What are some Greek staple foods

Commerce and Economy in Ancient Greece


1 Introduction

2. State of research

3. Commerce in the Greek state utopia

4. Trade in Ancient Greece of the Classical Period
4. 1 The dealer
4. 2 The social perspective of retail
4. 3 The attitude of the state towards trade and dealers

5. Trade Policy of Ancient Greece
5. 1 On trade policy in general
5. 2 Trade policy in the service of supply
5. 3 Trade policy in the service of the fiscal interests of the state
5. 3. 1 The economic tyranny
5. 4 Customs policy of the Greek polis
5. 5 State Trade Policy

6. Import policy of the Greek polis using the example of the grain trade
6. 1 General presentation
6. 2 Grain Imports - Import Levels and Supply Efficiencies
6. 3 Grain imports - regulation of the supply mechanism by the state
6. 4 State control of the grain trade in Athens

7. Conclusion

8. Literature appendix

1 Introduction

The present work deals with the topic "Trade and Economy in Ancient Greece of the Classical Epoch". The aim of this thesis is to give a representation of the trade structure of ancient Greece and to investigate the extent to which the state intervened in the economic system in a regulating manner. The work is divided into two sections. The first section deals with trade in general terms, the trading system of ancient Greece (as far as one can speak of a system), differentiated forms of retail trade, and the import and export business. The second section of the thesis deals with the state regulation of trade in ancient Greece. Particular attention is paid to the import of grain, an elementary Greek staple food of the classical era, which, among other things, was of immense importance for the basic food supply of the Athens state. This example is intended to illustrate the state control mechanisms in trading business.

The explanations on trade policy relate essentially to the city of Athens, which is due to the fact that, due to the importance of Athens in the classical epoch of ancient Greece, the sources have been thoroughly researched, which enables a well-founded assessment. The problem of classifying and evaluating the source situation should not be dealt with at this point, as this would exceed the scope of the thesis. This problem is discussed in connection with the subject of the relevant literature (Hasebroek, Andreades, Hopper).

2. State of research

The current research situation can essentially be differentiated in two directions. The "modern" approach tends to project modernist economic approaches onto the ancient economy and ascribe a modernist economic attitude to it. The approach sees a mirror image in the economic appearance of ancient Greece[1] of the modern economy. This applies in particular to the economic development of the fourth and fifth centuries BC, in which, based on this approach, an economy with a dominant position of industry was interpreted. The second approach is contrary to the former, it postulates a primitiveness of the ancient economy, that of the status of a closed house economy[2] essentially not outgrew. These two theories existed side by side on an equal footing until the 1940s, when the modernist theory began to lose its status through scientific analysis, so that in more recent times the theory of the "economic primitiveness" of the ancient world prevailed.

3. Commerce in the Greek state utopia

The geographical conditions are one reason why the ideal state of antiquity was an agricultural state in which trade and industry only played a subordinate role, in that the full bourgeoisie as bearers of trade and industry did not appear (only in existential exceptions, see Chapter 3) kicked. For Greek society, trade and commerce were a means of securing livelihood in the elementary sense. The most common example is the Athenian grain import to secure the grain donations to the poor and needy population of Athens. The ideal full citizen should be detached from all pursuit of profit and kept from the fiscal trade from the outset. This should be done through a so-called "farmer retirement", detached from all fiscal elements of a commercial system. The separation between "pensionerism" and "peasantry" was carried out in the Platonic "second best state", namely in the form that the commercial class of the population, including slaves and metics, was excluded from the actual association of states, as was the urban - commercial class. Only the rural existence is allowed to live directly with the citizens, since the bourgeois class needs them for food supply. In order to achieve sales of goods, so-called "foreign markets" are set up, whereby consumption is limited and every citizen should only acquire what is actually needed. The monetary currency used is only used for exchange, it has no real meaning and is worthless outside of these foreign markets. This utopia applies to the full citizen, while the "ordinary" citizen is largely left to himself. This utopian idea consists only in the procurement of the necessary goods that the pension-dependent full citizens need. This trade policy is also in foreign policy under the sign of the food supply, according to the Aristotelian demand, "the state should only trade for itself, not for the interests of others" and "not give itself to a market for all peoples just for the sake of profit"[3]. There are neither import nor export duties, purchase and sales taxes, as well as meticulous taxes. The Aristotelian ideal state only comes into contact with its surroundings to provide for the essentials of life: "The proximity of the sea is in truth a salty and bitter neighborhood, as it fills the city with emporie and chrematismos through the mediation of the chapel"[4].

