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The Economist by Xenophon

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[36] Or, "like the rhythm of a song," {euruthmon}. See Mr. Ruskin's
most appropriate note ("Bib. Past." i. 59), "A remarkable word, as
significant of the complete rhythm ({ruthmos}) whether of sound or
motion, that was so great a characteristic of the Greek ideal (cf.
xi. 16, {metarruthmizo})," and much more equally to the point.

[37] "Just as a chorus, the while its dancers weave a circling dance."

[38] Or, "contrasting with the movement and the mazes of the dance, a
void appears serene and beautiful."

"The truth of what I say, we easily can test, my wife," I added, "by
direct experiment, and that too without cost at all or even serious
trouble.[39] Nor need you now distress yourself, my wife, to think how
hard it will be to discover some one who has wit enough to learn the
places for the several things and memory to take and place them there.
We know, I fancy, that the goods of various sorts contained in the
whole city far outnumber ours many thousand times; and yet you have
only to bid any one of your domestics go buy this, or that, and bring
it you from market, and not one of them will hesitate. The whole world
knows both where to go and where to find each thing.

[39] Lit. "now whether these things I say are true (i.e. are facts),
we can make experiment of the things themselves (i.e. of actual
facts to prove to us)."

"And why is this?" I asked. "Merely because they lie in an appointed
place. But now, if you are seeking for a human being, and that too at
times when he is seeking you on his side also, often and often shall
you give up the search in sheer despair: and of this again the reason?
Nothing else save that no appointed place was fixed where one was to
await the other." Such, so far as I can now recall it, was the
conversation which we held together touching the arrangement of our
various chattels and their uses.


Well (I replied), and did your wife appear, Ischomachus, to lend a
willing ear to what you tried thus earnestly to teach her?

Isch. Most certainly she did, with promise to pay all attention. Her
delight was evident, like some one's who at length has found a pathway
out of difficulties; in proof of which she begged me to lose no time
in making the orderly arrangement I had spoken of.

And how did you introduce the order she demanded, Ischomachus? (I

Isch. Well, first of all I thought I ought to show her the capacities
of our house. Since you must know, it is not decked with ornaments and
fretted ceilings,[1] Socrates; but the rooms were built expressly with
a view to forming the most apt receptacles for whatever was intended
to be put in them, so that the very look of them proclaimed what
suited each particular chamber best. Thus our own bedroom,[2] secure
in its position like a stronghold, claimed possession of our choicest
carpets, coverlets, and other furniture. Thus, too, the warm dry rooms
would seem to ask for our stock of bread-stuffs; the chill cellar for
our wine; the bright and well-lit chambers for whatever works or
furniture required light, and so forth.

[1] Or, "curious workmanship and paintings." See "Mem." III. viii. 10.
Cf. Plat. "Rep." vii. 529 B; "Hipp. maj." 298 A. See Becker,
"Charicles," Exc. i. 111.

[2] Or, "the bridal chamber." See Becker, op. cit. p. 266. Al. "our
store-chamber." See Hom. "Od." xxi. 9:

{be d' imenai thalamonde sun amphipoloisi gunaixin
eskhaton, k.t.l.}

"And she (Penelope) betook her, with her handmaidens, to the
treasure-chamber in the uttermost part of the house, where lay the
treasures of her lord, bronze and gold and iron well wrought."--
Butcher and Lang. Cf. "Od." ii. 337; "Il." vi. 288.

Next I proceeded to point out to her the several dwelling-rooms, all
beautifully fitted up for cool in summer and for warmth in winter.[3]
I showed her how the house enjoyed a southern aspect, whence it was
plain, in winter it would catch the sunlight and in summer lie in
shade.[4] Then I showed her the women's apartments, separated from the
men's apartments by a bolted door,[5] whereby nothing from within
could be conveyed without clandestinely, nor children born and bred by
our domestics without our knowledge and consent[6]--no unimportant
matter, since, if the act of rearing children tends to make good
servants still more loyally disposed,[7] cohabiting but sharpens
ingenuity for mischief in the bad.

[3] See "Mem." III. viii. 8.

[4] See "Mem." ib. 9.

[5] "By bolts and bars." Lit. "a door fitted with a bolt-pin." See
Thuc. ii. 4; Aristoph. "Wasps," 200.

[6] Cf. (Aristot.) "Oecon." i. 5, {dei de kai exomereuein tais

[7] Lit. "since (you know) if the good sort of servant is rendered, as
a rule, better disposed when he becomes a father, the base,
through intermarrying, become only more ripe for mischief."

When we had gone over all the rooms (he continued), we at once set
about distribution our furniture[8] in classes; and we began (he said)
by collecting everything we use in offering sacrifice.[9] After this
we proceeded to set apart the ornaments and holiday attire of the
wife, and the husband's clothing both for festivals and war; then the
bedding used in the women's apartments, and the bedding used in the
men's apartments; then the women's shoes and sandals, and the shoes
and sandals of the men.[10] There was one division devoted to arms and
armour; another to instruments used for carding wood; another to
implements for making bread; another to utensils for cooking
condiments; another to utensils for the bath; another connected with
the kneading trough; another with the service of the table. All these
we assigned to separate places, distinguishing one portion for daily
and recurrent use and the rest for high days and holidays. Next we
selected and set aside the supplies required for the month's
expenditure; and, under a separate head,[11] we stored away what we
computed would be needed for the year.[12] For in this way there is
less chance of failing to note how the supplies are likely to last to
the end.

[8] "Movable property," "meubles."

[9] Holden cf. Plut. "De Curios." 515 E, {os gar Xenophon legei toi
Oikonomikois, k.t.l.}

[10] Cf. "Cyrop." VIII. ii. 5. See Becker, op. cit. p. 447.

[11] See Cic. ap. Col. who curiously mistranslates {dikha}.

[12] Schneider, etc., cf. Aristot. "Oecon." i. 6.

And so having arranged the different articles of furniture in classes,
we proceeded to convey them to their appropriate places. That done, we
directed our attention to the various articles needed by our domestics
for daily use, such as implements or utensils for making bread,
cooking relishes, spinning wool, and anything else of the same sort.
These we consigned to the care of those who would have to use them,
first pointing out where they must stow them, and enjoining on them to
return them safe and sound when done with.

As to the other things which we should only use on feast-days, or for
the entertainment of guests, or on other like occasions at long
intervals, we delivered them one and all to our housekeeper. Having
pointed out to her their proper places, and having numbered and
registered[13] the several sets of articles, we explained that it was
her business to give out each thing as required; to recollect to whom
she gave them; and when she got them back, to restore them severally
to the places from which she took them. In appointing our housekeeper,
we had taken every pains to discover some one on whose self-restraint
we might depend, not only in the matters of food and wine and sleep,
but also in her intercourse with men. She must besides, to please us,
be gifted with no ordinary memory. She must have sufficient
forethought not to incur displeasure through neglect of our interests.
It must be her object to gratify us in this or that, and in return to
win esteem and honour at our hands. We set ourselves to teach and
train her to feel a kindly disposition towards us, by allowing her to
share our joys in the day of gladness, or, if aught unkind befell us,
by inviting her to sympathise in our sorrow. We sought to rouse in her
a zeal for our interests, an eagerness to promote the increase of our
estate, by making her intelligent of its affairs, and by giving her a
share in our successes. We instilled in her a sense of justice and
uprightness, by holding the just in higher honour than the unjust, and
by pointing out that the lives of the righteous are richer and less
servile than those of the unrighteous; and this was the position in
which she found herself installed in our household.[14]

[13] Or, "having taken an inventory of the several sets of things."
Cf. "Ages." i. 18; "Cyrop." VII. iv. 12. See Newman, op. cit. i.

[14] Or, "and this was the position in which we presently established
her herself."

And now, on the strength of all that we had done, Socrates (he added),
I addressed my wife, explaining that all these things would fail of
use unless she took in charge herself to see that the order of each
several part was kept. Thereupon I taught her that in every well-
constituted city the citizens are not content merely to pass good
laws, but they further choose them guardians of the laws,[15] whose
function as inspectors is to praise the man whose acts are law-
abiding, or to mulct some other who offends against the law.
Accordingly, I bade her believe that she, the mistress, was herself to
play the part of guardian of the laws to her whole household,
examining whenever it seemed good to her, and passing in review the
several chattels, just as the officer in command of a garrison[16]
musters and reviews his men. She must apply her scrutiny and see that
everything was well, even as the Senate[17] tests the condition of the
Knights and of their horses.[18] Like a queen, she must bestow,
according to the power vested in her, praise and honour on the well-
deserving, but blame and chastisement on him who stood in need

[15] See Plat. "Laws," vi. 755 A, 770 C; Aristot. "Pol." iii. 15, 1287
A; iv. 14, 1298 B; vi. 8, 1323 A; "Ath. Pol." viii. 4; and Cic.
ap. Col. xii. 3. 10 f. Holden cf. Cic. "de Legg." iii. 20, S. 46;
"C. I. G." 3794.

[16] Lit. Phrourarch, "the commandant."

[17] Or, "Council" at Athens.

[18] Cf. "Hipparch." i. 8, 13.

Nor did my lessons end here (added he); I taught her that she must not
be annoyed should I seem to be enjoining upon her more trouble than
upon any of our domestics with regard to our possessions; pointing out
to her that these domestics have only so far a share in their master's
chattels that they must fetch and carry, tend and guard them; nor have
they the right to use a single one of them except the master grant it.
But to the master himself all things pertain to use as he thinks best.
And so I pointed the conclusion: he to whom the greater gain attaches
in the preservation of the property or loss in its destruction, is
surely he to whom by right belongs the larger measure of

[19] Or, "he it is on whom devolves as his concern the duty of

When, then (I asked), Ischomachus, how fared it? was your wife
disposed at all to lend a willing ear to what you told her?[20]

[20] Lit. "when she heard did she give ear at all?"

