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The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/plutarchs-marriage-advice-section-41thinking-about-a-rival/

The Athenians observe three sacred ploughings. First in Scrium; this is a memorial of the oldest sowing. The second in Raria, the third near the city called ox-yoking. Of these, the most sacred is marriage sowing and the ploughing to bear children.

Sophocles put it beautifully when he called Aphrodite, “The fruitful Cutherea.”

It is of great important for the husband and wife to use this with reverence; to keep off from unholy and unlawful involvement with others – especially to not sow where they do not desire to yield, which, if there is “fruit” they are ashamed & hide it.

Greek Text & Notes:


Ἀθηναῖοι τρεῖς ἀρότους ἱεροὺς ἄγουσι, πρῶτον ἐπὶ Σκίρῳ, τοῦ παλαιοτάτου τῶν σπόρων ὑπόμνημα, δεύτερον ἐν τῇ Ρ̓αρίᾳ, τρίτον ὑπὸ πόλιν τὸν καλούμενον Βουζύγιον. τούτων δὲ πάντων ἱερώτατός ἐστιν ὁ γαμήλιος σπόρος καὶ ἄροτος ἐπὶ παίδων τεκνώσει. καλῶς τὴν Ἀφροδίτην ὁ Σοφοκλῆς ‘εὔκαρπον Κυθέρειαν’ προσηγόρευσε. διὸ δεῖ μάλιστα τούτῳ χρῆσθαι μετʼ εὐλαβείας τὸν ἄνδρα καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα, τῶν ἀνιέρων καὶ παρανόμων πρὸς ἑτέρους ἁγνεύοντας ὁμιλιῶν, καὶ μὴ σπείροντας ἐξ ὧν οὐδὲν αὐτοῖς φύεσθαι θέλουσιν ἀλλὰ κἂν γένηται καρπὸς αἰσχύνονται καὶ ἀποκρύπτουσι.

Ἀθηναῖοι τρεῖς ἀρότους ἱεροὺς ἄγουσι

The Atheneans three ploughings sacred they observe

ἄροτος, ὁ, (ἀρόω) a corn-field, Od.

2. a crop, fruit of the field, Soph.; metaph., τέκνων ἄροτος Eur.

3. tillage, ploughing, Hes.; ζῆν ἀπʼ ἀρότου to live by husbandry, Hdt.

II. the season of tillage, seedtime, Hes.: hence a season, year, Soph.

H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), 118.

ἄγουσι could be two different verbs. If Ago, then the meanings seems to be spend, observer (BDAG, entry 4).  This is by far the more common verb and makes good sense.

ἀγάζω , (ἄγαν)

A.exalt overmuch, “τὰ θεῶν μηδὲν -ειν” A.Supp.1061, cf. S.Fr.968.

II. Med., honour, adore, “λοιβαῖσιν” Pi.N.11.6, cf. Orph.A.64.


πρῶτον ἐπὶ Σκίρῳ

first at Scirum

Babbitt observes, “Scirum was near Athens on the road to Eleusis; the Rarian plain was near Eleusis; the most convenient references regarding these sacred ploughings are Roscher, Lexikon der griech. und. rom. Mythologie, s.v. Buzyges, and Narrison and Verrall, Mythology and Monuments of Ancient Athens, pp. 166–8.”


τοῦ παλαιοτάτου τῶν σπόρων ὑπόμνημα

of the oldest of the sowings a memorial/remembrance

The participle as substantive: of the sowings.


δεύτερον ἐν τῇ Ρ̓αρίᾳ,

the second in Raria

Babbitt notes of Raria, “Scirum was near Athens on the road to Eleusis; the Rarian plain was near Eleusis; the most convenient references regarding these sacred ploughings are Roscher, Lexikon der griech. und. rom. Mythologie, s.v. Buzyges, and Narrison and Verrall, Mythology and Monuments of Ancient Athens, pp. 166–8.” Narrison and Verrall state:

The mere fact of this multiplex local tradition shows that the worship of Triptolemos was a widespread and popular one. A late author expressly says that ” all men set up shrines and altars to Triptolemos ; to him were attributed such time-honoured saws as ‘ honour of parents,’ and ‘ worship the gods with the fruits of the earth,’ ” which in reality he had borrowed from the more primitive morality of the Bouzygos. Triptolemos seemed in later days to be what his name by a false etymology was thought to indicate, the ” thrice plougher.” Sir C. Newton, in his account of the agriculture of Mytilene, notes that “the olive requires the earth in which it grows to be ploughed or dug not less than three times a year.” It has already been seen that the art of vase-painting in the fifth and fourth centuries and contemporary sculpture know Triptolemos nowhere as the ploughman, but only as the messenger of Demeter, seated on the winged car. But it is also, as will be seen, very probable that his name may have been connected with the three ” sacred ploughings ” of the Athenians the first of which was, as Plutarch tells us, at Skiron, the remembrance of the most ancient of the seed-sowings ; the second on the Rarian plain ; the third below Pelis, called the Bouzygion, or oxen-yoking. Of these the most sacred is the nuptial seed- sowing and ploughing, with a view to the birth of children. Here, it may be noted, the functions of Triptolemos seem to touch on the more plain-spoken ritual of Eubouleus.

I cannot tell why the article is being used.  Plutarch does not refer again to the city. I don’t know of a second city with the same name. I don’t know if there is any celebrity with this particular city, seeing that the other two locations lack the article.

