“In fine, having established the dominion of his city over so many people, he himself remained indigent; and always delighted as much in the glory of being poor, as in that of his trophies.” Plutarch on Aristides

This renowned Athenian statesman’s attitude toward wealth and poverty remains something of an enigma. We are told not only that he steadfastly resisted the allure of riches, but that he even gloried in his poverty.

His poverty was not a squalor or a lack of necessities. It was a poverty of simplicity, a simplicity given special emphasis in comparison to the wealth that easily might have been his.

People that voluntarily choose poverty always have a certain fascination about them. The rest of us cannot but wonder: why did he do it? why did he choose poverty?

Christian monks are following their Lord and master. But what about Aristides? What is the root of his glorying in a kind of lack? We cannot say for sure. We do know that he valued justice, and the honorable good of his people, above all things.

Somehow he saw poverty–the willing rejection of all wealth not absolutely necessary for his life–as fitting with, and even aiding, those virtues he valued most. He was convinced that he would be happier with less and that less was truly more. Whatever our state in life, we might keep pondering: has Aristides seen something that we have not yet seen?

Plutarch (46-120 A.D.), a Boeotian Greek who became a Roman citizen, was especially known as a biographer of famous Greek and Roman men.

 

Introducing Aristides Mini-Series

This post is the second in a short series considering the life of Aristides (530-468 BC), one of the greatest of Athenian statesmen.

I. A Greek You Should Remember

II. The Glory of Being Poor

III. One Good Politician



Image: Cottage with Peasant Coming Home, by Van Gogh

Join the Community.

Become a LifeCraft Member and gain access to our online courses and exclusive content. It's FREE of charge. Period.

If you join as a contributing member, you will help make this content available to an increasing audience and enable me to spend more time in this work. I thank you in advance.

Join the LifeCraft community today and get access to:

  • Man of the Household (Course)
  • Woman of the Household (Course)
  • Concepts Made Clear (Mini-course)
  • Dinner at Home (Mini-course)
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Ordinary Means for an Extraordinary Holiday Season

Ordinary Means for an Extraordinary Holiday Season

“We must also remember that no metamorphosis since pre-historic times is in any way comparable to the metamorphosis that we are now undergoing.” “[Man is] a creature which is not only capable of gratuitous acts but of which it can be said that such acts are this...

read more
Presence when Absent: A Husband’s Gift

Presence when Absent: A Husband’s Gift

“The beloved is said to be in the lover… [even] in the absence of the beloved, because of the lover’s longing towards…the good he wills to the beloved with a love of friendship.” Thomas Aquinas One thing my marriage has taught me is that really ‘being-present’ to...

read more
Does Everyone Need an Obi-wan?

Does Everyone Need an Obi-wan?

“And if someone dragged him away from there by force, up the rough, steep path, and didn’t let him go until he had dragged him into the sunlight, wouldn’t he be pained and irritated at being treated that way?” Socrates, Plato’s Republic We seldom reflect on a stark...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest