Enchiridion XL


Women from fourteen years old are flattered by men with the title of mistresses. Therefore, perceiving that they are regarded only as qualified to give men pleasure, they begin to adorn themselves, and in that to place all their hopes. It is worth while, therefore, to try that they may perceive themselves honored only so far as they appear beautiful in their demeanor and modestly virtuous.

It is unusual to hear ancient philosophers speak about women; Aristotle was famously incurious about them, at least in his writing. Socrates apparently said something like, "By all means marry; for if you get a good wife you shall become happy, and if you get a bad one you shall become a philosopher."

Epictetus has said little enough about women, but it is kind and decent: understand why they might seem vain, for society puts little value on anything except their attractiveness, on which everything for them may depend; but honor them rightly, for virtue and character. 

1 comment:

douglas said...

Interestingly though, a great deal of the beautification women do is for the sake of their reputations among the other women, perhaps more than to attract men. After all, attracting men really isn't so hard if that's all you want to do.