And now I will tell a fable to kings who themselves too have understanding. This is how the hawk addressed the colorful-necked nightingale, carrying her high up among the clouds, grasping her with its claws, while she wept piteously, pierced by the curved claws; he said to her forcefully, ‘Silly bird, why are you crying out? One far superior to you is holding you. You are going wherever I shall carry you, even if you are a singer; I shall make you my dinner if I wish, or I shall let you go. Stupid he who would wish to contend against those stronger than he is: for he is deprived of the victory, and suffers pains in addition to his humiliations.’ So spoke the swift-flying hawk, the long-winged bird. (tr. Glenn W. Most)
Let us begin to sing from the Heliconian Muses, who possess the great and holy mountain of Helicon and dance on their soft feet around the violet -dark fountain and the altar of Cronus’ mighty son. And after they have washed their tender skin in Permessus or Hippocrene or holy Olmeius, they perform choral dances on highest Helicon, beautiful, lovely ones, and move nimbly with their feet. Starting out from there, shrouded in thick invisibility, by night they walk, sending forth their very beautiful voice, singing of aegis-holding Zeus, and queenly Hera of Argos, who walks in golden sandals, and the daughter of aegis-holding Zeus, bright-eyed Athena, and Phoebus Apollo, and arrow-shooting Artemis, and earth-holding, earth-shaking Poseidon, and venerated Themis (Justice) and quick-glancing Aphrodite, and golden-crowned Hebe (Youth) and beautiful Dione, and Leto and Iapetus and crooked-counseled Cronus, and Eos (Dawn) and great Helius (Sun) and gleaming Selene (Moon), and Earth and great Ocean and black Night, and the holy race of the other immortals who always are. (tr. Glenn W. Most)
And of what sort are their baths? Houses skilfully constructed, compact, portable, transparent, covered with fine linen. And gold-plated chairs, and silver ones, too, and ten thousand vessels of gold and silver, some for drinking, some for eating, some for bathing, are carried about with them. Besides these, there are even braziers of coals; for they have arrived at such a pitch of self-indulgence, that they sup and get drunk while bathing. And articles of silver with which they make a show, they ostentatiously set out in the baths, and thus display perchance their wealth out of excessive pride, but chiefly the capricious ignorance, through which they brand effeminate men, who have been vanquished by women; proving at least that they themselves cannot meet and cannot sweat without a multitude of vessels, although poor women who have no display equally enjoy their baths. The dirt of wealth, then, has an abundant covering of censure. With this, as with a bait, they hook the miserable creatures that gape at the glitter of gold. For dazzling thus those fond of display, they artfully try to win the admiration of their lovers, who after a little insult them naked. They will scarce strip before their own husbands affecting a plausible pretence of modesty; but any others who wish, may see them at home shut up naked in their baths. For there they are not ashamed to strip before spectators, as if exposing their persons for sale. But Hesiod advises
“Not to wash the skin in the women’s bath.” [Erga kai Hēmerai 753]
The baths are opened promiscuously to men and women; and there they strip for licentious indulgence (for from looking, men get to loving [Agathon, fr. 29]), as if their modesty had been washed away in the bath. Those who have not become utterly destitute of modesty shut out strangers; but bathe with their own servants, and strip naked before their slaves, and are rubbed by them; giving to the crouching menial liberty to lust, by permitting fearless handling. For those who are introduced before their naked mistresses while in the bath, study to strip themselves in order to audacity in lust, casting off fear in consequence of the wicked custom. The ancient athletes, ashamed to exhibit a man naked, preserved their modesty by going through the contest in drawers; but these women, divesting themselves of their modesty along with their tunic, wish to appear beautiful, but contrary to their wish are simply proved to be wicked. For through the body itself the wantonness of lust shines clearly; as in the case of dropsical people, the water covered by the skin. Disease in both is known from the look. Men, therefore, affording to women a noble example of truth, ought to be ashamed at their stripping before them, and guard against these dangerous sights; for he who has looked curiously, it is said, has sinned already [Mt. 5:28]. At home, therefore, they ought to regard with modesty parents and domestics; in the ways, those they meet; in the baths, women; in solitude, themselves; and everywhere the Word, who is everywhere, and without Him was not anything [John 1:3]. For so only shall one remain without falling, if he regard God as ever present with him. (tr. William Wilson)
