THE PYTHAGOREAN SOURCEBOOK AND LIBRARY
THE ETHICAL FRAGMENTS OF HIEROCLES
HIEROCLES was a Neoplatonic philosopher of Alexandria during the fifth century of the common era. His Commentaries on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras survives intact, and fragments remain of a treatise On Providence, Fate and Free Will. The ethical fragments assembled here are preserved by Stobaeus.
The only thing known about his life is an anecdote preserved by Suidas. In the same way that some Romans mistreated the early Christians, so too did later Christians abuse others who did not share their faith. The story preserved by Suidas demonstrates that Hierocles maintained an admirable sense of humor even under the most adverse conditions: upon arriving in Byzantium he seems to have offended certain Christians and was therefore whipped in the presence of a Christian magistrate. Taking some of his blood into the cup of his hand, Hierocles sprinkled the judge with it, quoting the lines from the Odyssey: "Cyclops, since human flesh is thy delight / Now drink this wine."
As the following fragments and his Commentaries aptly demonstrate, Hierocles was greatly gifted as a writer and was especially adept in the realm of ethical matters. For a study of his thought see Le Neo-Platonisme Alexandrin: Hierocles d'Alexandre, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1987.
THE ETHICAL FRAGMENTS OF HIEROCLES
CONCERNING THE GODS we should assume that they are immutable and do not change their decrees; from the very beginning they never vary their conceptions of propriety, The immutability and firmness of the virtues we know, and reason suggests that it must transcendently be so with the Gods, and be the element which to their conceptions imparts a never-failing stability. Evidently no punishment which divinity thinks proper to inflict is likely to be remitted. For if the Gods changed their decisions, and omitted to punish someone whom they had designed to punish, the world could be neither beautifully nor justly governed; nor can we assign any probable reason for repentance on their part. Rashly, indeed, and without any reason, have poets written words such as the following:
Nor is this the only expression in poetry.
Nor must we omit to observe, that though the Gods are not the causes of evil, yet they connect certain persons with things of this kind, and surround those who deserve to be afflicted with corporeal and external hindrances; not through any malignity, or because they think it advisable that men should struggle with difficulties, but for the sake of punishment. For as in general pestilence and drought, rain storms, earthquakes and the like, are indeed for the most part produced by natural causes, yet they are sometimes caused by the Gods when the times are such that the multitude's iniquity needs to be punished publicly and in common; likewise the Gods sometimes afflict an individual with corporeal and external difficulties, in order to punish him and convert others to what is right.
The belief that the Gods are never the cause of any evil, it seems to me, contributes greatly to proper conduct towards the Gods. For evils proceed from vice alone, while the Gods are of themselves the causes of good, and of any advantage, though in the meantime we slight their beneficence, and surround ourselves with voluntary evils. That is why I agree with the poet who says,
as if they were the causes of their evils!
Many arguments prove that God is never in any way the cause of evil, but it will suffice to read [in the first book of the Republic] the words of Plato "that as it is not the nature of heat to refrigerate, so the beneficent cannot harm; but the contrary." Moreover, God being good, and from the beginning replete with every virtue, cannot harm nor cause evil to anyone; on the contrary, he imparts good to all willing to receive it, bestowing on us also such indifferent things as flow from nature, and which result in accordance with nature. But there is only one cause of evil.
AFTER SPEAKING OF THE GODS it is most reasonable, in the second place, to show how we should conduct ourselves towards our country. For God is my witness that our country is a sort of secondary divinity, and our first and greatest parent. That is why its name is, for good reason, patris, derived from pater, a father, but taking a feminine termination, to be as it were a mixture of father and mother. This also explains that our country should be honored equally with our parents, preferring it to either of them separately, and not even to it preferring both of our parents; preferring it besides to our wife, children and friends, and in short to all things, under the Gods.
