Saturday, March 19, 2016


What Means of Livelihood Is Appropriate for a Philosopher?

Musonius Rufus, fragment 11 (pp. 59-60 Hense; tr. Cora E. Lutz):
But, speaking generally, if one devotes himself to the life of philosophy and tills the land at the same time, I should not compare any other way of life to his nor prefer any other means of livelihood. For is it not "living more in accord with nature" to draw one's sustenance directly from the earth, which is the nurse and mother of us all, rather than from some other source? Is it not more like the life of a man to live in the country than to sit idly in the city, like the sophists? Who will say that it is not more healthy to live out of doors than to shun the open air and the heat of the sun? Tell me, do you think it is more fitting for a free man by his own labor to procure for himself the necessities of life or to receive them from others? But surely it is plain that not to require another's help for one's need is more dignified than asking for it. How very good and happy and blessed of heaven is the life of the soil, when along with it the goods of the spirit are not neglected, the example of Myson of Chen may show, whom the god called "wise," and Aglaus of Psophis whom he hailed as "happy," both of whom lived on the land and tilled the soil with their own hands, and held aloof from the life of the town. Is not their example worthy of emulation and an incentive to follow in their footsteps and to embrace the life of husbandry with a zeal like theirs?

εἴ γε μὴν ἅμα φιλοσοφεῖ τις καὶ γεωργεῖ, οὐκ ἄλλον ἂν παραβάλοιμι τούτῳ βίον οὐδὲ πορισμὸν ἔτερον προτιμήσαιμι ἄν. πῶς μὲν γὰρ οὐ κατὰ φύσιν μᾶλλον ἀπὸ γής, ἣ τροφός τε καὶ μήτηρ ἐστὶν ἡμῶν, ἢ ἀπ' ἄλλου του τρέφεσθαι; πῶς δ' οὐκ ἀνδρικώτερον τοῦ καθήσθαι ἐν πόλει, ὥσπερ οἱ σοφισταί, τὸ ζῆν ἐν χωρίῳ; πῶς δ' οὐχ ὑγιεινότερον τοῦ σκιατροφεῖσθαι τὸ ἔξω διαιτᾶσθαι; τί δέ; ἐλευθεριώτερον αὐτὸν αὑτῷ μηχανᾶσθαι τὰ ἀναγκαῖα ἢ παρ' ἑτέρων λαμβάνειν; ἀλλὰ φαίνεται τὸ μὴ δεῖσθαι ἄλλου πρὸς τὰς χρείας τὰς αὑτοῦ πολὺ σεμνότερον ἢ τὸ δεῖσθαι. οὕτως ἄρα καλὸν καὶ εὐδαιμονικὸν καὶ θεοφιλὲς τὸ ζῆν ἀπὸ γεωργίας ἐστί, σύν γε τῷ καλοκἀγαθίας μὴ ὀλιγωρεῖν, ὥστε Μύσωνα τὸν Χηναῖον ὁ θεὸς ἀνεῖπε σοφὸν καὶ τὸν Ψωφίδιον Ἀγλαὸν εὐδαίμονα προσηγόρευσε, χωριτικῶς ἑκάτερον αὐτῶν βιοῦντα καὶ αὐτουργίᾳ χρώμενον καὶ τῆς ἐν ἄστει διατριβῆς ἀπεχόμενον. ἆρ' οὖν οὐκ ἄξιον ζηλοῦν τε καὶ μιμεῖσθαι τούτους καὶ περιέχεσθαι σπουδῇ τοῦ γεωργεῖν;
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