At once the renowned Ambidexter moulded from earth the likeness of a modest maiden by Kronos’ son’s design, and the pale-eyed goddess Athene dressed and adorned her. The Graces and the lady Temptation put necklaces of gold about her body, and the lovely-haired spirits of ripeness garlanded her about with spring flowers. Pallas Athene arranged all the adornments on her body. In her breast the Go-Between, the dog-killer*, fashioned lies and wily pretences and a knavish nature by deep-thundering Zeus’s design; and he put in a voice, did the herald of the gods, and he named this woman Pandora, Allgift, because all the dwellers on Olympus made her a gift—a calamity for men who live by bread. When he had completed the precipitous, unmanageable trap, the father sent the renowned dog-killer* to Epimetheus taking the gift, swift messenger of the gods. Epimetheus gave no thought to what Prometheus had told him, never to accept a gift from Olympian Zeus but to send it back lest some afflication befall mortals: he accepted, and had the bane before he realized it. For formerly, the tribes of men on earth lived remote from ills, without harsh toil and the grievous sicknesses that are deadly to men. But the woman unstopped the jar and let it all out, and brought grim cares upon mankind. Only Hope remained there** inside in her secure dwelling, under the lip of the jar, and did not fly out, because the woman put the lid back in time by the providence of Zeus the cloud-gatherer who bears the aegis. But for the rest, countless troubles roam among men: full of ills is the earth, and full the sea. Sicknesses visit men by day, and others by night, uninvited, bringing ill to mortals, silently, because Zeus the resourceful deprived them of voice. Thus there is no way to evade the purpose of Zeus.
* Hermes was the patron of thieves, who sometimes find it expedient to eliminate watch-dogs.
** Hesiod has not given his jar a consistent symbolic meaning. He means that hope remains among men as the one antidote to suffering.
Lead a wife to your house when you are in good season, neither falling very many years short of thirty nor having added very many: this is a marriage in good season for you. The woman should have reached puberty four years earlier, and in the fifth she should marry. Marry a virgin so that you can teach her cherished usages: and above all marry one who lives near to you, after you have looked around carefully in all directions, lest your marriage cause your neighbors merriment. For a man acquires nothing better than a good wife, but nothing more chilling than a bad one, a dinner-ambusher, one who singes her husband without a torch, powerful though he be, and gives him over to a raw old age. (tr. Glenn W. Most)
There is a maiden, Justice, born of Zeus, celebrated and revered by the gods who dwell on Olympus, and whenever someone harms her by crookedly scorning her, she sits down at once beside her father Zeus, Cronus’ son, and proclaims the unjust mind of human beings, so that he will take vengeance upon the people for the wickedness of their kings, who think baneful thoughts and bend judgments to one side by pronouncing them crookedly. Bear this in mind, kings, and straighten your discourses, you gift-eaters, and put crooked judgments quite out of your minds. A man contrives evil for himself when he contrives evil for someone else, and an evil plan is most evil for the planner. Zeus’ eye, which sees all things and knows all things, perceives this too, if he so wishes, and he is well aware just what kind of justice this is which the city has within it. Right now I myself would not want to be a just man among human beings, neither I nor a son of mine, since it is evil for a man to be just if the more unjust one will receive greater justice. But I do not anticipate that the counsellor Zeus will let things end up this way. (tr. Glenn W. Most)
And do not urinate standing up facing the sun; but be mindful to do so after it sets, and before it rises, but even so do not completely bare yourself; for the nights belong to the blessed ones. And do not urinate while you are walking, on the road or off the road: it is crouching that the god-fearing man, who knows wisdom, does it, or after he has approached towards the wall of a well-fenced courtyard. And inside the house do not reveal your genitals besmirched with intercourse near the hearth, but avoid this. And do not sow offspring when you come home from an ill-spoken funeral, but from a dinner of the immortals. And do not ever urinate into the streams of rivers that flow down towards the sea nor onto fountains – avoid this entirely – and do not defecate into them: for that is not better. (tr. Glenn W. Most)
She became pregnant and bore Aeacus who delighted in the battle-chariot. . .*
But when he reached the full measure of lovely puberty,
he was distressed at being alone; so the father of men and of gods
turned all the ants that were within the lovely island
into men and deep-girdled women.
These were the first to fasten together swaying ships,
and the first to set up sails, the sea-crossing boat’s wings
* After this line an unknown number of lines may be missing.
When Zeus has finished sixty wintry days after the solstice, then the star Arcturus leaves the holy stream of Ocean and first rises brilliant at dusk. After him the shrilly wailing daughter of Pandion, the swallow, appears to men when spring is just beginning. Before she comes, prune the vines, for it is best so. (tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White)