Saturday, June 16, 2012


The Good Man

Cato, On Agriculture, praef. 2 (tr. W.D. Hooper and H.B. Ash):
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.

et virum bonum quom laudabant, ita laudabant: bonum agricolam bonumque colonum. amplissime laudari existimabatur qui ita laudabatur.
Cato, To His Son Marcus, fragment 6 Jordan (my translation):
The good man, Marcus my son, is the one skilled in farming, whose tools shine.

vir bonus, Marce fili, colendi peritus, cuius ferramenta splendent.

Eastman Johnson (1824-1906), Man with Scythe

Related post: Tools, Land, Beasts, Loves

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."

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