Bless you,[21] Socrates (he answered), what did she do but forthwith
answer me, I formed a wrong opinion if I fancied that, in teaching her
the need of minding our property, I was imposing a painful task upon
her. A painful task it might have been[22] (she added), had I bade her
neglect her personal concerns! But to be obliged to fulfil the duty of
attending to her own domestic happiness,[23] that was easy. After all
it would seem to be but natural (added he); just as any honest[24]
woman finds it easier to care for her own offspring than to neglect
them, so, too, he could well believe, an honest woman might find it
pleasanter to care for than to neglect possessions, the very charm of
which is that they are one's very own.

[21] Lit. "By Hera!" Cf. the old formula "Marry!" or "By'r lakin!"

[22] Lit. "more painful had it been, had I enjoined her to neglect her
own interests than to be obliged . . ."

[23] {ton oikeion agathon}, cp. "charity begins at home." See Joel,
op. cit. p. 448.

[24] Or, "true and honest"; "any woman worthy of the name." {sophroni}
= with the {sophrosune} of womanhood; possibly transl. "discreet
and sober-minded."


So (continued Socrates), when I heard his wife had made this answer, I
exclaimed: By Hera, Ischomachus, a brave and masculine intelligence
the lady has, as you describe her.

(To which Ischomachus) Yes, Socrates, and I would fain narrate some
other instances of like large-mindedness on her part: shown in the
readiness with which she listened to my words and carried out my

What sort of thing? (I answered). Do, pray, tell me, since I would far
more gladly learn about a living woman's virtues than that Zeuxis[1]
should show me the portrait of the loveliest woman he has painted.

[1] See "Mem." I. iv. 3.

Whereupon Ischomachus proceeded to narrate as follows: I must tell
you, Socrates, I one day noticed she was much enamelled with white
lead,[2] no doubt to enhance the natural whitenes of her skin; she had
rouged herself with alkanet[3] profusely, doubtless to give more
colour to her cheeks than truth would warrant; she was wearing high-
heeled shoes, in order to seem taller than she was by nature.[4]

[2] Cf. Aristoph. "Eccl." 878; ib. 929, {egkhousa mallon kai to son
psimuthion}: ib. 1072; "Plut." 1064.

[3] Lit. "enamelled or painted with anchusa or alkanet," a plant, the
wild bugloss, whose root yields a red dye. Cf. Aristoph. "Lys."
48; Theophr. "H. Pl." vii. 8. 3.

[4] See Becker, op. cit. p. 452; Breit. cf. "Anab." III. ii. 25;
"Mem." II. i. 22; Aristot. "Eth. Nic." iv. 3, 5, "True beauty
requires a great body."

Accordingly I put to her this question:[5] "Tell me, my wife, would
you esteem me a less lovable co-partner in our wealth, were I to show
you how our fortune stands exactly, without boasting of unreal
possessions or concealing what we really have? Or would you prefer
that I should try to cheat you with exaggeration, exhibiting false
money to you, or sham[6] necklaces, or flaunting purples[7] which will
lose their colour, stating they are genuine the while?"

[5] Lit. "So I said to her, 'Tell me, my wife, after which fashion
would you find me the more delectable partner in our joint estate
--were I to . . .? or were I to . . .?'"

[6] Lit. "only wood coated with gold."

[7] See Becker, op. cit. p. 434 f; Holden cf. Athen. ix. 374, xii.
525; Ael. "V. H." xii. 32; Aristoph. "Plut." 533.

She caught me up at once: "Hush, hush!" she said, "talk not such talk.
May heaven forfend that you should ever be like that. I could not love
you with my whole heart were you really of that sort."

"And are we two not come together," I continued, "for a closer
partnership, being each a sharer in the other's body?"

"That, at any rate, is what folk say," she answered.

"Then as regards this bodily relation," I proceeded, "should you
regard me as more lovable or less did I present myself, my one
endeavour and my sole care being that my body should be hale and
strong and thereby well complexioned, or would you have me first
anoint myself with pigments,[8] smear my eyes with patches[9] of 'true
flesh colour,'[10] and so seek your embrace, like a cheating consort
presenting to his mistress's sight and touch vermillion paste instead
of his own flesh?"

[8] "Red lead."

[9] Cf. Aristoph. "Ach." 1029.

[10] {andreikelon}. Cf. Plat. "Rep." 501 B, "the human complexion";
"Crat." 424 E.

"Frankly," she answered, "it would not please me better to touch paste
than your true self. Rather would I see your own 'true flesh colour'
than any pigment of that name; would liefer look into your eyes and
see them radiant with health than washed with any wash, or dyed with
any ointment there may be."

"Believe the same, my wife, of me then," Ischomachus continued (so he
told me); "believe that I too am not better pleased with white enamel
or with alkanet than with your own natural hue; but as the gods have
fashioned horses to delight in horses, cattle in cattle, sheep in
their fellow sheep, so to human beings the human body pure and
undefiled is sweetest;[11] and as to these deceits, though they may
serve to cheat the outside world without detection, yet if intimates
try to deceive each other, they must one day be caught; in rising from
their beds, before they make their toilet; by a drop of sweat they
stand convicted; tears are an ordeal they cannot pass; the bath
reveals them as they truly are."

[11] See "Mem." II. i. 22.

What answer (said I) did she make, in Heaven's name, to what you said?

What, indeed (replied the husband), save only, that thenceforward she
never once indulged in any practice of the sort, but has striven to
display the natural beauty of her person in its purity. She did,
however, put to me a question: Could I advise her how she might become
not in false show but really fair to look upon?

This, then, was the counsel which I gave her, Socrates: Not to be for
ever seated like a slave;[12] but, with Heaven's help, to assume the
attitude of a true mistress standing before the loom, and where her
knowledge gave her the superiority, bravely to give the aid of her
instruction; where her knowledge failed, as bravely try to learn. I
counselled her to oversee the baking woman as she made the bread; to
stand beside the housekeeper as she measured out her stores; to go
tours of inspection to see if all things were in order as they should
be. For, as it seemed to me, this would at once be walking exercise
and supervision. And, as an excellent gymnastic, I recommended her to
knead the dough and roll the paste; to shake the coverlets and make
the beds; adding, if she trained herself in exercise of this sort she
would enjoy her food, grow vigorous in health, and her complexion
would in very truth be lovelier. The very look and aspect of the wife,
the mistress, seen in rivalry with that of her attendants, being as
she is at once more fair[13] and more beautifully adorned, has an
attractive charm,[14] and not the less because her acts are acts of
grace, not services enforced. Whereas your ordinary fine lady, seated
in solemn state, would seem to court comparison with painted
counterfeits of womanhood.

[12] See Becker, p. 491. Breit., etc., cf. Nicostr. ap. Stob. "Tit."
lxxiv. 61.

[13] Lit. "more spotles"; "like a diamond of purest water." Cf.
Shakesp. "Lucr." 394, "whose perfect white Showed like an April
daisy in the grass."

[14] Or, "is wondrous wooing, and all the more with this addition,
hers are acts of grace, theirs services enforced."

And, Socrates, I would have you know that still to-day, my wife is
living in a style as simple as that I taught her then, and now recount
to you.


The conversation was resumed as follows: Thanking Ischomachus for what
he had told me about the occupations of his wife; on that side I have
heard enough (I said) perhaps for a beginning; the facts you mention
reflect the greatest credit on both wife and husband; but would you
now in turn describe to me your work and business? In doing so you
will have the pleasure of narrating the reason of your fame. And I,
for my part, when I have heard from end to end the story of a
beautiful and good man's works, if only my wits suffice and I have
understood it, shall be much indebted.

Indeed (replied Ischomachus), it will give me the greatest pleasure to
recount to you my daily occupations, and in return I beg you to reform
me, where you find some flaw or other in my conduct.[1]

[1] Lit. "in order that you on your side may correct and set me right
where I seem to you to act amiss." {metarruthmises}--remodel. Cf.
Aristot. "Nic. Eth." x. 9. 5.

The idea of my reforming you! (I said). How could I with any show of
justice hope to reform you, the perfect model[2] of a beautiful, good
man--I, who am but an empty babbler,[3] and measurer of the air,[4]
who have to bear besides that most senseless imputation of being poor
--an imputation which, I assure you, Ischomachus, would have reduced
me to the veriest despair, except that the other day I chanced to come
across the horse of Nicias,[5] the foreigner? I saw a crowd of people
in attendance staring, and I listened to a story which some one had to
tell about the animal. So then I stepped up boldly to the groom and
asked him, "Has the horse much wealth?" The fellow looked at me as if
I were hardly in my right mind to put the question, and retorted, "How
can a horse have wealth?" Thereat I dared to lift my eyes from earth,
on learning that after all it is permitted a poor penniless horse to
be a noble animal, if nature only have endowed him with good spirit.
If, therefore, it is permitted even to me to be a good man, please
recount to me your works from first to last, I promise, I will listen,
all I can, and try to understand, and so far as in me lies to imitate
you from to-morrow. To-morrow is a good day to commence a course of
virtue, is it not?

[2] Cf. Plat. "Rep." 566 A, "a tyrant full grown" (Jowett).

[3] Cf. Plat. "Phaed." 70 C; Aristoph. "Clouds," 1480.

[4] Or rather, "a measurer of air"--i.e. devoted not to good sound
solid "geometry," but the unsubstantial science of "aerometry."
See Aristoph. "Clouds," i. 225; Plat. "Apol." 18 B, 19 B; Xen.
"Symp." vi. 7.

[5] Nothing is known of this person.

You are pleased to jest, Socrates (Ischomachus replied), in spite of
which I will recount to you those habits and pursuits by aid of which
I seek to traverse life's course. If I have read aright life's lesson,
it has taught me that, unless a man first discover what he needs to
do, and seriously study to bring the same to good effect, the gods
have placed prosperity[6] beyond his reach; and even to the wise and
careful they give or they withhold good fortune as seemeth to them
best. Such being my creed, I begin with service rendered to the gods;
and strive to regulate my conduct so that grace may be given me, in
answer to my prayers, to attain to health, and strength of body,
honour in my own city, goodwill among my friends, safety with renown
in war, and of riches increase, won without reproach.

[6] "The gods have made well-doing and well-being a thing impossible."
Cf. "Mem." III. ix. 7, 14.

I, when I heard these words, replied: And are you then indeed so
careful to grow rich, Ischomachus?--amassing wealth but to gain
endless trouble in its management?

