We judged that agriculture is the best work and the best branch of knowledge for a truly good person, because it supplies people with the necessities of life.
We decided that it is the easiest work to learn and the most gratifying to do; that it makes people physically as attractive and fit as possible; and that it afford their minds the maximum possible opportunity for giving attention to their friends and countries.
We agreed that agriculture also contributes towards promoting toughness in the people who work at it, since the crops that it grows and the livestock that it tends are situated outside the town fortifications.
These are the reasons, we decided, that this means of making a living is held in the highest esteem by the States, because it apparently turns out ideal citizens, who are extremely loyal towards the community.
(Socrates to Critobulus C. 401 BC)
THE ESTATE MANAGER (Oeconomicus), by Xenophon
from CONVERSATIONS OF SOCRATES
It is one of the earliest works on economics in its original sense of household management, and a significant source for the social and intellectual history of classic Athens. Beyond the emphasis on household economics, the dialogue treats such topics as the qualities and relationships of men and women, rural vs. urban life, slavery, religion, and education. More…