According to Aristotle, the ideal city is two miles from the coast (for logistical and defense reasons). As far as possible, they bring their food from their own country in order to remain as economically self-sufficient as possible. The import of all expendable articles is prohibited, the same applies to the export of essential goods. However, the export and import of military equipment is permitted.[5] Only the state treasury is in possession of a currency that is also valid outside the polis, since the state needs it to conduct war and trade with foreign cities.

4. Commerce in Ancient Greece of the Classical Period

4.1 The dealer

In an epoch of the professional economy, Greek usage differentiates between three types of mediator between production and consumption: the Kapelos, Naukleros and Emporos. Two subgroups, the resale chapel and the metaboleus, are added to these three basic types of dealers.

The Kapelos is the trader who does not leave his place of residence in order to pursue his trading activity, called in the modern term "local trader" who offers his goods for sale on the domestic consumer market. If the goods offered come directly from the producer, then the dealer is a "Kapelos" in the narrowest sense. If the dealer purchases his goods through an intermediary, he is referred to as a "Resale Kapelos". In this terminology context, the producer is referred to as a "self-seller" and contrasted with the kapelos. After Plato[6], who represents a division of labor in the economic organization, the Kapelos renders the producer a service through the entire acceptance of his product, because he relieves him of the loss of time of a piece sale. In elementary form, however, he cannot be described as a small trader or shopkeeper, this is what the term "retailer" stands for, in Greek "Metaboleus", who sells his goods "by cup"[7]. These facts do not rule out the sale of small or very small items by the Kapelos, and their trading activities were in some cases very limited. The definition of the term is not strictly limited, the real purpose of this differentiation is that between local and long-distance traders[8]. The fact that the Kapelos could also act as a wholesaler results from his resale activity.

Compared to the locally bound Kapelos, the Greeks differentiate between the "Naukleros" and the "Emporos". Both acted in inter-local and international traffic at sea. Most of the inter-local traffic of the Greeks took place by sea, only a small part was handled by land. Naukleros is the name given to the merchant's booth, who is also the ship owner and carries out his trading activities on the ship, the "Emporos" (originally the "simple passenger") is the trader at sea who does not have his own transport medium "ship". In the same linguistic meaning for "Emporos", the Greek uses the term "Epibates", which originally also meant "mere passenger". The shipless Emporos used the naucleos to carry out his trades, this activity of traders on foreign ships is called "phortegy". More characteristic of Greek trade is the trader without his own transport medium. Like the kapelos, naukleos and emporos are not producers; they occupy a position between the producer and the consumer, with the difference to the kapelos that naukleos and emporos mediate goods between different places (interlocal). Naukleos and Emporos, like the Kapelos, are not wholesalers, even if they sell their goods to resellers, which is due to the nature of long-distance trade, which tends towards wholesaling. The fact that all types of traders try to sell their goods to the consumer on the largest possible scale is easy to see from an economic point of view. B. were not aware of any protectionist measures such as protective tariffs for the medieval city, which imposed a quantity import restriction or a general restriction on the retail trade on traders coming from abroad. Often the goods were sold directly from the ship. The opportunity to sell usually arose spontaneously during a trip, as there was still no messaging system for the transmission of trade information. The trading activity often barely got beyond the status of the peddler trade. Often the merchants were forced to reload their ship on site, regardless of the type of goods, if they were able to sell their entire stock of goods, since a training voyage would have meant too great a financial loss. In winter, when shipping stopped due to climatic conditions, the Naukleos and Emporos operated as small traders with externally imported goods. That there was a type of trader whose main occupation was long-distance trade is in no way to be doubted. As for local trade, there is also a trade stand that professionally practices the distribution of goods for inter-local trade. In the dealership types dealt with, there is a developed stand of dealers who are at the same time the carrier of local, inter-local, commercial and food trade. The grain trade, an immensely important commodity for the ancient city-states, was in the hands of this profession.

