Friday, November 26, 2021


Agriculture, Mother and Nurse of the Other Arts

Xenophon, Oeconomicus 5.1-17 (tr. E.C. Marchant):
[1] "Now I tell you this," continued Socrates, "because even the wealthiest cannot hold aloof from husbandry. For the pursuit of it is in some sense a luxury as well as a means of increasing one's estate and of training the body in all that a free man should be able to do. [2] For, in the first place, the earth yields to cultivators the food by which men live; she yields besides the luxuries they enjoy. [3] Secondly, she supplies all the things with which they decorate altars and statues and themselves, along with most pleasant sights and scents. Thirdly, she produces or feeds the ingredients of many delicate dishes; for the art of breeding stock is closely linked with husbandry; so that men have victims for propitiating the gods with sacrifice and cattle for their own use. [4] And though she supplies good things in abundance, she suffers them not to be won without toil, but accustoms men to endure winter's cold and summer's heat. She gives increased strength through exercise to the men that labour with their own hands, and hardens the overseers of the work by rousing them early and forcing them to move about briskly. For on a farm no less than in a town the most important operations have their fixed times. [5] Again, if a man wants to serve in the cavalry, farming is his most efficient partner in furnishing keep for his horse; if on foot, it makes his body brisk. And the land helps in some measure to arouse a liking for the toil of hunting, since it affords facilities for keeping hounds and at the same time supplies food for the wild game thay preys on the land. [6] And if husbandry benefits horses and hounds, they benefit the farm no less, the horses by carrying the overseer early to the scene of his duties and enabling him to leave it late, the hounds by keeping the wild animals from injuring crops and sheep, and by helping to give safety to solitude. [7] The land also stimulates armed protection of the country on the part of the husbandmen, by nourishing her crops in the open for the strongest to take. [8] And what art produces better runners, throwers and jumpers than husbandry? What art rewards the labourer more generously? What art welcomes her follower more gladly, inviting him to come and take whatever he wants? What art entertains strangers more generously? [9] Where is there greater facility for passing the winter comforted by generous fire and warm baths, than on a farm? Where is it pleasanter to spend the summer enjoying the cool waters and breezes and shade, than in the country? [10] What other art yields more seemly first-fruits for the gods, or gives occasion for more crowded festivals? What art is dearer to servants, or pleasanter to a wife, or more delightful to children, or more agreeable to friends? [11] To me indeed it seems strange, if any free man has come by a possession pleasanter than this, or has found out an occupation pleasanter than this or more useful for winning a livelihood.

[12] "Yet again, the earth willingly teaches righteousness to those who can learn; for the better she is served, the more good things she gives in return. [13] And if haply those who are occupied in farming, and 13 are receiving a rigorous and manly teaching, are forced at any time to quit their lands by great armies, they, as men well-found in mind and in body, can enter the country of those who hinder them, and take sufficient for their support. Often in time of war it is safer to go armed in search of food than to gather it with farming implements.

[14] Moreover, husbandry helps to train men for corporate effort. For men are essential to an expedition against an enemy, and the cultivation of the soil demands the aid of men. [15] Therefore nobody can be a good farmer unless he makes his labourers both eager and obedient; and the captain who leads men against an enemy must contrive to secure the same results by rewarding those who act as brave men should act and punishing the disobedient. [16] And it is no less necessary for a farmer to encourage his labourers often, than for a general to encourage his men. And slaves need the stimulus of good hopes no less, nay, even more than free men, to make them steadfast. [17] It has been nobly said that husbandry is the mother and nurse of the other arts. For when husbandry flourishes, all the other arts are in good fettle; but whenever the land is compelled to lie waste, the other arts of landsmen and mariners alike well-nigh perish."