He who would esteem one finger more than five would be considered stupid, inasmuch as it is reasonable to prefer five to one; the former despising the most desirable, while the latter among the five preserves also the one finger. Likewise, he who prefers to save himself rather than his country, in addition to acting unlawfully, desires an impossibility. On the contrary, he who to himself prefers his country is dear to divinity and reasons properly and irrefutably. Moreover it has been observed that though someone should not be a member of an organized society, remaining apart therefrom, yet it it proper that he should prefer the safety of society to his own; for the city's destruction would demonstrate that on its existence depended that of the individual citizen, just as the amputation of the hand involves the destruction of the finger as an integral part. We may therefore draw the general conclusion that general utility cannot be separated from private welfare, both at bottom being identical. For whatever is beneficial to the whole country is common to every single part, inasmuch as without the parts the whole is nothing. Vice versa, whatever rebounds to the benefit of the citizen extends also to the city, the nature of which is to extend benefits to the citizen. For example, whatever is beneficial to a dancer must, in so far as he is a dancer, be so also to the whole choric ballet. Applying this reasoning to the discursive power of the soul, it will shed light on every particular duty, and we shall never omit to perform whatever may by us be due to our country.
That is the reason why a man who proposes to act honorably by his country should from his soul remove every passion and disease. The laws of his country should, by a citizen, be observed as precepts of a secondary divinity, conforming himself entirely to their mandates. He who endeavors to transgress or make any innovation in these laws should be opposed in every way, and be prevented therefrom in every possible way. By no means beneficial to the city is contempt of existing laws and preference for the new. Incurable innovators, therefore, should be restrained from giving their votes, and making hasty innovations. I therefore commend the legislator Zaleucus of Locri, who ordained that he who intended to introduce a new law should do it with a rope around his neck, in order that he might be immediately strangled unless he succeeded in changing the ancient constitution of the state to the very great advantage of the community.
But customs which are truly those of the country and which, perhaps, are more ancient than the laws themselves, are, no less than the laws, to be preserved. However, the customs of the present, which are but of yesterday, and which have been everywhere introduced only so very recently, are not to be dignified as the institutes of our ancestors, and perhaps they are not even to be considered as customs at all.  Moreover, because custom is an unwritten law, it has as sanction the authority of a very good legislator, namely common consent of all that use it, and perhaps on this account its authority is next to that of justice itself.
AFTER CONSIDERING THE GODS AND OUR COUNTRY, what person deserves to be mentioned more than, or prior to our parents? That is why we turn towards them. No mistake, therefore, will be made by him who says that they are as it were secondary or terrestrial divinities, since, on account of their proximity they should, in a certain non-blasphemous sense, be by us more honored than the Gods themselves. To begin with, the only gratitude worthy of the name is a perpetual and unremitting promptness to repay the benefits received from them, since, though we do our very utmost, this would yet fall short of what they deserve. Moreover, we might also say that in one sense our deeds are to be counted as theirs, because we who perform them were once produced by them. If, for instance, the works of Phidias and other artists should themselves produce other works of art, we should not hesitate to attribute these latter deeds also to the original artists; that is why we may justly say that our performances are the deeds of our parents, through whom we originally derived our existence.
