Saturday, June 16, 2012
The Good Man
And when they [our ancestors] would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: "good husbandman, good farmer"; one so praised was thought to have received the greatest commendation.Cato, To His Son Marcus, fragment 6 Jordan (my translation):
et virum bonum quom laudabant, ita laudabant: bonum agricolam bonumque colonum. amplissime laudari existimabatur qui ita laudabatur.
The good man, Marcus my son, is the one skilled in farming, whose tools shine.
vir bonus, Marce fili, colendi peritus, cuius ferramenta splendent.
Update from Robert J. O'Hara:
Mike, on the enduring ideal of the good-farmer-as-good-man that you just posted, I think Cato would recognize Ephraim Pratt of Shutesbury, Massachusetts, in this little word-picture from John Hayward's New England Gazetteer of 1839:
"Ephraim Pratt lived in this town many years, and died here in 1804, aged 116 years. He married at the age of 21, and could count 1,500 descendants. He was a very temperate man, so much so that for 40 years he took almost no animal food. He was a farmer, and his health was so uniformly good that he was able to mow a good swath 101 years in succession."