“Unburdened of his toilsome mission,
Amphitryon welcomed the sight of his own home
With the loving eagerness
A man welcomes escape from painful illness
Or from chains of iron.”
Hesiod, The Shield
Many of us have to leave our homes to go to work. Even if we would have it be otherwise, we have to learn to live with this reality.
Leaving is most of all made bearable by the thought of returning. My children do not run to meet me as they did when they were younger—at times they would promise to offer ‘one hundred thousand kisses’ on my return. Yet coming home is still a highlight of my day.
Amphytrion was coming home from war, and from great toil undertaken to win his wife. While a just war might demand that one forsake his home altogether—a thought chilling but true–there are parallels between war and work. Work is more closely tied to the good of home, being undertaken precisely with the good of our household in view.
Hesiod says the sight of home is as welcome as an escape from painful illness. Or from chains of iron. At times, work away from home can seem like chains of iron.
But the return home can be a healing ritual—drawing our attention once again to those who in a sense we never left behind.
Hesiod (8th century B.C.) was a Greek contemporary of Homer, and likewise an epic poet. His Works and Days sketches the year-round work on a homestead.
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)
Bitter Herbs: As Important as Ever
“…with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.” Exodus 12:8 Mustard greens are being genetically ‘edited’ to remove their bitterness. This is supposed to be good news. Many of the most nutritious greens or herbs are bitter to the taste. By nature. Yet...
Importance of Place: Make a House a Home
Bluebirds and tree swallows raise their young in a house. But though they make a nest, they don’t make a home. Humans make homes. A home is a house where humans make a life together. A home is a physical place distinct from all otherers precisely because it is the...
The Gift of Limping: Against Discouragement
“It is better to limp along on the way than to walk with strength off the way.” Augustine of Hippo I meet couples and parents who are struggling with discouragement. It is hard to discern how to face the various challenges of marriage and home life. Especially in our...
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.
I do enjoy your short essays. Thanks.
Your recent writing on the value of work and the value of quality production have lead right back around to HOME. Some of us do the work just because we enjoy the creation of something of quality but most do the work to provide for the HOME.
However, HOME is also a state of mind. I think that I have developed a cue for being HOME. When my work is done and I am HOME I drink one cold beer. This cue started before I was actually of legal drinking age and now, more than 50 years later, I still drink one bottle of the same brand of beer when I come in the house at the end of the day. I very rarely drink beer otherwise.
Silly old man.
I love it Dick. Thanks very much for sharing this.
What an important commentary– especially to those of us who “mind the hearth” while our menfolk are away. My husband is retired now but I could have used this reminder in earlier years. Too often when he walked in the house at the end of a long day the house full of noisy children and unfinished work was not the peaceful environment I would have envisioned for him. At the same time, it’s never too late to learn and your words are inspirational to create a pleasant homecoming regardless of his “work” out in the world. Thank you.
Karen, Thank you for these thoughts from a woman’s perspective. I must say that from my side I wish I was better at remembering not to have high expectations for ‘peace’ when I return. My long absence has to be a real drain on all those at home. Sometimes i seem to arrive home in the nick of time to be another pair of hands… But then sometimes there are those especially glorious homecomings. Thanks again.!
Made me think of how much I love and need the sanctuary of my home. Also made me think of the homeless, who, even if working, have no refuge from the relentless chains of iron.
A very fitting reminder, Finn. Thank you much.