Sophocles, Tereus, fr.583 (Radt)
Procne, sister of Philomela and wife of king Tereus, on the sorrows of women. This passage is the longest surviving fragment of Sophocles’ lost play.
νῦν δ’ οὐδέν εἰμι χωρίς· ἀλλὰ πολλάκις
ἔβλεψα ταύτῃ τὴν γυναικείαν φύσιν,
ὡς οὐδέν ἐσμεν. αἳ νέαι μὲν ἐν πατρὸς
ἥδιστον, οἶμαι, ζῶμεν ἀνθρώπων βίον·
τερπνῶς γὰρ ἀεὶ παῖδας ἁνοία τρέφει.
ὅταν δ’ ἐς ἥβην ἐξικώμεθ’ ἔμφρονες,
ὠθούμεθ’ ἔξω καὶ διεμπολώμεθα
θεῶν πατρῴων τῶν τε φυσάντων ἄπο,
αἱ μὲν ξένους πρὸς ἄνδρας, αἱ δὲ βαρβάρους,
αἱ δ’ εἰς ἀγηθῆ δώμαθ’, αἱ δ’ ἐπίρροθα.
καὶ ταῦτ’, ἐπειδὰν εὐφρόνη ζεύξῃ μία,
χρεὼν ἐπαινεῖν καὶ δοκεῖν καλῶς ἔχειν.
And now I am nothing on my own. But often have I seen women’s nature to be like this, since we are nothing. Young girls in their father’s house live, I think, the happiest life of all humanity. For folly always brings up children delightfully. But when we have reached the prime of life and are prudent, we are pushed out and sold, away from our ancestral gods and our parents, some of us to foreign husbands, some to barbarians, some to joyless homes, and some to abusive ones. And, when a single night has yoked us, this is what we must approve of and think of as a good life.