no fable: Thais showed men’s propensity to believe women

The courtesan Thais regularly had sex with Alexander the Great’s leading general Ptolemy. Moreover, when it came to decisive action, Thais led Alexander the Great like slave girls ruled all-powerful caliphs in the ancient Islamic world. Thais became renowned for inducing Alexander to burn the Persian capital city of Persepolis in 330 BGC.

Thais exploiting Damasius

About two millennia ago, the Latin writer Phaedrus described how women like Thais dominate men despite men’s understanding of their deceptions. Phaedrus put forward this astonishing effect in the form of a fable:

A prostitute and a young man

With enticements a dishonest prostitute baited a young man,
and he gave himself to her frequently with much injury to himself.
Just as many easy women have presented themselves,
so this insidious being said: “Although all men with gifts
contend for my consent, I do you before everyone else.”
Recalling how often she had deceived him,
he said, “Gladly so, shining light. I hear your voice,
not that I believe it, but it makes me happy.”

{ Meretrix et iuvenis

Cum blandiretur iuveni meretrix perfida,
Et ille laesus multis saepe iniuriis
Tamen praeberet sese facilem mulieri,
Sic insidiatrix: Omnes muneribus licet
Contendant, ego te plurimi facio tamen.
Iuvenis recordans quotiens deceptus foret:
Libenter, inquit, mea lux, hanc vocem audio,
Non quod fidelis, sed quod iucunda est mihi. } [1]

That’s the pathetic spirit that prompts husbands to accept being cuckolded. In the twelfth century, Gualterus Anglicus expanded upon Phaedrus’s fable:

On the young man and Thais

By her cunning Thais ensnares young men; she feigns
love, and from feigned love comes profit.
From many suitors she receives many things. From all she chooses
one youth, and to him she promises the riches of true love.
“I am yours, and may you be mine. I want you alone more than all,
but I do not want to have your gift.”
He perceives her tricks and returns words such as he has received:
“I am yours, and may you be mine. Equal love becomes us.
I would not wish to live unless you wish to live with me.
You are my only salvation, you are my only repose.”

{ De iuvene et Thaide

Arte sua Thais iuvenes irretit: amorem
Fingit et ex ficto fructus amore venit.
A multis fert multa procis; ex omnibus unum
Eligit, huic veri spondet amoris opes.
“Sum tua sisque meus cupio; plus omnibus unum
Te volo, sed nolo munus habere tuum.”
Percipit ille dolos et reddit qualia sumpsit:
“Sis mea simque tuus. Nos decet equus amor;
Vivere non vellem nisi mecum vivere velles:
Tu mihi sola salus, tu mihi sola quies;
Sed falli timeo, quia me tua lingua fefellit.
Preteriti ratio scire futura facit. } [2]

The phrases “the riches of true love {veri amoris opes}” and “equal love {equus amor}” point to the twelfth-century backlash against men-subordinating courtly love. With medieval Latin freedom of speech, Gualterus Anglicus even dared to criticize women; specifically, women who deceive men and who use men as a means for freely acquiring material goods. Turning against the young man’s passive acceptance of being exploited in Phaedrus’s fable, Gualterus Anglicus offered men wisdom for pragmatic action:

A bee avoids the yew-tree which it has often tested by tasting.
If any woman deceived yesterday, she wants to deceive today.
If anyone loves Thais, let him believe that his goods are loved, not himself.
Thais lacks love, but loves the lover’s gift.

{ Vitat avis taxum quam, gustu teste, probavit.
Fallere vult hodie, si qua fefellit heri.
Thaida si quis amat, sua, non se, credat amari:
Thais amore caret, munus amantis amat. } [3]

In his pioneering printing of fables translated into English, William of Caxton in 1484 put the matter more generally:

For the love of a promiscuous woman is not to be trusted,
for you should know and think for yourself
that the promiscuous and foolish woman loves you not,
but she loves your money.

