Trade and Politics in Ancient Greece

By Johannes Hasebroek; L. M. Fraser et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
THE TRADER

I. Types of Merchant

IF we are to arrive at any proper appreciation of Greek economic life, and in particular of the attitude adopted by the Greek State towards trade and commerce, we must first of all get some clear understanding of the types of people by whom these activities were carried on, and of their precise social and economic significance. To do this is one of the most urgent tasks of ancient economic history.

Let us, then, begin by defining our terms.1 At a period when the division of labour had been carried to considerable lengths, the Greek language recognised three distinct types of trader or middleman -- the kapelos, the naukleros, and the emporos, and in addition two sub-types. The kapelos is the local dealer -- the man who in general does not leave his own place of residence either for the purpose of importing or exporting, but confines himself to selling on the home market. Usage, however, makes a further distinction, according to the manner in which the commodities which he offers for sale are obtained. If he buys them directly from the producers he is a kapelos in the strict sense; if from another middleman -- a merchant or importer -- he is a 'dealer at second remove' (παλιγκάπηλος).2 But in either case what he sells is not his own produce. The farmer or manufacturer who brings the

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1
For what follows readers are referred to the author's article, "Die Betriebsformen des Griechischen Handels im 4. Jahrhundert in Hermes", 1923, pp. 393 ff., 423 ff., where the evidence is treated in greater detail.
2
See the Schol. on Aristophanes, Plutus, 1156; Plato, Sophistes, 223c, 231d, where the αὺτοπλης is classed with the κάπηλος, and both are contrasted with the ἔμπορος. In the Politicus, 260d, αύτοπώλης and κάπηλος are opposed to one another. For παλιγκὺπηλος and the corresponding verb see Demosthenes, xxv, § 46, and lvi, § 7, respectively, and compare Pollux, vii, 12, and Phot., s.v.

-1-

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