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The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/plutarchs-marriage-advice-section-35-mother-issues/

Mothers seems to especially love their sons, because mother think they are able to help them; fathers their daughters, because they are bound to help them.

So, perhaps, in life together, one desires to show honor to the other, by welcoming and loving. And while this may be a small thing, it is beautiful – if a wife to show honor to her husband’s parents brings troubles to them, rather than to her own parents. For it is apparent that to be trusted, one must trust; and to be loved, one must love.


Greek Text & Translation

Section 36

τοὺς υἱοὺς δοκοῦσι μᾶλλον ἀγαπᾶν αἱ μητέρες ὡς δυναμένους αὐταῖς βοηθεῖν, οἱ δὲ πατέρες τὰς θυγατέρας ὡς δεομένας αὐτῶν βοηθούντων ἴσως δὲ καὶ τιμῇ τῇ πρὸς ἀλλήλους ὁ ἕτερος τὸ μᾶλλον οἰκεῖον τῷ ἑτέρῳ βούλεται μᾶλλον ἀσπαζόμενος καὶ ἀγαπῶν φανερὸς εἶναι. καὶ τοῦτο μὲν ἴσως ἀδιάφορόν ἐστιν, ἐκεῖνο δʼ ἀστεῖον, ἂν ἡ γυνὴ μᾶλλον ἀποκλίνασα τῇ τιμῇ πρὸς τοὺς γονεῖς τοῦ ἀνδρὸς ἢ τοὺς ἑαυτῆς βλέπηται, κἄν τι λυπῆται, πρὸς ἐκείνους ἀναφέρουσα, τοὺς δʼ ἑαυτῆς λανθάνουσα. ποιεῖ γὰρ τὸ πιστεύειν δοκεῖν πιστεύεσθαι, καὶ τὸ φιλεῖν φιλεῖσθαι.

Babbitt’s translation:

Mothers appear to have a greater love for their sons because of a feeling that their sons are able to help them, and fathers for their daughters because of a feeling that the daughters have need of their help. Perhaps, also, because of the honour accorded by man and wife to each other, the one wishes openly to show that he feels greater esteem and affection for the attributes which are more characteristic of the other. And herein there may perhaps be a divergence, but, on the other hand, it is a nice thing if the wife, in the deference she shows, is observed to incline rather toward her husband’s parents than her own, and, if she is distressed over anything, to refer it to them without the knowledge of her own parents. For seeming confidence begets confidence, and love, love.

Plutarch, Moralia, ed. Frank Cole Babbitt, vol. 2 (Medford, MA: Harvard University Press, 1928), 327.

Goodwin’s translation:

It is generally observed that mothers are fondest of their sons, as expecting from them their future assistance when they grow into years, and that fathers are kindest to their daughters, as standing most in need of their paternal succor. And perhaps, out of that mutual respect which the man and his wife bear one to another, either of them would seem to carry greater affection for that which is proper and familiar to the other. But this pleasing controversy is easily reconciled. For it becomes a woman to show the choicest of her respects and to be more complaisant to the kindred of her husband than to her own to make her complaints to them, and conceal her discontents from her own relations. For the trust which she reposes in them causes them to confide in her, and her esteem of them increases their respects to her.

Plutarch, Plutarch’s Morals., ed. Goodwin, vol. 2 (Medford, MA: Little, Brown, and Company, 1874), 499–500.


τοὺς υἱοὺς δοκοῦσι μᾶλλον ἀγαπᾶν αἱ μητέρες

the sons they seem rather to love the mothers

Mothers seem especially to love their sons

τοὺς υἱοὺς: accusative plural, object of the love

δοκοῦσι μᾶλλον ἀγαπᾶν: finite verb, they seem; adverb, rather/especially agapan is either an infinitive or participle in form.

ὡς δυναμένους αὐταῖς βοηθεῖν

as being able for them to help

Because they are able to help them (the sons)

The infinitive boethein completes the idea of ability: it explains what the mothers are able to do.

οἱ δὲ πατέρες τὰς θυγατέρας

and fathers for their daughters

The “de” contrasts the fathers with the mothers; however, here, the comparison makes better sense as an ‘and’ than ‘but’.  “On the other hand” could work, but it would lose the speed of the comparison.

