Monday, April 22, 2013

Philodemus, Concerning Household Management

XII.2–XVI.12; XXI.28–35; XXVII.42–47, XXVIII.3–539

Now that the views concerning these people [Xenophon (Socrates) and ps.-Theophrastus] have been sufficiently indicated, one must sketch our doctrines in a concise fashion (col. XII.2–5). Accordingly, we will discuss, not how to live nobly in a household, but how one must take a stand regarding the acquisition and preservation of property, with which [the terms] “household management” and “household manager,” it is agreed, are strictly concerned, although we do not continue to dispute in any way with those who choose to assign other [concerns] to these terms; and [how one must take a stand] regarding acquisition [of property] that is needed by the philosopher, not just by anybody (XII.5–17).
A philosopher has a [moderate] measure of wealth, a view which we have handed on in accord with our teachers in the book On Wealth, so that we might explain the management of the acquisition and preservation of this measure [of wealth]. (XII.17–25). Well then, in Metrodorus’ book On Wealth this sort of thing is found on the topic in the argument against those who say fairly that Cynic philosophers have chosen a way of life that is much too frivolous and easy. [Cynics] as far as possible remove everything from themselves which does not provide a simple life that ends peacefully and especially without confusion and with the least anxiety and trouble—precisely what the one who merely gathers for himself daily has (XII.25–41). For this also applies to a philosopher, but more than this is already entirely empty (XII.41–43). Therefore he [Metrodorus] has written that it is acceptable to say that this life is the best, with which the greatest tranquility and peace as well as the least annoying worry are associated (XII.44–XIII.3).
This does not seem, however, to be the goal, if we should flee everything in relation to whose possession we might at some time have troubles or might be distressed (XIII.3–8). For many of these matters produce some distress when they are possessed, but many more distresses when they are not present (XIII.8–11). Therefore bodily health involves some care and laborious toil, terrible distress [in body] nevertheless rather, whenever [health is] absent (XIII.11–15). Similarly the true friend also produces distress (l[E]p[aw]) to some degree when present, but causes more distress when absent (XIII.15–19). In this manner, the earnest person is able to distinguish clearly many things into what is advantageous and disadvantageous and to choose some rather than others. [The earnest person] does this not courteously, not because he is able to live “nobly” (against Socrates; see XII.6–7) and be in need of many things which, by not possessing, he will live miserably and lacking some he will be distressed (XIII.19–29).
Accordingly one must not flee everything by whose possession it is possible at some time to have troubles, worries and anxieties of such and such a kind, as I have said above (XIII.29–35; cp. XIII.3–8). One must accept some things, among which also is wealth, since one has less misery when it is present, rather for the whole of life but not (only) for some crisis; XIII.35–39). It is not safe to use the same rule with regard to toil. Indeed, there are toils for the one who provides for himself daily and even the one with plenty will have some troubles at some time (XIII.39–44). Similarly, even for the one who has acquired a moderate amount, it is not just to reject it on account of such a [possible] change of fortune (XIII.44–XIV.2).
But one must consider this for the most part as contributing to the best way of life (XIV.2–5). Wealth does not seem to produce unprofitable annoyances by itself, but (only) through the evil ( of those who use it (XIV.5–9). For the care and preservation [of wealth], as is fitting for one who is customarily in charge, sometimes produces trouble, but not more than occurs with earning a living day by day (XIV.9–15). And even if it [wealth] [produces] more [trouble], it is not more than the others which set free from difficulties (XIV.15–17). If someone cannot show that natural wealth does not yield much greater revenues than the toils which derive from a life of little . . . (XIV.17–23).
For I consider that wealth is rightly managed in this way: not to be grieved by what is lost nor on account of intemperate zeal in matters of profit and loss to be involved with “slave treadmills” by oneself (XIV.23–30). For toil in acquisition involves both dragging oneself by force and being anxious over losses since they will immediately lead to present and expected pain (XIV.30–37). But if someone can remove such difficulties from himself and neither attempt to accumulate and to gain as much property as possible by toil nor even that authority which wealth provides, nor prepare to preserve money with difficulty or to accumulate easily, the mode of life and readiness for acquisition would be precisely similar to sharing [with others] through it [wealth] (XIV.37–XV.3). For administering these things in this way follows on the fact that the wise person has acquired and is acquiring friends (XV.3–6). Besides, if 41 these things are not disposed in this manner, since, if these things are wasted, although others will not be found, much ease occurs regarding household management; otherwise, for those requiring speech more than the many agonies in war (XV.6–14).
But if they cannot somehow fall into this manner of life since they are unable to have a single friend . . . (XV.14–21). For it is possible to say that such a person has easier daily acquisition, since he is relaxed in this way about the things said by one who has no money (XV.21–26). For we see that the property preserved by such men is not less than the property of intense people, but if not, it is not thus quickly destroyed and not insecure property (XV.26–31).
Therefore a wise man will at no time be bound by wealth in such a way that he, for the sake of preserving it, endures great toils that are equivalent to nothing (XV.31–37). For this must cause use [of a property] to be without pain and the delight through this use to be unalloyed, a delight which does not add to the acquisition of wealth an oppressive anxiety for wise men; how will it be possible to be preserved, even when the most perilous times prevail (XV.37–45)? For a person who is prudent and confident about the future is not distressed by a humble and penurious mode of life, since he knows that the physical [body] is provided for by this [mode of life]; and he inclines willingly to the more abundant [mode of life]. Nor is what is sufficient for him to be found to be evil, the one for whom life is moderate and ordinary, and speech is healthy and true, even if he does not readily welcome any chance [life that happens to come along] (XV.44–XVI.12).

David L. Balch, “Philodemus, “On Wealth” and “On Household Management:” Naturally Wealthy Epicureans Against Poor Cynics” in Philodemus and the New Testament World  Eds. John T. Fitzgerald, Dirk Obbink, and Glenn S. Holland (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 177-196, here, 189-192.

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