In order that we may the more easily apprehend the duties we owe them, we should keep in mind the underlying principle that our parents should by us be considered as the images of the Gods, and, by Zeus, images of the domestic Gods, who are our benefactors, our relatives, our creditors, our lords, and our most stable friends. They are indeed most stable images of the Gods, possessing a likeness to them which no artist could possibly surpass. They are the guardian divinities of the home, and live with us; they are our greatest benefactors, endowing us with benefits of the greatest consequence, and indeed bestowing on us not only all we possess, but also such things as they wish to give us, and for which they themselves pray. Further they are our nearest kindred, and the causes of our alliance with others. They are also creditors of things of the most honorable nature and repay themselves only by taking what we shall be benefited by returning. For to a child what benefit can be so great as piety and gratitude to his parents? Most justly, too, are they our lords, for of what can we be the possession of in a greater degree than of those through whom we exist? Moreover, they are perpetual and spontaneous friends and auxiliaries, affording us assistance at all times and in every circumstance. Since, besides, the name of parent is the most excellent of names which we apply even to the divinities, we may add something to this conception: namely, that children should be persuaded that they dwell in their father's house, as if they were ministers and priests in a temple, appointed and consecrated for this purpose by nature herself, who entrusted to their care a reverential attention to their parents. If we are willing to carry out the dictates of reason we shall readily attend to both kinds of affective regard, for both the body and the soul. Yet reason will show us that to the body is to be paid less regard than to the soul, although we shall not neglect the former very necessary duties. For our parents, therefore, we should obtain liberal food, and such as is adequate to the weakness of old age; besides this, a bed, sleep, massage, a bath, and proper garments, in short, the necessities of the body, that they may at no time experience the want of any of these, by this imitating their care for the nurture of ourselves when we were infants. Our attention to them should partake of the prophetic nature, whereby we may discover what special bodily necessity that they may be longing for without expressing it to us. Respecting us, indeed, they divined many things when our desires could be expressed by no more than inarticulate and distressful cries, unable to express the objects of our wants clearly. By the benefits they formerly conferred upon us, our parents became to us the preceptors of what we ought to bestow upon them.
With respect to our parents' souls, we should in the first place procure for them diversion, which will be obtained especially if we associate with them by night and day, taking walks, being massaged, and living by their side, unless something necessary interferes. For just as those who are undertaking a long journey desire the presence of their families and friends to see them off, as if accompanying a solemn procession, so also parents, verging on the grave, enjoy most of all the diligent and unremitting attention of their children. Moreover, should our parents at any time, as happens often, especially with those whose education was deficient, display conduct which is reprehensible, they should indeed be corrected, but not as we are accustomed to do with our inferiors or equals, but as it were with suggestiveness -- not as if they had erred through ignorance, but as if they had committed an oversight through inattention, as if they would not have erred had they considered the matter. For reproof, especially if personal, is to the old very bitter. That is why their oversights should be supplemented by mild exhortation, as by an elegant artifice.
Children, besides, cause their parents to rejoice by performing for them servile offices such as washing their feet, making their bed, or ministering to their wants. These necessary servile attentions are all the more precious when performed by the dear hands of their children, accepting their ministrations. Parents will be especially gratified when their children publicly show their honor to those whom they love and very much esteem.
That is why children should affectionately love their parents' kindred and pay them proper attention, as also to their parents' friends and acquaintances. These general principles will aid us to deduce many other smaller filial duties which are neither unimportant nor accidental. For since our parents are gratified by the attention we pay to those they love, it will be evident that as we are in a most eminent degree beloved by our parents, we shall surely much please them by paying a proper attention to ourselves.
THE FIRST ADMONITION, therefore, is very clear and convincing, and generally obligatory, being sane and self-evident. Here it is: Act by everyone in the same manner as if you supposed yourself to be him, and him to be you. A servant will be well treated by one who considers how he would like to be treated by him if he was the master, and himself the servant. The same principle might be applied between parents and children, and vice versa, and, in short, between all men. This principle, however, is peculiarly adapted to the mutual relation of brothers, since no other preliminary considerations are necessary, in the matter of conduct towards one's brother, than promptly to assume that equitable mutual relation. This therefore is the first precept, to act toward one's brother in the same manner in which he would think it proper for his brother to act towards him.
But someone will say, by Zeus, I do not transgress propriety and am equitable, but my brother's manners are rough and brusque. This is not right for, in the first place, he may not be speaking the truth, as excessive vanity might lead a man to extol and magnify his own manners and diminish and vilify what pertains to others. It frequently happens, indeed, that men of inferior worth prefer themselves to others who are far more excellent characters. Second, though the brother should indeed be of the rough character mentioned above, the course to take would be to prove oneself the better character by vanquishing his rusticity by your beneficence. Those who conduct themselves worthily towards moderate, gracious men are entitled to no great thanks; but to transform to graciousness the stupid vulgar man, he deserves the greatest applause.
