"She was not yet fifteen years old when she came to me, and up to that time she
had lived in leading-strings, seeing, hearing and saying as little as possible. If when
she came she knew no more than how, when given wool, to turn out a cloak, and had seen
only how the spinning is given out to the maids, is not that as much as could be expected?
For in control of her appetite, Socrates, she had been excellently trained...
"Well, Socrates, as soon as I found her docile and sufficiently domesticated to
carry on conversation, I questioned her to this effect: Tell me, dear, have you realized
for what reason I took you and your parents gave you to me? For it is obvious to you, I am
sure, that we should have had no difficulty in finding someone else to share our beds. But
I for myself and your parents for you considered who was the best partner of home and
children that we could get. My choice fell on you, and your parents, it appears, chose me
as the best they could find. Now if God grants us children, we will then think out how we
shall best train them. For one of the blessings in which we shall share is the acquisition
of the very best of allies and the very best of support in old age; but at present we
share in this our home. For I am paying into the common stock all that I have, and you
have put in all that you brought with you. And we are not to reckon up which of us has
actually contributed the greater amount, but we should know of a surety that the one who
proves the better partner makes the more valuable contribution.'
"God from the first adapted the woman's nature, I think, to the indoor and
man's to the outdoor tasks and cares. For he made the man"s body and mind more
capable of enduring cold and heat, and journeys and campaigns; and therefore imposed on
him the outdoor tasks. To the woman, since he has made her body less capable of such
endurance, I take it that God has assigned the indoor tasks. And knowing that he had
created in the woman and had imposed on her the nourishment of the infants, he meted out
to her a larger portion of affection for new-born babes than to the man. And since he
imposed on the woman the protection of the stores also, knowing that for protection a
fearful disposition is no disadvantage, God meted out a larger share of fear to the woman
than to the man; and knowing that he who deals with the outdoor tasks will have to be
their defender against any wrong-doer, he meted out to him again a larger share of
courage. But because both must give and take, he granted to both impartially memory and
attention; and so you could not distinguish whether the male or the female sex has the
larger share of these. Thus, to be woman it is more honorable to stay indoors than to
abide in the fields, but to the man it is unseemly rather to stay indoors than to attend
to the work outside.
"Thus your duty will be to remain indoors and send out those servants whose work
is outside, and superintend those who are to work indoors, and watch over so much as is to
be kept in store, and take care that the sum laid by for a year be not spent in a month.
And when wool is brought to you, you must see that cloaks are made for those that want
them. You must see too that the dry corn is in good condition for making food.
From: William Stearns Davis, ed., Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts
from the Sources, 2 Vols., (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-1913), I: 265-271.
Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg
has modernized the text.