4. 2 Social acceptance of trade

The chapter deals with the question of the reputation of the traders of the ancient Greek epoch in society. Trade and industry in the Greek world rested to a large extent on individual, politically degraded, non-bourgeois foreigners residing in the cities and states, the metoics that spread primarily in the trade sector. At this point the conflict arises with the assertion of an extensive commercial and industrial activity of the Greek bourgeoisie, and an active trade based on it. A strong foreign infiltration in contrast to a trading and commercial middle class? Two seemingly insurmountable opposites, especially from the perspective of the strict exclusivity of the Greek bourgeoisie and the Greek state towards foreigners in general. In connection with this question, one fact is particularly striking: The Metoike is indeed severely restricted in its legal and political position in the Greek state compared to the full citizen. B. no civil and criminal rights. Metoike, on the other hand, was never restricted in its commercial activity. This fact is based on the perspective that the state granted unrestricted commercial activity for the taxes paid by the metics. The foreigner, like the full citizen of Greece, can sell his retail goods, at least in Athens there was no trade protectorate.[9]

The state needs metics because of the variety of industries and the sea loan business[10]. At least that is how the Athens state tries to bind foreign traders and businesses to itself. Already Solon pursued a foreign policy with the aim of handicraft and industrial diversification and granted foreigners citizenship on the condition that they settle in Athens with the operation of a trade or handicraft. A reference to such practices is provided by Xeonophon's book "About State Income" from the 4th century, especially the first two chapters, in which Xenophon proposes two important reform proposals regarding the position and trading practices of metics: Xenophon calls for an elevated position for metics with the aim of increasing and increasing the Athenian overseas trade. On point one, Xenophon demands that metics should be given greater honor and war service easier, and that they should be granted the right to acquire property. The elevated position of the metics is intended to provide an incentive for strangers to settle down in Athens as a sitter. The second point of the xenophonic demands is also aimed at this measure. The ultimate goal is stated: the more people settle down and arrive, the more would be imported and exported, bought and sold, and as a result the state would collect rent, taxes and customs duties. The fiscal aspect in particular is clearly emphasized in the xenophonic statements. A threat to the local economy from foreign competition is not taken into account and does not appear at a single word at Xenophon.

Athenian foreign policy in all classical epochs is determined by attracting foreigners, traders and traders. The fact that the foreigner is needed shows that the Athenian state economy was not in a position to adequately fill all branches of industry with full native citizens. The importance of metics for the Athenian state economy can also be seen in the recruitment of slaves and metics in state building, where the number of full citizens was insufficient to provide the required number of workers. The metoics is common to all the cities of Greece involved in trade; metoics has been found in commercial activity in seventy Greek cities, so it was a non-specific characteristic of Athens. Metoics is inseparable from the essence of the polis[11], it needs metics about tissue and trade[12].

What was the position of the Greek full citizen in the context of local and interlocal trade in ancient Greece? To a certain extent, this question was already expressed when it was mentioned that not enough full citizens could be recruited for building projects, which indicates a low reputation for this type of activity. Where the citizen (when we speak of citizen in the following, the Greek full citizen) represents the carrier of a professional trade, he does so as a proletarian existence. The anthenic full citizen only condescended to this activity out of adverse circumstances or financial need.

A commercial activity of the Greek full citizen was not a socially respected and accepted source of income. There was consequently no full bourgeoisie as a carrier of trade and industry to any significant degree in the Greek polis. The full citizen of the Greek polis cannot be seen as a representative of "work"; he was essentially unproductive in terms of trade. At this point, the income problem and old-age security are up for grabs, which were secured by a basic pension for full citizens due to property ownership. This type of old-age security remained the monopoly of the full citizen, in contrast to the non-full citizen, who was excluded from all property. This also explains the lack of commercial interest in antiquity. The social structure of ancient Greece prevented the emergence of guilds as they are known from medieval times. The Athenian "citizen" could not belong together with a non-full citizen to an association which, like a guild, claimed political rights. The "homo oeconomicus" is isolated outside the full bourgeoisie and politically degraded.

Politics and trade were closely related insofar as the strengthened bourgeoisie demanded political equality with the aristocratic class, which was tantamount to an expansion of their political sphere of influence. The flourishing of trade and industry is seen as a democratizing factor in the sense of the rise of a trading and commercial middle class in relation to the nobility, which took place in Athens when the second and third classes entered the political equality of the nobility.

