“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.

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