Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

6

'I consider,' replied I, that they are duties of no small importance, unless indeed the queen bee in a hive is appointed for purposes of small importance. 18. For to me,'

continued he, "the gods, my dear wife,' said I, seem certainly to have united that pair of beings, which is called male and female, with the greatest judgment, that they may be in the highest degree serviceable to each other in their connection. 19. In the first place, the pair are brought together to produce offspring, that the races of animals may not become extinct; and to human beings, at least, it is granted to have supporters for their old age from this union. 20. For human beings, also, their mode of life is not, like that of cattle, in the open air; but they have need, we see, of houses. It is accordingly necessary for those who would have something to bring into their houses to have people to perform the requisite employments in the open air; for tilling, and sowing, and planting, and pasturage are all employments for the open air; and from these employments the necessaries of life are procured. 21. But when these necessaries have been brought into the house, there is need of some one to take care of them, and to do whatever duties require to be done under shelter. The rearing of young children also demands shelter, as well as the preparation of food from the fruits of the earth, and the making of clothes from wool. 22. And as both these sorts of employments, alike those without doors, and those within, require labor and care, the gods, as it seems to me,' said I, ' have plainly adapted the nature of the woman for works and duties within doors, and that of the man for works and duties without doors. 23. For the divinity has fitted the body and mind of the man to be better able to bear cold, and heat, and traveling, and military exercises, so that he has imposed upon him the work without doors; and by having formed the body of the

[ocr errors]

woman to be less able to bear such exertions, he appears to me to have laid upon her,' said I, 'the duties within doors. 24. But knowing that he had given the woman by nature, and laid upon her, the office of rearing young children, he has also bestowed upon her a greater portion of love for her newly-born offspring than on the man. 25. Since, too, the divinity has laid upon the woman the duty of guarding what is brought into the house, he, knowing that the mind, by being timid, is not less adapted for guarding, has given a larger share of timidity to the woman than to the man; and knowing also that if any one injures him who is engaged in the occupations without, he must defend himself, he has on that account given a greater portion of boldness to the man. 26. But as it is necessary for both alike to give and to receive, he has

and the impartially, so that you cannot distinguish whether the female or the male has the larger portion of them. 27. The power of being temperate also in what is necessary he has conferred in equal measure upon both, and has allowed that whichsoever of the two is superior in this virtue, whether the man or the woman, shall receive a greater portion of the benefit arising from it. 28. But as the nature of both is not fully adapted for all these requirements, they in consequence stand in greater need of aid from one another, and the pair are of greater service to each other, when the one is able to do those things in which the other is deficient. 29. As we know, then, my dear wife,' continued I, 'what is appointed to each of us by Providence, it is incumbent on us to discharge as well as we can that which each of us has to do." 30.

“ "The law, too,' I told her,” he proceeded, gives its approbation to these arrangements, by uniting the man and the woman; and as the divinity has made them part

ners, as it were, in their offspring, so the law ordains them to be sharers in household affairs. The law also shows that those things are more becoming to each which the divinity has qualified each to do with greater facility; for it is more becoming for the woman to stay within doors than to roam abroad, but to the man it is less creditable to remain at home than to attend to things out of doors. 31. And if any one acts contrary to what the divinity has fitted him to do, he will, while he violates the order of things, possibly not escape the notice of the gods, and will pay the penalty whether of neglecting his own duties or of interfering with those of his wife. 32. The queen of the bees,' I added, 'appears to me to discharge such duties as are appointed to her by the divinity.' 'And what duties,' inquired my wife,'has the queen bee to perform, that she should be made an example for the business which I have to do?' 33. 'She, remaining within the hive,' answered I, 'does not allow the bees to be idle, but sends out to their duty those who ought to work abroad; and whatever each of them brings in, she takes cognizance of it and receives it, and watches over the store until there is occasion to use it; and when the time for using it is come, she dispenses to each bee its just due. 34. She also presides over the construction of the cells within, that they may be formed beautifully and expeditiously. She attends, too, to the rising progeny, that they may be properly reared; and when the young bees are grown up, and are fit for work, she sends out a colony of them under some leader taken from among the younger bees.' 35. Will it then be necessary for me,' said my wife, 'to do such things?' 'It will certainly be necessary for you,' said I 'to remain at home, and to send out such of the laborers as have to work abroad, to their duties; and over such as have business to do in the house you must exercise a watch

ful superintendence. 36. Whatever is brought into the house, you must take charge of it; whatever portion of it is required for use you must give it out; and whatever should be laid by, you must take account of it and keep it safe, so that the provision stored up for a year, for example, may not be expended in a month. Whenever wool is brought home to you, you must take care that garments be made for those who want them. You must also be careful that the dried provisions may be in a proper condition for eating. 37. One of your duties, however,' I added, will perhaps appear somewhat disagreeable, namely, that whoever of all the servants may fall sick, you must take charge of him, that he may be recovered.' 38. “Nay, assuredly,' returned my wife, that will be a most agreeable office, if such as receive good treatment are likely to make a grateful return, and to become more attached to me than before.'” “Delighted with her answer," continued Ischomachus, “I said to her, ‘Are not the bees, my dear wife, in consequence of some such care on the part of the queen of the hive, so affected toward her, that, when she quits the hive, no one of them thinks of deserting her, but all follow in her train?' 39. “I should wonder, however,' answered my wife, ‘if the duties of leader do not rather belong to you than to me; for my guardianship of what is in the house, and distribution of it, would appear rather ridiculous, I think, if you did not take care that something might be brought in from out of doors.' 40. ' And on the other hand,' returned I, my bringing in would appear ridiculous, unless there were somebody to take care of what is brought in. Do you not see,' said I, 'how those who are said to draw water in a bucket full of holes are pitied, as they evidently labor in vain?''Certainly,' replied my wife, ‘for they are indeed wretched, if they are thus employed.'”

41. “. Some other of your occupations, my dear wife,' continued I, 'will be pleasing to you. For instance, when you take a young woman who does not know how to spin, and make her skilful at it, and she thus becomes of twice as much value to you. Or when you take one who is ignorant of the duties of a housekeeper or servant, and, having made her accomplished, trustworthy, and handy, render her of the highest value. Or when it is in your power to do services to such of your attendants as are steady and useful, while, if any one is found transgressing, you can inflict punishment. 42. But you will experience the greatest of pleasures, if you show yourself superior to me, and render me your servant, and have no cause to fear that, as life advances, you may become less respected in your household, but may trust that, while you grow older, the better consort you prove to me, and the more faithful guardian of your house for your children, so much the more will you be esteemed by your family. 43. For what is good and honorable,' I added, 'gains increase of respect, not from beauty of person, but from merits directed to the benefit of human life.' Such were the subjects, Socrates, on which as far as I remember, I first conversed seriously with my wife.”

CHAPTER VIII.

I.

“Did you then observe, Ischomachus," said I," that your wife was at all the more incited to carefulness by your remarks?” “Indeed I did,” replied Ischomachus, “ and I saw her on one occasion greatly concerned and put to the blush, because, when I asked for something that had been brought into the house, she was unable to give

2. Perceiving that she was in great trouble, however, I said, 'Do not be cast down, my dear wife, because

it me.

« PredošláPokračovať »