4. 3 The attitude of the state towards handicrafts and traders

In the classical period, the state's trading behavior changed with regard to customs and the tax and fee system. The unfavorable trade balance showed more and more clearly the need to protect the domestic economy from foreign products, as well as to pursue a policy of increasing income in order to import the basic foodstuffs essential for a polis, especially grain. Accordingly, the Athenian trade policy of the classical period was set to increase state income by taxing imported and exported goods. Legal relief was created for the settlement of trade disputes and an improvement in the legal situation of Athenian traders abroad. The laws served to simplify the handling of trade differences between foreign traders, full citizens and metics. An expedited procedure was used in trade disputes with foreign citizens, the aim was not to lose a potential trade supplier by delaying the procedure. This expedited procedure has also been used for commercial and general disputes.

Even if the Athenian citizen did not take an active part in trade, he promoted trade and its development as a capital investor. Lending out loans was not as safe an investment as owning land, but it did bring high returns through high interest rates on repayment (such investments were known as "ousiá aphanés"). The advantage was that this wealth was not subject to taxation, as was the visible wealth (ousiá phanerá). The state's interest lay in promoting such trading activities, since the Athenian grain trade profited from it. The loan lenders could count on the protection of the Athenian state, especially when they came to fraudulent businessmen. The above-mentioned laws were also enacted for this purpose.

Legislation on metics had two variants. Either separate laws on metics were passed and a separate committee of judges was set up for the metics, or they were granted certain state and commercial rights from the outset, which were secured during their stay in the city. The first method was generally used in metics that were more sedentary than the "xenoi" who were only temporarily present and for whom the second model was more frequently used. However, there were also connections between the two legal systems, a hybrid form between the two versions of the law.

5. Trade Policy of Ancient Greece

5. 1 On trade policy in general

In the following remarks, it should be noted that Greece was divided into city-states at the time of the classical epoch, so that one cannot generalize from Athens' commercial practices to the rest of the polis, but that commonalities can be found, but also locally differentiated forms of trade policy have trained. This can be ascribed to a large number of influences (geographical, economic, local conditions). This must be taken into account in the following remarks, as well as the fact that the reference period of the subject matter dealt with concentrates on the classical epoch, that in the Archaic and Hellinistic periods the commercial policy of the ancient Greek city-states took on a more modified form.

5. 2 Trade policy in the service of supply

5. 2. 1 The Greek state and the idea of ​​self-sufficiency

The Greek state is extremely reserved towards its environment, the Greek polis believes that political autonomy and economic autarky can be achieved through isolation from the outside world (the grain trade was an exception). The idea of ​​self-sufficiency was largely supported by the philosophical approaches of Plato and Aristotle. Its characteristic is an essential expression of a pronounced individualism up to the beginning of the Alexandrian period, also due to the formation of city-states. The image of the Greek polis world is characterized by a high degree of distrust of strangers. The Greeks of the classical epoch regarded the struggle between states as normal and by no means a novelty. It was not until the 4th century that the Greek word "eirene" had the meaning of "peace treaty", until then, but also later, it was identical with "state of contract" in terms of linguistic history. Hasebroek speaks of "fundamental importance" when assessing the Greek economy, that a solidarity principle or idea of ​​solidarity was completely lacking and that, as a result, an economic isolation idea has always remained present in the overall life of the nations.

5. 2. 2 Trade and Foreign Policy

A trade policy of the Greek polis according to today's understanding and with the goals formulated by Hasebroek[13] The economic character and export policy, together with the linking of trade and production interests as state interests, presuppose the development of interlocal trade on the part of the state. The state must appear as an economically homogeneous unit; the economic activity of a retailer must not be an object, but the state itself must stand as an object of the economic process.

