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are the forerunners of the tricksters of the New Comedy — the "fallax servus" of the Menandrian drama. But as respects truth, in the modern import of the word, the morality of the ancients was not that of the moderns. The latter profess to abhor a lie; the former—more prudently and consistently perhaps— made no professions at all on the subject. The crafty Ulysses, rather than the bold Achilles, is the type of an Achaean; Themistocles, far more than Aristides, that of an Athenian Greek. Euripides, who represents men as they are, and not as they ought to be, did not disdain to employ in his plays this common feature of his age and nation, but in none of them has he depicted such a thorough - going scoundrel as the Sophoclean Ulysses in the "Philoctetes."
In what sense of the word was Euripides a hater of women—for that he occasionally spoke ill of them is beyond doubt? His character is indeed a difficult one to interpret—on the surface full of inconsistencies; and seeing these only, it is easy to understand why he was less revered than ^Eschylus, less esteemed or beloved than Sophocles. Below the surface, however, it is possible to discover a certain unity of purpose in him, and it is traceable in his sentiments on the female sex. First, let the position of women among the Greeks in general be remembered. They lived in almost Oriental seclusion. "What was expected from a good wife is shown in a very instructive passage of Xenophon's treatise, 'The Economist or Householder.'
Ischomachus, the principal speaker in the dialogue, describes how he had "trained his wife, at the time he espoused her, an inexperienced girl of fourteen, to the duties of her position. The account that ensues of the functions of an Athenian married lady would be applicable, if we except the greater restriction on her personal liberty, to a hired housekeeper of the present day. Her business is to nurse her children, to maintain discipline among her slaves; to be diligent herself at her web, in the management of her kitchen, larder, and bakehouse, and in her care of the furniture, wardrobe, and household property of all kinds; to select a well-qualified stewardess to act under herself, but to allow no undue confidence in her to interfere with her own habits of personal superintendence; to remain continually within doors; she will find abundance of exercise in her walks to and from different parts of the premises, in dusting clothes and carpets, and baking bread or pastry." "From all this it appears, that what are now considered essential qualifications in a married lady of the upper class—presiding at her husband's table, receiving his guests, or enlivening by her conversation his hours of domestic retirement—entered as little into the philosopher's estimate of a model wife as into that of his countrymen at large. Like Pericles, Socrates " — and, we may add, Euripides — " could appreciate female accomplishments in an Aspasia or a Theodota," * but hardly looked for them in wives so trained and employed as was that of Ischomachus.
If Euripides were generally a woman-hater, he was at least not always consistent in his aversion. No one of the Athenian stage-poets has written more to the * Colonel Mure's Hist, of Greek Literature, v. 463.
credit of good women, or more delicately or tenderly delineated female characters. For this assertion it is sufficient to cite Polyxena in his "Hecuba," Macaria in "The Children of Hercules," Evadne in "The Suppliant Women," the sisterly devotion of Electra in his "Orestes," Iphigenia in both of the plays bearing her name, and the sublime self-sacrifice of the noble and loving Alcestis. Even Hecuba and Jocasta are braver and wiser than the men about them, and these old, afflicted, and discrowned queens have neither youth nor personal charms to recommend them. Phaedra he represents not as a vicious woman, but as the helpless victim of an irate deity; while in' the "Medea" the fierce and revengeful heroine has all our sympathy, while Jason has all our contempt.*
And if Euripides were reprehensible for his opinions on women, what shall we say of his antagonist Aristophanes 1 Had the wives and daughters of Athens no cause of complaint against their caricaturist? If the pictures drawn of them in his "Lysistrata" and "Thesmophoriazusae" be not wholly fanciful, what woman sketched by Euripides would not be too good for such profligate companions 1 The female characters
* Adolph Schbll, the author of an excellent Life of Sophocles, reminds his readers that the very female characters which Euripides is sometimes taxed with selecting, because they were particularly wicked, for his themes, were brought on the stage by Sophocles in dramas now lost—e.g., Phaedra, Stheneboea, Ino, Medea often, ^Erope, Althaea, Eriphyle, &c. &c.; and he notices also that Euripides, in many of his dramas, atoned, if there was any occasion to do so, for his portraits of the bad, by his numerous delineations of good women.
of Sophocles are perhaps worthier of admiration than those of his rival; but the pencil that traced Antigone, Deianara, and Tecmessa, drew ideal heroines: that of Euripides painted human beings, creatures with strong passions, yet stronger affections, with a deep sense of duty, of religion, as in the instances of Theonoe in his "Helen," of Andromache, and Antigone,—women who may be esteemed or loved, women who walk the earth, sharing heroically, sympathising tenderly with, the sorrows and sufferings of their partners in affliction. The zealous champion of the gods of the state was, we have seen, an arch-scoffer at all loftier forms of belief; the satiric pen that wrote down Euripides as a hater of women was held by the archlibeller of their sex.*
Nor was the humanity of the poet less conspicuous in his feelings towards slaves. And again we have to notice something inconsistent with his supposed
* Might not our Fletcher be fairly taxed with womanhating by readers who pick out such passages only as suit their own views, or ascribe to the author himself the opinions he puts into the mouths of his dramatis personal? The Greek poet has not written anything half so injurious to women as the following lines from the "Night-Walker," act ii. sc. 4 :—
"Oh! I hate
austere disposition. "We have no reason for thinking that the lot of home-bred or purchased slaves was particularly hard in Athens; certainly they had there less rigorous masters than the Spartans or Eomans were. But there can be little doubt of the contempt with which non-Hellenic races were viewed by Greeks in general, or of the broad line they drew between themselves and barbarians. Even in Attica, the happiness or misery of a bondman must have depended in great measure upon the disposition of his owner. He might be half starved or cruelly flogged—but no law protected him: overworked, without comment from the neighbours; tortured, if his evidence were required in a court of justice; cashiered, when.his services were rendered useless by age or infirmity. Euripides, if his writings be in accordance with his practice, anticipated the humane sentiments of Seneca and the younger Pliny in his consideration for this, at the best, unhappy order of men. He did not regard it as the mark of an unsound mind to look on a slave as a human being. He introduces him in his plays as a faithful nurse, or an honest and attached herdsman, shepherd, or household servant. He endows him with good abilities, and at times shrewd and ready wit, with kindly affection to his fellows, and love and loyalty to his masters. He even goes almost to an extreme in putting into his mouth saws, maxims, and opinions meet for a philosopher. He perceived, and he strove to make others perceive, that servitude does not necessarily extinguish virtue or good sense. He left it to the comic poets to exhibit the slave as necessarily