Classical Expressions of the topos “Concerning Household Management”
Plato, The Republic
Each one must perform one social service in the state for which his nature was best
Yes, we said that.
And again that to do one’s own business and not to be a
busybody is justice….
If we were required to decide what it is whose indwelling
presence will contribute most to making our city good, it would be a difficult decision
whether it was the unanimity of rulers and ruled, or the conservation in the minds of the
soldiers of the convictions produced by law as to what things are or are not to be feared,
or the watchful intelligence that resides in the guardians, or whether this is the chief cause
of it goodness, the principle embodied in child, woman, slave, free, artisan, ruler, and
ruled, that each performed his one task as one man and was not a versatile busybody.
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.
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
we ought to therefore examine the proper constitution and character of each of
these three relationships, I mean that of mastership, that of marriage…, and thirdly the
And it is clear that the rule of the soul over the body, and of the mind and the
rational element over the passionate, is natural and expedient; whereas the equality of the
two or the rule of the inferior is always hurtful.
The same hold good of animals in
relation to men; for tame animals have a better nature than wild, and all tame animals are
better off when they are ruled by man; for then they are preserved.
Again, the male is by
nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled; this