Aristotle, Oeconomica

LCL 287: 328-329

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Aristotle

1343 a οὗ δὲ ἕνεκα ἕκαστον ἔστι καὶ γέγονε, καὶ ἡ οὐσία αὐτοῦ τυγχάνει αὕτη οὖσα.

15Ὥστε δῆλον ὅτι πρότερον γενέσει ἡ οἰκονομικὴ πολιτικῆς ἐστι. καὶ γὰρ τὸ ἔργον. μόριον γὰρ οἰκία πόλεώς ἐστιν.

Σκεπτέον οὖν περὶ τῆς οἰκονομικῆς, καὶ τί τὸ ἔργον αὐτῆς.

II. Μέρη δὲ οἰκίας ἄνθρωπός τε καὶ κτῆσις ἐστίν. ἐπεὶ δὲ πρῶτον ἐν τοῖς ἐλαχίστοις ἡ φύσις 20ἑκάστου θεωρεῖται, καὶ περὶ οἰκίας ἂν ὁμοίως ἔχοι· ᾥστε καθ᾿ Ἡσίοδον δέοι ἂν ὑπάρχειν

οἶκον μὲν πρώτιστα γυναῖκά τε [βοῦν τ᾿ ἀροτῆρα].1

τὸ μὲν γὰρ τῆς τροφῆς πρῶτον, τὸ δὲ τῶν ἐλευθέρων. ὥστε δέοι ἂν τὰ περὶ τὴν τῆς γυναικὸς ὁμιλίαν οἰκονομήσασθαι καλῶς· τοῦτο δέ ἐστι τὸ 25ποίαν2 τινὰ δεῖ ταύτην εἶναι παρασκευάσαι.

Κτήσεως δὲ πρώτη ἐπιμέλεια ἡ κατὰ φύσιν·2 κατὰ φύσιν δὲ γεωργικὴ προτέρα, καὶ δεύτεραι ὅσαι ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς, οἷον μεταλλευτικὴ καὶ εἴ τις ἄλλη τοιαύτη. ἡ δὲ γεωργικὴ μάλιστα ὅτι δικαία· οὐ γὰρ ἀπ᾿ ἀνθρώπων, οὔθ᾿ ἑκόντων, ὥσπερ 30καπηλεία καὶ αἱ μισθαρνικαί, οὔτ᾿ ἀκόντων, ὥσπερ αἱ πολεμικαί. ἔτι δὲ καὶ τῶν κατὰ φύσιν· φύσει

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Oeconomica, I. ii

it is with such a life in view that the association is originally formed; and the object for which a thing exists and has come into being is in fact the very essence of that particular thing.

From this definition of a Nation, it is evident that the art of Housecraft is older than that of Statecraft, since the Household, which it creates, is older; being a component part of the Nation created by Statecraft.

Accordingly we must consider the nature of Housecraft, and what the Household, which it creates, actually is.

II. The component parts of a household are (1) human beings, and (2) goods and chattels. And as households are no exception to the rule that the nature of a thing is first studied in its barest and simplest form, we will follow Hesiod and begin by postulating

Homestead first, and a woman; a plough-ox hardy to furrow.

For the steading takes precedence among our physical necessities, and the woman among our free associates. It is, therefore, one of the tasks of Homecraft to set in order the relation between man and woman; in other words, to see that it is what it ought to be.

Of occupations attendant on our goods and chattels,2 those come first which are natural. Among these precedence is given to the one which cultivates the land; those like mining, which extract wealth from it, take the second place. Agriculture is the most honest of all such occupations; seeing that the wealth it brings is not derived from other men. Herein it is distinguished from trade and the wage-earning employments, which acquire wealth from others by their consent; and from war, which wrings it from them perforce. It is also a natural occupation;

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-oeconomica.1935