Brueghel-Spring

“In the first place, thanks to those who work it, the land bears not only the means for people to live, but also bears the means for them to live pleasantly.”
Xenophon, The Estate Manager

This past week I planted my spring greens. There is something about placing seeds in the ground. As though you the planter begin to swell with the same new life of the seeds: a new beginning, a new season. New life.

The ground yields up plants, which enable people to live. Not only to live, but to live pleasantly. Does Xenophon have in mind the crispness of a spinach leaf, the sweetness of peas, the tang of the vine-ripened tomato? Or does he have in mind a late-winter sowing—in recently snow-enriched soil, or a rosy-skied summer morning weeding with your children at your side? Or maybe he has in mind what the prophet Isaiah speaks of: eating the fruit of vines you yourself have planted (Is 65:21).

There is so much life—pleasant life—hidden in dark soil. It is there, waiting. Waiting to be received, by the hand that is open in cultivation. Would that more of us open our hands, together.

Xenophon (430-354 B.C.) was a soldier, historian, and philosopher of Athens. Like Plato he wrote dialogues featuring Socrates as a great teacher. Among,  these dialogues is Oeconomicus, translated as The Estate Manager, in which we get an insight into the structure and principles of the ancient household.

Image: Spring, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569)

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns

Previous articleGroup Decisionmaking and Individual Responsibility
Next articleThe Letter to Iran and Bipartisan Hype
John A. Cuddeback is a professor and chairman of the Philosophy Department at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, where he has taught since 1995. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America under the direction of F. Russell Hittinger. He has lectured on various topics including virtue, culture, natural law, friendship, and household. His book Friendship: The Art of Happiness was republished in 2010 as True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. His writings have appeared in Nova et Vetera, The Thomist, and The Review of Metaphysics, as well as in several volumes published by the American Maritain Association. Though raised in what he calls an ‘archetypical suburb,’ Columbia, Maryland, he and his wife Sofia consider themselves blessed to be raising their six children in the shadow of the Blue Ridge on the banks of the Shenandoah. At the material center of their homesteading projects are heritage breed pigs, which like the pigs of Eumaeus are fattened on acorns, yielding a bacon that too few people ever enjoy. His website dedicated to the philosophy of family and household is baconfromacorns.com.