Was a Invention of Finance Responsible for Democracy?

Richard Seaford, an consultant in Greek novel and a author of a judicious book Money and a Early Greek Mind, advances a tender that income played an vicious purpose in a mental horizon of ancient Athenian society. The monetization of Athens was not usually vicious to a presentation of democracy, though was also a cause in a growth of Greek philosophy. In Seaford’s view, monetization led to epitome thought. Money could be exchanged for an infinitude of opposite element things, though a coins themselves did not prove simple tellurian needs.

Seaford goes so distant as to advise that a income economy shabby Platonic and Aristotelian notions of a individual. When mercantile interactions were tangible by quantitative measures of intensity value, people became some-more autonomous, reduction reliant on normal institutions of amicable reciprocity, and some-more reliant on an inducement structure eventually totalled by profit.

Socrates famous this and did not approve. He was quite vicious of Pericles—the famous fifth-century Athenian politician who radically finished a routine of democratizing Athens. Pericles increasing remuneration to jurors, serve fluctuating their faith on a open lot and orienting their incentives toward money. In Socrates’s view, this monetization amounted to temptation of a soul. Salaried use depraved incentives. In his difference (or during slightest in Plato’s) “Pericles has done a Athenians idle, cowardly, talkative, and avaricious, by starting a complement of open fees.” The approved complement did not foster personal virtue—at slightest as Socrates tangible it.

A traveller visiting a Acropolis currently looks adult to a Parthenon, sees a pretentious pediment, and expected thinks of it as a temple. But ancient Athenians also saw a Parthenon as their treasury—their good financial arms opposite invasion. The front doorway of a Parthenon led to a room with a hulk cult statue of Athena—itself gilded in bullion that could be peeled off and minted if times got desperate. The behind doorway of a Parthenon led to a treasury. Athena expel a safeguarding eye over her eponymous city below, though her insurance was corroborated adult with financial might. Coinage was not usually a shining mercantile invention—it was also a good domestic one.


This essay was blending from William Goetzmann’s book, Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible.

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