Oeconomicus, by Xenophon


A Treatise on the Science of the Household in the form of a Dialogue

INTERLOCUTORS Socrates and Critobulus

At Chapter VII. a prior discussion held between Socrates and Ischomachus is introduced: On the life of a “beautiful and good” man.

In these chapters (vii.-xxi.) Socrates is represented by the author as repeating for the benefit of Critobulus and the rest certain conversations which he had once held with the beautiful and good Ischomachus on the essentials of economy. It was a tete-a-tete discussion, and in the original Greek the remarks of the two speakers are denoted by such phrases as ephe o ‘Iskhomakhos — ephen egio —“said (he) Ischomachus,” “said I” (Socrates). To save the repetition of expressions tedious in English, I have, whenever it seemed help to do so, ventured to throw parts of the reported conversations into dramatic form, inserting “Isch.” “Soc.” in the customary way to designate the speakers; but these, it must be borne in mind, are merely “asides” to the reader, who will not forget that Socrates is the narrator throughout — speaking of himself as “I,” and of Ischomachus as “he,” or by his name. — Translator’s note, addressed to the English reader.

1 By “economist” we now generally understand “policital economist,” but the use of the word as referring to domestic economy, the subject matter of the treatise, would seem to be legitimate.


Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 14:12