Trade and Politics in Ancient Greece

By Johannes Hasebroek; L. M. Fraser et al. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER III
COMMERCE AND THE STATE

A. COMMERCIAL POLICY AND SUPPLIES

I. Foreign Policy

WE come now to the specific subject of this book, the relation of the State to commerce. We shall have to deal with all those manifestations of general policy which we ordinarily group under the head of commercial policy, with all the ways in which a state can deliberately promote or restrict trade, directly or indirectly, at home or abroad. But, in the first place, we shall consider commercial policy in the narrower sense to which the term is frequently restricted, namely, that department of policy which concerns itself with foreign trade.

Hitherto it has been comfortably assumed that the Greek city had a commercial policy with the same aims as that of a modern state; that the extension of trade and the acquisition of commercial pre-eminence were among the objects of its general policy and were closely bound up with its general development; and that the desire for commercial advantages was really a determinant factor in all its foreign policy, as it is in the modern national state which seeks to secure foreign markets and to maintain its own in order to benefit home production and home labour. Such modern notions of international commercial rivalry have been confidently transferred to the Greek world. We read of the commercial policy of Miletus, Ægina, Athens, Corinth -- and this very notably in the earlier periods of Greek history. A few characteristic examples from the leading German historians will serve to illustrate the current view. The oldest trading cities, such as Ephesus, Colophon, Magnesia, Teos, Samos, Chios, appear as rivals of Miletus. The age-long enmity of Samos and

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