Most certainly (replied Ischomachus), and most careful must I needs be
of the things you speak of. So sweet I find it, Socrates, to honour
God magnificently, to lend assistance to my friends in answer to their
wants, and, so far as lies within my power, not to leave my city
unadorned with anything which riches can bestow.

Nay (I answered), beautiful indeed the works you speak of, and
powerful the man must be who would essay them. How can it be
otherwise, seeing so many human beings need the help of others merely
to carry on existence, and so many are content if they can win enough
to satisfy their wants. What of those therefore who are able, not only
to administer their own estates, but even to create a surplus
sufficient to adorn their city and relieve the burthen of their
friends? Well may we regard such people as men of substance and
capacity. But stay (I added), most of us are competent to sing the
praises of such heroes. What I desire is to hear from you,
Ischomachus, in your own order,[7] first how you study to preserve
your health and strength of body; and next, how it is granted to
you[8] to escape from the perils of war with honour untarnished. And
after that (I added), it will much content me to learn from your own
lips about your money-making.

[7] "And from your own starting-point."

[8] As to the construction {themis einai} see Jebb ad "Oed. Col."
1191, Appendix.

Yes (he answered), and the fact is, Socrates, if I mistake not, all
these matters are in close connection, each depending on the other.
Given that a man have a good meal to eat, he has only to work off the
effect by toil[9] directed rightly; and in the process, if I mistake
not, his health will be confirmed, his strength added to. Let him but
practise the arts of war and in the day of battle he will preserve his
life with honour. He needs only to expend his care aright, sealing his
ears to weak and soft seductions, and his house shall surely be

[9] See "Mem." I. ii. 4; "Cyrop." I. ii. 16. Al. "bring out the effect
of it by toil."

[10] Lit. "it is likely his estate will increase more largely."

I answered: So far I follow you, Ischomachus. You tell me that by
labouring to his full strength,[11] by expending care, by practice and
training, a man may hope more fully to secure life's blessings. So I
take your meaning. But now I fain would learn of you some details.
What particular toil do you impose on yourself in order to secure good
health and strength? After what particular manner do you practise the
arts of war? How do you take pains to create a surplus which will
enable you to benefit your friends and to gratify the state?

[11] Or, "by working off ill-humours," as we should say.

Why then (Ischomachus replied), my habit is to rise from bed betimes,
when I may still expect to find at home this, that, or the other
friend, whom I may wish to see. Then, if anything has to be done in
town, I set off to transact the business and make that my walk;[12]
or, if there is no business to do in town, my serving-boy leads my
horse to the farm; I follow, and so make the country-road my walk,
which suits my purpose quite as well, or better, Socrates, perhaps,
than pacing up and down the colonade.[13] Then when I have reached the
farm, where mayhap some of my men are planting trees, or breaking
fallow, sowing or getting in the crops, I inspect their various
labours with an eye to every detail, and, whenever I can improve upon
the present system, I introduce reform. After this, as a rule, I mount
my horse and take a canter. I put him through his paces, suiting
these, as far as possible, to those inevitable in war[14]--in other
words, I avoid neither steep slope[15] nor sheer incline, neither
trench nor runnel, only giving my utmost heed the while so as not to
lame my horse while exercising him. When that is over, the boy gives
the horse a roll,[16] and leads him homewards, taking at the same time
from the country to town whatever we may chance to need. Meanwhile I
am off for home, partly walking, partly running, and having reached
home I take a bath and give myself a rub;[17] and then I breakfast--a
repast which leaves me neither empty nor replete,[18] and will suffice
to last me through the day.

[12] See "Mem." III. xiii. 5.

[13] {xusto}--the xystus, "a covered corrider in the gymnasium where
the athletes exercised in winter." Vitruv. v. 11. 4; vi. 7. 5. See
Rich, "Companion," s.n.; Becker, op. cit. p. 309. Cf. Plat.
"Phaedr." 227--Phaedrus loq.: "I have come from Lysias the son of
Cephalus, and I am going to take a walk outside the wall, for I
have been sitting with him the whole morning; and our common
friend Acumenus advises me to walk in the country, which he says
is more invigorating than to walk in the courts."--Jowett.

[14] See "Horsemanship," iii. 7 foll.; ib. viii.; "Hipparch," i. 18.

[15] "Slanting hillside."

[16] See "Horsemanship," v. 3; Aristoph. "Clouds," 32.

[17] Lit. "scrape myself clean" (with the {stleggis} or strigil. Cf.
Aristoph. "Knights," 580. See Becker, op. cit. p. 150.

[18] See "Lac. Pol." ii. 5. Cf. Hor. "Sat." i. 6. 127:

pransus non avide, quantum interpellet inani
ventre diem durare.

Then eat a temperate luncheon, just to stay
A sinking stomach till the close of day (Conington).

By Hera (I replied), Ischomachus, I cannot say how much your doings
take my fancy. How you have contrived, to pack up portably for use--
together at the same time--appliances for health and recipes for
strength, exercises for war, and pains to promote your wealth! My
admiration is raised at every point. That you do study each of these
pursuits in the right way, you are yourself a standing proof. Your
look of heaven-sent health and general robustness we note with our
eyes, while our ears have heard your reputation as a first-rate
horseman and the wealthiest of men.

Isch. Yes, Socrates, such is my conduct, in return for which I am
rewarded with--the calumnies of half the world. You thought, I
daresay, I was going to end my sentence different, and say that a host
of people have given me the enviable title "beautiful and good."

I was indeed myself about to ask, Ischomachus (I answered), whether
you take pains also to acquire skill in argumentative debate, the cut
and thrust and parry of discussion,[19] should occasion call?

[19] Lit. "to give a reason and to get a reason from others." Cf.
"Cyrop." I. iv. 3.

Isch. Does it not strike you rather, Socrates, that I am engaged in
one long practice of this very skill,[20] now pleading as defendant
that, as far as I am able, I do good to many and hurt nobody? And
then, again, you must admit, I play the part of prosecutor when
accusing people whom I recognise to be offenders, as a rule in private
life, or possibly against the state, the good-for-nothing fellows?

[20] "The arts of the defendant, the apologist; and of the plaintiff,
the prosecutor."

But please explain one other thing, Ischomachus (I answered). Do you
put defence and accusation into formal language?[21]

[21] "Does your practice include the art of translating into words
your sentiments?" Cf. "Mem." I. ii. 52.

Isch. "Formal language," say you, Socrates? The fact is, I never cease
to practise speaking; and on this wise: Some member of my household
has some charge to bring, or some defence to make,[22] against some
other. I have to listen and examine. I must try to sift the truth. Or
there is some one whom I have to blame or praise before my friends, or
I must arbitrate between some close connections and endeavour to
enforce the lesson that it is to their own interests to be friends not
foes.[23] . . . We are present to assist a general in court;[24] we
are called upon to censure some one; or defend some other charged
unjustly; or to prosecute a third who has received an honour which he
ill deserves. It frequently occurs in our debates[25] that there is
some course which we strongly favour: naturally we sound its praises;
or some other, which we disapprove of: no less naturally we point out
its defects.

[22] Or, "One member of my household appears as plaintiff, another as
defendant. I must listen and cross-question."

[23] The "asyndeton" would seem to mark a pause, unless some words
have dropped out. See the commentators ad loc.

[24] The scene is perhaps that of a court-martial (cf. "Anab." V.
viii.; Dem. "c. Timocr." 749. 16). (Al. cf. Sturz, "Lex." s.v. "we
are present (as advocates) and censure some general"), or more
probably, I think, that of a civil judicial inquiry of some sort,
conducted at a later date by the Minister of Finance ({to stratego
to epi tas summorias eremeno}).

[25] Or, "Or again, a frequent case, we sit in council" (as members of
the Boule). See Aristot. "Pol." iv. 15.

He paused, then added: Things have indeed now got so far, Socrates,
that several times I have had to stand my trial and have judgment
passed upon me in set terms, what I must pay or what requital I must

[26] See "Symp." v. 8. Al. {dielemmenos} = "to be taken apart and have
. . ."

And at whose bar (I asked) is the sentence given? That point I failed
to catch.[27]

[27] Or, "so dull was I, I failed to catch the point."

Whose but my own wife's? (he answered).

And, pray, how do you conduct your own case? (I asked).[28]

[28] See "Mem." III. vii. 4; Plat. "Euth." 3 E.

Not so ill (he answered), when truth and interest correspond, but when
they are opposed, Socrates, I have no skill to make the worse appear
the better argument.[29]

[29] See Plat. "Apol." 19-23 D; Aristoph. "Clouds," 114 foll.

Perhaps you have no skill, Ischomachus, to make black white or
falsehood truth (said I).[30]

[30] Or, "It may well be, Ischomachus, you cannot manufacture
falsehood into truth." Lit. "Like enough you cannot make an
untruth true."


But (I continued presently), perhaps I am preventing you from going,
as you long have wished to do, Ischomachus?

To which he: By no means, Socrates. I should not think of going away
until the gathering in the market is dispersed.[1]

[1] Lit. "until the market is quite broken up," i.e. after mid-day.
See "Anab." I. viii. 1; II. i. 7; "Mem." I. i. 10. Cf. Herod. ii.
173; iii. 104; vii. 223.

Of course, of course (I answered), you are naturally most careful not
to forfeit the title they have given you of "honest gentleman";[2] and
yet, I daresay, fifty things at home are asking your attention at this
moment; only you undertook to meet your foreign friends, and rather
than play them false you go on waiting.

[2] Lit. "beautiful and good."

Isch. Let me so far corect you, Socrates; in no case will the things
you speak of be neglected, since I have stewards and bailiffs[3] on
the farms.

[3] Cf. Becker, op. cit. p. 363.

Soc. And, pray, what is your system when you need a bailiff? Do you
search about, until you light on some one with a natural turn for
stewardship; and then try to purchase him?--as, I feel certain,
happens when you want a carpenter: first, you discover some one with a
turn for carpentry, and then do all you can to get possession of
him.[4] Or do you educate your bailiffs yourself?

[4] The steward, like the carpenter, and the labourers in general,
would, as a rule, be a slave. See below, xxi. 9.