{ For the loue of a comyn woman is not to be trusted
For thow oughtest to knowe and thynk within thy self
that the comyn and folyssh woman loue the not
but she loueth thy syluer. } [4]

Men eagerly and foolish believe that women are like goddesses. But women, like men, can be inveterate liars and deceivers. Men should listen and believe women no more than they listen and believe men.

Instantaneous feelings of happiness are no substitute for truth and reason. Given that men have no reproductive rights and men are readily lynched as rapists, men should consider carefully before they engage in pleasurable sex with women. Rather than trading goods for sex with women, men should insist on the value of their intrinsic virtue.

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[1] From Phaedrus’s Latin verse rendition of Aesop’s fables. This fable is from Perotti’s addition to the collection of Phaedrus, Appendix 29. The Latin text is available from Aesopica and Perseus. The English translation is mine, drawing up that of Laura Gibbs and that of Ben Edwin Perry, Loeb Classical Library 436 (1965). The subsequent quote is similarly from this fable. In Perotti’s manuscript, the fable includes a promythium:

Many things that bring us happiness are at the same time troublesome

{ Multa esse nobis iocunda quae tamen sunt incommoda }

Like the fable itself, this promythium provides a keen psychological observation without any ethical imperative.

Baeza-Angulo (2013) provides detailed philological analysis of this fable, along with a superficial analysis of its relation to Roman amatory elegy. The gender conservatism and complacency of his analysis is appalling. Consider:

We find in the words of the young man not only the tolerance that is born with  humanitas {civilization}, but also a serene acceptance of the compromises that help a man to live. He knows perfectly well that the modus uiuendi {way of life} of his beloved prevents her from being faithful and, therefore, she is content to tell him that he is the preferred one, although the others can give her expensive gifts. Satisfying his manly pride, this gives him exactly that moment of sweet happiness that will allow him to bear new betrayals.

{ Encontramos en las palabras del joven no solo la tolerancia que nace con la humanitas, sino también una serena aceptación de los compromisos que ayudan a vivir. Él sabe perfectamente que el modus uiuendi de su amada le impide serle fiel y, por ello, se contenta con que le diga que es el preferido, aunque los otros puedan hacerle ricos regalos. Esto le da justamente, satisfaciendo su orgullo varonil, aquel momento de dulce felicidad que le permitirá soportar las nuevas traiciones. }

Baeza-Angulo (2013) p. 15. Like almost all literary scholarship, Baeza-Angulo’s analysis lacks any critical perspective on men’s social position under gynocentrism. One result is men being brutally exploited. More generally, such intellectual failures contribute to totalitarian criminalization of men. That’s now well-underway in Spain.

[2] From Gualterus Anglicus’s collection of Aesop’s fables {Aesopi Fabellae}. The Latin text is online thanks to Laura Gibbs; the English translation is from Pepin (1999) p. 204. The subsequent quote is similarly from id. Another version of this fable is known as Of Thais and Damasius {De Thaida et Damasio}. Gualterus Anglicus’s fable collection was the most widely transmitted fable collection in medieval Europe. It has survived in about two hundred manuscripts and about thirty-four print editions from before 1501. Wright (1997) p. 3. Many manuscripts of Gualterus Anglicus’s fables contain extensive glosses, commentaries, and allegorical epimyths. Id. p. 4.

[3] Yew trees have been long known to present serious risks of poisoning. Most Latin texts include the first two lines above as quoted words of the young man. Those quotation marks are editorial (twelfth-century texts didn’t include quotations marks). While promythia for Gualterus Anglicus’s fables typically are couplets, the promythium for De iuvene et Thaide seems to me to be best interpreted as a quatrain.

The moral for the medieval Romulus Anglicus is similarly pointed:

Moral: we are thus warned not to believe readily the words of women when, although they have many lovers, they say they are content with one.

