"A Necessary Evil"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The practice of Victorian translators to ignore the context and supply a fanciful translation produces some interesting results in rhyme. This translation probably comes from earlier translations and mottos such as this from The Spectator (1711): "Marriage is an evil most men endure." The Greek Menander, taking his cue from Aristophanes and the older writers, no doubt follows a long tradition of laughing at marriage, just as his successors do in Latin. There is no certain way now to find what the situation is in which this fragment appears, but its meaning is clear enough.

Now you're to wed, remember this, my lad,
'T will mean much good if you get little bad.
. . .
Marriage, you'll find, has long been and is still
An ill, sir, but a necessary ill.