It must not be thought impossible for exhortation to take marked effect, for in men of the most impossible manners there are possibilities of improvement, and of love and honor for their benefactors. Not even animals, and such as naturally are the most hostile to our race, who are captured by violence and dragged off in chains, and confined in cages, are beyond being tamed by appropriate treatment and daily food. Will not then the man who is a brother, or even the first man you meet, who deserves attention far greater than a beast, be rendered gentle by proper treatment, even though he should never entirely lose his boorishness? In our behavior, therefore, towards every man, and in a much greater degree towards our brother, we should imitate Socrates who, to a person who cried out against him, "May I die, unless I am revenged on you," answered, "May I die if I do not make you my friend!" So much then for external, fraternal relations.
Further, a man should consider that in a certain sense his brothers are part of him, just as my eyes are part of me; also my legs, my hands, and other parts of me. So are the relations of brother to a family social organism. If then the eyes and the hands should receive a particular soul and intellect, they would because of the above mentioned communion, and because they could not perform their proper offices without the presence of the other members who watch over the interests of the other members with the interest of a guardian spirit. So also, we who are men and who acknowledge that we have a soul should, towards our brothers, omit no proper offices. Indeed, more naturally adapted for mutual assistance than parts of the body are brothers. The eyes, being mutually adjusted, do see what is before them, and one hand cooperates with the other, but the mutual adaptation of brothers is far more various. For they accomplish things which are mutually profitable, though at the greatest intervening distance; and they will greatly benefit each other though their mutual differences be immeasurable. In short, it must be recognized that our life resembles nothing so much as a prolonged conflict which arises partly from the natural strife in the nature of things, and partly through the sudden unexpected blows of fortune, but most of all through vice itself, which abstains neither from violence, fraud, nor evil strategems. Hence nature, as not being ignorant of the purpose for which she generated us, produced each of us, as it were, accompanied by an auxiliary.
No one, therefore, is alone, nor does he derive his origin from an oak or a rock, but from parents, in conjunction with brothers, relatives, and other intimates. Here reason for us performs a great work, conciliating us to strangers who are no relatives of ours, furnishing us with many assistants. That is the very reason why we naturally endeavor to allure and make everyone our friend. How insane a thing it therefore is to wish to be united to those who naturally have nothing suitable to procure our love, and become as familiar as possible with them voluntarily, and yet neglect those willing helpers and associates supplied by nature herself, who are called brothers!
THE DISCUSSION OF MARRIAGE is most necessary as the whole of our race is naturally social, and the most fundamental social association is that effected by marriage. Without a household there could be no cities; and households of the unmarried are most imperfect, while on the contrary those of the married are most complete. That is why, in our treatise On Families, we have shown that the married state is to be preferred by the sage, while a single life is not to be chosen except under peculiar circumstances. Therefore, inasmuch as we should imitate the man of intellect so far as possible, and as for him marriage is preferable, it is evident it will be so also for us, except if hindered by some exceptional circumstance. This is the first reason for marriage.
Entirely apart from the model of the sage, Nature herself seems to incite us thereto. Not only did she make us gregarious, but adapted to sexual intercourse, and proposed the procreation of children and stability of life as the one and universal work of wedlock. Now Nature justly teaches us that a choice of such things as are fit should be made so as to accord with what she has procured for us. Every animal, therefore, lives in conformity to its natural constitution, and so also every plant lives in harmony with its laws of life. But there exists this difference, that the latter do not employ any reasoning or calculation in the selection of the things on which they lay hold, using nature along without participation in [rational] soul. Animals are drawn to investigate what may be proper for them by imagination and desires. To us, however, Nature gave reason to survey everything else and, together with all things -- nay, prior to all things -- to direct its attention to Nature itself, so as to tend towards her as a glorious aim, in an orderly manner, that by choosing everything consonant with her, we might live in a becoming manner. Following this line of argument, he will not error in saying that a family without wedlock is imperfect, for nature does not conceive of the governor without the governed, nor of the governed without a governor. Nature therefore seems to me to shame those who are adverse to marriage.
