Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Arguments Against Having Children

Euripides, Medea 1090-1115 (tr. David Kovacs):
I say that those mortals who are utterly without experience of children and have never borne them have the advantage in good fortune over those who have. For the childless, because they do not possess children and do not know whether they are a pleasure or a vexation to mortals, hold themselves aloof from many griefs. But those who have in their house the sweet gift of children, them I see worn down their whole life with care: first, how they shall raise their children well and how they may leave them some livelihood. And after that it is unclear whether all their toil is expended on worthless or worthy objects. But the last of all misfortunes for all mortals I shall now mention. Suppose they have found a sufficient livelihood, suppose the children have arrived at young manhood and their character is good: yet if their destiny so chances, off goes death carrying the children's bodies to Hades. How then does it profit us that for the sake of heirs the gods cast upon mortals, in addition to their other troubles, this further grief most painful?

καί φημι βροτῶν οἵτινές εἰσιν        1090
πάμπαν ἄπειροι μηδ᾿ ἐφύτευσαν
παῖδας προφέρειν εἰς εὐτυχίαν
τῶν γειναμένων.
οἱ μὲν ἄτεκνοι δι᾿ ἀπειροσύνην
εἴθ᾿ ἡδὺ βροτοῖς εἴτ᾿ ἀνιαρὸν        1095
παῖδες τελέθουσ᾿ οὐχὶ τυχόντες
πολλῶν μόχθων ἀπέχονται·
οἷσι δὲ τέκνων ἔστιν ἐν οἴκοις
γλυκερὸν βλάστημ᾿, ἐσορῶ μελέτῃ
κατατρυχομένους τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον,        1100
πρῶτον μὲν ὅπως θρέψουσι καλῶς
βίοτόν θ᾿ ὁπόθεν λείψουσι τέκνοις·
ἔτι δ᾿ ἐκ τούτων εἴτ᾿ ἐπὶ φλαύροις
εἴτ᾿ ἐπὶ χρηστοῖς
μοχθοῦσι, τόδ᾿ ἐστὶν ἄδηλον.
ἓν δὲ τὸ πάντων λοίσθιον ἤδη        1105
πᾶσιν κατερῶ θνητοῖσι κακόν·
καὶ δὴ γὰρ ἅλις βίοτόν θ᾿ ηὗρον
σῶμά τ᾿ ἐς ἥβην ἤλυθε τέκνων
χρηστοί τ᾿ ἐγένοντ᾿· εἰ δὲ κυρήσαι
δαίμων οὕτω, φροῦδος ἐς Ἅιδου        1110
θάνατος προφέρων σώματα τέκνων.
πῶς οὖν λύει πρὸς τοῖς ἄλλοις
τήνδ᾿ ἔτι λύπην ἀνιαροτάτην
παίδων ἕνεκεν
θνητοῖσι θεοὺς ἐπιβάλλειν;        1115

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