For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Memorabilia. Oeconomicus. Symposium. Apology

by Xenophon (1997)

Key Passage

(Oeconomicus)“Surely, Socrates, there is no need to go through the whole list. For it is not easy to get workmen who are skilled in all the occupations, nor is it possible to become an expert in them all. Please select the branches of knowledge that seem the noblest and would be most suitable for me to cultivate: show me these, and those who practice them; and from your own knowledge give me any help you can toward learning them.” “Very good, Critobulus; for to be sure, the so-called banausic occupations are scorned and, naturally enough, held in low regard in our states. For they spoil the bodies of the workmen and the foremen, forcing them to sit still and stay indoors, and in some cases to spend the whole day by the fire. As their bodies become womanish their souls lose strength too. Moreover, these so-called banausic occupations leave no spare time for attention to one’s friends and city, so that those who follow them are reputed bad at dealing with friends and bad defenders of their country. In some states, in fact, and especially in those reputed to be warlike, it is not even lawful for any of the citizens to work in the banausic occupations.” “But what occupations, then, do you advise us to follow, Socrates?”  (p.415)


Xenophon, Ancient Greece, Knowledge, Education, Learning


Xenophon Citations, Ancient Greece

Links to Reference


E. C. Marchant and O. J. Todd



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