Egypt, 3rd cent. B.C. (Theocritus, Idyll 15, exc. G)

Gorgo, a housewife, visits her friend Praxinoa on the day of the festival of Adonis in Alexandria.Gorgo

Gorgo: Is Praxinoa in?

Praxinoa: Gorgo dear-how long it’s been-yes, I’m in. I’m amazed that you’ve come at last. See that she has a chair, Eunoa; put a cushion on it.

Gorgo: Thank you.

Praxinoa: Sit down.

Gorgo: I’m so incompetent. I barely got here in one piece, Praxinoa, there was such a crowd, so many chariots, everywhere boots, everywhere men wearing cloaks. And the road is endless. Every time you move further away.

Praxinoa: It’s that crazy man. He brings me here to the ends of the earth, and gets me a hovel, not a house, so that we can’t be neighbours, out of spite, envious brute; he never changes.

Gorgo: Don’t talk about your husband that way, dear, when the little boy is around. You see, Praxinoa, how he’s looking at you. Don’t worry, Zopyrion, sweet baby-she isn’t talking about Daddy.

Praxinoa: The child understands, by the great goddess.

Gorgo: Nice daddy.

Praxinoa: Daddy (that man) the other day-just the other day I said to him: ‘Daddy, go and buy some soap and rouge at the booth,’ and he came back with salt, the big ox.

Gorgo: Mine’s like that too. He’s a spendthrift, Diocleidas. For seven drachmas he bought dog skins, pluckings of old wallets-five fleeces, yesterday, all of it dirt, work and more work. But come on, get your dress and your cloak. Let’s go to the house of the king, rich Ptolemy, to see Adonis. I hear the queen has done a beautiful job of decorating it.

Praxinoa: In fine homes everything’s fine.

Gorgo: When you’ve seen it, what won’t you be able to say to someone who hasn’t. It must be time to go.

Praxinoa: Every day is a holiday if you don’t work. Eunoa-you lazy-pick up that spinning and put it back in the centre again. Weasels like to sleep on soft beds. Move, bring me some water, right now. She was supposed to bring water; she brought soap. Give it to me anyway. Not so much, you pirate. Pour on the water. Stupid-why are you getting my cloak wet? Now stop. I’ve washed as well as the gods permit it. Where is the key to the big chest? Then bring it.

Gorgo: Praxinoa, that pleated dress suits you. Tell me-how much did the cloth cost off of the loom?

Praxinoa: Don’t remind me, Gorgo. More than two minas of pure silver. I put my heart into the handwork.

Gorgo: Well, it lives up to your expectations. You can say that.

Praxinoa: Bring me my cloak and my hat. Put them on right. I’m not taking you, baby. Mormo Bogy; horse will bite you. Cry as much as you like, I won’t let you be lame. Let’s go. Phrygia, take the baby and play with him, call the dog inside, and lock the front door.