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Page 3

Lack of Sentiment in Marriages

 

    Sometimes marriages are arranged in which any sentiment is obviously prohibited. A father can betroth his daughter by will to some kinsman, who is to take her over as his bride when he takes over the property. A husband can bequeath his wife to some friend who is likely to treat her and the orphan children with kindness. Such affairs occur every day. Do the Athenian women revolt at these seemingly degrading conditions, wherein they are handed around like slaves, or even cattle?—According to the tragic poets they do. Sophocles (in the "Tereus") makes them lament,

"We women are nothing;—happy indeed is our childhood, for then we are thoughtless; but when we attain maidenhood, lo! we are driven away from our homes, sold as merchandise, and compelled to marry and say 'All's well.'"

Euripides is even more bitter in his "Medea":—

Surely of creatures that have life and wit,
We women are of all things wretchedest,
Who first must needs, as buys the highest bidder,
Thus buy a husband, and our body's master.[3]

 

 

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