mwh wrote:Your first take was right, except it's not "to be prayed for" but rather just "prayed for." "For marriage is an evil men pray for." εὐκταῖον κακόν is neuter, as you say. κακόν is being used as a noun, "an evil," "a bad thing," and in a statement taking the form "A is B," B is not necessarily the same gender as A.
εὐκταῖον makes it paradoxical: people desire marriage but marriage is not a good thing, it's a bad one.
Many of the monostichoi are similarly misogynistic and similarly pointed. One very close in sentiment to this one, but so very much better, goes something like "There are two good days in a man's life, the day he gets married and the day she's carried out dead."
Qimmik wrote:No point in defending Menander. Misogynistic one-liners weren't collected by Stobaeus to disparage misogyny--they were collected because male Greek readers thought they were witty and accurate, and that's how Menander intended them.
Anyone who engages with ancient Greek civilization can't avoid the largely negative attitudes towards women reflected in Greek literature--after all, many of these attitudes were prevalent and openly expressed in our own societies only a few decades ago.
And to say that you not judge the attitudes of a playwright by quotes taken out of context from a play really should not be controversial.
Qimmik wrote:OK, I should have written "male chauvinist" rather than "misogynist." But I don't think it's really possible to draw such a fine distinction.
Qimmik wrote:Maybe quotable male chauvinist one-liners (well, this one is really misogynistic) that Menander puts in the mouths of his characters, which echo other Greek writings about women (e.g., Hesiod, Hipponax, Lysias on the murder of Eratosthenes), weren't expected to find a resonance among his audience and really don't reflect his own, personal, more benevolent attitudes towards women.
A male chauvinist expects women to act in a subordinate role. A misogynist actively hates women. That's an important distinction.
Qimmik wrote:A male chauvinist expects women to act in a subordinate role. A misogynist actively hates women. That's an important distinction.
"Male chauvinism" is a term that was unknown before about 1970 and certainly not viewed as reprehensible before then. And I think the term "misogyny" is used today to embrace male chauvinism as often as not.
Qimmik wrote:I have to admit I've never engaged with Menander. But from what I've read about him, it strikes me that he's not one of those authors who aim to conduct a serious examination of the values and attitudes of his contemporaries--or one who is incapable of entertaining two mutually contradictory ideas simultaneously. Perhaps this clever, catchy oxymoron, neatly encapsulated in a trimeter, was put into the mouth of an unsympathetic character who was trying to thwart the ultimate goal of the play, namely, the marriage of the hero to the heroine. But that's not to say that it wasn't meant to resonate with male members of Menander's public. It's a line that could only have been intended to be quotable.
Do what is more than needful as if needful,
And treat our real work as if it were superfluous.
Nous faisons de l'accessoire l'œuvre principale, et nous travaillons à l'œuvre principale comme si c'était l'accessoire.