This thought does not exist in the Greek polis. There are multiple reasons for that. The first reason is the differentiation between full bourgeoisie and non-full bourgeoisie, as well as the metics as a population group without rights. The full Greek citizen must not be seen as a carrier of trade and industry (see Chapter 4), which is essentially based on ideological causes. The full citizen, equipped with all state rights, earned his living by being retired. The carriers of the craft were the non-full citizens, the carriers of trade and industry the metics. This profound discrepancy contradicts the concept of homogeneity in state trade policy. It should be noted that the meticism in Athens was only viewed as a foreign population, that is, it was not even supported by the population residing in the state. This important factor in the theory of homogeneity, together with the political situation, means that state trade interests only arise when there is a lack of basic food supplies (see Chapter 5. 2. 2). If one looks at the population stratification of the people involved in trade and economy and visualizes their political status, one realizes that this stratum of the population did not have any significant political decision-making power, and consequently little attention was paid to their interests in relation to trade. "But just as all commercial interests of full citizenship were absent in the internal political life of the polis, [...] so also in foreign policy. Nowhere is the politics of an ancient city dominated by producer interests. Craftsmen and entrepreneurs have absolutely no decisive power in the ancient polis "[14]. Greek trade lacks national interlinking. In the Greek polis, trade and handicrafts are carried out by a predominantly alien (metoics), politically degraded, mostly proletarian mass outside the state.

Another thought that addresses this issue is that of protectionism. A fundamental means of trade protectionism, the protective tariff, is alien to all of pre-Hellenistic antiquity. This is another sign that the Greek state of the classical era did not participate in an active trade policy. The Greek state of the pre-Hellenistic period is only aware of the means of financial tariffs, but this was only used to increase state property, but not for trade protectionist measures. The protectionist component only came to the fore from the Hellenistic period. Likewise, there is no evidence of a measure by the Greek state to represent the needs of merchants belonging to the state outside the polis abroad. Associations such as the medieval Hanseatic League or the guilds are alien to the Greek world; Greek merchants' associations are purely religious in character. So the polis lacks the basis for any "local economic egoism"[15]that one z. B. found in the city of the Middle Ages, and who carries the idea of ​​protecting trade and industry against foreign competition, defending them and creating opportunities for expansion. Two factors are primarily decisive for the trading behavior of the pre-Hellenistic polis:

1.) Exploitation of trade for fiscal purposes.
2.) Use of the trade for the elementary nutrition problem of a polis.

Ties to foreign countries were only made for the purpose of supplying the most important basic foodstuffs; trade in the classical period alone was not able to close supply gaps (grain). The fact that no state trade policy is pursued requires a sphere of "chance and the unpredictable"[16]. The polis tried to master this development by concluding "import contracts". These import contracts have several advantages for the ancient polis. They bring about the consent of the foreign state to export the necessary article from its territory, and they create a simplified transport process (fewer customs duties, faster transport, preferential landing permits). The result is greater retail productivity and more efficient coverage of supply gaps

5. 3 Trade Policy in the Service of Fiscal Interests

5. 3. 1 The economic tyranny

The behavior of the pre-Hellenistic state is primarily shaped by concerns about existential products of supply and shipbuilding (Athens in particular, as a sea power, was decisively affected by this). In addition to a trade policy in the sense of food supply, there is a purely fiscal trade policy. Attempts were made to make trade, insofar as it took place within the state territory or affected this, into a state enrichment, which often led to a ruthless intervention by the Greek polis in trade. The polis was only concerned with its own advantage: "The state has no other consideration for trade than that for its food and the state treasury. It is unaware of the consideration for national production and a national merchant class."[17]. These interventions are one reason that trade stagnated on a level, based on the insecurity, unpredictability and lawlessness for which the Greek polis stood up with its "trade policy". As an example, a passage from Pseudo-Aristotelian Economy II is cited: In Selymbria the state determines the radical increase of all prices for oil, wine and grain by 50% in order to transfer this 50% to the state treasury.[18] The state did not stand behind the trading level of its own "nation"; it acted economically for self-interest. J. Burckhardt coined the term "economic tyranny" for this type of trade policy. The reason for these rigorous interventions is easy to explain. The Greek polis did not pursue an active trade policy in the sense of trade promotion or trade protectionism. Therefore there were no reserves, no financial budget. In the event of failure or shortage, state policy had to cover the financial holes. Due to the inconsistency of the state's economic policy, this led to bottlenecks, and the state had to orient itself towards secure sources of money. The collection of examples in Ps. - Aristotelian Economics shows which means the state used to "generate" financial profit: property, slaves, pirate rights, orphan property, debt claims, gold jewelry, oil supplies, precious metals and money. A struggle arose between the state bourgeoisie and the state, which created a bourgeoisie that was not concerned with increasing property, but exclusively with keeping property, and therefore tried to evade taxes and levies wherever possible.

