Monday, September 19, 2016



Libanius, Orations 7.4 (tr. Craig A. Gibson):
And so, there are thousands of human pursuits, but the best one is farming; for it gives the greatest profit to those who farm—namely, that they are good. For a man who is devoted to his fields and serious about his land stays far from the marketplace and quarreling in the marketplace, far from the courts and false accusations in the courts, far from the assembly and uproars in the assembly, neither indicting, nor lying, nor acting as a defendant, nor giving false testimony, nor demanding fair restitution, nor working for money with which to overwhelm another man with disasters. Rather, after sowing and doing everything else for his plants, he awaits the harvest and the resulting profit, planting his seeds with prayers, offering the first-fruits to the gods who have granted them, and refraining as much as possible from being a busybody, inasmuch as he spends his time among oxen and sheep and goats. As a result, farmers also seem to me to obtain what they ask from the gods easily, whenever they call upon them, because they ask for something good for themselves and certainly not for anything evil for others.

Μυρία μὲν οὖν ἐπιτηδεύματα κατὰ ἀνθρώπους, ἄριστον δὲ ἡ γεωργία. τὸ γὰρ μέγιστον κέρδος δίδωσι τοῖς γεωργοῦσι. τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν αὐτοὺς ἀγαθοὺς εἶναι. ἀνὴρ γὰρ ἀρούρᾳ προσκείμενος καὶ περὶ τὴν γῆν ἐσπουδακὼς πόρρω μὲν ἀγορᾶς καὶ τῆς ἐν ἀγορᾷ φιλονεικίας, πόρρω δὲ δικαστηρίων καὶ τῶν ἐν δικαστηρίοις συκοφαντιῶν, πόρρω δὲ ἐκκλησίας καὶ τῶν ἐπ’ ἐκκλησίας θορύβων, οὐ γραφόμενος, οὐ ψευδόμενος, οὐ φεύγων, οὐ τὰ ψευδῆ μαρτυρῶν, οὐ τὴν ἴσην ἀνταπόδοσιν ἀπαιτῶν, οὐκ ἐργαζόμενος χρήματα ἐξ ὧν ἕτερον συμφοραῖς περιέβαλλεν, ἀλλὰ σπείρας καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ποιήσας ὁπόσα περὶ τὰ φυτὰ περιμένει τὰς ὥρας καὶ τὸν ἐκεῖθεν πόρον, μετὰ μὲν εὐχῶν καταβάλλων τὰ σπέρματα, τῶν δὲ καρπῶν ἀπαρχόμενος τοῖς δεδωκόσι θεοῖς, φιλοπραγμοσύνης ὅτι πλεῖστον ἀπέχων ἅτε ἐν βουσὶ καὶ προβάτοις καὶ αἰξὶ διατρίβων, ὥστε μοι δοκοῦσι καὶ ῥᾷον τυγχάνειν τῶν θεῶν, ἡνίκα ἂν αὐτοὺς καλῶσιν αἰτοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς ἀγαθά, οὐ γὰρ δὴ ἑτέροις κακά.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, Query XIX:
Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth. Corruption of morals in the mass of cultivators is a phaenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example. It is the mark set on those, who not looking up to heaven, to their own soil and industry, as does the husbandman, for their subsistance, depend for it on the casualties and caprice of customers. Dependance begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition. This, the natural progress and consequence of the arts, has sometimes perhaps been retarded by accidental circumstances: but, generally speaking, the proportion which the aggregate of the other classes of citizens bears in any state to that of its husbandmen, is the proportion of its unsound to its healthy parts, and is a good-enough barometer whereby to measure its degree of corruption. While we have land to labour then, let us never wish to see our citizens occupied at a work-bench, or twirling a distaff.

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