Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Aristotle on Household Management

Aristotle Pol. 1.1253b.1–14. 

And now that it is clear what are the component parts of the state, we have first of all to discuss household management; for every state is composed of households. Household management falls into departments corresponding to the parts of which the household in its turn is composed; and the household in its perfect form consists of slaves and freemen. The investigation of everything should begin with its smallest parts, and the primary and smallest parts of the household are master and slave, husband and wife, father and children; we ought therefore to examine the proper constitution and character of each of these three relationships, I mean that of mastership, that of marriage (there is no exact term denoting the relation uniting wife and husband), and thirdly the progenitive relationship (this too has not been designated by a special name).  Let us then accept these three relationships that we have mentioned.[1]
ἐπεὶ δὲ φανερὸν ἐξ ὧν μορίων ἡ πόλις συνέστηκεν, ἀναγκαῖον πρῶτον περὶ οἰκονομίας εἰπεῖν: πᾶσα γὰρ σύγκειται πόλις ἐξ οἰκιῶν. οἰκονομίας δὲ μέρη ἐξ ὧν πάλιν οἰκία συνέστηκεν: οἰκία δὲ τέλειος ἐκ δούλων καὶ ἐλευθέρων. ἐπεὶ[5]δ᾽ ἐν τοῖς ἐλαχίστοις πρῶτον ἕκαστον ζητητέον, πρῶτα δὲ καὶ ἐλάχιστα μέρη οἰκίας δεσπότης καὶ δοῦλος, καὶ πόσις καὶ ἄλοχος, καὶ πατὴρ καὶ τέκνα, περὶ τριῶν ἂν τούτων σκεπτέον εἴη τί ἕκαστον καὶ ποῖον δεῖ εἶναι. ταῦτα δ᾽ ἐστὶ δεσποτικὴ καὶ γαμική ἀνώνυμον γὰρ ἡ γυναικὸς καὶ ἀνδρὸς[10]σύζευξις καὶ τρίτον τεκνοποιητική καὶ γὰρ αὕτη οὐκ ὠνόμασται ἰδίῳ ὀνόματι. ἔστωσαν δὴ αὗται τρεῖς ἃς εἴπομεν. ἔστι δέ τι μέρος ὃ δοκεῖ τοῖς μὲν εἶναι οἰκονομία, τοῖς δὲ μέγιστον μέρος αὐτῆς: ὅπως δ᾽ ἔχει, θεωρητέον: λέγω δὲ περὶ τῆς καλουμένης χρηματιστικῆς.[2]


[1] See also N. E. 8.1160a.23-1161a.10; 5.1134b.9-18.  This tradition was common around the inception of early Christian thinking.  See D. L. Balch, “Neopythagorean Moralists and the New Testament Household Codes.” ANRW. II.26.1 (1992): 380–411.
[2] Aristotle, Aristotle's Politica Ed. W. D. Ross Oxford, Clarendon Press. 1957.

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