Isch. Most certainly the latter, Socrates; I try to educate them, as
you say, myself; and with good reason. He who is properly to fill my
place and manage my affairs when I am absent, my "alter ego,"[5] needs
but to have my knowledge; and if I am fit myself to stand at the head
of my own business, I presume I should be able to put another in
possession of my knowledge.[6]

[5] Or, "my other self."

[6] Lit. "to teach another what I know myself."

Soc. Well then, the first thing he who is properly to take your place
when absent must possess is goodwill towards you and yours; for
without goodwill, what advantage will there be in any knowledge
whatsoever which your bailiff may possess?

Isch. None, Socrates; and I may tell you that a kindly disposition
towards me and mine is precisely what I first endeavour to instil.

Soc. And how, in the name of all that is holy, do you pick out whom
you will and teach him to have kindly feeling towards yourself and

Isch. By kindly treatment of him, to be sure, whenever the gods bestow
abundance of good things upon us.

Soc. If I take your meaning rightly, you would say that those who
enjoy your good things grow well disposed to you and seek to render
you some good?

Isch. Yes, for of all instruments to promote good feeling this I see
to be the best.

Soc. Well, granted the man is well disposed to you does it therefore
follow, Ischomachus, that he is fit to be your bailiff? It cannot have
escaped your observation that albeit human beings, as a rule, are
kindly disposed towards themselves, yet a large number of them will
not apply the attention requisite to secure for themselves those good
things which they fain would have.

Isch. Yes, but believe me, Socrates, when I seek to appoint such men
as bailiffs, I teach them also carefulness and application.[7]

[7] {epimeleia} is a cardinal virtue with the Greeks, or at any rate
with Xenophon, but it has no single name in English.

Soc. Nay, now in Heaven's name, once more, how can that be? I always
thought it was beyond the power of any teacher to teach these

[8] For the Socratic problem {ei arete didakte} see Grote, "H. G."
viii. 599.

Isch. Nor is it possible, you are right so far, to teach such
excellences to every single soul in order as simply as a man might
number off his fingers.

Soc. Pray, then, what sort of people have the privilege?[9] Should you
mind pointing them out to me with some distinctness?

[9] Lit. "what kind of people can be taught them? By all means signify
the sort to me distinctly."

Ishc. Well, in the first place, you would have some difficulty in
making intemperate people diligent--I speak of intemperance with
regard to wine, for drunkenness creates forgetfulness of everything
which needs to be done.

Soc. And are persons devoid of self-control in this respect the only
people incapable of diligence and carefulness? or are there others in
like case?

Isch. Certainly, people who are intemperate with regard to sleep,
seeing that the sluggard with his eyes shut cannot do himself or see
that others do what is right.

Soc. What then?[10] Are we to regard these as the only people
incapable of being taught this virtue of carefulness? or are there
others in a like condition?

[10] Or, "What then--is the list exhausted? Are we to suppose that
these are the sole people . . ."

Isch. Surely we must include the slave to amorous affection.[11] Your
woeful lover[12] is incapable of being taught attention to anything
beyond one single object.[13] No light task, I take it, to discover
any hope or occupation sweeter to him than that which now employs him,
his care for his beloved, nor, when the call for action comes,[14]
will it be easy to invent worse punishment than that he now endures in
separation from the object of his passion.[15] Accordingly, I am in no
great hurry to appoint a person of this sort to manage[16] my affairs;
the very attempt to do so I regard as futile.

[11] See "Mem." I. iii. 8 foll.; II. vi. 22.

[12] {duserotes}. Cf. Thuc. vi. 13, "a desperate craving" (Jowett).

[13] Cf. "Symp." iv. 21 foll.; "Cyrop." V. i. 7-18.

[14] Or, "where demands of business present themselves, and something
must be done."

[15] Cf. Shakesp. "Sonnets," passim.

[16] Or, "I never dream of appointing as superintendent." See above,
iv. 7.

Soc. Well, and what of those addicted to another passion, that of
gain? Are they, too, incapable of being trained to give attention to
field and farming operations?

Isch. On the contrary, there are no people easier to train, none so
susceptible of carefulness in these same matters. One needs only to
point out to them that the pursuit is gainful, and their interest is

Soc. But for ordinary people? Given they are self-controlled to suit
your bidding,[17] given they possess a wholesome appetite for gain,
how will you lesson them in carefulness? how teach them growth in
diligence to meet your wishes?

[17] Or, "in matters such as you insist on."

Isch. By a simple method, Socrates. When I see a man intent on
carefulness, I praise and do my best to honour him. When, on the other
hand, I see a man neglectful of his duties, I do not spare him: I try
in every way, by word and deed, to wound him.

Soc. Come now, Ischomachus, kindly permit a turn in the discussion,
which has hitherto concerned the persons being trained to carefulness
themselves, and explain a point in reference to the training process.
Is it possible for a man devoid of carefulness himself to render
others more careful?

No more possible (he answered) than for a man who knows no music to
make others musical.[18] If the teacher sets but an ill example, the
pupil can hardly learn to do the thing aright.[19] And if the master's
conduct is suggestive of laxity, how hardly shall his followers attain
to carefulness! Or to put the matter concisely, "like master like
man." I do not think I ever knew or heard tell of a bad master blessed
with good servants. The converse I certainly have seen ere now, a good
master and bad servants; but they were the sufferers, not he.[20] No,
he who would create a spirit of carefulness in others[21] must have
the skill himself to supervise the field of labour; to test, examine,
scrutinise.[22] He must be ready to requite where due the favour of a
service well performed, nor hesitate to visit the penalty of their
deserts upon those neglectful of their duty.[23] Indeed (he added),
the answer of the barbarian to the king seems aposite. You know the
story,[24] how the king had met with a good horse, but wished to give
the creature flesh and that without delay, and so asked some one
reputed to be clever about horses: "What will give him flesh most
quickly?" To which the other: "The master's eye." So, too, it strikes
me, Socrates, there is nothing like "the master's eye" to call forth
latent qualities, and turn the same to beautiful and good effect.[25]

[18] Or, "to give others skill in 'music.'" See Plat. "Rep." 455 E;
"Laws," 802 B. Al. "a man devoid of letters to make others
scholarly." See Plat. "Phaedr." 248 D.

[19] Lit. "when the teacher traces the outline of the thing to copy
badly." For {upodeiknuontos} see "Mem." IV. iii. 13; "Horsem." ii.
2. Cf. Aristot. "Oecon." i. 6; "Ath. Pol." 41. 17; and Dr. Sandys'
note ad loc.

[20] Or, "but they did not go scot-free"; "punishments then were

[21] Cf. Plat. "Polit." 275 E: "If we say either tending the herds, or
managing the herds, or having the care of them, that will include
all, and then we may wrap up the statesman with the rest, as the
argument seems to require."--Jowett.

[22] Or, "he must have skill to over-eye the field of labour, and be

[23] "For every boon of service well performed he must be eager to
make requital to the author of it, nor hesitate to visit on the
heads of those neglectful of their duty a just recompense." (The
language is poetical.)

[24] See Aristot. "Oecon." i. 6; Aesch. "Pers." 165; Cato ap. Plin.
"H. N." xviii. 5. Cic. ap. Colum. iv. 18; ib. vi. 21; La Fontaine,
"L'Oeil du Maitre."

[25] Or, "so, too, in general it seems to me 'the master's eye' is
aptest to elicit energy to issue beautiful and good."


But now (I ventured), suppose you have presented strongly to the mind
of some one[1] the need of carefulness to execute your wishes, is a
person so qualified to be regarded as fit at once to be your bailiff?
or is there aught else which he must learn in order to play the part
of an efficient bailiff?

[1] Breit. cf. "Pol. Lac." xv. 8. Holden cf. Plat. "Rep." 600 C.

Most certainly there is (he answered): it still remains for him to
learn particulars--to know, that is, what things he has to do, and
when and how to do them; or else, if ignorant of these details, the
profit of this bailiff in the abstract may prove no greater than the
doctor's who pays a most precise attention to a sick man, visiting him
late and early, but what will serve to ease his patient's pains[2] he
knows not.

[2] Lit. "what it is to the advantage of his patient to do, is beyond
his ken."

Soc. But suppose him to have learnt the whole routine of business,
will he need aught else, or have we found at last your bailiff

[3] Cf. Plat. "Rep." 566 D. Or, "the perfect and consummate type of

Isch. He must learn at any rate, I think, to rule his fellow-workmen.

What! (I exclaimed): you mean to say you educate your bailiffs to that
extent? Actually you make them capable of rule?

At any rate I try to do so (he replied).

And how, in Heaven's name (I asked), do you contrive to educate
another in the skill to govern human beings?

Isch. I have a very simple system, Socrates; so simple, I daresay, you
will simply laugh at me.

Soc. The matter, I protest, is hardly one for laughter. The man who
can make another capable of rule, clearly can teach him how to play
the master; and if can make him play the master, he can make him what
is grander still, a kingly being.[4] Once more, therefore, I protest:
A man possessed of such creative power is worthy, not of ridicule, far
from it, but of the highest praise.

[4] i.e. {arkhikos} includes (1) {despotikos}, i.e. an arbitrary head
of any sort, from the master of one's own family to the {turannos
kai despotes} (Plat. "Laws," 859 A), despotic lord or owner; (2)
{basilikos}, the king or monarch gifted with regal qualities.

