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Utopia & Utopian Literature

Sir Thomas More

Summary and Analysis Book II: The Discourse on Utopia: Community Life


In the cities, every street houses 30 families, and these are presided over by a Syphogrant. In the middle of each street is a great hall for meeting and community dining. Outside of each city four large hospitals are provided, well equipped and well staffed. The Utopians take better care of their sick than any other people in the world.

The 30 families of a Syphogranty eat together in their great hall. Their meals are skillfully prepared and plentiful. The women take turns in preparing and cooking the meals, but the most menial kitchen tasks are performed by slaves. In the dining hall the men sit on one side of the table, the side toward the wall; the women on the opposite side. Infants eat apart with their nurses. Children from five up to marriageable age serve their elders. Those seated are so arranged that young and older persons are mixed. Both dinner and supper are begun with a lecture on some subject treating of morality, but these are kept short. At supper there is always music.

In the country each family eats in its own house because of the inconvenient distances between houses.


The idea of community dining is not a necessary adjunct to community property, but it frequently occurs that utopian theorists wish to encompass as many aspects of life as possible under the banner of "community." More had precedents for introducing this kind of dining from both Plato and Lycurgus. The successors of More, in many instances, also adopted the plan, both those creators of imaginary utopias and the founders of actual communities based on utopian doctrines.