Classical Drama and Theatre
Return to ChaptersThat Moschion almost invariably rapes a young woman and yet later they are happily married is a feature of Menandrean comedy which modern audiences often find appalling, but it must be understood in context. According to ancient Athenian law, rape was a lesser crime than seduction, on the logic that rape defiles only a woman's body, but seduction corrupts her mind as well. That is, seduction teaches her the joys of indiscretion, where rape does not. This condescending, misogynistic attitude is typical of the repressive society of ancient Greece. In order, then, that his audience not see his Moschions as sexual felons, only lusty miscreants, Menander casts them as rapists, not seducers. To understand what he is saying, we should read "seduction" where the text says "rape." That's what Menander really means.
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