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MonkeyNotes-Utopia by Sir Thomas More
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Book 2

In this book, the conversation between the three men continues, only this time, Hythloday dominates the conversation by giving a clear and detailed picture of all aspects that make up Utopian life. He begins with providing geographical details of the country, then proceeds to how life is organized politically, socially, economically, and spiritually.

He provides specifics of the island, its length and shape in order to give the reader a real sense of place. However, it is not mentioned exactly where this island is situated on the map.

Utopia has fifty-four large cities and a common language, institutions, and laws. Each city is situated at an equal distance from the rest. The land around it makes each city self-sufficient. Husbandry is the main occupation. Each farm has twenty to thirty persons. Thirty units form a unit with a bailiff. People are rotated from country to city every two years. Women work hard and grow all the necessary things.

There are a prescribed number of people in every city. If there is an excess, they are shifted to a new city. The eldest in the family is the head. The goods of Utopia are kept in a common market place and the head takes whatever is needed for his family. There is no buying or selling and nobody hoards anything. The meat market is segregated and kept next to the goods market.

The capital, Amaurot, is the city that all others are modeled on and is described in detail. All cities are clean with wide-spaced avenues. The houses are owned by the state and not by the people.

Leaders or government officials are called the Syphogrant and later the Philarch. The head of the entire nation is called the Prince.

Husbandry is the main occupation followed by weaving, masonry, ironwork and carpentry. Everyone chooses his own profession. Men and women work and there are no idlers. This universal employment reduces the hours of labor.

Utopians believe in pleasure but they abhor cruel games like hunting and harmful ones like gambling. They set great store in pleasure -- both of the body and the mind. Pleasure to them is living according to nature and they eschew anything that is unnatural. They set great store by education and are very quick witted.


Education is aimed at useful learning. The only people exempt from physical work are those with a great aptitude for learning. These are very few in number and carefully chosen by the Syphogrants and the council. It is from this group that ambassadors, magistrates and even the king himself are chosen.

The Utopians are simple in their habits and therefore do not need much labor to acquire food, clothing and shelter. The Utopians believe in communal living. Food is served in a common hall where stewards oversee the cooking. The best food is given to the sick. Babies are cared for in nurseries by special nurses. This gives the mothers a chance to work. An elaborate ritual is followed for dining.

Travel in Utopia needs a license and this is not given for more than a day. If a man stays away from home for more than a day, he has to work in the new place in the chosen field. There is no shirking of labor.

After keeping an adequate supply of all necessary materials for three years, the Utopia donate some of the surplus to the poor of other countries. The rest they trade for gold and silver. They store the gold and silver to be used in times of war since they have no use for it.

There are some slaves in Utopia who are seen as citizens of other countries. They treat the sick with great care and affection. However, if a person suffers from a terminal illness, euthanasia is allowed after a number of constraints.

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