Xenophon of Athens, Oeconomicus

LCL 168: 386-387

Go To Section
Go To Section


1. Ἤκουσα δέ ποτε αὐτοῦ καὶ περὶ οἰκονομίας τοιάδε διαλεγομένου.

Εἰπέ μοι, ἔφῃ, ὦ Κριτόβουλε, ἆρά γε ἡ οἰκονομία ἐπιστήμης τινὸς ὄνομά ἐστιν, ὥσπερ ἡ ἰατρικὴ καὶ καλκευτικὴ καὶ τεκτονική;

Ἔμοιγε δοκεῖ, ἔφη ὁ Κριτόβουλος.

2Ἦ καὶ ὥσπερ τούτων τῶν τεχνῶν ἔχοιμεν ἂν εἰπεῖν ὅ τι ἔργον ἑκάστης, οὕτω καὶ τῆς οἰκονομίας δυναίμεθ᾿ ἂν εἰπεῖν ὅ τι ἔργον αὐτῆς ἐστι;

Δοκεῖ γοῦν, ἔφη ὁ Κριτόβουλος, οἰκονόμου ἀγαθοῦ εἶναι εὖ οἰκεῖν τὸν ἑαυτοῦ οἶκον.

3Ἦ καὶ τὸν ἄλλου δὲ οἶκον, ἔφη ὁ Σωκράτης, εἰ ἐπιτρέποι τις αὐτῷ, οὐκ ἂν δύναιτο, εἰ βούλοιτο, εὖ οἰκεῖν, ὥσπερ καὶ τὸν ἑαυτοῦ; ὁ μὲν γὰρ τεκτονικὴν ἐπιστάμενος ὁμοίως ἂν καὶ ἄλλῳ δύναιτο ἐργάζεσθαι ὅτιπερ καὶ ἑαυτῷ, καὶ ὁ οἰκονομικός γ᾿ ἂν ὡσαύτως.

Ἔμοιγε δοκεῖ, ὦ Σώκρατες.

4Ἔστιν ἄρα, ἔφη ὁ Σωκράτης, τὴν τέχνην ταύτην ἐπισταμένῳ, καὶ εἰ μὴ αὐτὸς τύχοι χρήματα ἔχων, τὸν ἄλλου οἶκον οἰκονομοῦντα ὥσπερ καὶ οἰκοδομοῦντα μισθοφορεῖν;



1. I once heard him also discuss the subject of estate management as follows.

“Tell me, Critobulus, is estate management the name of a branch of knowledge, like medicine, smithing, and carpentry?”

“I think so,” replied Critobulus.

2“And can we say what the function of estate management is, just as we can say what is the function of each of these occupations?”

“Well, I suppose that the business of a good estate manager is to manage his own estate well.”

3“Yes, and in case he were put in charge of another man’s estate, could he not, if he chose, manage it as well as he manages his own? Anyone who understands carpentry can do for another exactly the same work as he does for himself; and so, I presume, can a good estate manager.”

“I think so, Socrates.”

4“Is it possible, then, for one who understands this art, even if he has no property of his own, to earn money by managing another man’s estate, just as he might do by building him a house?”

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.xenophon_athens-oeconomicus_2013.2013