The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of by Victor Davis Hanson

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By Victor Davis Hanson

For generations, students have inquisitive about the increase of the Greek city-state and its marvelous cosmopolitan tradition because the final resource of the Western culture in literature, philosophy, and politics. This passionate ebook leads us outdoor town partitions to the nation-state, the place nearly all of the Greek citizenry lived, to discover the genuine resource of the cultural wealth of Greek civilization. Victor Hanson indicates that the genuine "Greek revolution" used to be no longer in simple terms the increase of a loose and democratic city tradition, yet quite the historical innovation of the self reliant relations farm.The farmers, vinegrowers, and herdsmen of old Greece are "the different Greeks," who shaped the spine of Hellenic civilization. It used to be those tough-minded, useful, and fiercely self reliant agrarians, Hanson contends, who gave Greek tradition its detailed emphasis on deepest estate, constitutional executive, contractual agreements, infantry battle, and person rights. Hanson's reconstruction of historical Greek farm lifestyles, proficient via hands-on wisdom of the topic (he is a fifth-generation California vine- and fruit-grower) is clean, entire, and soaking up. His special chronicle of the increase and tragic fall of the Greek city-state additionally is helping us to understand the consequences of what could be the unmarried most vital pattern in American existence today--the drawing close extinction of the relatives farm.

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But these artifacts, numerous though they are, are usually recognizable by their anachronisms. They are necessary reactionary embellishments to the underlying eighth-century fabric of the poem, which assumes growing Greek colonization, assemblies, emerging city-states, and even phalanx warfare of a sort. Homer's near-contemporary, Hesiod, a gifted poet who could also farm, offers more important evidence about the beginning of the seventh century. In his world of the early polis we should expect to see a vibrant agrarianism, and he does not disappoint us.

Although these regional powers probably controlled to some degree the 'economy' of the Greek countryside, they had little interest in, or knowledge of, arboriculture, viticulture, or other methods of intensive cereal production, much less the advantages of small, independent land ownership. All that was antithetical to their social and political culture, which was far removed from small farming. Wealth in early Greece was largely derived from herds of cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats, and the frequent organized raiding partyall understandable in a depopulated landscape, where the efficiency of land use was rarely explored, and the agricultural labor of the farmer-owner himself was less critical.

And herein, I discovered, lies the uniqueness of ancient Greece, a society that, despite the occasional silence of our (largely urban) sources, for nearly four centuries was an agrotopia, a community of, by, and for small landowners. The ancient counterparts of the contemporary (and vanishing) small agriculturalist, however great the differences in outlook and technique, were responsible, in both a material and spiritual sense, for all their community's culturewhat we know now as classical Greek civilization.

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