife (genitive) profit/delight/useful


ειʼ μὴ παρέχει τὸν βίον ὅμοιον τῷ ἀνδρὶ

if not   show the life likeness of her husband




1050 βίος (bios), ου (ou), ὁ (ho): n.masc.; Str 979; TDNT 2.8321. LN 41.18 daily life, existence day to day (Lk 8:14; 1Ti 2:2; 2Ti 2:4; 1Jn 2:16+; Mk 4:19 v.r. NA26; 1Pe 4:3 v.r. NA26); 2. LN 57.18 possessions, property, what one lives on (Mk 12:44; Lk 8:43; 15:12, 30; 21:4; 1Jn 2:16, for another interp of this verse, see prior; 3:17+)


James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).


The dative is used to describe the husband, rather than the genitive:  τῷ ἀνδρὶ.  One may expect the genitive of relationship in this circumstance. However, the dative is more fitting because it underscores the conduct at issue; the article supplies the possessive nuance, “her husband”.


καὶ σύμφωνον τὸ ἦθος

and harmonious the (her) habit


ειʼ χαίροντος μὲν εἰκόνα σκυθρωπὴν ἀποδίδωσι τὸ ἔσοπτρον,

if the mirror returns the image of a gracious man as peevish



σκυθρωπὴν:  Plutarch seems to have created this adjective (there is only one other use of it in the Perseus database as found in De Supersitione, section 4, “ὁ δὲ τὴν τῶν θεῶν ἀρχὴν ὡς τυραννίδα φοβούμενος σκυθρωπὴν καὶ ἀπαραίτητον ποῖ μεταστῇ ποῖ φύγῃ,


The verb skuthrazo and skuthropazo mean to be peevish, angry, sullen.


ἀχθομένου δὲ καὶ σκυθρωπάζοντας  ἱλαρὰν καὶ σεσηρυῖαν

            or a vexed, sullen man as cheerful and laughing


achthomai: to be vexed, afflicted.


Κυθρωπάζοντας, the participle is an adjective modifying the implied subject – a man who is cheerful.


σεσηρυῖαν: another participle modifying the implied subject.


σαίρω (A), only found in pf. with pres. sense σέσηρα,

A.part the lips and show the closed teeth (cf. Gal.18(2).597), grin, “σέσηρεν ἄν τε βούλητ᾽ ἄν τε μή” Alex.98.26; “Σάτυροι ἀπὸ τοῦ σεσηρέναι” Ael.VH3.40; but mostly in part., ἄπλητον σεσα^ρυῖα (Ep. for σεσηρυῖα) Hes.Sc.268; “οἷον σεσηρὼς ἐξαπατήσειν μ᾽ οἴεται” Ar.V.901; “ἠγριωμένους ἐπ᾽ ἀλλήλοισι καὶ σεσηρότας” Id.Pax620; “ς. καὶ γελῶν” Com.Adesp.606; γελῶντα καὶ ς. Plu.2.223c; σιμὰ ς. AP5.178 (Mel.); but also without any such bad sense, εἶπε σεσα_ρὼς ὄμματι μειδιόωντι smiling, Theoc. 7.19 (cf. προσσαίρω).


2. transferred to grinning laughter, “σεσηρόσι μειδιήμασι” Hp.Gland.12; “σεσηρότι γέλωτι” Luc.Am.13: the neut. is used in Adv. sense, “σεσα_ρὸς γελᾶν” Theoc.20.14; σεσηρὸς αἰκάλλειν, of a fox, Babr.50.14, cf. Ps.-Luc.Philopatr.26.


3. of a wound or sore, ἕλκος σεσηρὸς καὶ ἐκπεπλιγμένον gaping, Hp.Fract.32, cf. Aret.CA2.2; also ς. χάσμημα, of a metrical hiatus, Eust.840.43.




ἡμαρτημένον ἐστὶ καὶ φαῦλον.

            it has fallen short and is a failure/bad.


Hamartano is a verb which means to fall short. It is translated in the NT as “sin”. This is an important thing for a NT student to remember:  We must be careful not to translate our technical meaning of the words back into the first reading of the text. Plutarch obviously has no concept of sin before God in this context.


Phaulos: means something base, bad, morally degraded.


οὐκοῦν καὶ γυνὴ φαῦλος καὶ ἄκαιρος

Thus also a wife is a failure and untimely (unfit)


οὐκοῦν: Thus, therefore,


 ἡ παίζειν μὲν ὡρμημένου  καὶ φιλοφρονεῖσθαι τοῦ ἀνδρὸς

or [when] her husband desires to play and to be cheerful


τοῦ ἀνδρὸς: article as a possessive pronoun.


The participle ὡρμημένου describes the husband’s general status: he is desiring, starting in motion. The two infinitives supply the content of that desire: to play and be cheerful



she is gloomy


σπουδάζοντος δὲ παίζουσα καὶ γελῶσα·

            or when he is serious, she is joking and laughing


τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἀηδίας

            For the one is displeasure

The first response of the wife, being sullen when he is cheerful.


τὸ δʼ ὀλιγωρίας

            the other contempt


δεῖ δέ,

            But it is necessary


The de draws a coordination with what preceeds.



ὥσπερ οἱ γεωμέτραι λέγουσι τὰς γραμμὰς

Just as the geometers they say (concerning) lines


Hosper sets up yet another comparison.


