Wednesday, March 27, 2019



Victor Davis Hanson, The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization (New York: The Free Press, 1995), p. 78, with note on p. 462:
Last, the diverse production of cereals, fruits, olives, vines, and livestock virtually ensures the grower self-sufficiency—autarkeia, the Greeks' cherished economic and social sense of independence—both for the immediate needs of the family and the wider requirements of the farm itself. Bread and gruel from barley and wheat; fresh, dried, and juiced products from deciduous fruit trees; cooking oil, soap, and cured fruit from olives; raisins, grapes, and wine from the vine; vegetables and greens out of the garden; meat, cheese, milk, hides, and wool from livestock—having all these allows Laertes to exist quite apart from the palace below. Similarly, most lubricants and lighting oil (olives), fertilizer (manure, legumes), cooking fuel, and even some farming implements (local woods), are also obtainable without need for outside barter, much less purchase. Everything from grape stakes to stove wood to building materials could be fabricated from trees, reeds, mud bricks, and clays available in the countryside.49

49. For autarkeia, see Sallares 297-300; Campell and Sherrard 323-24; Osborne 1987: 17-18. For more specific examples of self-sufficiency in Greece, see Foxhall and Forbes 66; Boardman 1977: 192; Amouretti 1986: 177-196; McDonald and Rapp 54-57. "A farm," the comic playwright Philemon makes his rustic say, "supplies every human want, wheat, oil, wine, figs, and honey" (fr. 105 Kock). Such bounty, Timocles says, is not a farm, "but a crown" (Timocles fr. 36 Kock).
Philemon, fragment 105 (my translation):
A most fitting possession for men is a farm;
For what nature asks, a farm provides with care:
Wheat, oil, wine, figs, honey.
Silver plate and purple dye are
Well suited for the stage, but not for life.

διακαιότατον κτῆμ' ἐστὶν άνθρώποις άγρός·
ὧν ἡ φύσις δεῖται γὰρ ἐπιμελῶς φέρει,
πυρούς, ἔλαιον, οἶνον, ἰσχάδας, μέλι.
τὰ δ' ἀργυρώματ' ἐστὶν ἥ τε πορφύρα
εἰς τοὺς τραγῳδοὺς εὔθετ', οὐκ εἰς τὸν βίον.
Timocles, fragment 36 (tr. J.M. Edmonds):
FARMER Honey and oil and figs both dried and green.
B A cornucopia, not a farm, you mean.

ΓΕΩΡΓΟΣ σῦκ', ἔλαιον, ἰσχάδας, μέλι.
B σὺ μὲν εἰρεσιώνην, οὐ γεωργίαν λέγεις.
Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. εἰρεσιώνη:
branch of olive or laurel wound round with wool and hung with fruits, dedicated to Apollo and borne about by singing boys at the Πυανόψια and Θαργήλια, while offerings were made to Helios and the Hours, and afterwards hung up at the house-door.

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