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The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/plutarchs-marriage-advice-section-20-no-need-for-a-pre-nup/


Helen loved money –

            Paris loved pleasure.

Odysseus was thoughtful,

            Penelope was prudent.

The second of these marriages was blessed – one to be envied. But the first marriage wrote an Iliad of Evils for the Greeks and for the Barbarians.

Notes and Translation

Plutarch praises the philosophical life (see his introduction to the piece). He describes the first couple as those who “love” money and pleasure. The second are marked by a pair of words which mean thoughtful/prudent (if anything, the word of Penelope means even more careful in one’s thought). 

The first pair literally reads, “Helen [was] a money-lover, Paris [was] a pleasure-lover.” However, since they were characterized by the “love” and since love implies an action (to love); and also to create a greater contrast in the couples; it seems appropriate to translate the adjective as an active noun.

The word “wrote” in the final line is “made/created”, but with an indefinite concept.  Yet, the English “made” does not necessary carry the same feeling as the Greek poein.  However, the word is related to the Greek word for “poetry”; and Plutarch is using a literary example. Thus, “wrote” is not far off the mark.


Greek Text:

Φιλόπλουτος ἡ Ἑλένη, φιλήδονος ὁ Πάρις· φρόνιμος ὁ Ὀδυσσεύς, σώφρων ἡ Πηνελόπη. διὰ τοῦτο μακάριος γάμος ὁ τούτων καὶ ζηλωτός, ὁ δʼ ἐκείνων Ἰλιάδα κακῶν Ἕλλησι καὶ βαρβάροις ἐποίησεν.


Φιλόπλουτος ἡ Ἑλένη

Money-lover: Helen

Here begins a series of four predicate adjectives, nominative chains.  In more idiomatic English, Helen was a money-lover.   The article means The Helen – that one from the story!. The “celebrity” article.

φιλήδονος ὁ Πάρις

            Pleasure-lover: Paris.

φρόνιμος ὁ Ὀδυσσεύς

            Thoughtful: Odyesseus

There is a great deal of overlap in the meaning of the words used to describe Odysseus and his wife.  The phron- word group centers upon the idea of thinking in the sense of giving careful thought. Thus, it also means one who is prudent or wise. The second word is built upon the first and means “sound-thinking”.

σώφρων ἡ Πηνελόπη.

Prudent: Penelope.

διὰ τοῦτο

Because of this/on this account

μακάριος γάμος

blessed [the] marriage,

marriage was blessed

ὁ τούτων

the closer/nearest [one named], “this”.

The latter of the marriages mentions.

καὶ ζηλωτός

and enviable

ὁ δʼ ἐκείνων

            But of that one [the further one named; here, the first]

Ἰλιάδα κακῶν

            An Illiad of evils


Ἕλλησι καὶ βαρβάροις

For the Greeks and for the Barbarians

The nouns are definite because they function as proper nouns for the two groups of the war. The dative of interest:  more precisely, in Wallace’s scheme, a dative of disadvantage.


It (the marriage) made