In the next place, marriage is beneficial. First, because it produces a truly divine fruit, the procreation of children who are, as partaking of our nature, to assist us in all our undertakings while our strength is yet undiminished; and when we shall be worn out, oppressed with old age, they will be our assistants. In prosperity they will be the associates of our joy and, in adversity, the sympathetic diminishers of our sorrows.
Marriage is beneficial not only because of procreation of children, but for the association of a wife. When we are wearied with our labors outside of the home, she receives us with officious kindness and refreshes us by her solicitous attentions. Next, she induces a forgetfulness of molestations outside of the house. The annoyances in the forum, the gymnasium, or the country, and in short all the vicissitudes of our intercourse with friends and acquaintances, do not disturb us so obviously, being obscured by our necessary occupations; but when released from these, we return home, and our mind has time to reflect, then availing themselves of this opportunity these cares and anxieties rush in upon us, to torment us, at the very moment when life seems cheerless and lonely. Then comes the wife as a great solace and, by making some inquiry about external affairs, or by referring to and together considering some domestic problem, she, by her sincere vivacity inspires him with pleasure and delight. It is needless to enumerate all the help a wife can be in festivals, when making sacrifice; or, during her husband's journeys, she can keep the household running smoothly, and direct at times of urgency; or in managing the domestics and in nursing her husband when sick.
In summary: in order to pass through life properly, all men need two things -- the aid of relatives, and kindly sympathy. But nothing can be more sympathetic than a wife, nor anything more kindred than children. Both of these are afforded by marriage; how therefore could be found anything more beneficial?
Also beautiful is a married life, it seems to me. What relation can be more ornamental to a family that that between husband and wife? Not sumptuous edifices, nor walls covered with marble plaster, nor piazzas adorned with stones, which indeed are admired by those ignorant of true goods; nor paintings and arched myrtle walks, nor anything else which is the subject of astonishment to the stupid, is the ornament of a family. The beauty of a household consists in the conjunction of man and wife, united to each other by destiny, and consecrated to the Gods presiding over nuptial birth and houses, and who harmonize, and use all things in common for their bodies, or even their very souls; who likewise exercise a becoming authority over their house and servants; who are properly solicitous about the education of their children; and to the necessities of life pay an attention which is neither excessive nor negligent, but moderate and appropriate. For, as the the most admirable Homer says, what can be more excellent
That is the reason why I have frequently wondered at those who conceive that life in common with a woman must be burdensome and grievous. Though to them she appears to be a burden and molestation, she is not so; on the contrary, she is something light and easy to be borne or, rather, she possesses the power of charming away from her husband things burdensome and grievous. No trouble so great is there which cannot easily be borne by a husband and wife who harmonize and are willing to endure it in common. But what is truly burdensome and unbearable is impudence, for through it things naturally light, and among others a wife, become heavy.
To many, indeed, marriage is intolerable, in reality not from itself, or because such an association as this with a woman is naturally insufferable, but when we marry the wrong person and, in addition to this, are ourselves entirely ignorant of life, and unprepared to take a wife in such a way as a free-born woman ought to be taken, then indeed it happens that this association with her becomes difficult and intolerable. Vulgar people do marry in this way, taking a wife neither for the procreation of children, nor for harmonious association, being attracted to the union by the magnitude of the dowry, or through physical attractiveness, or the like; and by following these bad counsellors, they pay no attention to the bride's disposition and manners, celebrating nuptials to their own destruction, and with crowned doors introduce to themselves instead of a wife a tyrant, whom they cannot resist, and with whom they are unable to contend for chief authority.
Evidently, therefore, marriage becomes burdensome and intolerable to many, not through itself, but through these causes. But it is not wise to blame things which are not harmful, nor to make our own deficient use of these things the cause of our complaint against them. Most absurd, besides, is it feverishly to seek the auxiliaries of friendship, and achieve certain friends and associates to aid and defend us in the vicissitudes of life, without seeking and endeavoring to obtain the relief, defence and assistance afforded us by Nature, by the Gods, and by the laws, through a wife and children.
