Friday, January 29, 2016


Manual Labor

Thaddeus Zielinski (1859-1944), The Religion of Ancient Greece, tr. George Rapall Noyes (1926; rpt. Chicago: Ares Publishers Inc., 1975), pp. 38-39:
Some one once ventured to assert that the ancient Greeks despised and scorned physical work, and ever since that time this absurd statement has been wandering unchecked through the pages of manuals and compendiums that derive their material at second hand or at tenth hand. Of course, this allegation must have had some basis. It was founded on the opinion of the aristocratic writer Plato and of a few others concerning the injurious effect on man's mental processes of artisan labour, which chains him to the workshop and at the same time directs his thoughts exclusively towards gain. But, to say nothing of the fact that Plato and his fellow-writers are not speaking of all physical labour, and in particular not of labour in the fields, what warrant have we to make Plato's words representative of the view of Greece as a whole? Why not oppose to them the Homeric Odysseus, who appeals with equal pride to his endurance at the time of harvest and to his deeds in war?—Odysseus, who with his own hands made himself his marriage bed and the boat that saved him! Why should we not mention Hesiod, who dedicated to his heedless brother Perses his Works and Days, with their guiding thought, 'To work, foolish Perses', and with the famous verse:
Now work is no disgrace, sloth is disgrace (verse 311).
Hesiod's famous verse in Greek:
ἔργον δ' οὐδὲν ὄνειδος, ἀεργίη δέ τ' ὄνειδος.

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