[1] ταῦτα δέ, ὦ Κριτόβουλε, ἐγὼ διηγοῦμαι, ἔφη ὁ Σωκράτης, ὅτι τῆς γεωργίας οὐδ᾿ οἱ πάνυ μακάριοι δύνανται ἀπέχεσθαι. ἔοικε γὰρ ἡ ἐπιμέλεια αὐτῆς εἶναι ἅμα τε ἡδυπάθειά τις καὶ οἴκου αὔξησις καὶ σωμάτων ἄσκησις εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι ὅσα ἀνδρὶ ἐλευθέρῳ προσήκει. [2] πρῶτον μὲν γὰρ ἀφ᾿ ὧν ζώσιν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, ταῦτα ἡ γῆ φέρει ἐργαζομένοις, καὶ ἀφ᾿ ὧν τοίνυν ἡδυπαθοῦσι προσεπιφέρει· [3] ἔπειτα δὲ ὅσοις κοσμοῦσι βωμοὺς καὶ ἀγάλματα καὶ οἷς αὐτοὶ κοσμοῦνται, καὶ ταῦτα μετὰ ἡδίστων ὀσμῶν καὶ θεαμάτων παρέχει· ἔπειτα δὲ ὄψα πολλὰ τὰ μὲν φύει, τὰ δὲ τρέφει· καὶ γὰρ ἡ προβατευτικὴ τέχνη συνῆπται τῇ γεωργίᾳ, ὥστε ἔχειν καὶ θεοὺς ἐξαρέσκεσθαι θύοντας καὶ αὐτοὺς χρῆσθαι. [4] παρέχουσα δ᾿ ἀφθονώτατα τἀγαθὰ οὐκ ἐᾷ ταῦτα μετὰ μαλακίας λαμβάνειν, ἀλλὰ ψύχη τε χειμῶνος καὶ θάλπη θέρους ἐθίζει καρτερεῖν. καὶ τοὺς μὲν αὐτουργοὺς διὰ τῶν χειρῶν γυμνάζουσα ἰσχὺν αὐτοῖς προστίθησι, τοῦς δὲ τῇ ἐπιμελείᾳ γεωργοῦντας ἀνδρίζει πρωί τε ἐγείρουσα καὶ πορεύεσθαι σφοδρῶς ἀναγκάζουσα. καὶ γὰρ ἐν τῷ χώρῳ καὶ ἐν τῷ ἄστει ἀεὶ ἐν ὥρᾳ αἱ ἐπικαιριώταται πράξεις εἰσίν. [5] ἔπειτα ἤν τε σὺν ἵππῳ ἀρήγειν τις τῇ πόλει βούληται, τὸν ἵππον ἱκανωτάτη ἡ γεωργία συντρέφειν, ἤν τε πεζῇ, σφοδρὸν τὸ σῶμα παρέχει· θήραις τε ἐπιφιλοπονεῖσθαι συνεπαίρει τι ἡ γῆ καὶ κυσὶν εὐπέτειαν τροφῆς παρέχουσα καὶ θηρία συμπαρατρέφουσα. [6] ὠφελούμενοι δὲ καὶ οἱ ἵπποι καὶ αἱ κύνες ἀπὸ τῆς γεωργίας ἀντωφελοῦσι τὸν χῶρον, ὁ μὲν ἵππος πρωί τε κομίζων τὸν κηδόμενον εἰς τὴν ἐπιμέλειαν καὶ ἐξουσίαν παρέχων ὀψὲ ἀπιέναι, αἰ δὲ κύνες τά τε θηρία ἀπερύκουσαι ἀπὸ λύμης καρπῶν καὶ προβάτων καὶ τῇ ἐρημίᾳ τὴν ἀσφάλειαν συμπαρέχουσαι. [7] παρορμᾷ δέ τι καὶ εἰς τὸ ἀρήγειν σὺν ὅπλοις τῇ χώρᾳ καὶ ἡ γῆ τοὺς γεωργοὺς ἐν τῷ μέσῳ τοὺς καρποὺς τρέφουσα τῷ κρατοῦντι λαμβάνειν. [8] καὶ δραμεῖν δὲ καὶ βαλεῖν καὶ πηδῆσαι τίς ἱκανωτέρους τέχνη γεωργίας παρέχεται; τίς δὲ τοῖς ἐργαζομένοις πλείω τέχνη ἀντιχαρίζεται; τίς δὲ ἥδιον τὸν ἐπιμελόμενον δέχεται, προτείνουσα προσιόντι λαβεῖν ὅ τι χρῄζει; τίς δὲ ξένους ἀφθονώτερον δέχεται; [9] χειμάσαι δὲ πυρὶ ἀφθόνῳ καὶ θερμοῖς λουτροῖς ποῦ πλείων εὐμάρεια ἢ ἐν χώρῳ τῳ; ποῦ δὲ ἥδιον θερίσαι ὕδασί τε καὶ πνεύμασι καὶ σκιαῖς ἢ κατ᾿ ἀγρόν; [10] τίς δὲ ἄλλη θεοῖς ἀπαρχὰς πρεπωδεστέρας παρέχει ἢ ἑορτὰς πληρεστέρας ἀποδεικνύει; τίς δὲ οἰκέταις προσφιλεστέρα ἢ γυναικὶ ἡδίων ἢ τέκνοις ποθεινοτέρα ἢ φίλοις εὐχαριστοτέρα; [11] ἐμοὶ μὲν θαυμαστὸν δοκεῖ εἶναι, εἴ τις ἐλεύθερος ἄνθρωπος ἢ κτῆμά τι τούτου ἥδιον κέκτηται ἢ ἐπιμέλειαν ἡδίω τινὰ ταύτης εὕρηκεν ἢ ὠφελιμωτέραν εἰς τὸν βίον.

[12] ἔτι δὲ ἡ γῆ θεὸς οὖσα τοὺς δυναμένους καταμανθάνειν καὶ δικαιοσύνην διδάσκει· τοὺς γὰρ ἄριστα θεραπεύοντας αὐτὴν πλεῖστα ἀγαθὰ ἀντιποιεῖ. [13] ἐὰν δ᾿ ἄρα καὶ ὑπὸ πλήθους ποτὲ στρατευμάτων τῶν ἔργων στερηθῶσιν οἱ ἐν τῇ γεωργίᾳ ἀναστρεφόμενοι καὶ σφοδρῶς καὶ ἀνδρικῶς παιδευόμενοι, οὗτοι εὖ παρεσκευασμένοι καὶ τὰς ψυχὰς καὶ τὰ σώματα, ἢν μὴ θεὸς ἀποκωλύῃ, δύνανται ἰόντες εἰς τὰς τῶν ἀποκωλυόντων λαμβάνειν ἀφ᾿ ὧν θρέψονται. πολλάκις δ᾿ ἐν τῷ πολέμῳ καὶ ἀσφαλέστερόν ἐστι σὺν τοῖς ὅπλοις τὴν τροφὴν μαστεύειν ἢ σὺν τοῖς γεωργικοῖς ὀργάνοις.

