Monday, August 01, 2011


When in Rome....?


by Eduardo Galeano
translated from Spanish by Mark Fried

Manual labor was for slaves.
Though not enslaved, day laborers and artisans practiced "vile occupations." Cicero, who practiced the noble occupation of usury, defined the labor hierarchy:
"The least honorable are all that serve gluttony, like sausage-makers, chicken and fishmongers, cooks...."
The most respectable Romans were warlords, who rarely went into battle, and landowners, who rarely set foot on their land.
To be poor was an unpardonable crime. To dissemble their disgrace, the formerly wealthy went into debt and, if lucky, pursued successful careers in politics, which they undertook in the service of their creditors.
The sale of sexual favors was a reliable source of wealth. So was the sale of political or bureaucratic favors. These activities shared a single name. Pimps and lobbyists were both called proxenetas.

from MIRRORS: Stories of Almost Everyone, published by Nation Books, 2009

Eduardo Galeano is a Uruguayan essayist, journalist and historian. His works transcend orthodox genres, and combine documentary, fiction, journalism, political analysis, and history. The author himself has denied that he is a historian: "I'm a writer obsessed with remembering, with remembering the past of America above all and above all that of Latin America, intimate land condemned to amnesia."

Born in Montevideo (1940) into a middle-class Catholic family of Welsh, German, Spanish and Italian ancestry, he was educated in Uruguay until the age of 16. "I never learned in school," he once said. "I didn't like it."

In adolescence Galeano worked in odd jobs – he was a factory worker, a bill collector, a sign painter, a messenger, a typist, and a bank teller. His first article was published in 1954.

After living in exile in Argentina and Spain, he returned to Uruguay in 1985.

(information from

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