This is the final section of Plutarch’s Marriage Advice. The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/plutarchs-marriage-advice-section-47-battles/
Eurydice, when it comes to love for decorations, I implore you to read and remember what Aristylla wrote by Timoxena.
Pollianus, don’t dare suppose that your wife will leave off with needless luxuries unless she should see you despising these things in others; this will be especially the case if you are seen rejoicing in gold-covered cups and wall murals and trappings for mules or necklaces for horses.
No, she won’t reject excess in her rooms if she sees that excess has taken over your rooms.
You have already demonstrated that you are prepared to engage with philosophy, so adorn your character by receiving and considering profitable ideas. Like a honeybee, look everywhere and bring to your wife whatever would be useful. Show her the best things and explain them to her in such a way a will be pleasing and understandable.
A father you are to her, and a dear mother
Even a brother
It does not lessen your dignity for your wife to say
You, now are to me
a guide, philosopher, teacher of the best and divine.
When women learn such things first, they will reject the needless. A wife would be ashamed to be a dancer when she has learned geometry. She won’t buy into magic spells made from the words of Plato or Xenophon.
When she hears someone promise to bring down the moon, she’ll laugh at the ignorance and silliness of such stories which have tricked so many other women: she not unwillingly learned astronomy – and knows about Aglaonice the daughter of Hegetor of Thessaly, who had thorough knowledge of eclipses and everything concerning the moon and knew before the time in which moon would be caught in the earth’s shadow, deceived and took-in all the women with the idea that she herself pulled down the moon.
Now they say that no woman ever conceived a child without the cooperation of a man, yet there are deformed embryos, fleshy and solid which spring from corruption: these are called “moles”. Thus, care should be taken to guard against this happening with women’s minds. For if they do not receive the seed of useful words and do not undertake education with their husband, but rather are left to themselves, they will end up with rotten ideas and pathetic conceits.
Yet, you, Eurydice, I sincerely urge to be conversant with the saying of the wise and the good—that voice always have ready, which you have known since you a young girl with us. This will bring joy to your husband and the respect of other women, since you will be adorned with that which is precious and respectable—and nothing else.
For you will not get the expensive pearls of that woman or the rare rubies of another unless you pay the exacting price. But the adornments of Theano, Cleobulina, Gorgo, the wife of Leonidas, Timocleia, the sister of Theagenes, Claudia of old, Cornelia, daughter of Scipio, as many as have become admired and acclaimed, these things are rightfully laid about as a gift, adorning them gloriously in both life and happiess.
For if Sappho thought well of her of elegantly written verses for a certain rich woman:
Death, you lie there; no memory of you
There shall be: for you do not share in the roses
Why then should you not allow yourself to think great-brilliant thoughts of yourself? For you do not only share in the roses but even share the fruits the Muses graciously bear to those who wonder at education and philosophy.
Greek Text and Notes