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Page 7

An Attic Farmstead

 

    We are to inspect the landed estate of Hybrias, the son of Xanthippus. It lies north of Athens on the slopes of Anchesmus, one of the lesser hills which roll away toward the marble-crowned summits of Pentelicus. Part of the farm lands lie on the level ground watered by the irrigation ditches; part upon the hillsides, and here the slopes have been terraced in a most skilful fashion in order to make the most of every possible inch of ground, and also to prevent any of the precious soil from being washed down by the torrents of February and March. The owner is a wealthy man, and has an extensive establishment; the farm buildings—once whitewashed, but now for the most part somewhat dirty—wander away over a large area. There are wide courts, deep in manure, surrounded by barns; there are sties, haymows, carefully closed granaries, an olive press, a grain mill, all kinds of stables and folds, likewise a huge irregularly shaped house wherein are lodged the numerous slaves and the hired help. The general design of this house is the same as of a city house—the rooms opening upon an inner court, but naturally its dimensions are ampler, with the ampler land space.

    Just now the courtyard is a noisy and animated sight. The master has this moment ridden in, upon one of his periodic visits from Athens; the farm overseer has run out to meet him and report, and half a dozen long, lean hunting dogs—Darter, Roarer, Tracker, Active, and more[7]—are dancing and yelping, in the hope that their owner will order a hare hunt. The overseer is pouring forth his usual burden of woe about the inefficient help and the lack of rain, and Hybrias is complaining of the small spring crop—"Zeus send us something better this summer!" While these worthies are adjusting their troubles we may look around the farm.

 

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