As to a numerous offspring, it is generally suitable to nature and marriage that all, or the majority of the offspring be nurtured. Many dissent from this, for a not very beautiful reason, through love of riches, and the fear of poverty as the greatest evil. To begin with, in procreating children we are not only begetting assistants, nurses for our old age, and associates in every vicissitude of life -- we do not however beget them for ourselves alone, but in many ways also for our parents. To them our procreation of children is gratifying because, if we should suffer anything calamitous prior to their decease we shall, instead of ourselves, leave our children as the support of their old age. Then for a grandfather is it a beautiful thing to be conducted by the hands of his grandchildren, and by them to be considered worthy of every attention. Hence, in the first place, we shall gratify our own parents by paying attention to the procreation of children. In the next, we shall be cooperating with the ardent wishes and fervent prayers of those who begot us. They were solicitous about our birth from the first, thereby looking for an extended succession of themselves, that they should leave behind them children of children, therefore paying attention to our marriage, procreation and nurture. Hence, by marrying and begetting children we shall be, as it were, fulfilling a part of their prayers; while, acting contrarily, we shall be destroying the object of their deliberate choice.
Moreover, it would seem that everyone who voluntarily, and without some prohibiting circumstance avoids marriage and the procreation of children, accuses his parents of madness, as having engaged in wedlock without the right conception of things. Here we see an unavoidable contradiction. How could that man live without dissension who finds a pleasure in living and willingly continues in life, as one who was properly brought into existence by his parents, and yet conceives that for him procreation of offspring is something to be rejected?
We must remember that we beget children not only for our own sake but, as we have already stated, for our parents'; but further also for the sake of our friends and kindred. It is gratifying to see children which are our offspring on account of human kindness, relatives, and security. Like ships which, though greatly agitated by the waves, are secured by many anchors, so do those who have children, or whose friends or relatives have them, ride at anchor in port in absolute security. For this reason, then, will a man who is a lover of his kindred and associates earnestly desire to marry and beget children.
Our country also loudly calls upon us to do so. For after all we do not beget children so much for ourselves as for our country, procuring a race that may follow us, and supplying the community with successors to ourselves. Hence the priest should realize that to the city he owes priests; the ruler, that he owes rulers; the orator, that he owes orators; and in short, the citizen, that he owes citizens. So it is gratifying to those who compose a choric ballet that it should continue perennially; and as an army looks to the continuance of its soldiers, so the perpetuation of its citizens is a matter of concern to a city. A city would not need succession were it only a temporary grouping, of duration commensurate with the lifetime of anyone man; but as it extends to many generations, and if it invokes a fortunate genius may endure for many ages, it is evidently necessary to direct its attention not only to its present, but also to its future, not despising our native soil: nor leaving it desolate, but establishing it in good hopes from our prosperity.
DUTIES TO RELATIVES depend on duties to our immediate families, the arguments of which apply also to the former. Each of us is, indeed, as it were circumscribed by many circles, larger and smaller, comprehending and comprehended, according to various mutual circumstances.
The first and nearest circle is that which everyone describes about the center of his own mind, wherein is comprehended the body and all its interests; this is the smallest circle, nearly touching the center itself. The second and further circle which comprehends the first is that which includes parents, brethren, wife and children. The third greater circle is the one containing uncles, aunts, grandfathers and grandmothers, and the children of brothers and sisters. Beyond this is the circle containing the remaining relatives. Next to this is the circle containing the common people, then that which comprehends our tribe, then that of all the citizens; then follow two further circles: that of the neighboring suburbs, and those of the province. The outermost and greatest circle is that which comprehends the whole human race.
In view of this, he who strives to conduct himself properly in each of these connections should, in a certain respect, gather together the circles into one center, and always endeavor to transfer himself from the comprehending circles to the several particulars to which they comprehend.
