Semonides, Types of Women and Hipponax fr. 68

"Simonides, son of Crines, of Amorgos, iambic writer. He wrote elegiac poetry in two books and iambics. He was born 490 years after the Trojan War. He was the first to write iambics according to some" (Suda).


In different ways god made the mind of woman
in the beginning. He made one from the bristly sow
through whose house everything, smeared with mud,
lies in dishevelment and rolls along the ground.
Unclean and in unwashed clothes herself, 5
she sits among the dunghills and grows fat.
Another the god constructed from a mischievous fox,
a woman skilled in everything. Nothing evil
alludes her, nor anything good.
Of them, she often deems the latter bad 10
and the former good. Her temperament is fickle.
Another he made a rogue from a dog, image of her mother,
who wants to hear everything and know everything
and goes about snooping and wandering everywhere,
barking whether she sees anybody or not. 15
Her husband couldn't stop her with his threats,
not even if he got mad and knocked her teeth out
with a stone or if he charmed her with words,
not even if she is sitting beside guests.
No, she keeps up her useless yapping constantly. 20
Another the Olympians molded from earth
and gave her lame to a man. Neither anything evil
nor good does such a woman know. Of accomplishments,
she knows only how to eat. Even if god turns
the winter to the bad, though she is shivering, 25
she won't drag her chair nearer the fire.
Another from the sea, who sees two moods in her heart.
One day she laughs and rejoices.
The guest, seeing her in the house, praises her.
"There's no other woman better than this one, 30
nor more beautiful among all mankind."
Another day, she is unendurable even to look at
or to come near, but she raging mad at that time,
unapproachable like a bitch with her pups.
Unassuaged and unpleasant to all, 35
she acts no differently to friends than enemies.
Just like the sea is sometimes calm
and kindly, a great joy for sailors
in summertime, but at other times, it rages,
lifted up on deep-thundering waves, 40
like the sea is such a woman
in temperament. The sea's nature fluctuates, too.
Another from the dusty-gray, stubborn donkey,
who, under force and abuse, toil and trouble,
loves the work after all and does the best. 45
Then, she eats in the innermost stall
all night, all day, and she eats at the hearth.
Likewise, too, regarding matters of sex,
she accepts any companion who comes along.
Another god made from a skunk, wretched, woeful sort. 50
Nothing beautiful, nothing charming about her,
nothing pleasant, and nothing sexy, either.
But she's mad for the bed and sex, and
when he's around, she makes her husband nauseous.
She steals from the neighbors and commits every evil. 55
Often she eats sacrifices waiting to be offered.
Another a dainty mare with flowing main bore,
who avoids the toil and drudgery of slaves.
She wouldn't touch the mill or lift
the sieve or throw dung out of the house, 60
nor sit by the oven--she shuns the soot.
She makes her husband intimate with Hard Times.
She washes the dirt from herself twice during the day,
some days thrice, and anoints herself with perfumes. 65
Always she wears her hair long
and shadowed deep with flowers.
Such a woman is a beautiful thing to look at for others,
but for him who has her, she proves to be an evil,
unless he's some tyrant or sceptered king
who flatters his ego with such stuff. 70
Another from a monkey. This one Zeus bestowed
upon men as the worst evil beyond all evils.
Her faces is the ugliest. Such a woman
goes through town a laughingstock for all men.
Her neck's short: she barely turns her head. 75
She's got no buttocks but is all legs. Alas,
the poor man who takes this evil in his arms.
Every scheme and turn she knows, just like a monkey,
and doesn't give a hoot about the laughing.
She wouldn't do anyone any good but looks only at this,80
and plans this the whole day long:
how she will do anybody the greatest evil.
Another from a bee. Anyone getting her is lucky.
To her alone cleaves no blame,
but livelihood flourishes with her and increases. 85
She loves her husband, and he loves her. She bears him
noble and renowned sons. They grow old together.
Conspicuous among all women is she,
and divine grace surrounds her.
She takes no pleasure in sitting among women 90
when all they talk about is sex.
Women like her Zeus gives to men.
They are the best and most accomplished women.
The other tribes are here because of Zeus's trickery,
all of them, and they remain among men. 95
Zeus made this to be the greatest evil--women.
If they seem to be helpful,
they prove in the end to be an evil for whoever has them.
He never goes the whole day in cheer,
that man who has a woman. 100
She will not push away famine from the house,
a hostile housemate and harsh god.
Whenever a man seems glad at heart,
in his home or by god's allotment and men's favor,
she finds something to blame and arms for battle. 105
Where there is a woman, he could not welcome
eagerly a guest, who's arrived, into his house.
And one who seems particularly modest
turns out to shame herself most egregiously.
Her husband's jaw drops, and the neighbors 110
delight in seeing him that way as he errs.
Each man, recalling his wife, will praise her
and will find fault with another man's wife.
We don't realize that we have the same lot.
Zeus made this to be the greatest evil 115
and put round us unbreakable fetters
from which Hades receives men
who have quarreled over a woman.
Hipponax fr. 68
Two days of a woman are sweetest, whenever
someone marries her and carries her out dead.