“The land provides the greatest abundance of good things, but doesn’t allow them to be taken without effort.”
“Furthermore, the land also freely teaches justice to those who are capable of learning; for it does people favors in proportion to how well they serve it.”
“Agriculture also contributes toward training people in cooperation.” Xenophon, Oeconomicus
The land provides. The land teaches. In Xenophon’s view the land is a benefactor of mankind, precisely in how it calls for and responds to human cultivation. It is as though the land cultivates us as we cultivate it.
In spring most all of us feel a primordial urge: to turn the soil, to plant; even if only in a pot. If Xenophon is right, there is much more to be reaped than food for the body.
We can even be trained in cooperation: to be united in working toward some worthy end.
My article today at Aleteia suggests that the co-operating of father and son in the garden may be a potent inoculant against an epidemic of boyhood unhappiness. A Father’s Hand in the Garden: 3 Reasons to Garden with Your Son.
Xenophon (430-354 B.C.) was a soldier, historian, and philosopher of Athens. Like Plato he wrote dialogues featuring Socrates as a great teacher. Among these dialogues is Oeconomicus, translated as The Estate Manager, in which we gain insight into the structure and principles of the ancient household.