Allen writes:

Ῥάριον: according to Herodian “π.μ.λ.” 35, Bekker An.693. 11“Ράρος” (and therefore its derivatives) should be written with spir. lenis, “Ρ̓αρος”, but the authority is perhaps insufficient. For the Rharian plain cf. Paus.i. 38. 6 “τὸ δὲ πεδίον τὸ Ῥάριον σπαρῆναι πρῶτον λέγουσι καὶ πρῶτον αὐξῆσαι καρπούς, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο οὐλαῖς ἐξ αὐτοῦ χρῆσθαί σφισι καὶ ποιεῖσθαι πέμματα ἐς τὰς θυσίας καθέστηκεν”. “The plain Rharium seems to have been in the immediate vicinity of Eleusis, but on which side it would be difficult to determine” (Leake Top. Ath. ii. p. 159); Lenormant places it on the north side (Cont. Rev. 38. 134). For the word see coni. praec. 42; Marmor Parium 25, and an inscr. in “Ἐφ. Ἀρχ”. 1883 p. 119 f., which give the usual termination of the name as Raria or Rharia. Byz. Steph. also recognizes Rharion: “Ῥάριον· πεδίον ἐν Ἐλευσῖνι, καὶ ῥαρία γῆ”. Herod. l.c. quotes “Ρ̓αρίδος Δηοῦς”.

Thomas W. Allen, The Homeric Hymns, Edited, with Preface, Apparatus Criticus, Notes, and Appendices (Medford, MA: Macmillan, 1904).


τρίτον ὑπὸ πόλιν τὸν καλούμενον Βουζύγιον

the third under the city which is called the ox-yoking.

Hupo + accusative must mean something like “near”, “close-by” for it is difficult to see how one could sow “under” a city. I found these words in one other location, “δεῖ τοῖς ὑπὸ πόλιν φρουροῖς κομίσαι τι πρόσταγμα παρὰ τῶν ἀρχόντων”, De Genio Socratis, where “hupo polin” cannot mean “under the city” but rather belonging to the city.


τούτων δὲ πάντων ἱερώτατός ἐστιν ὁ γαμήλιος σπόρος καὶ ἄροτος ἐπὶ παίδων τεκνώσει

Of all of these the most sacred is the of the marriage sowing and ploughing for bearing children.

γαμήλιος, ον, (γαμέω) belonging to a wedding, bridal, Aesch., Eur.

2. γαμηλία (sc. θυσία), a wedding-feast, Dem.

Epi + genitive denotes cause

καλῶς τὴν Ἀφροδίτην ὁ Σοφοκλῆς ‘εὔκαρπον Κυθέρειαν’ προσηγόρευσε

beautifully Aphrodite Sophocles good-fruit/well-bearing Cutherea he named

προσαγορεύω: to greet, name, designate.

διὸ δεῖ μάλιστα τούτῳ χρῆσθαι μετʼ εὐλαβείας τὸν ἄνδρα καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα,

Thus it is necessary especially in this to make use with reverence/fear of god the husband the wife

τῶν ἀνιέρων καὶ παρανόμων πρὸς ἑτέρους ἁγνεύοντας ὁμιλιῶν

Of the unholy and unlawful with another being pure associating/social intercourse

ἀνι?́ερ-ος , ον,

A.unholy, unhallowed, A.Ag. 220,769, Supp.757; ἀνίερος ἀθύτων πελάνων unhallowed because of the unoffered sacrifices, E.Hipp.146 (all lyr. passages); of a child born out of wedlock, Pl.R.461b.

καὶ μὴ σπείροντας ἐξ ὧν οὐδὲν αὐτοῖς φύεσθαι θέλουσιν

and not sowing from from one neither by them to produce they desire

The infinitive completes the content of that which they desire.

A very proper observation. That was precisely the reason why I stated that in reference to this law I know of a device for making a natural use of reproductive intercourse,—on the one hand, by abstaining from the male and not slaying of set purpose the human stock, [839a] nor sowing seed on rocks and stones where it can never take root and have fruitful increase; and, on the other hand, by abstaining from every female field in which you would not desire the seed to spring up. This law, when it has become permanent and prevails—if it has rightly become dominant in other cases, just as it prevails now regarding intercourse with parents,—is the cause of countless blessings. For, in the first place, it follows the dictates of nature, and it serves to keep men from sexual rage and frenzy and all kinds of fornication, and from all excess in meats and drinks, [839b] and it ensures in husbands fondness for their own wives: other blessings also would ensue, in infinite number, if one could make sure of this law. Possibly, however, some young bystander, rash and of superabundant virility, on hearing of the passing of this law, would denounce us for making foolish and impossible rules, and fill all the place with his outcries; and it was in view of this that I made the statement323 [839c] that I knew of a device to secure the permanence of this law when passed which is at once the easiest of all devices and the hardest. For while it is very easy to perceive that this is possible, and how it is possible—since we affirm that this rule, when duly consecrated, will dominate all souls, and cause them to dread the laws enacted and yield them entire obedience,—yet it has now come to this, that men think that, even so, it is unlikely to come about,—just in the same way as, in the case of the institution of public meals, people refuse to believe that it is possible [839d] for the whole State to be able to continue this practice constantly; and that, too, in spite of the evidence of facts and the existence of the practice in your countries; and even there, as applied to women, the practice is regarded as non-natural. Thus it was that, because of the strength of this unbelief, I said that it is most difficult to get both these matters permanently legalized.


Plato, Plato in Twelve Volumes & 11 Translated by R.G. Bury., vol. 10 (Medford, MA: Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1967 & 1968).


ἀλλὰ κἂν γένηται καρπὸς αἰσχύνονται καὶ ἀποκρύπτουσι.

But if it should bear fruit they are being ashamed and they hide (it).

A third class conditional: here, a hypothetical situation.