The lots of Hera the Advisor

Inscribe the numbers 1 through 28 on pieces of paper, stone or pottery sherds and consult the relevant verse when it is drawn. The verses are taken from Plutarch’s Γαμικα Παραγγελματα or Conjugal Precepts.

I. It behooves that man to have his family in exquisite order who will undertake to regulate the failing of his friends or the public miscarriages.

II. It becomes a man and his wife at all times to avoid occasions of quarrelling one with another.

III. For it is natural to some mothers to be jealous that the wife deprives her of that filial tenderness which she expects from her son.

IV. Phidias made the statue of Aphrodite at Elis with one foot upon the shell of a tortoise, to signify two great duties of a virtuous woman, which are to keep at home and be silent.

V. The over-rigid humor of a wife renders her honesty irksome.

VI. Queen Olympias, understanding that a young courtier had married a lady, beautiful indeed, but of no good report, said: Sure, the Hotspur had little brains, otherwise he would never have married with his eyes. For they are fools who in the choice of a wife believe the report of their sight or fingers.

VII. They who refuse to frolic in retirement with their wives, or to let them participate of their private pastimes and dalliances, do but instruct them to cater for their own pleasures and delights.

VIII. It especially behooves those people who are newly married to avoid the first occasions of discord and dissension; considering that vessels newly formed are subject to be bruised and put out of shape by many slight accidents, but when the materials come once to be settled and hardened by time, nor fire nor sword will hardly prejudice the solid substance.

IX. Fire takes speedy hold of straw or hare’s fur, but soon goes out again, unless fed with an addition of more fuel.

X. For he that allows himself those pleasures that he forbids his wife, acts like a man that would enjoin his wife to oppose those enemies to which he has himself already surrendered.

XI. But as for quaint opinions and superstitious innovations, let them be exterminated from her outermost threshold.

XII. The question being put by some of his friends to a certain Roman, why he had put away his wife, both sober, beautiful, chaste, and rich, the gentleman, putting forth his foot and showing his buskin, said: Is not this a new, handsome, complete shoe? — yet no man but myself knows where it pinches me.

XIII. However, as in a goblet where the proportion of water exceeds the juice of the grape, yet still we call the mixture wine; in like manner the house and estate must be reputed the possession of the husband, although the woman brought the chiefest part.

XIV. As the woman in difficult labor said to those that were about to lay her upon her bed; How, said she, can this bed cure these pains, since it was in this very bed that my pleasures were the cause of all my throes?

XV. It behooves a husband to control his wife, not as a master does his vassal, but as the soul governs the body, with the gentle hand of mutual friendship and reciprocal affection.

XVI. They who bait their hooks with intoxicated drugs with little pains surprise the hungry fish, but then they prove unsavory to the taste and dangerous to eat.

XVII. Plato asserts those cities to be the most happy and best regulated where these expressions, “This is mine,” “This is not mine,” are seldomest made use of.

XVIII. On the other side, those young ladies that take a disdain to their husbands by reason of their first debates and encounters may be well compared to those that patiently endure the sting but fling away the honey.

XIX. They will not believe that Pasiphae, the consort of a prince, could ever be enamored of a bull, and yet themselves are so extravagant as to abandon the society of their husbands, — men of wisdom, temperance, and gravity, — and betake themselves to the bestial embraces of those who are given wholly to riot and debauchery as if they were dogs or goats.

XX. It behooves a woman not to make peculiar and private friendships of her own, but to esteem only her husband’s acquaintance and familiars as hers.

XXI. It is a common proverb, that the sun is too strong for the north wind; for the more the wind ruffles and strives to force a man’s upper garment from his back, the faster he holds it, and the closer he wraps it about his shoulders. But he who so briskly defended himself from being plundered by the wind, when once the sun begins to scald the air, all in a dropping sweat is then constrained to throw away not only his flowing garment but his tunic also.

XXII. Helen was covetous, Paris luxurious. On the other side, Ulysses was prudent, Penelope chaste. Happy therefore was the match between the latter; but the nuptials of the former brought an Iliad of miseries as well upon the Greeks as barbarians.

XXIII. Princes that be addicted to music increase the number of excellent musicians; if they be lovers of learning, all men strive to excel in reading and in eloquence.

XXIV. But altogether different is the humor of our women; for they, unless allowed their jewels, their bracelets, and necklaces, their gaudy vestments, gowns, and petticoats, all bespangled with gold, and their embroidered buskins, will never stir abroad.

XXV. Socrates was wont to give this advice to young men that accustomed themselves to their mirrors: — if ill-favored, to correct their deformity by the practice of virtue; if handsome, not to blemish their outward form with inward vice.

XXVI. Plato observing the morose and sour humor of Xenocrates, otherwise a person of great virtue and worth, admonished him to sacrifice to the Graces.

XXVII. This is an honor conferred upon her, not by the lustre of gold, the sparkling of emeralds and diamonds, nor splendor of the purple tincture, but by the real embellishments of gravity, discretion, humility, and modesty.

XXVIII. They who offer to Hera as the Goddess of Wedlock never consecrate the gall with the other parts of the sacrifice, but having drawn it forth, they cast it behind the altar. Which constitution of the lawgiver fairly implies that all manner of passionate anger and bitterness of reproach should be exterminated from the thresholds of nuptial cohabitation.

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