Thus, then, I reason,[5] Socrates (he answered): The lower animals are
taught obedience by two methods chiefly, partly through being punished
when they make attempts to disobey, partly by experiencing some
kindness when they cheerfully submit. This is the principle at any
rate adopted in the breaking of young horses. The animal obeys its
trainer, and something sweet is sure to follow; or it disobeys, and in
place of something sweet it finds a peck of trouble; and so on, until
it comes at last to yield obedience to the trainer's every wish. Or to
take another instance: Young dogs,[6] however far inferior to man in
thought and language,[7] can still be taught to run on errands and
turn somersaults,[8] and do a host of other clever things, precisely
on this same principle of training. Every time the animal obeys it
gets something or other which it wanted, and every time it misbehaves
it gets a whipping. But when it comes to human beings: in man you have
a creature still more open to persuasion through appeals to reason;[9]
only make it plain to him "it is his interest to obey." Or if they
happen to be slaves,[10] the more ignoble training of wild animals
tamed to the lure will serve to teach obedience. Only gratify their
bellies in the matter of appetite, and you will succeed in winning
much from them.[11] But ambitious, emulous natures feel the spur of
praise,[12] since some natures hunger after praise no less than others
crave for meats and drinks. My practice then is to instruct those whom
I desire to appoint as my bailiffs in the various methods which I have
found myself to be successful in gaining the obedience of my fellows.
To take an instance: There are clothes and shows and so forth, with
which I must provide my workfolk.[13] Well, then, I see to it that
these are not all alike in make;[14] but some will be of better, some
of less good quality: my object being that these articles for use
shall vary with the service of the wearer; the worse man will receive
the worse things as a gift, the better man the better as a mark of
honour. For I ask you, Socrates, how can the good avoid despondency
seeing that the work is wrought by their own hands alone, in spite of
which these villains who will neither labour nor face danger when
occasion calls are to receive an equal guerdon with themselves? And
just as I cannot bring myself in any sort of way to look upon the
better sort as worthy to receive no greater honour than the baser, so,
too, I praise my bailiffs when I know they have apportioned the best
things among the most deserving. And if I see that some one is
receiving preference by dint of flatteries or like unworthy means, I
do not let the matter pass; I reprimand my bailiff roundly, and so
teach him that such conduct is not even to his interest.

[5] {oukoun}. "This, then, is my major premiss: the dumb animal . . ."
(lit. "the rest of animals").

[6] {ta kunidia} possibly implies "performing poodles."

[7] {te gnome . . . te glotte}, i.e. mental impression and expression,
"mind and tongue."

[8] Or, "to run round and round and turn heels over head." Al. "dive
for objects."

[9] "Logic, argument." Or, "a creature more compliant; merely by a
word demonstrate to him . . ."

[10] Cf. Plat. "Rep." 591 C.

[11] See Pater, "Plato and Platonism," "Lacedaemon," p. 196 foll.

[12] See "Cyrop." passim.

[13] {ergastersi}, Xenophontic for the common Attic {ergatais}. See
Hold. ad loc. for similar forms, and cf. Rutherford, "New
Phrynichus," 59.

[14] Cf. Aristot. "Oecon." i. 5 (where the thesis is developed


Soc. Well, then, Ischomachus, supposing the man is now so fit to rule
that he can compel obedience,[1] is he, I ask once more, your bailiff
absolute? or even though possessed of all the qualifications you have
named, does he still lack something?[2]

[1] Or, "that discipline flows from him;" al. "he presents you with
obedient servants."

[2] Lit. "will he still need something further to complete him?"

Most certainly (replied Ischomachus). One thing is still required of
him, and that is to hold aloof from property and goods which are his
master's; he must not steal. Consider, this is the very person through
whose hands the fruits and produce pass, and he has the audacity to
make away with them! perhaps he does not leave enough to cover the
expenses of the farming operations! Where would be the use of farming
the land by help of such an overseer?

What (I exclaimed), can I believe my ears? You actually undertake to
teach them virtue! What really, justice!

Isch. To be sure, I do. but it does not follow therefore that I find
all equally apt to lend an ear to my instruction. However, what I do
is this. I take a leaf now out of the laws of Draco and again another
out of the laws of Solon,[3] and so essay to start my household on the
path of uprightness. And indeed, if I mistake not (he proceeded), both
those legislators enacted many of their laws expressly with a view to
teaching this branch of justice.[4] It is written, "Let a man be
punished for a deed of theft"; "Let whosoever is detected in the act
be bound and thrown in prison"; "If he offer violence,[5] let him be
put to death." It is clear that the intention of the lawgivers in
framing these enactments was to render the sordid love of gain[6]
devoid of profit to the unjust person. What I do, therefore, is to
cull a sample of their precepts, which I supplement with others from
the royal code[7] where applicable; and so I do my best to shape the
members of my household into the likeness of just men concerning that
which passes through their hands. And now observe--the laws first
mentioned act as penalties, deterrent to transgressors only; whereas
the royal code aims higher: by it not only is the malefactor punished,
but the righteous and just person is rewarded.[8] The result is, that
many a man, beholding how the just grow ever wealthier than the
unjust, albeit harbouring in his heart some covetous desires, is
constant still to virtue. To abstain from unjust dealing is engrained
in him.[9]

[3] Cobet, "Pros. Xen." cf. Plut. "Solon," xvii. {proton men oun tous
Drakontos nomous aneile k.t.l.} "First, then, he repealed all
Draco's laws, except those concerning homicide, because they were
too severe and the punishments too great; for death was appointed
for almost all offences, insomuch that those that were convicted
of idleness were to die, and those that stole a cabbage or an
apple to suffer even as villains that comitted sacrilege or
murder" (Clough, i. 184). See Aul. Gell. "N. A." xi. 13.

[4] "The branch of justice which concerns us, viz. righteous dealing
between man and man."

[5] For this sense of {tous egkheirountas} cf. Thuc. iv. 121; "Hell."
IV. v. 16. Al. {dedesthai tous egkheirountas kai thanatousthai en
tis alo poion} (Weiske), "let the attempt be punished with
imprisonment"; "let him who is caught in the act be put to death."

[6] Cf. Plat. "Laws," 754 E.

[7] Or, "the royal laws," i.e. of Persia. Cf. "Anab." I. ix. 16;
"Cyrop." I. ii. 2, 3. Or possibly = "regal"; cf. Plat. "Minos,"
317 C; {to men orthon nomos esti basilikos}.

[8] Lit. "benefited."

[9] Lit. "Whereby, beholding the just becoming wealthier than the
unjust, many albeit covetous at heart themselves most constantly
abide by abstinence from evil-doing."

Those of my household (he proceeded) whom, in spite of kindly
treatment, I perceive to be persistently bent on evil-doing, in the
end I treat as desperate cases. Incurable self-seekers,[10] plain
enough to see, whose aspiration lifts them from earth, so eager are
they to be reckoned just men, not by reason only of the gain derivable
from justice, but through passionate desire to deserve my praise--
these in the end I treat as free-born men. I make them wealthy, and
not with riches only, but in honour, as befits their gentle
manliness.[11] For if, Socrates, there be one point in which the man
who thirsts for honour differs from him who thirsts for gain, it is, I
think, in willingness to toil, face danger, and abstain from shameful
gains--for the sake of honour only and fair fame.[12]

[10] Lit. "Those, on the other hand, whom I discover to be roused" (to
honesty--not solely because honesty is the best policy).

[11] Or, "men of fair and noble type"; "true gentlemen." This passage
suggests the "silver lining to the cloud" of slavery.

[12] Cf. Hom. "Il." ix. 413, {oleto men moi nostos, atar kleos
aphthiton estai}, "but my fame shall be imperishable."


Soc. But now, suppose, Ischomachus, you have created in the soul of
some one a desire for your welfare; have inspired in him not a mere
passive interest, but a deep concern to help you to achieve
prosperity; further, you have obtained for him a knowledge of the
methods needed to give the operations of the field some measure of
success; you have, moreover, made him capable of ruling; and, as the
crowning point of all your efforts, this same trusty person shows no
less delight, than you might take yourself, in laying at your feet[1]
earth's products, each in due season richly harvested--I need hardly
ask concerning such an one, whether aught else is lacking to him. It
is clear to me[2] an overseer of this sort would be worth his weight
in gold. But now, Ischomachus, I would have you not omit a topic
somewhat lightly handled by us in the previous argument.[3]

[1] {apodeiknuon}, i.e. in presenting the inventory of products for
the year. Cf. "Hell." V. iii. 17; "Revenues," ii. 7.

[2] {ede}, at this stage of the discussion.

[3] Or, "that part of the discussion which we ran over in a light and
airy fashion," in reference to xiii. 2.

What topic, pray, was that? (he asked).

Soc. You said, if I mistake not, that it was most important to learn
the methods of conducting the several processes of husbandry; for, you
added, unless a man knows what things he has to do and how to do them,
all the care and diligence in the world will stand him in no stead.

At this point[4] he took me up, observing: So what you now command me
is to teach the art itself of tillage, Socrates?

[4] Keeping the vulg. order of SS. 3-9, which many commentators would
rearrange in various ways. See Breit. ad loc.; Lincke, op. cit. p.
111 foll.

Yes (I replied), for now it looks as if this art were one which made
the wise and skilled possessor of it wealthy, whilst the unskilled, in
spite of all the pains he takes, must live in indigence.

Isch. Now shall you hear, then,[5] Socrates, the generous nature of
this human art. For is it not a proof of something noble in it, that
being of supreme utility, so sweet a craft to exercise, so rich in
beauty, so acceptable alike to gods and men, the art of husbandry may
further fairly claim to be the easiest of all the arts to learn? Noble
I name it! this, at any rate, the epithet we give to animals which,
being beautiful and large and useful, are also gentle towards the race
of man.[6]

[5] Or, "Listen, then, and whilst I recount to you at once the loving-
kindness of this art, to man the friendliest."

[6] Schenkl regards this sentence as an interpolation. For the epithet
{gennaios} applied to the dog see "Cyrop." I. iv. 15, 21;
"Hunting," iv. 7.

Allow me to explain, Ischomachus (I interposed). Up to a certain point
I fully followed what you said. I understand, according to your
theory, how a bailiff must be taught. In other words, I follow your
descriptions both as to how you make him kindly disposed towards
yourself; and how, again, you make him careful, capable of rule, and
upright. But at that point you made the statement that, in order to
apply this diligence to tillage rightly, the careful husbandman must
further learn what are the different things he has to do, and not
alone what things he has to do, but how and when to do them. These are
the topics which, in my opinion, have hitherto been somewhat lightly
handled in the argument. Let me make my meaning clearer by an
instance: it is as if you were to tell me that, in order to be able to
take down a speech in writing,[7] or to read a written statement, a
man must know his letters. Of course, if not stone deaf, I must have
garnered that for a certain object knowledge of letters was important
to me, but the bare recognition of the fact, I fear, would not enable
me in any deeper sense to know my letters. So, too, at present I am
easily persuaded that if I am to direct my care aright in tillage I
must have a knowledge of the art of tillage. But the bare recognition
of the fact does not one whit provide me with the knowledge how I
ought to till. And if I resolved without ado to set about the work of
tilling, I imagine, I should soon resemble your physician going on his
rounds and visiting his patients without knowing what to prescribe or
what to do to ease their sufferings. To save me from the like
predicaments, please teach me the actual work and processes of

[7] Or, "something from dictation."

