BOOK I, CHAPTER XXIII
still unborn children, which one they wish brought up and preserved, and which they wish to be cast out and killed; elsewhere, aged husbands lend their wives to young men to be used, and elsewhere they are blamelessly common; indeed, in one land they wear as a badge of honour as many rows of fringe on the edge of their garments as they have known men. And has not custom even caused a separate state of women to exist? has she not put arms in their hands, and caused them to train armies and fight battles? And that which reason and all philosophy can not implant in the heads of the wisest men, does not she teach, solely by her decree, to the dullest of the common people? For we know whole regions where death was not only scorned, but welcomed with rejoicing; where children of seven endured to be whipped to death without changing countenance; where riches were held in such scorn that the meanest citizen in the town would not have deigned to stoop to pick up a purse full of gold. And we know places very fruitful in all sorts of provisions where, none the less, the most usual and most delicate dishes were bread, cresses, and water.
(b) Did not custom work even that miracle in Cio, that seven hundred years passed during which there was no remembrance that either maid or wife there had been false to her honour? (a) In fine, to my thinking, there is nothing which she does not do or could not do; and Pindar justly calls her, as I have been told, the Queen and Empress of the world.
(c) The man who was found beating his father declared that it was the custom of his family: that his father had thus beaten his grandfather, and his grandfather his great- grandfather; and, pointing to his son, he said: “He will . beat me when he has reached my present age.” And that father whose son haled him and tugged him through the
- See Herodotus, IV, 172.
- See Idem, IV, 176.
- An allusion to the republic of the Amazons.
- Especially the Thracians. See Valerius Maximus, IT, 6, ext. 12. The text of 1580-1588 is here slightly shortened, but without change of meaning.
- See Xenophon, Cyropædeia, I, 2.
- See Plutarch, Of the virtuous deeds of women.
- See Herodotus, III, 38.