Tas grammas: the accusative of respect: they say with respect to the lines.


καὶ τὰς ἐπιφανείας

            and the surfaces.


Epiphany typically refers to an appearance. The LSJ also has the meaning of the visible surface of a body.



ουʼ κινεῖσθαι καθʼ ἑαυτὰς

            do not move according to (by) themselves

The infinitive indicates the substance of what the geometers say; the infinitive of indirect discourse.


 ἀλλὰ συγκινεῖσθαι τοῖς σώμασιν,

            But they move together with an accompanying body


Body just means some tangible object.


 οὕτω τὴν γυναῖκα μηδὲν ἴδιον πάθος ἔχειν,

Neither should the wife have her own passions


Plutarch here again seeks a harmony in the marriage; albeit in favour of the husband.



ἀλλὰ κοινωνεῖν τῷ ἀνδρὶ

            But rather have a fellowship to her husband (in)



καὶ σπουδῆς καὶ παιδιᾶς καὶ συννοίας καὶ γέλωτος

            Seriousness and play and concerns and laughter.


[1] 3. The only important statement concerning Christ’s μορφή is in Phil. 2:6 f.: ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ, ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, though this is not easy to grasp by reason of its liturgical and hymnic form. If the hymn (vv. 5–11), in the exhortatory context of 1:27–2:18 with its call for the unselfishness which does not seek its own (v. 3f.), is laying a true foundation by glorifying Christ as the unique example of selfless renunciation of what is His, the assuming of the μορφὴ δούλου (→ II, 278) is to be regarded as an act of exemplary restraint on the part of Christ, as a concrete demonstration of this restraint.45 As the One who became man (ἐν → ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος),46 Jesus was in the position of a slave, or, more concretely, He bore the figure or form of a slave, of a being which is wholly dependent on the will of another, which has to bow to and obey this other (cf. also v. 8). This does not merely describe the whole attitude reflected in the earthly work of Jesus47 according to Mk. 10:45 (or Jn. 13:4 ff.). In the sequence of Phil. 2:5–11 it is also the opposite of the μορφὴ θεοῦ which He had before, and of the position of κύριος (→ III, 1088 ff.) which He will receive at His exaltation (w. 9ff.). The renunciation of the pre-existent Lord (→ III, 661)48 finds expression pression in a μορφή which is the absolute antithesis to His prior μορφή. Thus the phrase μορφὴ θεοῦ, which Paul coins in obvious antithesis to μορφὴ δούλου, can be understood only in the light of the context. The appearance assumed by the incarnate Lord, the image of humiliation and obedient submission, stands in the sharpest conceivable contrast to His former appearance, the image of sovereign divine majesty,49 whose restoration in a new and even more glorious form is depicted for the exalted κύριος at the conclusion of the hymn, v. 10f. The specific outward sign of the humanity of Jesus is the μορφὴ δούλου, and of His essential divine likeness (τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ → III, 353 f.) the μορφὴ θεοῦ. The lofty terminology of the hymn can venture to speak of the form or visible appearance of God in this antithesis50 on the theological basis of the δόξα concept of the Greek Bible, which is also that of Paul, and according to which the majesty of God is visibly expressed in the radiance of heavenly light (→ II, 237 ff.).51 The μορφὴ θεοῦ in which the pre-existent Christ was52 is simply the divine δόξα;53 Paul’s ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων corresponds exactly to Jn. 17:5: τῇ δόξῃ ᾗ εἶχον πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἶναι παρὰ σοί.54

The wealth of the christological content of Phil. 2:6 f. rests on the fact that Paul does not regard the incomparable measure of the self-denial displayed by the pre-existent Christ in His incarnation merely as the opposite of the egotistic exploitation of what He possessed (→ I, 474) or as the surrender of His own will,55 nor is he concerned merely to emphasise the contrast between His eternal and temporal existence, His deity and humanity, but he brings out in clear-cut contrast the absolute distinction between the modes of being. Christ came down from the height of power and splendour to the abyss of weakness and lowliness proper to a slave, and herein is revealed for the apostle the inner nature of the Redeemer who is both above history and yet also in history. He did not consider Himself; He set before the eyes of those who believe in Him the example of forgetfulness of His own ego.

It may thus be seen that there is no trace of a Hellenistic philosophical understanding of μορφή in this passage,56 and certainly not of any supposed popular philosophical concept of μορφὴ θεοῦ == οὐσία or φύσις57 (→ 745). Similarly, what Paul understands by μορφὴ θεοῦ and μορφὴ δούλου is remote from the epiphany ideas of myth or legend. Christ did not play the role of a god in human form.58 Again, there can be no thought of a metamorphosis (→ 756) in the sense of Hellenistic belief or superstition. Paul does not speak of the exchanging of one’s own form for another; in 1 C. 2:8 the man Jesus is the κύριος τῆς δόξης. Materially, if not linguistically, the apostle’s paradoxical phrase μορφὴ θεοῦ is wholly in the sphere of the biblical view of God. εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ cannot be equated with μορφὴ θεοῦ (2 C. 4:4; Col. 1:15; → II, 395 f.).59 The image of God is Christ, while the μορφὴ θεοῦ is the garment by which His divine nature may be known.

Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 750–752.