Isch. But truly,[8] Socrates, it is not with tillage as with the other
arts, where the learner must be well-nigh crushed[9] beneath a load of
study before his prentice-hand can turn out work of worth sufficient
merely to support him.[10] The art of husbandry, I say, is not so ill
to learn and cross-grained; but by watching labourers in the field, by
listening to what they say, you will have straightway knowledge enough
to teach another, should the humour take you. I imagine, Socrates (he
added), that you yourself, albeit quite unconscious of the fact,
already know a vast amount about the subject. The fact is, other
craftsmen (the race, I mean, in general of artists) are each and all
disposed to keep the most important[11] features of their several arts
concealed: with husbandry it is different. Here the man who has the
most skill in planting will take most pleasure in being watched by
others; and so too the most skilful sower. Ask any question you may
choose about results thus beautifully wrought, and not one feature in
the whole performance will the doer of it seek to keep concealed. To
such height of nobleness (he added), Socrats, does husbandry appear,
like some fair mistress, to conform the soul and disposition of those
concerned with it.

[8] "Nay, if you will but listen, Socrates, with husbandry it is not
the same as with the other arts."

[9] {katatribenai}, "worn out." See "Mem." III. iv. 1; IV. vii. 5. Al.
"bored to death."

[10] Or, "before the products of his pupilage are worth his keep."

[11] Or, "critical and crucial."

The proem[12] to the speech is beautiful at any rate (I answered), but
hardly calculated to divert the hearer from the previous question. A
thing so easy to be learnt, you say? then, if so, do you be all the
readier for that reason to explain its details to me. No shame on you
who teach, to teach these easy matters; but for me to lack the
knowledge of them, and most of all if highly useful to the learner,
worse than shame, a scandal.

[12] Or, "the prelude to the piece."


Isch. First then, Socrates, I wish to demonstrate to you that what is
called[1] "the intricate variety in husbandry"[2] presents no
difficulty. I use a phrase of those who, whatever the nicety with
which they treat the art in theory,[3] have but the faintest practical
experience of tillage. What they assert is, that "he who would rightly
till the soil must first be made acquainted with the nature of the

[1] "They term"; in reference to the author of some treatise.

[2] Or, "the riddling subtlety of tillage." See "Mem." II. iii. 10;
Plat. "Symp." 182 B; "Phileb." 53 E.

[3] Theophr. "De Caus." ii. 4, 12, mentions Leophanes amongst other
writers on agriculture preceding himself.

And they are surely right in their assertion (I replied); for he who
does not know what the soil is capable of bearing, can hardly know, I
fancy, what he has to plant or what to sow.

But he has only to look at his neighbour's land (he answered), at his
crops and trees, in order to learn what the soil can bear and what it
cannot.[4] After which discovery, it is ill work fighting against
heaven. Certainly not by dint of sowing and planting what he himself
desires will he meet the needs of life more fully than by planting and
sowing what the earth herself rejoices to bear and nourish on her
bosom. Or if, as well may be the case, through the idleness of those
who occupy it, the land itself cannot display its native faculty,[5]
it is often possible to derive a truer notion from some neighbouring
district that ever you will learn about it from your neighbour's
lips.[6] Nay, even though the earth lie waste and barren, it may still
declare its nature; since a soil productive of beautiful wild fruits
can by careful tending be made to yield fruits of the cultivated kind
as beautiful. And on this wise, he who has the barest knowledge[7] of
the art of tillage can still discern the nature of the soil.

[4] Holden cf. Virg. "Georg." i. 53; iv. 109. According to the
commentator Servius, the poet drew largely upon Xenophon's

[5] Or, "cannot prove its natural aptitude."

[6] Or, "from a neighbouring mortal."

[7] Or, "a mere empiric in the art of husbandry."

Thank you (I said), Ischomachus, my courage needs no further fanning
upon that score. I am bold enough now to believe that no one need
abstain from agriculture for fear he will not recognise the nature of
the soil. Indeed, I now recall to mind a fact concerning fishermen,
how as they ply their business on the seas, not crawling lazily along,
nor bringing to, for prospect's sake, but in the act of scudding past
the flying farmsteads,[8] these brave mariners have only to set eyes
upon crops on land, and they will boldly pronounce opinion on the
nature of the soil itself, whether good or bad: this they blame and
that they praise. And these opinions for the most part coincide, I
notice, with the verdict of the skilful farmer as to quality of

[8] Or, "the flying coastland, fields and farmyards."

[9] Lit. "And indeed the opinions they pronounce about 'a good soil'
mostly tally with the verdict of the expert farmer."

Isch. At what point shall I begin then, Socrates, to revive your
recollection[10] of the art of husbandry? since to explain to you the
processes employed in husbandry means the statement of a hundred
details which you know yourself full well already.

[10] Or, "begin recalling to your mind." See Plat. "Meno," for the
doctrine of Anamensis here apparently referred to.

Soc. The first thing I should like to learn, Ischomachus, I think, if
only as a point befitting a philosopher, is this: how to proceed and
how to work the soil, did I desire to extract the largest crops of
wheat and barley.

Isch. Good, then! you are aware that fallow must be broken up in
readiness[11] for sowing?

[11] Or, "ploughed up." Cf. Theophr. "Hist. Pl." iii. i. 6; Dion. Hal.
"Ant." x. 17.

Soc. Yes, I am aware of that.

Isch. Well then, supposing we begin to plough our land in winter?

Soc. It would not do. There would be too much mud.

Isch. Well then, what would you say to summer?

Soc. The soil will be too hard in summer for a plough and a pair of
oxen to break up.

Isch. It looks as if spring-time were the season to begin this work,
then? What do you say?

Soc. I say, one may expect the soil broken up at that season of the
year to crumble[12] best.

[12] {kheisthai} = laxari, dissolvi, to be most friable, to scatter

Isch. Yes, and grasses[13] turned over at that season, Socrates, serve
to supply the soil already with manure; while as they have not shed
their seed as yet, they cannot vegetate.[14] I am supposing that you
recognise a further fact: to form good land, a fallow must be clean
and clear of undergrowth and weeds,[15] and baked as much as possible
by exposure to the sun.[16]

[13] "Herbage," whether grass or other plants, "grass," "clover," etc;
Theophr. "Hist. Pl." i. 3. 1; Holden, "green crops."

[14] Lit. "and not as yet have shed their seed so as to spring into

[15] Or, "quitch."

[16] Holden cf. Virg. "Georg." i. 65, coquat; ii. 260, excoquere. So
Lucr. vi. 962.

Soc. Yes, that is quite a proper state of things, I should imagine.

Isch. And to bring about this proper state of things, do you maintain
there can be any other better system than that of turning the soil
over as many times as possible in summer?

Soc. On the contrary, I know precisely that for either object, whether
to bring the weeds and quitch grass to the surface and to wither them
by scorching heat, or to expose the earth itself to the sun's baking
rays, there can be nothing better than to plough the soil up with a
pair of oxen during mid-day in midsummer.

Isch. And if a gang of men set to, to break and make this fallow with
the mattock, it is transparent that their business is to separate the
quitch grass from the soil and keep them parted?

Soc. Just so!--to throw the quitch grass down to wither on the
surface, and to turn the soil up, so that the crude earth may have its
turn of baking.


You see, Socrates (he said, continuing the conversation), we hold the
same opinion, both of us, concerning fallow.

Why, so it seems (I said)--the same opinion.

Isch. But when it comes to sowing, what is your opinion? Can you
suggest a better time for sowing than that which the long experience
of former generations, combined with that of men now living,
recognises as the best? See, so soon as autumn time has come, the
faces of all men everywhere turn with a wistful gaze towards high
heaven. "When will God moisten the earth," they ask, "and suffer men
to sow their seed?"[1]

[1] See Dr. Holden's interesting note at this point: "According to
Virgil ('Georg.' i. 215), spring is the time," etc.

Yes, Ischomachus (I answered), for all mankind must recognise the
precept:[2] "Sow not on dry soil" (if it can be avoided), being taught
wisdom doubtless by the heavy losses they must struggle with who sow
before God's bidding.

[2] Or, "it is a maxim held of all men."

Isch. It seems, then, you and I and all mankind hold one opinion on
these matters?

Soc. Why, yes; where God himself is teacher, such accord is apt to
follow; for instance, all men are agreed, it is better to wear thick
clothes[3] in winter, if so be they can. We light fires by general
consent, provided we have logs to burn.

[3] Or, "a thick cloak." See Rich, s.v. Pallium (= {imation}).

Yet as regards this very period of seed-time (he made answer),
Socrates, we find at once the widest difference of opinion upon one
point; as to which is better, the early, or the later,[4] or the
middle sowing?

[4] See Holden ad loc. Sauppe, "Lex. Xen.," notes {opsimos} as Ionic
and poet. See also Rutherford, "New Phryn." p. 124: "First met
with in a line of the 'Iliad' (ii. 325), {opsimos} does not appear
till late Greek except in the 'Oeconomicus,' a disputed work of

Soc. Just so, for neither does God guide the year in one set fashion,
but irregularly, now suiting it to early sowing best, and now to
middle, and again to later.

Isch. But what, Socrates, is your opinion? Were it better for a man to
choose and turn to sole account a single sowing season, be it much he
has to sow or be it little? or would you have him begin his sowing
with the earliest season, and sow right on continuously until the

And I, in my turn, answered: I should think it best, Ischomachus, to
use indifferently the whole sowing season.[5] Far better[6] to have
enough of corn and meal at any moment and from year to year, than
first a superfluity and then perhaps a scant supply.

