Political fragments of Archytas and other ancient Pythagoreans/On economics
(p112) PRIOR to all things, it is requisite to speak of the works through which the union of a family is preserved. These, therefore, are to be divided after the accustomed manner; viz. rural, forensic, and political works are to be attributed to the husband; but to the wife, such works as pertain to spinning wool, making of bread, cooking, and, in short, every thing of a domestic nature. Nevertheless, it is not fit that the one should be entirely exempt from the works of the other. For sometimes it will be proper when the wife is in the country that she should superintend the labourers, and perform the office of the master of the house; and that the husband should sometimes convert his attention to domestic affairs; and partly inquire about, and partly inspect what is doing in the house. For thus, what pertains to the mutual association of both will be more firmly connected by their joint participation of necessary cares. Since, however, our discussion has extended thus far, it appears to me that I ought not to omit to mention manual operations; (p113) for it will not be incongruous to add this also to what has been said about works.
What occasion, therefore, is there to say, that it is fit the man should meddle with agricultural labours? For there are not many by whom this will not be admitted. But though so much luxury and idleness occupies the life of men of the present day, yet it is rare to find one who is not willing to engage in the labour of sowing and planting; and to be employed in other works which pertain to agriculture. Perhaps, however, the arguments will be much less persuasive, which call on the man to engage in those other works which belong to the woman. For such men as pay great attention to neatness and cleanliness will not conceive the spinning of wool to be their business: since, for the most part, vile diminutive men, and the tribe of such as are 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 truly so called, to apply himself to things of this kind; so that neither shall I, perhaps, advise those to engage in such employments, who have not given perfectly credible indications of their virility and modesty. What, therefore, should hinder the man from partaking of (p114) the works which pertain to a woman, whose past life has been such as to free him from all suspicion of absurd and effeminate conduct? For in other domestic works, is it not thought that more of them pertain to men than to women? 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 transfer large vessels from one place to another; to shake coverlets and carpets, and every other work similar to these. And it will be sufficient, indeed, for these things to be performed by men. But it is also fit that some addition should be made to the legitimate work of a woman, 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 works. For it appears to me that the making of bread, the drawing of water [from a well], the lighting of fires, the making of beds, and every other work similar to these are the proper employments of a freeborn woman. But a wife will seem much more beautiful to her husband, and especially if she is young, and not yet worn out by the bearing of children, if she becomes his associate in gathering grapes, and collecting olives; and if he is verging to old age, she will (p115) render herself more pleasing to him, by partaking with him of the labour of sowing and ploughing, and extending to him, while he is digging or planting, the instruments proper for such works. For when a family is governed after this manner by the husband and wife, so far as pertains to necessary works, it appears to me that it will be conducted in this respect in the best manner.