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“‘And what was the result?’ I asked; ‘did you think, Ischomachus, that your wife paid any heed to the lessons you tried so earnestly to teach her?’

“‘Why, she promised to attend to them, and was evidently pleased beyond measure to feel that she had found a solution of her difficulties, and she begged me to lose no time in arranging things as I had suggested.’ [2]

“‘And how did you arrange things for her, Ischomachus?’ I asked.

“‘Why, I decided first to show her the possibilities of our house. For it contains few elaborate decorations, Socrates; but the rooms are designed simply with the object of providing as convenient receptacles as possible for the things that are to fill them, and thus each room invited just what was suited to it. [3] Thus the store-room by the security of its position called for the most valuable blankets and utensils, the dry covered rooms for the corn, the cool for the wine, the well-lit for those works of art and vessels that need light. [4] I showed her decorated living-rooms for the family that are cool in summer and warm in winter.1 I showed her that the whole house fronts south, so that it was obvious that it is sunny in winter and shady in summer. [5] I showed her the women's quarters too, separated by a bolted door from the men's, so that nothing which ought not to be moved may be taken out, and that the servants may not breed without our leave. For honest servants generally prove more loyal if they have a family; but rogues, if they live in wedlock, become all the more prone to mischief. [6]

“‘And now that we had completed the list, we forthwith set about separating the furniture tribe by tribe. We began by collecting together the vessels we use in sacrificing. After that we put together the women's holiday finery, and the men's holiday and war garb, blankets in the women's, blankets in the men's quarters, women's shoes, men's shoes. [7] Another tribe consisted of arms, and three others of implements for spinning, for bread-making and for cooking; others, again, of the things required for washing, at the kneading-trough, and for table use. All these we divided into two sets, things in constant use and things reserved for festivities. [8] We also put by themselves the things consumed month by month, and set apart the supplies calculated to last for a year. For this plan makes it easier to tell how they will last to the end of the time. When we had divided all the portable property tribe by tribe, we arranged everything in its proper place. [9] After that we showed the servants who have to use them where to keep the utensils they require daily, for baking, cooking, spinning and so forth; handed them over to their care and charged them to see that they were safe and sound. [10] The things that we use only for festivals or entertainments, or on rare occasions, we handed over to the housekeeper, and after showing her their places and counting and making a written list of all the items, we told her to give them out to the right servants, to remember what she gave to each of them, and when receiving them back to put everything in the place from which she took it. [11]

“‘In appointing the housekeeper, we chose the woman whom on consideration we judged to be the most temperate in eating and wine drinking and sleeping2 and the most modest with men, the one, too, who seemed to have the best memory, to be most careful not to offend us by neglecting her duties, and to think most how she could earn some reward by obliging us. [12] We also taught her to be loyal to us by making her a partner in all our joys and calling on her to share our troubles. Moreover, we trained her to be eager for the improvement of our estate, by making her familiar with it and by allowing her to share in our success. [13] And further, we put justice into her, by giving more honour to the just than to the unjust, and by showing her that the just live in greater wealth and freedom than the unjust; and we placed her in that position of superiority. [14]

“‘When all this was done, Socrates, I told my wife that all these measures were futile, unless she saw to it herself that our arrangement was strictly adhered to in every detail. I explained that in well-ordered cities the citizens are not satisfied with passing good laws; they go further, and choose guardians of the laws, who act as overseers, commending the law-abiding and punishing law-breakers. [15] So I charged my wife to consider herself guardian of the laws to our household. And just as the commander of a garrison inspects his guards, so must she inspect the chattels whenever she thought it well to do so; as the Council scrutinises the cavalry and the horses, so she was to make sure that everything was in good condition: like a queen, she must reward the worthy with praise and honour, so far as in her lay, and not spare rebuke and punishment when they were called for. [16]

“‘Moreover, I taught her that she should not be vexed that I assigned heavier duties to her than to the servants in respect of our possessions. Servants, I pointed out, carry, tend and guard their master's property, and only in this sense have a share in it; they have no right to use anything except by the owner's leave; but everything belongs to the master, to use it as he will. [17] Therefore, I explained, he who gains most by the preservation of the goods and loses most by their destruction, is the one who is bound to take most care of them.’ [18]

“‘Well, now, Ischomachus,’ said I, ‘was your wife inclined to pay heed to your words?’

“‘Why, Socrates,’ he cried, ‘she just told me that I was mistaken if I supposed that I was laying a hard task on her in telling her that she must take care of our things. It would have been harder, she said, had I required her to neglect her own possessions, than to have the duty of attending to her own peculiar blessings. [19] The fact is,’ he added, ‘just as it naturally comes easier to a good woman to care for her own children than to neglect them, so, I imagine, a good woman finds it pleasanter to look after her own possessions than to neglect them.’”

1 Mem. III. viii. 9.

2 Mem. I. v. 1; Cyropaedia, I. vi. 8.

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