For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Memorabilia. Oeconomicus. Symposium. Apology

by Xenophon (1997)

Key Passage

(Oeconomicus)   “Furthermore, the story goes that when Lysander came to him bringing the gifts from the allies, this Cyrus treated him in friendly fashion, as Lysander himself related once to a stranger at Megara, adding besides that Cyrus personally showed him around his paradise at Sardis. Now Lysander admired the beauty of the trees there, the accuracy of their spacing, the straightness of the rows, the regularity of the angles, and the multitude of sweet scents that clung around them as they walked; and in amazement he exclaimed, ‘Cyrus, I really do admire all this loveliness, but I am far more impressed with your agent’s skill in measuring and arranging everything so exactly.’ Cyrus was delighted to hear this and replied, ‘Well, Lysander, the whole of the measurement and arrangement is my own work, and I did some of the planting myself.’ ‘What did you say, Cyrus?’ exclaimed Lysander, looking at him, and noting the beauty and perfume of his robes, and the splendor of the necklaces and bangles and other jewels that he was wearing; ‘Did you really plant part of this with your own hands?’ ‘Does that surprise you, Lysander?’ asked Cyrus in reply. ‘I swear by Mithras that I never yet sat down to dinner when in sound health, without first working up a sweat at some task of war or agriculture, or exerting myself in some sort of competition.’  (p.425)


Xenophon, Ancient Greece, Beauty, Craftsmanship, Agriculture, War


Xenophon Citations, Ancient Greece

Links to Reference


E. C. Marchant and O. J. Todd



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