ὡς δεομένας αὐτῶν βοηθούντων

as being tied to them for helping


ἴσως δὲ καὶ τιμῇ τῇ πρὸς ἀλλήλους

so perhaps also by honor to each other

ὁ ἕτερος τὸ μᾶλλον οἰκεῖον τῷ ἑτέρῳ

the other rather concerning the household/especially living together for the other

μᾶλλον οἰκεῖον: this phrase is giving me fits. There is an adverb, rather/especially et cetera followed by a word which is either an adjective meaning concerning a household or a verb (whether finite or a participle) of living together in a household. The verb make much more sense here.  Especially in living together.

The other … to the other: English, one for the other.

βούλεται μᾶλλον ἀσπαζόμενος καὶ ἀγαπῶν φανερὸς εἶναι

desires rather embracing/welcoming/greeting and loving appears to be

καὶ τοῦτο μὲν ἴσως ἀδιάφορόν ἐστιν

and this on one hand perhaps indifferent is

Babbitt translates this as a “divergence”, but LSJ gives no such meaning to the adjective:

ἀδιά-φορος , ον,

A.not different, Arist.Rh.1373a33; “τοῖς ὁμοίοις καὶ ἀ.” Id.Cael.310b5; indistinguishable, “ὅμοιον καὶ ἀ.” Epicur.Nat.15 G.


2. in Logic, ἀδιάφορα, τά, individual objects, as having no logical differentia, “ἀ. ὧν ἀδιαίρετον τὸ εἶδος” Arist. Metaph.1016a18; “ἀ. εἴδει” Top.121b15; κατὰ τὸ εἶδος ib.103a11.


3. undiscriminating, “ὀνομασία” Epicur.Nat.14.10.


II. indifferent; in Stoic philosophy, τὰ ἀ. things neither good nor bad, Zeno Stoic. 1.47,48, cf. Cic.Fin.3.16.53, Epict.Ench.32, etc., cf. S.E.P.3.177 sq.: Sup., Phld.Rh.1.129 S. Adv. -ρως, ἔχειν to be indifferent, of the moral agent, Aristo Stoic.1.79.


III. in metre, common, Heph.4, cf. Sch.Pi.p.15 Böckh.


IV. of persons, making no distinction, “πρὸς πάντα ξένον καὶ δημότην” Dicaearch.1.14.


2. steadfast, unwearying, Ant.Lib.41.2.


V. Math., negligible, “πρός τι” Procl.Hyp.4.61; ἀ. πρὸς αἴσθησιν not differing sensibly, Aristarch.Sam.4. Adv., Hipparch.3.5.7.


VI. Adv. -ρως without discrimination, D.H.Dem. 56, S.E.P.3.225.

ἐκεῖνο δʼ ἀστεῖον

yet [the conclusion of the men] that [is] handsome/wellbred/beautiful

ἂν ἡ γυνὴ μᾶλλον ἀποκλίνασα τῇ τιμῇ πρὸς τοὺς γονεῖς τοῦ ἀνδρὸς

if the wife rather inclining away from [her own parents] by honor to the parents of her husband

If the wife should be inclining away from: her parents is implied. The dative shows the means of her disinclination: she is honoring her husband’s parents

ἢ τοὺς ἑαυτῆς βλέπηται

to those of herself it may seem/appear

completing the thought of her disinclination

κἄν τι λυπῆται

if anything she may suffer

πρὸς ἐκείνους ἀναφέρουσα

to those [her husband’s parents] bearing it up

She is bringing the problem to her husband’s parents

δʼ ἑαυτῆς λανθάνουσα

but to her own hiding

She conceals the matter from her own parents.

ποιεῖ γὰρ τὸ πιστεύειν δοκεῖν πιστεύεσθαι

For to make trust it seems to be trusted

τὸ πιστεύειν: direct object of poiei.

δοκεῖν: complementary infinitive

πιστεύεσθαι: a complement to dokein

καὶ τὸ φιλεῖν φιλεῖσθαι

and to love to be loved

here the verb is implied.