{ Moralitas. Sec monemur non facile verbis credere mulierum, quia, cum multos habeant amatores, uno se dicunt contentas. }

Latin text via Laura Gibbs, my English translation. On the complex manuscript tradition of the medieval Romulus collection of Aesop’s fables, Vámos (2013).

[4] William Caxton, Aesop’s Fables 3.10 (“Of the yonge man and of the comyn woman”), via Laura Gibbs. Here’s the full text of Caxton’s work.

[image] Of the prostitute and the young man {De meretrice et iuvene}. Image on p. 104 of Esopi appologi sive mythologi: cum quibusdam carminum et fabularum additionibus Sebastiani Brant (Basel: Jacob von Pfortzheim, 1501).


Baeza-Angulo, Eulogio. 2013. “Una fábula elegíaca: Comentario a Fedro, App 29.” MAIA-Rivista Di Letterature Classiche. 65 (1): 3-16.

Pepin, Ronald E. 1999. An English translation of Auctores octo, a medieval reader. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press.

Vámos, Hanna. 2013. “The Medieval Tradition of the Fables of Romulus.” Graeco-Latina Brunensia 18 (1): 185-197.

Wright, Aaron E. 1997. The fables of “Walter of England”. Toronto: Pontifical Inst. of Mediaeval Press.

contemptus mundi: MGTOW rebellion against gynocentric world

contemptus mundi, MGTOW paradise

Medieval Europe, like most human societies, was profoundly gynocentric. Yet medieval Europe was relatively tolerant of dissent compared to codes of conduct now pervasive in the U.S. and similar societies. Medieval forefathers of today’s MGTOWs wrote explicit statements of contemptus mundi (contempt for the gynocentric world) in which they sharply criticized women and urged men to withdraw from the gynocentric world.

Christianity in medieval Europe was interpreted gynocentrically. Consider a brief account of Christian salvation history:

A woman was the cause of human ruin,
of humanity’s redemption, woman was the cause.
A woman was the cause of humanity’s fall from Paradise,
of humanity’s return to life, woman was the cause.
A woman, the first mother, made angry Him,
who made merciful a woman, the virgin mother.
Eve was the means that separated humanity from its protector,
the virgin was the means by which God would become a man.

{ Foemina causa fuit humanae perditionis,
Qua reparatur homo foemina causa fuit.
Foemina causa fuit cur homo ruit a paradiso,
Qua redit ad uitam foemina causa fuit.
Foemina prima parens iterum reddit illum
Quem facit esse pium foemina uirgo parens.
Eua fuit medium quod homo foret absque patrono,
Virgo fuit medium quod Deus esset homo. } [1]

In gynocentric society, whatever matters is all about women. In medieval gynocentric society, woman were understood to cause all evil and all good. In modern gynocentric society, women cause all good; all evil, which men cause, hurts only women; and all of a husband’s success should be credited to his wife.

Beneath superficial titles, women in actual practice are the leaders in gynocentric society. Men follow women and obey them. So it was with Eve and Adam in medieval Christian understanding:

But Eve was destruction to him whom she ought to have helped,
and having sunk first, she sank her spouse in the depths.
And, since deceptive words of a deceptive wife tend to deceive,
she willingly deceived hers in this way.
A wicked enemy makes the woman wicked, and the man by the woman.
Each believes the wicked one, and each is made wicked.
The enemy deceives him through her while destroying them.
He takes both from God; he gives both to himself.
The enemy tempts, the woman delights, the man obeys,
and because of this triple wound of death, humanity sins. [2]

{ Sed fuit exitium cui debuit auxiliari
Et submersa prius mersit ad ima parem.
Et, quia fallacis fallacia fallere sponsum
Verba solent, sponte fallit et ipsa suum.
Hoste malo mala fit mulier uir per mulierem.
Credit uterque malo factus uterque malus.
Hostis eum fallit per eam, set eos perimendo.
Tollit utrunque Deo donat utrunque sibi.
Hostis foemina uir temptat laetatur obedit
Et trino mortis uulnere peccat homo. }

Both the woman and the man sin. But the man sins through obeying the woman. With men subservient to women in gynocentric society, sin is thus prevalent.

