Book 2: Introduction Notes from Utopia

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Utopia Book 2: Introduction

Utopia is a crescent shaped island about two hundred miles by five hundred miles. The coast around it is very calm, except for the entrance into the bay, which is very dangerous and has many rocks. If a ship were to enter this bay without a native who knew the way well, it would face great danger of shipwreck--thus the island is protected by nature from this side. On the other side of the island there are many harbors, and the coast is fortified by nature, such that "a small number of men can hinder the descent of a great army." Book 2, pg. 28

Utopia was not always an island. It used to be part of the continent, but when Utopus conquered it and developed it so that it was superior to all around it, he ordered the people to dig a deep channel, fifteen miles long. Although his neighbors initially laughed when he undertook this project, they admired the perfect, finished result.

There are fifty-four cities in Utopia. They are all made to be as identical as possible, with identical customs, laws and manners. They are all within a day's walking distance from each other. Amaurot is the main city, and three wise senators are annually sent there from every city to discuss matters of concern. Each city is a minimum of twenty miles, and people in towns regard themselves as tenants, rather than landlords. Farmhouses have been built all over the country, where inhabitants from cities are sent for two years. Each 'family' has a minimum of forty men and women, and two slaves. For every thirty 'families' there is a magistrate. Every year, twenty families are interchanged between town and country, after spending two years in one place. In this manner, the new 'families' can learn the work from the families that moved one year prior to them and few errors are made.

The country work consists of harvesting and plowing, raising cattle, chickens, horses, and oxen. Oxen are used mainly for work. When harvesting time comes, the magistrates in the country send for people from the town to help, and people are there within a day. When the people living in the country want something from the town, they go and fetch it, without exchanging anything for it. Furthermore, whatever is produced that no use can be made of is given to the neighbors.

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