Culture (n.) - Agriculture Cultivating Culture
The habits, aesthetics, behaviors, and philosophy a society cultivates in its people.
History & Etymology
One of the legends and folk heroes of ancient Rome was a man named Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, and he represented all of the most important virtues in Roman culture. He was a farmer citizen soldier. Story of Cincinnatus goes like this...
After spending many years as a public servant he retired at the end of his set term, and went back to his farm to settle into the most respected of all occupations a Roman could have, Farming. At that time any job that provided you with a wage was considered parasitical on the farmers, and was perceived as a form of prostitution. After many years of farming when Cincinnatus was getting older, a military emergency came upon Rome and the Consuls decided that the situation was dire enough it called for what Rome called a dictator. These dictators had complete authority over the Roman government, and the only limit on their power was a 6 month term limit. Cincinnatus accepted the position as Dictator, and swiftly resolved the military crisis. After his 6 month term in the office of Dictator he once again retired and willing gave up his post to return to his farm to do the real work of a good roman citizen, farming.
Everything in Rome revolved around Farming. Everything from War to Worship. Wars were fought when crops weren’t being planted or harvested, and one thing that was particularly intertwined with farming was the state religion. The romans had one word they used to refer to their worship and their farming practices. That word was colere, which meant to till the land, but it’s one of it’s past participles was Cultus, from which we get the word Cult which originally meant worship, but later was applied to groups showing extreme devotion to a person or idea. Going back to the word we’re investigating today Culture comes from a different form of the word cultura which became culture in french before it was then introduced into English.
The first time the word was used metaphorically to refer to what we now today call culture was by Cicero in 45BC as an agricultural metaphor for the development of a philosophical soul in a person. This metaphor was taken completely into the modern sense of the word by the German philosopher Samuel von Pufendorf in the 1600s. Much of Puffendorf's political and culture thought laid the groundwork for the American revolution.
Speaking of the American revolution, after George Washington gave up the presidency after his second term in the office, he became recognised as the American Cincinnatus. Just like Cincinnatus giving up his office of dictator, Washington also gave up his role as president.