[5] Or, "share in the entire period of seed time." Zeune cf. "Geop."
ii. 14. 8; Mr. Ruskin's translators, "Bibl. Past." vol. i.; cf.
Eccles. xi. 6.

[6] Lit. "according to my tenet," {nomizo}.

Isch. Then, on this point also, Socrates, you hold a like opinion with
myself--the pupil to the teacher; and what is more, the pupil was the
first to give it utterance.

So far, so good! (I answered). Is there a subtle art in scattering the

Isch. Let us by all means investigate that point. That the seed must
be cast by hand, I presume you know yourself?

Soc. Yes, by the testimony of my eyes.[7]

[7] Lit. "Yes, for I have seen it done."

Isch. But as to actual scattering, some can scatter evenly, others

[8] Holden cf. W. Harte, "Essays on Husbandry," p. 210, 2nd ed., "The
main perfection of sowing is to disperse the seeds equally."

Soc. Does it not come to this, the hand needs practice (like the
fingers of a harp-player) to obey the will?

Isch. Precisely so, but now suppose the soil is light in one part and
heavy in another?

Soc. I do not follow; by "light" do you mean weak? and by "heavy"

Isch. Yes, that is what I mean. And the question which I put to you is
this: Would you allow both sorts of soil an equal share of seed? or
which the larger?[9]

[9] See Theophr. "Hist. Pl." viii. 6. 2; Virg. "Georg." ii. 275.
Holden cf. Adam Dickson, "Husbandry of the Ancients," vol. ii. 35.
33 f. (Edin. 1788), "Were the poor light land in Britain managed
after the manner of the Roman husbandry, it would certainly
require much less seed than under its present management."

Soc. The stronger the wine the larger the dose of water to be added, I
believe. The stronger, too, the man the heavier the weight we will lay
upon his back to carry: or if it is not porterage, but people to
support, there still my tenet holds: the broader and more powerful the
great man's shoulders, the more mouths I should assign to him to feed.
But perhaps a weak soil, like a lean pack-horse,[10] grows stronger
the more corn you pour into it. This I look to you to teach me.[11]

[10] Or, "lean cattle."

[11] Or, "Will you please answer me that question, teacher?"

With a laugh, he answered: Once more you are pleased to jest. Yet rest
assured of one thing, Socrates: if after you have put seed into the
ground, you will await the instant when, while earth is being richly
fed from heaven, the fresh green from the hidden seed first springs,
and take and turn it back again,[12] this sprouting germ will serve as
food for earth: as from manure an inborn strength will presently be
added to the soil. But if you suffer earth to feed the seed of corn
within it and to bring forth fruit in an endless round, at last[13] it
will be hard for the weakened soil to yield large corn crops, even as
a weak sow can hardly rear a large litter of fat pigs.

[12] "If you will plough the seedlings in again."

[13] {dia telous . . . es telos}, "continually . . . in the end." See
references in Holden's fifth edition.

Soc. I understand you to say, Ischomachus, that the weaker soil must
receive a scantier dose of seed?

Isch. Most decidedly I do, and you on your side, Socrates, I
understand, give your consent to this opinion in stating your belief
that the weaker the shoulders the lighter the burdens to be laid on

Soc. But those hoers with their hoes, Ischomachus, tell me for what
reason you let them loose[14] upon the corn.

[14] Cf. "Revenues," iv. 5.

Isch. You know, I daresay, that in winter there are heavy rains?[15]

[15] "And melting snows, much water every way."

Soc. To be sure, I do.

Isch. We may suppose, then, that a portion of the corn is buried by
these floods beneath a coat of mud and slime, or else that the roots
are laid quite bare in places by the torrent. By reason of this same
drench, I take it, oftentimes an undergrowth of weeds springs up with
the corn and chokes it.

Soc. Yes, all these ills are likely enough to happen.

Isch. Are you not agreed the corn-fields sorely need relief at such a

Soc. Assuredly.

Isch. Then what is to be done, in your opinion? How shall we aid the
stricken portion lying mud-bedabbled?

Soc. How better than by lifting up and lightening the soil?

Isch. Yes! and that other portion lying naked to the roots and
defenceless, how aid it?

Soc. Possibly by mounding up fresh earth about it.[16]

[16] "Scraping up a barrier of fresh earth about it."

Isch. And what when the weeds spring up together with the corn and
choke it? or when they rob and ruthlessly devour the corn's proper
sustenance, like unserviceable drones[17] that rob the working bees of
honey, pilfering the good food which they have made and stored away
with labour: what must we do?

[17] Cf. Shakesp. "Lazy yawning drones," "Henry V." I. ii. 204.

Soc. In good sooth, there can be nothing for it save to cut out the
noisome weed, even as drones are cleared out from the hive.

Isch. You agree there is some show of reason for letting in these
gangs of hoers?

Soc. Most true. And now I am turning over in my mind,[18] Ischomachus,
how grand a thing it is to introduce a simile or such like figure well
and aptly. No sooner had you mentioned the word "drones" than I was
filled with rage against those miserable weeds, far more than when you
merely spoke of weeds and undergrowth.

[18] Or, "I was just this moment pondering the virtue of a happy
illustration." Lit. "what a thing it is to introduce an 'image'
({tas eikonas}) well." See Plat. "Rep." 487 E, {de eikonos}, "in a
parable" (Jowett); "Phaed." 87 B, "a figure"; Aristoph. "Clouds,"
559; Plat. "Phaedr." 267 C; Aristot. "Rhet." III. iv. As to the
drones, J. J. Hartman, "An. X." 186, aptly cf. Aristoph. "Wasps,"
1114 f.


But, not to interrupt you further (I continued), after sowing,
naturally we hope to come to reaping. If, therefore, you have anything
to say on that head also, pray proceed to teach me.

Isch. Yes, by all means, unless indeed you prove on this head also to
know as much yourself already as your teacher. To begin then: You know
that corn needs cutting?

Soc. To be sure, I know that much at any rate.

Isch. Well, then, the next point: in the act of cutting corn how will
you choose to stand? facing the way the wind blows,[1] or against the

[1] Lit. "(on the side) where the wind blows or right opposite."

Soc. Not against the wind, for my part. Eyes and hands must suffer, I
imagine, if one stood reaping face to face with husks and particles of

[2] i.e. "with particles of straw and beards of corn blowing in one's

Isch. And should you merely sever the ears at top, or reap close to
the ground?[3]

[3] See Holden ad loc.; Sir Anthony Fitzherbert, "Husbandry," 27 (ed.
1767), "In Somersetshire . . . they do share theyr wheate very
lowe. . . ."

If the stalk of corn were short (I answered), I should cut down close,
to secure a sufficient length of straw to be of use. But if the stalk
be tall, you would do right, I hold, to cut it half-way down, whereby
the thresher and the winnower will be saved some extra labour (which
both may well be spared).[4] The stalk left standing in the field,
when burnt down (as burnt it will be, I presume), will help to benefit
the soil;[5] and laid on as manure, will serve to swell the volume of

[4] Lit. "will be spared superfluous labour on what they do not want."

[5] Al. "if burnt down . . .; if laid on as manure . . ."

[6] "Help to swell the bulk" (Holden). For the custom see Virg.
"Georg." i. 84; J. Tull, op. cit. ix. 141: "The custom of burning
the stubble on the rich plains about Rome continues to this time."

Isch. There, Socrates, you are detected "in the very act"; you know as
much about reaping as I do myself.

It looks a little like it (I replied). But I would fain discover
whether I have sound knowledge also about threshing.

Isch. Well, I suppose you are aware of this much: corn is threshed by
beasts of burthen?[7]

[7] Holden cf. Dr. Davy, "Notes and Observations on the Ionian
Islands." "The grain is beaten out, commonly in the harvest field,
by men, horses, or mules, on a threshing-floor prepared extempore
for the purpose, where the ground is firm and dry, and the chaff
is separated by winnowing."--Wilkinson, "Ancient Egyptians," ii.
41 foll.

Soc. Yes, I am aware of that much, and beast of burthen is a general
name including oxen, horses, mules, and so forth.[8]

[8] See Varro, i. 52, as to tritura and ventilatio.

Isch. Is it your opinion that these animals know more than merely how
to tread the corn while driven with the goad?

Soc. What more can they know, being beasts of burthen?

Isch. Some one must see, then, that the beasts tread out only what
requires threshing and no more, and that the threshing is done evenly
itself: to whom do you assign that duty, Socrates?

Soc. Clearly it is the duty of the threshers who are in charge.[9] It
is theirs to turn the sheaves, and ever and again to push the
untrodden corn under the creatures' feet; and thus, of course, to keep
the threshing-floor as smooth, and finish off the work as fast, as

[9] Or, "to the over-threshers," "the drivers" (Holden).

Isch. Your comprehension of the facts thus far, it seems, keeps pace
with mine.

Soc. Well, after that, Ischomachus, we will proceed to cleanse the
corn by winnowing.[10]

[10] Breit. cf. Colum. "de r. r." ii. 10, 14, 21; vide Rich, s.v.

Isch. Yes, but tell me, Socrates; do you know that if you begin the
process from the windward portion (of the threshing-floor), you will
find your chaff is carried over the whole area.

Soc. It must be so.

Isch. Then it is more than likely the chaff will fall upon the corn.

Soc. Yes, considering the distance,[11] the chaff will hardly be
carried across the corn into the empty portion of the threshing-floor.

[11] Lit. "it is a long space for the chaff to be carried." Al. (1)
"It is of great consequence the chaff should be carried beyond the
corn." (2) "It often happens that the corn is blown not only on to
the corn, but over and beyond it into the empty portion of the
threshing-floor." So Breit.

Isch. But now, suppose you begin winnowing on the "lee" side of the

[12] Or, "on the side of the threshing-floor opposite the wind." Al.
"protected from the wind."

Soc. It is clear the chaff will at once fall into the chaff-

[13] A hollowed-out portion of the threshing-floor, according to

Isch. And when you have cleansed the corn over half the floor, will
you proceed at once, with the corn thus strewn in front of you, to
winnow the remainder,[14] or will you first pack the clean grain into
the narrowest space against the central pillar?[15]

[14] Lit. "of the chaff," where we should say "corn," the winnowing
process separating chaff from grain and grain from chaff.

