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Hiero III.3-4

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Hiero III.3-4

Postby jeidsath » Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:59 pm

I wanted to get back to something that I wouldn't need to work at to read, so was reading Xenophon's Hiero last night. It's Xenophon, so I have to look up a word about every other page in the OCT text.

ὅτι ἡ φιλία μέγιστον ἀγαθὸν καὶ ἥδιστον ἀνθρώποις ἐστί· μόνους γοῦν τοὺς μοιχοὺς νομίζουσι πολλαὶ τῶν πόλεων νηποινεὶ ἀποκτείνειν, δῆλον ὅτι διὰ ταῦτα ὅτι λυμαντῆρας αὐτοὺς νομίζουσι τῆς τῶν γυναικῶν φιλίας πρὸς τοὺς ἄνδρας εἶναι. ἐπεὶ ὅταν γε ἀφροδισιασθῇ κατὰ συμφοράν τινα γυνή, οὐδὲν ἧττον τούτου ἕνεκεν τιμῶσιν αὐτὰς οἱ ἀνδρες, ἐάνπερ ἡ φιλία δοκῇ αὐταῖς ἀκήρατος διαμένειν.


I was confused by "ἀφροδισιασθῇ κατὰ συμφοράν τινα γυνή". I assume that it means whenever a wife taken against her will? It's "κατὰ συμφοράν" that I wasn't quite sure of. Should it mean "by misfortune"?

Also, I thought that it was interesting that this section and one a little later, "ποία δ᾽ ἀνδρὶ καὶ γυναικὶ τερπνὴ ἄνευ πίστεως ὁμιλία;", displayed some awareness of male and female as two human beings in a marriage, rather than the wife being simply property. Appropriate in a long dialogue about the discomforts of tyranny.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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Re: Hiero III.3-4

Postby anphph » Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:26 pm

jeidsath wrote:I was confused by "ἀφροδισιασθῇ κατὰ συμφοράν τινα γυνή". I assume that it means whenever a wife taken against her will? It's "κατὰ συμφοράν" that I wasn't quite sure of. Should it mean "by misfortune"?


I really like the Hiero. Take a look at Leo Strauss and Kojève's book On Tyranny if you have the time, it's basically a philosophical commentary on it. It's what made me start to enjoy what had seemed at first sight to be a rather dry account of the βίος τυραννικός

For the passage, what comes before is really the key: if a man's wife is seduced and has sex willingly with the adulterer, the bounds of φιλία that bound her to her husband are broken, whereas on the other hand, if she ἀφροδισιασθῇ not willingly but rather κατὰ συμφοράν τινα, then her husband knows that she wasn't at fault at the bonds of φιλία remain intact. In the context, it can only mean, euphemistically, "due to unfortunate circumstances" - we're talking about rape here.
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Re: Hiero III.3-4

Postby Hylander » Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:28 pm

While marriage in ancient Greece had important economic consequences, especially among the wealthy and powerful, I think it's far too simplistic to assume that men simply regarded their wives as property. Wives had important domestic functions and a certain degree of autonomy in managing the household, and commanded respect.

And even arranged marriages can result in emotional attraction -- love, if you will -- between the parties (although apparently not in the case of my grandparents).
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Re: Hiero III.3-4

Postby jeidsath » Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:40 pm

I worked at Apple for a bit while I was still in California, and arranged marriages were certainly the majority among my colleagues. They all seemed to be reasonably happy people, to whatever extent appearances can tell you that sort of thing.

Of course, last year, while I was in Norway, I was on a train to Oslo. There was a seemingly wealthy family discussing someone's online profile on one of their arranged marriage sites, and they were making loud noises about how he was impressive because he was a "Google engineer". I hope that my wife was the only person who saw the expression on my face.
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