Hesiod on Marriage

One of my employees asked me to if he could borrow my copy of Hesiod’s Theogany for one of his classes.  I took it with me to work and decided to read a little bit of Works and Days, which was part of this version.

I have read Hesiod before, but for some reason I never really paid much attention to certain parts.  Then I saw this line about marriage, which cracked me up and was actually kind of true.

If you cannot read that, here is what it says:
“Marry at the right age.  Bring home a wife
When you’re just about thirty, give or take
A few years.  That’s marrying in season.

A woman ought to wed when she’s five years a woman
Marry her virgin so you can teach her prudent ways
The best girl to marry is the girl next door,
But have a good look around and make sure first
That marrying her won’t make you a joke to your neighbors.

A man couldn’t steal anything better than a good wife
Just as nothing is more horrible than a bad one,
Some freeloader who roasts her man without a fire,
And serves him up to a raw old age.”

So basically, Hesiod says that it is best to marry when you a guy is in his thirties.  The girl should be younger, she should have had her period for five years.  So, maybe a girl about 15-20?  You definitely want a virgin so you can teach her the fine art of sex.  Also, it is best to marry the girl next door, but you should ask around in case she is a bit of a slut or if she is considered ugly.

The last part is pretty true though.  Finding a special someone and marrying them will make you a happy man.  If not, you could be doomed for a life filled with misery and pain.  Fortunately, I get to spend my life with Lindsey, who will most certainly be the good wife that Hesiod prescribed.

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