Chapters 39 through 49 of the Domostroi are concerned primarily with supplying one’s household in the most cost-effective way possible. The section opens with the declaration that if a man does not follow the guidelines put forth then he will be “destroyed now and forever,” by God (Ch. 39).The head of a household is then advised, multiple times, to either purchase or have a servant purchase enough supplies to last the entire year. This should be done when peasants have wares at the market place, and one should avoid buying through middlemen as it increases the price (Ch. 40). Having a surplus is never a problem because extra goods can be sold and if they were purchased intelligently, they should not have been an extra cost burden on the household. With a surplus of variable foods a household can also provide excellent hospitality so as to remain in high esteem among his peers.
Along with purchasing in bulk at smart times, the author strongly suggests being as self-sufficient as possible. A household is encouraged to have various animals and for a wife to be able to make dishes from every part of a slaughtered animal (Ch. 42). The author also outlines how to feed these animals: largely with leftover scraps from one’s own kitchen and grazing, meaning that no extra food needs to be purchased for livestock. A household should also take advantage of the many benefits of having a kitchen garden as it can be another source of food for the family and the animals. The author insists that nothing should be wasted, even the greens from root vegetables should be eaten. Finally, the serving dishes used in the household should always be impeccably clean and cooks and servers must remain orderly. This section is focused on the benefits of thrift, being hospitable, and keeping a house in accordance with God’s will.
To what proportion of the population do the guidelines in this section pertain?
Why do the writers of the Domostroi place so much emphasis on providing hospitality?
Chap. 39-49, In The Domostroi. Translated by Carolyn Johnston Pouncy, edited by Carolyn
Johnston Pouncy, 145. New York: Cornell University, 1994