The Girl From Samos | Study Guide


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The Girl From Samos | Themes



The actions of the main characters are driven by a desire to maintain or destroy the honor of their families. The baby is proof of Demeas's shameful relationship with Chrysis. Demeas is ashamed of his age gap with Chrysis and does not think it is honorable to father a child with her. When she gets pregnant, he orders her to get rid of the baby. Demeas assumes Chrysis disobeyed his order and kept her baby after he sees her with an infant. He kicks her out of his house even though he loves her. Later, he is so concerned with keeping the honor of his household that he doesn't tell anyone that he knows the baby's father is Moschion because he knows that will bring shame to his household. If Demeas had set aside the concern for honor he may have learned the truth much sooner and avoided the series of events that unfolds.

Moschion and Plangon know that having a child out of wedlock will dishonor both of their families. Chrysis tries to maintain honor for both families by taking care of Plangon's baby. When she is accused of lying about the baby's parentage, she chooses to maintain silence in order to maintain honor for both families. Nikeratos is so angered by the dishonor of having a pregnant, unwed daughter that he threatens to kill everyone involved in the cover-up. Nikeratos takes his concern for honor to the extreme. He is willing to destroy anything that would dishonor his family even if it means destroying the family he is trying to protect. His quest for honor almost leads to the murder of the entire family.

Moschion knows his actions have caused dishonor, but he contemplates making his father feel embarrassed instead of owning up to his mistakes. He is too immature and too ashamed of himself to admit that he made a mistake. Instead, he tries to turn the dishonor back toward his father by making Demeas think he is leaving to join the military. Demeas's statement that domestic disputes should be kept private underscores the idea that family honor is important to maintain.

Male Dominion

Women play an important role in the play, but the male characters do not treat them fairly. Chrysis and Plangon are both at the mercy of the men in their household. Demeas orders Chrysis to kill the child she is carrying. He is angry when he believes Chrysis keeps the child. When he suspects Chrysis had an affair, he doesn't ask for her side of the story or allow her a chance to explain herself. Chrysis is at the mercy of neighbors, and Nikeratos takes her in partly because Nikeratos's wife knows the truth.

Plangon is at the mercy of the men in her life. The audience does not get to experience Plangon's thoughts about the unfolding situation even though she plays such an important role in the drama. Her father is so furious when he finds out she had a child that he plans to kill his own daughter and grandchild. If Plangon doesn't marry Moschion she will never find a respectable husband because no one will want to marry a woman who has had sex before marriage. Like Chrysis Plangon must bend to the whims of the men in her life. She is not given a voice and no one asks her opinions about the matters in which she is deeply involved.


Many of the characters in The Girl from Samos could have avoided feelings of anger or betrayal if they had been honest from the beginning. Moschion could have told his father about getting Plangon pregnant and had Demeas help him figure out a solution. If Chrysis had told Demeas who the real parents of the baby were, he would not have assumed she had an affair with Moschion.

Menander does not suggest that honesty is always the best policy. To calm Nikeratos from his fit of rage, Demeas convinces Nikeratos that Plangon was visited by the gods and that that is how she became pregnant. The idea that Plangon's baby might be divine and the fact that Moschion is going to marry her despite having a baby is the only thing that calms Nikeratos down from his fit of rage. Menander suggests that sometimes, a lie is the best way to make everyone happy and maintain the honor of a household.

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