Perceiving grave gender injustices and righteously angry, medieval MGTOWs advised men to protect their lives by fleeing from women. Medieval MGTOWs refused to idolize women, and they frankly acknowledged women’s power over even the strongest men:

Listen to my teaching if you want to avoid ruin.
Woman is a fragile thing, a slippery thing, a childish thing;
fickle, wilful, with nothing in her but quarrel.
She snatches your heart and takes it away and softens chests of iron.
The first woman cast the first man down to the bottom.
Woman vanquished Samson, David, and Solomon.
You are not greater than Samson, David, and Solomon.
Woman deceived our trusting, first parent.
If you seek the Lord, flee from conversation with women.
Their conversation is nothing but bitter venom.

{ Audi doctrinam, si uis uitare ruinam.
Foemina res fragilis, res lubrica, res puerilis,
Mobilis, indocilis, nil in ea nisi lis.
Cor rapit et tollit et ferrea pectora mollit.
Prima uirum primum mulier deiecit ad imum.
Foemina Sansonem fregit, Dauid et Salomonem.
Non est Sansone maior Dauid et Salomone.
Foemina credentem decepit prothoparentem.
Si Dominum quaeris, fuge colloquium mulieris;
Colloquium quarum nihil est nisi uirus amarum. } [3]

Medieval MGTOWs recognized men’s psychological weaknesses, affirmed men’s value as beloved children of God, and urged men to act decently rather than insanely pursuing Venus (sex):

Shun flighty Venus, flee the enticing woman,
a despised thing, a changing thing, a hurtful thing.
In every way she is a thing full of knots,
a poisonous thing, a worthless thing, a wicked thing.
No one imbued with love can maintain moderation,
and he thinks what harms him can be delightful.
Since you are an image of God, an illustrious thing worthy of victory,
an heir of heaven, a companion and jewel of the saints,
despise her glittering apparel and deceitful face.
The shining beauty outside is inwardly full of sorrow,
shit, and muck, very much like a beast of the herd.
Despise the stench of Venus, follow Decency.
The first makes the mind insane, breaks the body, and empties it.
The other causes the mind to flourish along with the body.

{ Sperne uagam Venerem, fuge blandiloquam mulierem,
Rem despectiuam, rem fluxam remque nociuam.
Omnibus illa modis res est plenissima nodis,
Resque uentosa, res uilis, res uitiosa.
Nemo modum seruare potest imbutus amore
Et quaecumque iuuat posse iuuare putat.
Cum sis imago Dei, res inclita digna trophei,
Haeres coelorum, comes et gemma deorum,
Fulgentem cultum, fallacem despice uultum.
Forma decora foris intus est plena doloris,
Stercoris atque luti pecorisque simillima bruti.
Despice foetorem Veneris, sectare pudorem.
Haec mens insanit, haec corpus frangit, inanit.
Altera florentem reddit cum corpore mentem. }

Biological evolution has made males and females for each other. Most men don’t regard women as a fish regards a bicycle. Yet under oppressive gynocentrism, men may rationally choose to go their own way in relation to women. Men can develop their minds and bodies and be decent persons without women.

The literature of contemptus mundi makes clear that men don’t govern the world. According to today’s orthodoxy, men throughout history have subjugated women under patriarchy and treated women as men’s property. Why then did some men express contemptus mundi and seek to flee from women? One might speculate that they realized that women hate men. That’s no more plausible than believing that men hate women. The vigorous voices of men’s sexed protest throughout history are best understood as men ineffectively crying out under gynocentric oppression.

