Friday, June 05, 2009



Xenophon, Memorabilia 2.8 (tr. E.C. Marchant):
[1] Again, on meeting an old comrade after long absence he said: "Where do you come from, Eutherus?"

"I came home when the war ended, Socrates, and am now living here," he replied. "Since we have lost our foreign property, and my father left me nothing in Attica, I am forced to settle down here now and work for my living with my hands. I think it's better than begging, especially as I have no security to offer for a loan."

[2] "And how long will you have the strength, do you think, to earn your living by your work?"

"Oh, not long, of course."

"But remember, when you get old you will have to spend money, and nobody will be willing to pay you for your labour."


[3] "Then it would be better to take up some kind of work at once that will assure you a competence when you get old, and to go to somebody who is better off and wants an assistant, and get a return for your services by acting as his bailiff, helping to get in his crops and looking after his property."

[4] "I shouldn't like to make myself a slave, Socrates."
G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981), p. 181:
What Eutherus cannot endure is the idea of being at another's beck and call, of having to submit to dictation and reproof, without the option of being able to walk out or give as good as he got. If one is making or selling things oneself or even — as Eutherus had been doing — working for hire on short-time jobs, one can at least answer back, and at a pinch betake oneself elsewhere. To take the sort of permanent employment which most people nowadays are only too glad to have is to demean oneself to the level of the slave: one must avoid that at all costs, even if it brings in more money.

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