Draconian

January 16, 2010

Xanthes wiped the sweat from his forehead, leaning against the plow as Dicaeopolis swallowed water from his flagon.

“Do you think he’ll do it?” Xanthes asked.

Dicaeopolis squinted at him. “Best not to get hopes up,” he said finally. “Their land or our land, we’ll still plow and harvest it.”

“But if it’s ours, we can sell some of our crop, maybe buy another ox—”

“If it happens, we plan. Dreaming about Solon’s sweet words will not put bread on our table.”

Dicaeopolis goaded the ox forward and Xanthes guided the plow, the July sun lashing their backs like Helios’ whip on the steeds pulling his chariot. Stalks of wheat fell under the blade and were trampled beneath them, to be collected by the children trailing behind.

“It’s unfair,” Xanthes said later, using a piece of bread to shovel mashed beans into his mouth. “We do the work, they get the pleasure, by the luck of their birth.”

“Let no man count himself lucky until he is dead,” Dicaeopolis said quietly. “Eat. Sleep. We have work to do in the morning.”

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