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From: "The Wynns" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Archaic Rome in Soldier
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 19:48:01 -0600

Andrew responds to Crush:
> 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...

Crush responds:
Okay, good point. Rawlinson says that this build-up increased the size of
the Athenian navy "up to" 200 ships, which was the number of ships Athens
used at the battles of Artemisium and Salamus. So Athens did have a standing
navy of 200 ships and this was the number of ships it employed in the war.
So there is probably no compelling evidence from Herodotus of Athens forcing
merchants to outfit ships for the fleet.

Andrew originally said:
> Also, I have doubts about the picture of Athens presented in the same
> little passage. Did merchants really have high status in classical Athens?
> I have a mental picture of a society where the honorable path to wealth
> was through land, and booty taken in wars, and where on the nitty-gritty
> side of things the silver mines were a far more important part of the
> "GDP" and the war economy, than anything to do with trade &
> merchandise. Maybe I'm wrong, but the Hypereides character doesn't
> feel right.

Then Andrew said:
> 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:
> [Finley says] "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 petty
> shopkeepers, they invariably credit them with public service as

Crush responds:
Okay, I think I understand your point now: That a manufacturer being
involved in distributing and shipping leather rather than a maker of leather
tools or cattleman is anachronistic (but growing olives for export would be
a different matter). But is that really the case for Hypereides?  Now that I
look back, he does not seem to have been involved directly with ships in his
business before he was called on to build and command his three ships. He
only says that "a man does learn a bit about  ships in the leather trade"
(SotM, chap. 7). Hmm. looking back, it seems we really know very little
about Hypereides' business. He doesn't say he's a tanner. He could be a
large cattleman who recently became a war profiteer. He might have slaves
rather than employees. Athenians would need leather for armor and shields
and triremes. There is money to be made there. Athens voted money to go into
ships, but someone has to make those ships, maintain the ships, hire the
rowers, pick the soldiers. Is Hypereides existence really contrary to what
Herodotus or Finley say?

Also, trade would not be as important to municipalities because it would be
much more obvious how agriculture and mining could be taxed rather than
traders and sellers. But that does not mean they were not vital to the
economy and represented an unrecognized but significant chunk of the GNP
of any advance culture that did not deliberately base its economy on tribute
or plunder (such as Sparta or Susa). But even then, when one thinks about
what would be required to field and maintain scores of thousands of
soldiers, cavalrymen, and sailors just for **two days**  it is difficult to
how the Persian war could be conducted without a significant

You know, Hypereides makes me think of Marrow. They are both mildly
prominent merchants whose physical description makes me think of Gene Wolfe.

Regarding Herodotus 2:141, Andrew says:
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.

Crush responds:
I don't think so. For the tale to have the ring of credibility to Herodotus,
it suggests that the artisans, traders, and merchants had a significant
degree of self-organization rather than being merely milling rabble. And
there had to be a lot of them.

Chris said:
> ...I remember a passage in Herodotus that explicitly says that traders
> were looked down on in Greece, more in some cities and less in others.

Crush responds:
This is in Her. 2:166. It says:
"Like the Hermotybians, [the Kalasirians] are forbidden to pursue any trade,
and devote themselves entirely to warlike exercises, the son following the
father's calling. Whether the Greeks borrowed from the Egyptians their
notions about trade, like so many others, I cannot say for certain. I have
remarked that the Thracians, the Scyths, the Persians, the Lydians, and
almost all other barbarians, hold the citizens who practice trades, and
their children, in less repute than the rest, while they esteem as noble
those who keep aloof from handicrafts, and especially honor such as are
given wholly to war. These ideas prevail throughout the whole of Greece,
particularly among the Lacedaemonians. Corinth is the place where craftsmen
are least despised. "

I think Herodotus' characterization represents the hostility always felt
toward the middle class in highly class-conscience societies. They are a
threat to privileged classes who in turn mock them as absurd pretenders, and
the poorer classes view them with envy. But as Herodotus admits, Ionic
Greeks were very deeply employed in the shipping trade (and, yes, piracy

-- Crush


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