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Women's Voices


32. The lot of women: Procne. Athens, mid-5th cent. B.C. (Sophocles, Tereus, Fr. 585 Radt. G)

Procne's husband, Tereus, has seduced her sister; in revenge she plans to murder their son.

But now outside my father's house, I am nothing, yes often I have looked on women's nature in this regard, that we are nothing. Young women, in my opinion, have the sweetest existence known to mortals in their fathers' homes, for their innocence always keeps children safe and happy. But when we reach puberty and can understand, we are thrust out and sold away from our ancestral gods and from our parents. Some go to strange men's homes, others to foreigners', some to joyless houses, some to hostile. And all this once the first night has yoked us to our husband, we are forced to praise and to say that all is well.