[15] If that is the meaning of {ton polon}. Al. "the outer edge or rim
of the threshing-floor."

Soc. Yes, upon my word! first pack together the clean grain, and
proceed. My chaff will now be carried into the empty portion of the
floor, and I shall escape the need of winnowing twice over.[16]

[16] Or, "the same chaff (i.e. unwinnowed corn, Angl. corn) twice."

Isch. Really, Socrates, you are fully competent yourself, it seems, to
teach an ignorant world[17] the speediest mode of winnowing.

[17] Lit. "After all, Socrates, it seems you could even teach another
how to purge his corn most expeditiously."

Soc. It seems, then, as you say, I must have known about these
matters, though unconsciously; and here I stand and beat my
brains,[18] reflecting whether or not I may not know some other things
--how to refine gold and play the flute and paint pictures--without
being conscious of the fact. Certainly, as far as teaching goes, no
one ever taught me these, no more than husbandry; while, as to using
my own eyes, I have watched men working at the other arts no less than
I have watched them till the soil.

[18] Lit. "all this while, I am thinking whether . . ."

Isch. Did I not tell you long ago that of all arts husbandry was the
noblest, the most generous, just because it is the easiest to learn?

Soc. That it is without a doubt, Ischomachus. It seems I must have
known the processes of sowing, without being conscious of my

[19] Or, "but for all my science, I was ignorant (of knowing my own


Soc. (continuing). But may I ask, is the planting of trees[1] a
department in the art of husbandry?

[1] i.e. of fruit trees, the vine, olive, fig, etc.

Isch. Certainly it is.

Soc. How is it, then, that I can know about the processes of sowing
and at the same time have no knowledge about planting?

Isch. Is it so certain that you have no knowledge?

Soc. How can you ask me? when I neither know the sort of soil in which
to plant, nor yet the depth of hole[2] the plant requires, nor the
breadth, or length of ground in which it needs to be embedded;[3] nor
lastly, how to lay the plant in earth, with any hope of fostering its

[2] Reading {to phuto}, "nor yet how deep or broad to sink (the hole)
for the plant." Holden (ed. 1886) supplies {bothunon}. Al.

[3] See Loudon, "Encycl. of Agric." S. 407, ap. Holden: "In France
plantations of the vine are made by dibbling in cuttings of two
feet of length; pressing the earth firmly to their lower end, an
essential part of the operation, noticed even by Xenophon."

[4] Lit. "how, laid in the soil, the plant will best shoot forth or

Isch. Come, then, to lessons, pupil, and be taught whatever you do not
know already! You have seen, I know, the sort of trenches which are
dug for plants?

Soc. Hundreds of times.

Isch. Did you ever see one more than three feet deep?

Soc. No, I do not think I ever saw one more than two and a half feet

Isch. Well, as to the breadth now. Did you ever see a trench more than
three feet broad?[5]

[5] Or, "width," "wide." The commentators cf. Plin. "H. N." xvii. 11,
16, 22; Columell. v. 5. 2; ib. iii. 15. 2; Virg. "Georg." ii. 288.

Soc. No, upon my word, not even more than two feet broad.

Isch. Good! now answer me this question: Did you ever see a trench
less than one foot deep?

Soc. No, indeed! nor even less than one foot and a half. Why, the
plants would be no sooner buried than dug out again, if planted so
extremely near the surface.

Isch. Here, then, is one matter, Socrates, which you know as well as
any one.[6] The trench is not to be sunk deeper than two feet and a
half, or shallower than one foot and a half.

[6] Lit. "quite adequately."

Soc. Obviously, a thing so plain appeals to the eye at once.

Isch. Can you by eyesight recognise the difference between a dry soil
and a moist?

Soc. I should certainly select as dry the soil round Lycabettus,[7]
and any that resembles it; and as moist, the soil in the marsh meadows
of Phalerum,[8] or the like.

[7] See Leake, "Topog. of Athens," i. 209.

[8] Or, "the Phaleric marsh-land." See Leake, ib. 231, 427; ii. 9.

Isch. In planting, would you dig (what I may call) deep trenches in a
dry soil or a moist?

Soc. In a dry soil certainly; at any rate, if you set about to dig
deep trenches in the moist you will come to water, and there and then
an end to further planting.

Isch. You could not put it better. We will suppose, then, the trenches
have been dug. Does your eyesight take you further?[9] Have you
noticed at what season in either case[10] the plants must be embedded?

[9] Lit. "As soon as the trenches have been dug then, have you further
noticed . . ."

[10] (1) The vulg. reading {openika . . . ekatera} = "at what precise
time . . . either (i.e. 'the two different' kinds of) plant," i.e.
"vine and olive" or "vine and fig," I suppose; (2) Breit. emend.
{opotera . . . en ekatera} = "which kind of plant . . . in either
soil . . ."; (3) Schenkl. etc., {openika . . . en ekatera} = "at
what season . . . in each of the two sorts of soil . . ."

Soc. Certainly.[11]

[11] There is an obvious lacuna either before or after this remark, or
at both places.

Isch. Supposing, then, you wish the plants to grow as fast as
possible: how will the cutting strike and sprout, do you suppose, most
readily?--after you have laid a layer of soil already worked beneath
it, and it merely has to penetrate soft mould? or when it has to force
its way through unbroken soil into the solid ground?

Soc. Clearly it will shoot through soil which has been worked more
quickly than through unworked soil.

Isch. Well then, a bed of earth must be laid beneath the plant?

Soc. I quite agree; so let it be.

Isch. And how do you expect your cutting to root best?--if set
straight up from end to end, pointing to the sky?[12] or if you set it
slantwise under its earthy covering, so as to lie like an inverted

[12] Lit. "if you set the whole cutting straight up, facing

[13] i.e. Anglice, "like the letter {G} upon its back" {an inverted
"upper-case" gamma looks like an L}. See Lord Bacon, "Nat. Hist."
Cent. v. 426: "When you would have many new roots of fruit-trees,
take a low tree and bow it and lay all his branches aflat upon the
ground and cast earth upon them; and every twig will take root.
And this is a very profitable experiment for costly trees (for the
boughs will make stock without charge), such as are apricots,
peaches, almonds, cornelians, mulberries, figs, etc. The like is
continually practised with vines, roses, musk roses, etc."

Soc. Like an inverted gamma, to be sure, for so the plant must needs
have more eyes under ground. Now it is from these same eyes of theirs,
if I may trust my own,[14] that plants put forth their shoots above
ground. I imagine, therefore, the eyes still underground will do the
same precisely, and with so many buds all springing under earth, the
plant itself, I argue, as a whole will sprout and shoot and push its
way with speed and vigour.

[14] Lit. "it is from their eyes, I see, that plants . . ."

Isch. I may tell you that on these points, too, your judgment tallies
with my own. But now, should you content yourself with merely heaping
up the earth, or will you press it firmly round your plant?

Soc. I should certainly press down the earth; for if the earth is not
pressed down, I know full well that at one time under the influence of
rain the unpressed soil will turn to clay or mud; at another, under
the influence of the sun, it will turn to sand or dust to the very
bottom: so that the poor plant runs a risk of being first rotted with
moisture by the rain, and next of being shrivelled up with drought
through overheating of the roots.[15]

[15] Through "there being too much bottom heat." Holden (ed. 1886).

Isch. So far as the planting of vines is concerned, it appears,
Socrates, that you and I again hold views precisely similar.

And does this method of planting apply also to the fig-tree? (I

Isch. Surely, and not to the fig-tree alone, but to all the rest of
fruit-trees.[16] What reason indeed would there be for rejecting in
the case of other plant-growths[17] what is found to answer so well
with the vine?

[16] {akrodrua} = "edible fruits" in Xenophon's time. See Plat.
"Criti." 115 B; Dem. "c. Nicostr." 1251; Aristot. "Hist. An."
viii. 28. 8, {out akrodrua out opora khronios}; Theophr. "H. Pl."
iv. 4. 11. (At a later period, see "Geopon." x. 74, = "fruits
having a hard rind or shell," e.g. nuts, acorns, as opposed to
pears, apples, grapes, etc., {opora}.) See further the interesting
regulations in Plat. "Laws," 844 D, 845 C.

[17] Lit. "planting in general."

Soc. How shall we plant the olive, pray, Ischomachus?

Isch. I see your purpose. You ask that question with a view to put me
to the test,[18] when you know the answer yourself as well as
possible. You can see with your own eyes[19] that the olive has a
deeper trench dug, planted as it is so commonly by the side of roads.
You can see that all the young plants in the nursery adhere to
stumps.[20] And lastly, you can see that a lump of clay is placed on
the head of every plant,[21] and the portion of the plant above the
soil is protected by a wrapping.[22]

[18] Plat. "Prot." 311 B, 349 C; "Theaet." 157 C: "I cannot make out
whether you are giving your own opinion, or only wanting to draw
me out" (Jowett).

[19] For the advantage, see "Geopon." iii. 11. 2.

[20] Holden cf. Virg. "Georg." ii. 30--

quin et caudicibus sectis, mirabile dictu,
truditur e sicco radix oleagina ligno.

The stock in slices cut, and forth shall shoot,
O passing strange! from each dry slice a root (Holden).

See John Martyn ad loc.: "La Cerda says, that what the Poet here
speaks of was practised in Spain in his time. They take the trunk
of an olive, says he, deprive it of its root and branches, and cut
it into several pieces, which they put into the ground, whence a
root and, soon afterwards, a tree is formed." This mode of
propagating by dry pieces of the trunk (with bark on) is not to be
confounded with that of "truncheons" mentioned in "Georg." ii. 63.

[21] See Theophr. "H. Pl." ii. 2, 4; "de Caus." iii. 5. 1; "Geopon."
ix. 11. 4, ap. Hold.; Col. v. 9. 1; xi. 2. 42.

[22] Or, "covered up for protection."

Soc. Yes, all these things I see.

Isch. Granted, you see: what is there in the matter that you do not
understand? Perhaps you are ignorant how you are to lay the potsherd
on the clay at top?

Soc. No, in very sooth, not ignorant of that Ischomachus, or anything

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