Leaving Fallow a Productive Field

Philo, The Contemplative Life 14-15

“It was necessary that those who readily accept the wealth that sees should give up the senseless wealth to those who still are lacking in perception. The Greeks sing the praises of Anaxagoras and Democritus because they were so struck by philosophy that they allowed their fields to be ground down by sheep.

I do admire those men myself because they showed that they were stronger than wealth—but how much better would it have been if they had not given up their possessions to feed beasts but instead used them for the needs of people, their friends and family, transforming their loss of interest into wealth for someone else.

That first action is negligent—it would be considered nuts if Greece did not admire those people—while the second is sober, something carefully thought out.”

ἔδει γὰρ τοὺς τὸν βλέποντα πλοῦτον ἐξ ἑτοίμου λαβόντας τὸν τυφλὸν παραχωρῆσαι τοῖς ἔτι τὰς διανοίας τυφλώττουσιν. Ἀναξαγόραν καὶ Δημόκριτον Ἕλληνες ᾄδουσιν, ὅτι φιλοσοφίας ἱμέρῳ πληχθέντες μηλοβότους εἴασαν γενέσθαι τὰς οὐσίας· ἄγαμαι τοὺς ἄνδρας καὶ αὐτὸς γενομένους χρημάτων κρείττονας. ἀλλὰ πόσῳ βελτίονες οἱ μὴ θρέμμασιν ἐμβόσκεσθαι τὰς κτήσεις ἀνέντες, ἀλλὰ τὰς ἀνθρώπων ἐνδείας, συγγενῶν ἢ φίλων, ἐπανορθωσάμενοι καὶ ἐξ ἀπόρων εὐπόρους ἀποφήναντες; ἐκεῖνο μὲν γὰρ ἀπερίσκεπτον—ἵνα μὴ μανιῶδες ἐπ᾿ ἀνδρῶν, οὓς ἡ Ἑλλὰς ἐθαύμασεν, εἴπω τὸ ἔργον —, τοῦτο δὲ νηφάλιον καὶ μετὰ φρονήσεως ἠκριβωμένον περιττῆς.

The Guerilla’s Departue” by David Wilkie

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