Koinōnein

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[ΚΟΡΥΦΑΙΑ. ΠΡΑΞΑΓΟΡΑ. ΓΕΙΤΩΝ. ΒΛΕΠΥΡΟΣ]

[ΚΟΡ.] Ἀλλ’ οὐ μέλλειν, ἀλλ’ ἅπτεσθαι καὶ δὴ χρὴ τῆς διανοίας,
ὡς τὸ ταχύνειν χαρίτων μετέχει πλεῖστον παρὰ τοῖσι θεαταῖς.
[ΠΡΑΞ.] καὶ μὴν ὅτι μὲν χρηστὰ διδάξω πιστεύω: τοὺς δὲ θεατάς,
εἰ καινοτομεῖν ἐθελήσουσιν καὶ μὴ τοῖς ἠθάσι λίαν
τοῖς τ’ ἀρχαίοις ἐνδιατρίβειν, τοῦτ᾽ ἔσθ᾽ ὃ μάλιστα δέδοικα.
[ΓΕΙΤ.] περὶ μὲν τοίνυν τοῦ καινοτομεῖν μὴ δείσῃς· τοῦτο γὰρ ἡμῖν
δρᾶν ἀντ’ ἄλλης ἀρχῆς ἐστιν, τῶν δ’ ἀρχαίων ἀμελῆσαι.
[ΠΡΑΞ.] μή νυν πρότερον μηδεὶς ὑμῶν ἀντείπῃ μηδ᾽ ὑποκρούσῃ,
πρὶν ἐπίστασθαι τὴν ἐπίνοιαν καὶ τοῦ φράζοντος ἀκοῦσαι.
κοινωνεῖν γὰρ πάντας φήσω χρῆναι πάντων μετέχοντας
κἀκ ταὐτοῦ ζῆν, καὶ μὴ τὸν μὲν πλουτεῖν, τὸν δ’ ἄθλιον εἶναι,
μηδὲ γεωργεῖν τὸν μὲν πολλήν, τῷ δ᾽ εἶναι μηδὲ ταφῆναι,
μηδ’ ἀνδραπόδοις τὸν μὲν χρῆσθαι πολλοῖς, τὸν δ’ οὐδ’ ἀκολούθῳ·
ἀλλ’ ἕνα ποιῶ κοινὸν πᾶσιν βίοτον καὶ τοῦτον ὅμοιον.
[ΒΛΕΠ.] πῶς οὖν ἔσται κοινὸς ἅπασιν;
[ΠΡΑΞ.] κατέδει πέλεθον πρότερός μου.
[ΒΛΕΠ.] καὶ τῶν πελέθων κοινωνοῦμεν;
[ΠΡΑΞ.] μὰ Δί’, ἀλλ᾽ ἔφθης μ’ ὑποκρούσας.
τοῦτο γὰρ ἤμελλον ἐγὼ λέξειν· τὴν γῆν πρώτιστα ποιήσω
κοινὴν πάντων καὶ τἀργύριον καὶ τἄλλ’ ὁπόσ’ ἐστὶν ἑκάστῳ.
εἶτ’ ἀπὸ τούτων κοινῶν ὄντων ἡμεῖς βοσκήσομεν ὑμᾶς
ταμιευόμεναι καὶ φειδόμεναι καὶ τὴν γνώμην προσέχουσαι.
(Aristophanes, Eccl. 581-600)

[CHORUS LEADER. PRAXAGORA. NEIGHBOR. BLEPYRUS]

[CHOR.] No more delay! Here and now you must put your idea in play: what spectators most appreciate is speed.
[PRAX.] Well, I’m sure my proposals are worthwhile, but I’m awfully worried about the spectators: are they ready to quarry a new vein and not stick with what’s hoary and conventional?
[NEIGH.] Don’t worry about quarrying new veins: for us, indifference to precedent takes precedence over any other principle of government.
[PRAX.] Then let no one object or interrupt until you’ve heard the speaker out and understand the plan. Very well: I propose that everyone should own everything in common, and draw an equal living. No more rich man here, poor man there, or a man with a big farm and a man without land enough for his own grave, or a man with may slaves and a man without even an attendant. No, I will establish one and the same standard of life for everyone.
[BLEP.] How will it be the same for everyone?
[PRAX.] If we were eating dung you’d want the first bite!
[BLEP.] We’ll be sharing the dung too?
[PRAX.] God no, I mean you cut me off by interrupting; I was just about to explain that point. My first act will be to communize all the land, money, and other property that’s now individually owned. We women will manage this common fund with thrift and good judgment, and take good care of you.
(tr. Jeffrey Henderson)

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