The literature of contemptus mundi rejects worldly values, vigorously declares that worldly pleasures and worldly honors soon pass away, and urges men to seek eternal goodness. Its message is blunt and forceful:

What is flesh? Vile earth. What is the glory of the flesh? Smoke.
Every honor is fleeting, excess of possessions perishes instantly.

{ Quid caro? Vilis humus. Quid carnis gloria? Fumus.
Omnis honor fluxus, rerum perit illico luxus. }

Yet it also shows personal sympathy for men and considerable psychological insight:

Wretched me, what shall I do? I carry a wound under my chest,
a wound of stinking, inveterate sin,
as if I were carrying death under the same chest.
As often as I have cleansed it and applied plasters,
so often has the healing burst from corruption.
I have put on a thousand bandages of no value.
The skin is always burst, there is never hope of deliverance.
Every hour this soul of mine is full of sorrow.

{ Me miserum, quid agam? Porto sub pectore plagam,
Plagam peccati ferientis et inueterati,
Tanquam si portem sub eodem pectore mortem.
Quem quoties laui, toties amplustra ligaui,
A corruptela toties est rupta medela.
Mille ligaturas ammoui nil ualituras.
Semper rupta cutis, semper spes nulla salutis.
Sic totis horis mea mens est plena doloris. }

In medieval Europe, Cupid, serving the goddess Venus, was known to shoot men in the chest with arrows to cause them to suffer love madness. From a modern, scientific perspective, desire for women is deeply rooted in men’s human nature. Having to flee women and the gynocentric world is a bitter pill for men to swallow. Yet compared to the more enlightened Middle Ages, within today’s reign of ignorance, anti-men bigotry, and superstition, more men with better reason have contempt for the world.

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[1] Chartula contemptus mundi ll. ll. 735-42, Latin text from Gutiérrez (2009) p. 266, English translation my adaptation of Pepin (1999) pp. 73-4. In adapting Pepin’s translation, I’ve removed the de-gendering of male human beings through generic references to homo / man. Following the above quote, the next two lines provide a further gynocentric contrast:

A woman, the first mother, was hateful, malicious, and proud;
a woman, the virgin mother, was chaste, kind, and gentle.

{ Foemina prima parens exosa maligna superba;
Foemina uirgo parens casta benigna pia. }

Building upon the pairing of Eve and Mary, scholars have made broad claims about a virgin / whore binary in characterizing women. Those claims are far over-blown. However, within gynocentric society, characterizing women is much more prevalent and important than characterizing men.

Chartula contemptus mundi was composed in the second half of the twelfth century. Pepin (1999) p. 55. It characteristically begins “This page of ours sends greetings to you, Beloved {Chartula nostra tibi mandat Dilecte salutes}.” Only the first 374 lines of Chartula contemptus mundi are included in some manuscripts. That shortened version is sometimes entitled “Poem of Exhortation {Carmen Paraeneticum}.” It is sometimes addressed specifically to “Rainald” rather than “Beloved”. Id.

Chartula contemptus mundi is associated with contemptus mundi literature that was widely disseminated in medieval Europe. Bernard of Cluny in the twelfth century wrote a much longer poem, De contemptu mundi. Before becoming Pope Innocent III in 1198, Cardinal Lotario dei Segni wrote a similarly themed poem entitled On the misery of the human condition {De miseria humanae conditionis}. Chartula contemptus mundi came to be included in the Eight moral authors {Auctores octo morales} that formed the core of late-medieval school instruction in Latin.

A comprehensive critical edition of Chartula contemptus mundi isn’t available. Pepin (1999) translated Chartula contemptus mundi according to the text printed by Matthias Bonhomme at Lyon in 1538, as represented by the copy in the Beinecke Library, Yale University. Gutiérrez (2009) provides the Latin text in the Libri minores of Antonio de Nebrija, probably from 1511. Schroeder (1910), freely available online, also provides a Latin text. Printed editions of Auctores octo morales from the late fiftheenth and early sixteenth centuries include the Latin text of Chartula contemptus mundi. Here’s an online example from 1538. In adapting Pepin’s translation, I’ve followed Gutiérrez’s Latin text.

