Aristotle, Oeconomica

LCL 287: 324-325

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Aristotle

chapter applies the term οἰκονομία, as we apply its Anglicized form Economy, to the ordering of states as well as to that of private households; and in the succeeding anecdotes, the latter is ignored. Of the rulers whose deeds are herein recorded, Cleomenes and Philoxenus survived Aristotle (d. 322), while Ophelias was living in 308. Susemihl would assign the book to the latter half of the third century b.c.

The chief interest of these “footnotes to history” is the opportunity they afford for comparing ancient and modern treatment of such matters as currency, taxation, and insurance. August Boeckh makes considerable use of this Book in his treatise on the Public Economy of Athens (Staatshaushaltung der Athener), which may with advantage be consulted. It is available in an English translation.

The Greek text followed is in the main that of Susemihl (Leipzig 1887), which is reprinted by kind permission of Messrs. Teubner. Where I have diverged from it, I have given the reading preferred in a footnote. The pages, columns, and lines of Bekker’s Greek Text of Books A and B are given in the margin for convenience of reference.

The third Book, of which no Greek exemplar is known, appears in a Latin translation made by Guillaume Duranda (who also translated the first Book) in 1295. One of the mss. of this translation adds in the margin portions of a different version; whether this was ever more than fragmentary, we do not know. Another Latin translation is also extant containing Book II. as well as Books I. and III.

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Aristotle

Its age and authorship are uncertain. Susemihl thinks the first Book of this latter version is translated from a Greek original differing from that used by Durand; and suspects the third Book to be a compound of Durand’s version and the now fragmentary one mentioned above.

These three Latin versions I have distinguished by the letters a (Durand), b (fragmentary) and c. In Book III. the version of Durand, as edited by Susemihl, is printed (by kind permission of Messrs. Teubner) on the left-hand pages; and where the English translation noticeably diverges from it, the reading followed is added in a note. The pages of Rose’s edition (Aristotelian Fragments, No. 184) are given in the margin.

In substance this so-called third Book is a graceful homily on married life, worthy of Aristotle himself. Indeed the chaste and tender spirit which it breathes is almost Christian. As a favourable example of enlightened Greek thought about marriage and the family, it is well worth presenting in an English dress. It should be compared with the discourse of Ischomachus in the Οἰκονομικός of Xenophon—a work probably well-known to its author.

In a list of works attributed to Aristotle which is preserved by Hesychius of Miletus (VΙth Century) a treatise is mentioned under the title νόμοι ἀνδρὸς καὶ γαμετῆς—“Rules for married life.” It is conjectured by Rose that this is the work translated by Durand, and now only known in his and the other Latin versions.

In the translation, words inserted to complete the sense are placed between angular brackets <>.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-oeconomica.1935