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“Surely, Socrates, there is no need to go through the whole list. For it is not easy to get workmen who are skilled in all the arts, nor is it possible to become an expert in them. Pray select the branches of knowledge that seem the noblest and would be most suitable for me to cultivate: show me these, and those who practise them; and give me from your own knowledge any help you can towards learning them.” [2]

“Very good, Critobulus; for, to be sure, the illiberal arts, as they are called, are spoken against, and are, naturally enough, held in utter disdain in our states. For they spoil the bodies of the workmen and the foremen, forcing them to sit still and live indoors, and in some cases to spend the day at the fire. The softening of the body involves a serious weakening of the mind. [3] Moreover, these so-called illiberal arts leave no spare time for attention to one's friends and city, so that those who follow them are reputed bad at dealing with friends1 and bad defenders of their country. In fact, in some of the states, and especially in those reputed warlike, it is not even lawful for any of the citizens to work at illiberal arts.” [4]

“But what arts, pray, do you advise us to follow, Socrates?”

“Need we be ashamed of imitating the king of the Persians? For they say that he pays close attention to husbandry and the art of war, holding that these are two of the noblest and most necessary pursuits.” [5]

“And do you really believe, Socrates,” exclaimed Critobulus on hearing this, “that the king of the Persians includes husbandry among his occupations?”

“Perhaps, Critobulus, the following considerations will enable us to discover whether he does so. We allow that he pays close attention to warfare, because he has given a standing order to every governor of the nations from which he receives tribute, to supply maintenance for a specified number of horsemen and archers and slingers and light infantry, that they may be strong enough to control his subjects and to protect the country in the event of an invasion; and, [6] apart from these, he maintains garrisons in the citadels. Maintenance for these is supplied by the governor charged with this duty, and the king annually reviews the mercenaries and all the other troops ordered to be under arms, assembling all but the men in the citadels at the place of muster, as it is called: he personally inspects the men who are near his residence, and sends trusted agents to review those who live far away. [7] The officers, whether commanders of garrisons or of regiments or viceroys, who turn out with a full complement of men and parade them equipped with horses and arms in good condition, he promotes in the scale of honour and enriches with large grants of money; but those officers whom he finds to be neglecting the garrisons or making profit out of them he punishes severely, and appoints others to take their office. These actions, then, seem to us to leave no room for question that he pays attention to warfare. [8]

“As for the country, he personally examines so much of it as he sees in the course of his progress through it; and he receives reports from his trusted agents on the territories that he does not see for himself. To those governors who are able to show him that their country is densely populated and that the land is in cultivation and well stocked with the trees of the district and with the crops, he assigns more territory and gives presents, and rewards them with seats of honour.2 Those whose territory he finds uncultivated and thinly populated either through harsh administration or through contempt or through carelessness, he punishes, and appoints others to take their office. [9] By such action, does he seem to provide less for the cultivation of the land by the inhabitants than for its protection by the garrisons? Moreover, each of these duties is entrusted to a separate class of officers; one class governs the residents and the labourers, and collects tribute from them, the other commands the men under arms and the garrisons. [10] If the commander of a garrison affords insufficient protection to the country, the civil governor and controller of agriculture denounces the commander, setting out that the inhabitants are unable to work the farms for want of protection. If, on the other hand, the commander brings peace to the farms, and the governor nevertheless causes the land to be sparsely populated and idle, the commander in turn denounces the governor. [11] For, roughly speaking, where cultivation is inefficient, the garrisons are not maintained and the tribute cannot be paid. Wherever a viceroy is appointed, he attends to both these matters.”

At this point Critobulus said: [12] “Well, Socrates, if the Great King does this, it seems to me that he pays as much attention to husbandry as to warfare.” [13]

“Yet further,” continued Socrates, “in all the districts he resides in and visits he takes care that there are ‘paradises,’ as they call them, full of all the good and beautiful things that the soil will produce, and in this he himself spends most of his time, except when the season precludes it.” [14]

“Then it is of course necessary, Socrates, to take care that these paradises in which the king spends his time shall contain a fine stock of trees and all other beautiful things that the soil produces.” [15]

“And some say, Critobulus, that when the king makes gifts, he first invites those who have distinguished themselves in war, because it is useless to have broad acres under tillage unless there are men to defend them; and next to them, those who stock and cultivate the land best, saying that even stout-hearted warriors cannot live without the aid of workers. [16] There is a story that Cyrus, lately the most illustrious of princes, once said to the company invited to receive his gifts, ‘I myself deserve to receive the gifts awarded in both classes; for I am the best at stocking land and the best at protecting the stock.’” [17]

“Well, if Cyrus said that, Socrates, he took as much pride in cultivating and stocking land as in being a warrior.” [18]

“Yes, and, upon my word, if Cyrus had only lived, it seems that he would have proved an excellent ruler. One of the many proofs that he has given of this is the fact that, when he was on his way to fight his brother for the throne, it is said that not a man deserted from Cyrus to the king, whereas tens of thousands deserted from the king to Cyrus. [19] I think you have one clear proof of a ruler's excellence, when men obey him willingly3 and choose to stand by him in moments of danger. Now his friends all fought at his side and fell at his side to a man, fighting round his body, with the one exception of Ariaeus, whose place in the battle was, in point of fact, on the left wing.4 [20]

“Further, the story goes that when Lysander came to him bringing the gifts form the allies, this Cyrus showed him various marks of friendliness, as Lysander himself related once to a stranger at Megara, adding besides that Cyrus personally showed him round his paradise at Sardis. [21] Now Lysander admired the beauty of the trees in it, the accuracy of the spacing, the straightness of the rows, the regularity of the angles and the multitude of the sweet scents that clung round them as they walked; and for wonder of these things he cried, ‘Cyrus, I really do admire all these lovely things, but I am far more impressed with your agent's skill in measuring and arranging everything so exactly.’ [22] Cyrus was delighted to hear this and said: ‘Well, Lysander, the whole of the measurement and arrangement is my own work, and I did some of the planting myself.’ [23] ‘What, Cyrus?’ exclaimed Lysander, looking at him, and marking the beauty and perfume of his robes, and the splendour of the necklaces and bangles and other jewels that he was wearing; ‘did you really plant part of this with your own hands?’ [24] ‘Does that surprise you, Lysander?’ asked Cyrus in reply. ‘I swear by the Sun-god that I never yet sat down to dinner when in sound health, without first working hard at some task of war or agriculture, or exerting myself somehow.’ [25]

“Lysander himself declared, I should add, that on hearing this, he congratulated him in these words: ‘I think you deserve your happiness, Cyrus, for you earn it by your virtues.’”

1 Or, less probably, “bad for friends to deal with.”

2 Cyropaedia, VIII. i. 39.

3 Mem III. iii. 9.

4 Anabasis, I. ix. 31. Ariaeus fled when he saw that Cyrus had fallen.

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