Subsequent quotes from Chartula contemptus mundi are similarly adapted from Pepin’s English translation and provide Gutiérrez’s Latin text. They are (by Latin line number in Gutiérrez’s text): ll. 717-26 (But Eve was destruction…), 477-86 (Listen to my teaching…), 797-810 (Shun flighty Venus…), 400-1 (What is flesh?…), 615-22 (Wretched me…).

[2] Pepin translated peccat homo as “the man sins.” Pepin (1999) p. 73. That seems to me a significant mis-translation in the context of trino mortis uulnere and the prior verse.

[3] Pepin’s translation omits l. 379.

[image] A smiling monk in a lush garden writes an edition of Contemptus mundi. Title page of Contemptus mundi. Hecho por Juan Gerson Chanciller de Paris. Toledo: Juan de Villaquiran, 1523. Image via the Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University. This book is actually an edition of Imitatio Christi by Thomas à Kempis. The smiling monk, the lush garden that includes flowers, trees, birds, rabbits, and a monkey, and the surrounding floral border suggests that medieval intellectuals didn’t interpret Contemptus mundi in the dour, narrow-minded way in which modern scholars typically read it.


Gutiérrez Galindo, Marco Antonio. 2009. Antonio de Nebrija. Libri minores. Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca.

Pepin, Ronald E. 1999. An English translation of Auctores octo, a medieval reader. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press.

Schroeder, Edward. 1910. “Ein niederrheinischer De Contemptus mundi und seine Quelle.” Pp. 335-374 in Nachrichten von der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse aus dem Jahre 1910. Berlin: Weidmannsche.

making men into gynocentric drones: an example of medieval education

medieval education

Central to the late-medieval European school curriculum was Eight moral authors {Auctores octo morales}. With these authors and also Ovid, the great medieval teacher of love, medieval European education embraced diversity of thought to an extent inconceivable in today’s Western universities. Auctores octo morales provided young men with blunt advice in relation to the gynocentric world and subtle critique of the ruling order. Yet like Egbert of Liège’s early-eleventh-century schoolbook, Auctores octo morales also taught the gynocentric ideology that keeps men subservient to women.

Facetus, a twelfth-century book of manners included in Auctores octo morales, taught men to respect and upheld women’s privileged position in gynocentric society. Among its rhymed distichs of advice to young men is this:

Never say bad things about the female sex,
but to whatever woman you see, defer as much as possible.

{ Femineo nunquam de sexu prava loquaris,
sed, quamcumque vides, pro posse tuo verearis. } [1]

Another distich of advice from Facetus shamed men who might consider violating gynocentric norms and criticizing a woman:

An uncivilized man is truly he who says foul things about a woman;
for truly we are all from woman.

{ Rusticus est vere qui turpia de muliere
Dicit; nam vere sumus omnes de muliere. }

This advice functions to prevent and silence voices of men’s sexed protest. It’s a forefather of the “listen and believe women” doctrine that today is being pervasively disseminated through the organs of public propaganda.

Facetus at least shows some regard for husbands’ welfare in relation to their wives. It advises against allowing wives to dominate their husbands, and it recognizes the existence of wicked wives:

If you have a wife always ready to obey,
honor and adore her with your grateful goodwill.

If you have a wife who is rebellious in word and deed,
so as not to be doomed, repel her according to the law.

From smoke, from a dripping house, from a wicked woman
remove yourself. These three things typically do much harm.

{ Si tibi sit coniux semper parere parata,
excolat hanc, veneretur eam tua gratia grata.

Si nequam tibi sit linguaque manuque rebellis,
ne secum damneris, eam di iure repellis.