5. 4 monopolies of the Greek polis

The second book of Ps. Aristotelian Economics is peppered with a collection of extraordinary financial operations. Within the scope of this work, special attention should be paid to the monopolies, a state-political measure of trade protectionism that was already widely used in pre-Hellenistic times. Aristotle speaks of the use of monopolies in general: "When states lack money, some also obtain a source of income by making the sale of goods a monopoly"[19]. These monopolies were essentially only used temporarily and only as sales monopolies, production monopolies or "permanent monopolies" were not known[20].

A monopoly often used was that of the state monopoly on sales. For example, Selymbria buys grain from private traders at a legally standardized price in addition to its annual own needs, and when the price of the grain increases, sells it to foreign traders at a higher sales price. Such a usurious purchase, in which the state created the opportunity to buy cheaply and sell at high prices through its legislation, was proposed to the Athenians by Pythocles[21]. The profit must have been so great that the state could pay both the wages of the army and the price of the grain that was credited. The pre-Hellenistic state "staged"[22] Its own trading companies, however, these trading companies lacked any continuity and in today's sense can be described as occasional speculation, which the state resorted to in dire straits in the event of an impending state bankruptcy.

There are two well-known examples of banking monopoly for the fourth century, the banking monopoly of Byzantium and that of Olbia. "The Byzantines lease the exchange of coins from one bank. No one was allowed to change money or be exchanged for another. Otherwise, confiscation took place."[23]. The monopoly extended to the mere exchange of money. The point was that the state made the currency exchange trade, which had been free until then, into a monopoly and privately leased this monopoly. The monopoly of bills of exchange became more important for the state because it may legally stipulate that all sales and purchases on its territory must be carried out exclusively in domestic coins. For the pre-Hellenistic state, the exclusive validity of a currency meant keeping the currency artificially above the actual nominal metal value. As an example of a commercial policy advantage of this kind, Athens is also to be used (see Aristophanes, Frogs v. 720 ff.), Which tried to make a profit from the currency exchange business through poorly minted coins or value-reducing metal components. When a ruling state imposed a coin system, this was to be understood as a trade policy maxim, based on the principle: "A uniform sovereign territory should also accommodate a uniform coin system".


[1] Hasebroek, J .: State and Commerce in Ancient Greece. P. VII.

[2] ibid.

[3] Aristo. Pole. 1327 a.

[4] Aristo. Pole. 847 b.

[5] Aristo. Pole. 847, b, c.

[6] Plato, state 371c, d.

[7] Hasebroek, J .: State and Commerce of the Ancient Greeks. P. 2.

[8] edenda.

[9] Hasebroek, J .: State and Commerce of the Ancient Greeks. P. 23.

[10] Ps. - Xen. State d. Ath. I, 12.

[11] Hasebroek, J .: State and Commerce in Ancient Greece. P. 27.

[12] Ps. Xen., State d. Ath. I, 12.

[13] Hasebroek, J .: State and Commerce in Ancient Greece, p. 104.

[14] Hasebroek, J .: State and Commerce in Ancient Greece. P. 105. See also Max Weber: Wirtschaft und

Society. S. 586, 589. Compare with Sieveking, Handels - und Wirtschaftsgeschichte (Handw. D.

Kaufmanns [1925]), special dr. P. 3.

[15] Hasebroek, J .: State and Commerce in Ancient Greece. P. 107.

[16] Hasebroek, J .: State and Commerce in Ancient Greece. P. 134.

[17] Hasebroek, J .: State and Commerce in Ancient Greece. P. 164.

[18] Ps. - Arist. Oekon. II, 7.

[19] Ps. - Arist. Pole. 1259 a, 20.

[20] Glotz, Gustave: Ancient Greece at Work. P. 300.

[21] Ps. - Arist. Oec. II, 36.

[22] Hasebroek, J .: State and Commerce in Ancient Greece. P. 169.

[23] Ps. - Arist. Oec. II, 3.

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