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From: "Andrew Bollen" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Archaic Rome in Soldier
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 17:54:57 +1000

Crush writes:

> I'll take on Finley first. I haven't read Finley and I don't know what he
> means by "evidence" or "rare". The impression I get from Herodotus is that
> sea-trade was not rare among Ionic Greeks and Phoenicians (although
> sometimes one gets the idea that it was considered a seemly profession for
> no one else). Greek traders seemed inclined to buy anything -- including
> things for which there was no local value (Herodotus 2:39).
> And what about all the trade routes in the Near and Middle East some
> back into prehistory? Cyrus may have not thought much of the Ionians
> (according to Herodotus 1:153) but he did build the Royal Road from Sardis
> (capitol of Ionic Greece) to Susa (sixth century) which immediately became
> an important trade route.
> However, Herodotus' history is rife with references to Ionic Greek and
> Phoenician merchant ships. Does Finely explain this discrepancy?

I don't think Finley's argument against widespread trade, rather it's
against widespread *economically important* trade of anything except
rarities. In the chapter I referred to, after a discussion of Athens, he
says this:

"To sum up: essentially the ability of ancient cities to pay for their food,
metals, slaves, and other necessities rested on four variables: the amount
of  *local* agricultural production [...]; the presence or absence of
special resources, silver above all [...]; the invisible exports of trade
and tourism; and fourth, the income from [empire, tribute, gifts etc.]   The
contribution of manufactures was negligble ..."

On his model, manufacture is almost entirely for a local market; communities
usually didn't balance their accounts with a manufacture-for-export
approach; and "when Greek and Roman moralists allow [grudgingly] that
foreign traders have some virtue, unlike local pety shopkeepers, they
invariably credit them with public service as importers."

Your example from Herodotus wouldn't contradict this; the head of a
sacrificed beast presumably isn't something which is going to figure large
in any city's balance of payments :)

I would be extremely surprised if the Royal Road was built for any explicit
purpose other than the movement of troops, like every other state-sponsored
road in antiquity. But maybe I'm wrong. You have to remember that moving
goods by road, even fine Roman roads, was a hellishly uneconomic
proposition. The example I've seen cited in different places is the way it
was cheaper to move a load of cargo from one end of the Mediterranean to the
other, than it was to move it twenty miles by bullock cart.

There are lots of people who diagree with Finley, I know, but he's certainly
worth reading.

> It is true that I know of no reference from Herodotus or Thucydides that
> Athens created its navy on the backs of the merchant class, but it would
> a reasonable inference on Wolfe's part. Athens' extensive standing navy
> built only after the Persian War, from tribute of client states. Where
> Athens' "wooden wall" have come from? Where would their competent sailors
> have come from?  Reasonably, since the Ionians were sea-traders -- they
> to defend themselves from (and fight as) pirates and privateers.

Well, specifically, the silver mines funded much of the ship-building, if
not most of it. (Her. 7.144). Themistocles championed using surplus funds
from the new find at Laurium to build 200 ships for a prospective war
against Aegina which "proved to be the salvation of Greece, because it
forced the Athenaians to turn towards the sea". When the conflict with
Persia approached, "they felt obliged to to undertake further
ship-building". Just from that passage, it apears that ship building was a
state thing, funded by the silver which was really what made Athens much of
anything compared to say Thebes, and not some kind of public liturgy on
wealthy citizens. But maybe there's other evidence somewhere.

> The following are some quickly drawn references from Herodotus suggesting
> that traders were not rare world-wide and could be competent warriors....
> Herodotus 2:141
> Tale of an Egyptian king that neglected the "warrior class" and went to
> and conquered drawing his army entirely from the "traders, artisans, and
> market-people".

But surely one of the elements of this little tale is the unlikely image of
marketplace "rabble" forming an army, coupled with the folk-tale thing about
mice chewing through the enemies' bowstrings etc.

> Herodotus 5:9
> "Sigynnae is the name which the Ligurians who dwell above Massilia [modern
> Marseilles] give to traders, while among the Cyprians the word means
> spears."
> --- Crush
> --


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