Hipponax and after

Hipponax of Ephesus

Hipponax of Ephesus lived around the middle of the 6th century BC and has the following ascribed to him:

δύ’ ἡμέραι γυναικός εἰσιν ἥδισται,
ὅταν γαμῇ τις κἀφέρῃ τεθνηκυῖαν.

(Two days of a woman [‘s life] are sweetest/When one marries her and when one carries her out dead.)

This idea was then taken up by Palladas of Alexandria (fourth century AD) as:

Πᾶσα γυνὴ χόλος ἐστίν· ἔχει δ᾽ δύω ὥρας,
τὴν μίαν ἐν θαλάμῳ, τὴν μίαν ἐν θανάτῳ.

(Every woman is bitter; she has two [good] hours/Once in bed and once when dead.)

This is item 11.183 in the Greek Anthology. It turns up as the epigraph to the novella Carmen (1845) by Prosper Mérimée, from which followed the regrettable opera by Bizet.  As well as being keen on classical antiquity (and Spain),  Mérimée was about the first to introduce Russian literature to France.

Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870)

His Russian contemporary Vladimir Dal’ published his Proverbs of the Russian People in 1862, and it contains the following:

Дважды жена мила бывает: как в избу введут да как вон понесут.

(A wife is sweet twice: when they lead her into your hut [in marriage] and when they carry her away [dead].)

Vladimir Dal' (1801-1872)


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