A fumo, stillante domo, nequam muliere
te remove; tria namque solent haec saepe nocere. }

The idea of wives obeying their husbands was treated as a farce in medieval literature. At the same time, medieval theology rejected men-abasing courtly love and declared that marriage should be an equal partnership. Few persons like to spend much time with another who is recalcitrant, stubborn, and annoying. Young men surely don’t need to be instructed to favor agreeable wives over disagreeable wives.

The Distichs of Cato {Disticha Catonis}, another work in Auctores octo morales, provided similar advice to Facetus, but with broader concerns. Disticha Catonis taught that being good to one’s father necessarily implied not offending one’s mother (even a vicious mother):

Love with unrestrained affection your dear parents.
Do not offend your mother while you wish to be good to your father.

{ Dilige non aegra caros pietate parentes.
Nec matrem offendas, dum vis bonus esse parenti. } [2]

Disticha Catonis doesn’t urge the corresponding implied respect for fathers. It also advised tolerating verbal abuse from a wife out of respect for financial prudence:

Remember to endure your wife’s tongue, if she is frugal,
for it’s wrong not to be willing to suffer or to be silent.

{ Uxoris linguam, si frugi est, ferre memento,
Namque malum est, non velle pati nec posse tacere. }

At the same time, Disticha Catonis counseled young men against advancing their financial interests through marriage:

Avoid taking a wife for the sake of a dowry,
and do not wish to keep her if she begins to be troublesome. [3]

{ Uxorem fuge ne ducas sub nomine dotis,
Nec retinere velis, si coeperit esse molesta. }

Men historically have shouldered the burden of providing material goods for women. Why shouldn’t men look for women who can provide them with material goods? Disticha Catonis refers to men being ruined through their wife’s adultery and subsequent divorce:

The wife who tricks her husband wrecks the home.

When you have a wife, so as not to imperil your property and reputation,
make the name of your friend an enemy to be avoided.

{ Naufragium rerum est mulier male fida marito.

Cum tibi sit coniux, ne res et fama laboret,
Vitandum ducas inimicum nomen amici. }

Being forced to reject male friends to avoid wives having occasions to commit adultery socially isolates husbands. Being isolated from male friends hurts husbands. Men should not merely accept that deprivation.[4] One alternative is to refuse to marry.

The eminent medieval woman leader and scholar Hildegard of Bingen described the twelfth-century Europe in which she lived as a “womanly time {muliebre tempus}.”[5] Auctores octo morales provided to schoolboys education that helped to sustain the muliebre tempus. Men’s subservience to women and gynocentrism have only intensified since then. Now more than ever, boys and young men need manly education.

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[1] Facetus 99, Latin text from Schroeder (1911) p. 21, English translation adapted from that of Pepin (1999) p. 46. The order of the distichs are different between Schroeder’s and Pepin’s edition of Facetus. I cite the number in Schroeder’s edition.

The Facetus cited here begins with “Cum nichil utilius” or “Est nichil utilius.” Its introduction describes the work as a supplement to “the teaching of the wise Cato {morosum dogma Catonis}”, meaning Disticha Catonis. See subsequent text and notes. A different twelfth-century Facetus begins with “Moribus et vita.” Here are manuscripts of Facetus.

The subsequent quotes from Facetus are (by number in Schroeder and page in Pepin): 186, p. 46 (An uncivilized man…); 100, p. 46 (If you have a wife always ready to obey..l); 101, p. 47 (If you have a wife who is rebellious…); 35, p. 48 (From smoke…). On Facetus 35, cf. Proverbs 25:24, 27:15-15.

[2] Disticha Catonis 3.24, Latin text from the Latin Library, English translation adapted from Peppin (1999) p. 19. Wayland Johnson Chase (1922) provides an alternate Latin text and English translation, as does James Marchand and Duff & Duff (1934).