The lover of his kindred, therefore, should conduct himself in a becoming manner towards his parents and brother; also, according to the same analogy, towards the more elderly of his relatives of both sexes, such as grandfathers, uncles and aunts; towards those of the same age as himself, as his cousins; and towards his juniors, as the children of his cousins. This summarizes his conduct towards his kindred, having already shown how he should act towards himself, toward his parents and brothers, and besides these, toward wife and children. To which must be added that those who belong to the third circle should be honored similarly to these, and again, kindred similarly to those that belong to the third circle. For benevolence must somehow fade away from those who are more distant from us by blood, though at the same time we should endeavor to effect a mutual assimilation. This distance will moderate if through the diligent attention which we pay to them we shorten the bond connecting us with each. Such then are the most comprehensive duties towards our kindred.
It might be well to say a word about the general names of kindred, such as the calling of cousins, uncles and aunts by the names of brothers, fathers and mothers; while of the other kindred, to call some uncles, others the children of brothers and sisters, and others cousins, according to the difference in age, for the sake of the emotional extension derivable from names. This mode of appellation will manifest our sedulous attention to these relatives, and at the same time, will incite and extend us in a greater degree to the contraction of the above circles.
We should however remember the distinction between parents that we made above. Comparing parents, we said that to mother was due more Jove, but to the father more honor. Similarly, we should show more love to those connected with us by a maternal alliance, but more honor to those connected with us by an alliance that is paternal.
7. On Economics 
TO BEGIN WITH, we must mention the kind of labor which preserves the union of the father. To the husband are usually assigned rural, forensic and political activities, while to the mother belong spinning of wool, making of bread, cooking, and in short, everything of a domestic nature. Nevertheless, neither should be entirely exempt from the labors of the other. For sometimes it will be proper, when the wife is in the country, that she should superintend the laborers and act as master of the household; and that the husband should sometimes attend to domestic affairs, inquiring about and inspecting what is doing in the house. This joint participation of necessary cares will more firmly unite their mutual association.
We should not fail to mention the manual operations which are associated with the spheres of occupations. Why should the man meddle with agricultural labors? This is generally admitted, and though men of the present day spend much time in idleness and luxury, yet it is rare to find any unwilling to engage in the labor of sowing and planting, and other agricultural pursuits. Much less persuasive perhaps will be the arguments which invite the man to engage in those other occupations that belong to the woman. For such men as pay little attention to neatness and cleanliness will not conceive wool-spinning to be their business since, for the most part, vile diminutive men, delicate and effeminate, apply themselves to the elaboration of wool, through an emulation of feminine softness. But it does not become a man who is manly to apply himself to things of this kind, so perhaps neither shall I advise such employments to those who have not unmistakably demonstrated their modesty and virility. What therefore should hinder the man from sharing in the labors pertaining to a woman, whose past life has been such as to free him from all suspicion of absurd and effeminate conduct? For is it not thought that more domestic labors pertain to man than to women in other fields? For they are more laborious, and require corporeal strength such as to grind, to knead meal, to cut wood, to draw water from a well, to carry large vessels from one place to another, to shake coverlets and carpets and the like. It will be quite proper for men to engage in such occupations.
But it would be well if the legitimate work of a woman be enlarged in other directions so that she may not only engage with her maid- servants in the spinning of wool, but may also apply herself to other more virile occupations. It seems to me that bread-making, drawing water from a well, the lighting of fires, the making of beds, and such like are labors suited to a free-born woman.
But to her husband a wife will seem much more beautiful, especially if she is young, and not yet worn out by the bearing of children, if she becomes his associate in the gathering of grapes and collecting the olives; and if he is verging toward old age, she will render herself more pleasing to him by sharing with him the labor of sowing and plowing, and while he is digging or planting, extending to him the instruments he needs for his work. For when by the husband and wife a family is governed thus, in respect to necessary labors, it seems to me that it will be conducted in the best possible manner.
1. Hierocles is referring to the innovations of the Christians.
2. The word "economy" is derived from oikos (house) and nomos (law).