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"neither the entire mistress of my fortune, nor of "her own actions. When she became a mother, "this new endearment softened and overcame the "prudent caution of my former conduct, and en"gaged me to repose in her an unlimited confi"dence. During a short time, Athenians! I had "no occasion to repent of this alteration: she " proved a most excellent wife; and, highly cir"cumspect in her private behaviour, she managed
my affairs with the utmost diligence and fru
gality. But since the death of my mother, she "has been the cause of all my calamities. Then "she first got abroad to attend the funeral, and "being observed by Eratosthenes, was soon after "seduced by him. This he effected by means of "our female slave, whom he watched going to "market, and whom, by fair promises and flattery, " he drew over to his designs.
"It is necessary you should be informed, Athe"nians! that my house consists of two floors; the "floor above is laid out in a similar manner to “that below; this lodges the men, that above is "destined for the women. Upon the birth of our 66 son, my wife suckled him herself; and to re"lieve her from the fatigue of going below stairs
as often as it was necessary to bathe him, I
yielded up the ground floor to the women, and kept above stairs myself. She still continued, "however, to sleep with me during the night;
and when the child was peevish, and fell a-cry
ing, she frequently went below stairs, and offer❝ed it the breast. This practice was long conti"nued without any suspicion on my part,. who,
simple man that I was! regarded my spouse "as a prodigy of virtue *."
Solon is said to have made regulations for preventing the women from violating those decorums which were esteemed essential to their character. He appointed that no matron should go from home with more than three garments, nor a larger quantity of provisions than could be purchased for an obolus. He also provided, that when any matron went abroad, she should always have an attendant, and a lighted torch carried before her †.
At Athens, a man was not permitted to approach the apartment of his step-mother, or her children, though living in the same house; which is given, by Mr Hume, as the reason why, by the Athenian laws, one might marry his half-sister by the father; for as these relations had no more intercourse than the men and women of different families, there was no greater danger of any criminal correspondence between them.
It is probable, that the recluse situation of the Grecian women, which was adapted to the circumstances of the people upon their first advancement in arts, was afterwards maintained from an inviol
* See the oration of Lysias, in defence of Euphiletus, translated by Dr Gillies.
+ See Potter's Greek antiquities.
able respect to their ancient institutions. The democratical form of government, which came to be established in most parts of Greece, had, at the same time, a tendency to occupy the people in the management of public affairs, and to engage them in those pursuits of ambition, from which the women were naturally excluded. It must however be admitted that, while such a state of manners might be conducive to the more solid enjoyments of life, it undoubtedly prevented the two sexes from improving the arts of conversation, and from giving a polish to the expression of their thoughts and sentiments. Hence it is, that the Greeks, notwithstanding their learning and good sense, were remarkably deficient in delicacy and politeness, and were so little judges of propriety in wit and humuor, as to relish the low ribaldry of an Aristophanes, at a period when they were entertained with the sublime eloquence of a Demosthenes, and with the pathetic compositions of a Euripides and a Sophocles.
The military character in ancient Greece, considered with respect to politeness, and compared with the same character in modern times, seems to afford a good illustration of what has been observed. Soldiers, as they are men of the world, have usually such manners as are formed by company and conversation. But in ancient Greece they were no less remarkable for rusticity and ill-manners, than in the modern nations of Europe they
are distinguished by politeness and good-breeding; for Menander, the comic poet, says, that he can hardly conceive such a character as that of a polite soldier to be formed even by the power of the Deity *.
When the Romans, towards the middle of the Commonwealth, had become in some degree civilized, it is probable that the condition of their women was nearly the same with that of the Greeks in the period above mentioned. But it appears that, at Rome, the circumstances of the people underwent very rapid changes in this particular. By the conquest of many opulent nations, great wealth was suddenly imported into the capital of the empire; which corrupted the ancient manners of the inhabitants, and produced a great revolution in their taste and sentiments.
In the modern nations of Europe, we may also observe, that the introduction of arts, and of regular government, had an immediate influence upon the relative condition and behaviour of the sexes. When the disorders incident to the Gothic system had subsided, the women began to be valued upon account of their useful talents and accomplishments; and their consideration and rank, making allowance for some remains of that romantic spirit which had prevailed in a former period, came to be chiefly determined by the importance of those departments
*Menander apud Stobaeum.
which they occupied, in carrying on the business and maintaining the intercourse of society.
manners introduced by such views of the female character are still in some measure preserved, in those European countries which have been least affected by the late rapid advances of luxury and refine