Subsequent quotes from Disticha Catonis are sourced similarly, with one exception. The quotes above are: 3.23 (Remember to endure your wife’s tongue…), 3.12 (Avoid taking a wife…), 4.47 (When you have a wife…). The line “The wife who tricks her husband wrecks the home” is from Duff & Duff (1934), Dicta Catonis, Collectio Monostichorum 6, p. 625.

Disticha Catonis is also called Dicta Catonis, Liber Catonis, and Ethica Catonis. Medieval authorities thought that it was authored by Cato the Elder / Cato the Censor, but scholars now believe that most of the sayings were authored in the second or third century GC. Disticha Catonis was established as a primary school text in Europe by the ninth century. The famous teacher Remigius of Auxerre then produced glosses on it. Disticha Catonis was highly influential in teaching elite young men for the next millennium. Peppin (1999) pp. 5-6.

Disticha Catonis wisely urged upon young men reading and learning. Among short, imperative monostichs in its prologue:

Study literature. {Litteras disce.}
Read books. {Libros lege.}
Remember what you read. {Quae legeris, memento.}

Men seeking a good education should read, among other works, important works of Ovid, Virgil, Juvenal, and Lucretius.

One distich in Disticha Catonis appears to be related to Jerome’s advice in his fabrication of Theophrastus’s Golden Book on Marriage. Disticha Catonis 1.8 declares:

Do not rashly believe a wife who complains about her servants;
for often a woman hates the person whom her spouse loves.

{ Nil temere uxori de servis crede querenti;
Saepe enim mulier, quem coniux diligit, odit. }

Jerome’s text states:

She {the wife} suspects that his {her husband’s} love goes the same way as her hate.

{ Alterius amorem suum odium supicatur. }

Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum 1.47, Latin text from Patrologia Latina 23.289, my English translation.

[3] Given the anti-men bias in today’s family courts as well as the enormous cost of divorce litigation, the current prevailing wisdom with respect to a troublesome wife is that “it’s cheaper to keep her.” In contrast, Disticha Catonis 4.47 (quoted above) warns of a wife squandering her husband’s property in an adulterous affair.

[4] While urging husbands to accept major deprivations to lessen their wives’ opportunities for adultery, Disticha Catonis urges fidelity upon husbands:

Love your wife. {Coniugem ama.}
Flee the prostitute. {Meretricem fuge.}
Sin not when you may safely sin. {Non pecces tunc cum peccare impune licebit.}

The first two imperatives are from the prologue of Disticha Catonis. The third is from a collection of monostichs attributed to Cato. See Duff & Duff (1934) Collectio Monostichorum 76, p. 629.

Disticha Catonis has a gender-conservative, gynocentric orientation that remains common today. Not surprisingly, Disticha Catonis instructs young men:

Fight for your country. {Pugna pro patria.}

Gender conservatives understand men’s primary purpose in life as providing money for women and children and fighting for their country. Amid great public concern to promote gender equality in the U.S., men there remain subject to sexist Selective Service registration. Moreover, men are being killed in U.S. military service more than forty times more frequently than women are.

Dicta Catonis provides some advice particularly relevant today. One monostich declares:

Speak the truth freely, though the truth be harsh.
{ Vera libens dicas, quamquam sint aspera dictu. }

Duff & Duff (1934) Collectio Monostichorum 64, p. 629. More persons today should follow that teaching with respect to gender equality.

[5] Hildegard of Bingen, Prooemium Vitae S. Disibodi 5. Hildegard had great appreciation for men’s sexuality and fatherhood.

[image] Portrait of the famous Nuremberg teacher Johann Neudörffer and a student, 1561. Item Gm1836 in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum,


Duff, J. Wight and Arnold M. Duff, ed. and trans. 1934. Minor Latin Poets. Vol. 2. Loeb Classical Library 434. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1934.

Pepin, Ronald E. 1999. An English translation of Auctores octo, a medieval reader. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press.

Schroeder, Carl. 1911. Der deutsche Facetus. Berlin: Mayer & Müller.