THE THESMOPHORIAZUSÆ – Monologue (First Woman)

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A monologue from the play by Aristophanes

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Aristophanes: The Eleven Comedies. Trans. Anonymous. London: The Athenian Society, 1922.


If I have asked to speak, may the goddesses bear me witness, it was not for sake of ostentation. But I have long been pained to see us women insulted by this Euripides, this son of the grocer-woman, who loads us with every kind of indignity.

Has he not hit us enough, columniated us sufficiently, wherever there are spectators, tragedians, and a chorus? Does he not style us lecherous, drunken, traitorous, boastful?

Does he not repeat that we are all vice, that we are the curse of our husbands? So that, directly they come back from the theatre, they look at us doubtfully and go searching every nook, fearing there may be some hidden lover.

We can do nothing as we used to, so many are the false ideas which he has instilled into our husbands. Is a woman weaving a garland for herself? ‘Tis because she is in love.

Does she let some vase drop while going or returning to the house? Her husband asks her in whose honour she has broken it, “It can only be for that Corinthian stranger.”

Is a maiden unwell? Straightway her brother says, “That is a colour that does not please me.” And if a childless woman wishes to substitute one, the deceit can no longer be a secret, for the neighbors will insist on being present at her delivery.

Formerly the old men married young girls, but they have been so columniated that none think of them now, thanks to the verse: “A woman is the tyrant of the old man who marries her.”

Again, it is because of Euripides that we are incessantly watched, that we are shut up behind bolts and bars, and that dogs are kept to frighten off the gallants.

Let that pass; but formerly it was we who had the care of the food, who fetched the flour from the storeroom, the oil and the wine; we can do it no more.

Our husbands now carry little Spartan keys on their persons, made with three notches and full of malice and spite. Formerly it sufficed to purchase a ring marked with the same sign for three obols, to open the most securely sealed-up door; but now this pestilent Euripides has taught men to hang seals of worm-eaten wood about their necks.

My opinion, therefore, is that we should rid ourselves of our enemy by poison or by any other means, provided he dies. That is what I announce publicly; as to certain points, which I wish to keep secret, I propose to record them on the secretary’s minutes.

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