[14] συμπαιδεύει δὲ καὶ εἰς τὸ ἐπαρκεῖν ἀλλήλοις ἡ γεωργία. ἐπί τε γὰρ τοὺς πολεμίους σὺν ἀνθρώποις δεῖ ἰέναι τῆς τε γῆς σὺν ἀνθρώποις ἐστὶν ἡ ἐργασία. [15] τὸν οὖν μέλλοντα εὖ γεωργήσειν δεῖ τοὺς ἐργαστῆρας καὶ προθύμους παρασκευάζειν καὶ πείθεσθαι θέλοντας· τὸν δὲ ἐπὶ πολεμίους ἄγοντα ταὐτὰ δεῖ μηχανᾶσθαι δωρούμενόν τε τοῖς ποιοῦσιν ἃ δεῖ ποιεῖν τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς καὶ κολάζοντα τοὺς ἀτακτοῦντας. [16] καὶ παρακελεύεσθαι δὲ πολλάκις οὐδὲν ἧττον δεῖ τοῖς ἐργάταις τὸν γεωργὸν ἢ τὸν στρατηγὸν τοῖς στρατιώταις· καὶ ἐλπίδων δὲ ἀγαθῶν οὐδὲν ἧττον οἱ δοῦλοι τῶν ἐλευθέρων δέονται, ἀλλὰ καὶ μᾶλλον, ὅπως μένειν ἐθέλωσι. [17] καλῶς δὲ κἀκεῖνος εἶπεν, ὃς ἔφη τὴν γεωργίαν τῶν ἄλλων τεχνῶν μητέρα καὶ τροφὸν εἶναι. εὖ μὲν γὰρ φερομένης τῆς γεωργίας ἔρρωνται καὶ αἱ ἄλλαι τέχναι ἅπασαι, ὅπου δ᾿ ἂν ἀναγκασθῇ ἡ γῆ χερσεύειν, ἀποσβέννυνται καὶ αἱ ἄλλαι τέχναι σχεδόν τι καὶ κατὰ γῆν καὶ κατὰ θάλατταν.
Marchant didn't translate the vocative ὦ Κριτόβουλε in section 1.

Sarah B. Pomeroy ad loc.:
Because agriculture was fundamental to Greek life, it is often mentioned in poetry and is the focus of Hesiod's Works and Days. However, it appears that c. v is the earliest extensive eulogy of rural life in Greek prose. Xenophon's perspective on farming differs from Hesiod's pessimistic view: in the Works and Days the earth does not easily relinquish her produce and the farmer must warily watch the celestial signs lest all his work be destroyed. Furthermore, human justice does not flourish in the country any more than it does in an urban environment. Only in the Golden Age (WD 116-20) before the introduction of agricultural labour was the earth generous with her gifts. In contrast, Xenophon's view is that of an aristocrat who, like the Persian king in c. iv, works only when he so chooses, and who expects to reap a reward from the land and to enjoy himself while doing so. Xenophon was not alone in considering farming as the basis of the economy and the source of virtue for men.120 In c. v agriculture is praised for providing pleasure, profit, opportunities for piety, and a proper training for free men. The images of domestic comfort and happiness in c. v prefigure the description of the household of Ischomachus and his wife in cc. vii-x.

The abundance and generosity of nature is reflected in the richness of Xenophon's prose. The rhetorical structure is Gorgianic, employed so lavishly as to create a 'purple patch'. (For another see on viii. 8 and see further Ch. 2.) For example, note the parallel arrangement and rhyme in § 1 αὔξησις ... ἄσκησις; isocola in § 6; personification of Earth, and the series of rhetorical questions, in §§ 8-11. Many of Xenophon's statements became topoi in later adaptations of the theme.121 Xenophon sets forth the subjects of the eulogy principally in dualities that are sometimes repeated:
pleasure and utility (1, 2, 11)
sight and smell (3)
gods and men (3, 10)
nature and nurture (4)
animal husbandry and agriculture (3, 6)
winter and summer (4, 9)
country and city (4)
war and peace (5).
Within this conventional thought-pattern expressed in traditional rhetorical language reiterating the pleasures of country life, Xenophon intrudes references to war (5, 7, 13-16) that shatter the idyll. The family farm must be defended: the value of the land and its products makes it attractive to the enemy.

120 See further Ch. 5 and K.J. Dover, Greek Popular Morality, 114.

121 For rural encomia, most of which were written in Latin, see H. Kier, De Laudibus Vitae Rusticae ( diss. Marburg, 1933).

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