Maritime Traders in the Ancient Greek World

Maritime Traders in the Ancient Greek World

Maritime Traders in the Ancient Greek World

Maritime Traders in the Ancient Greek World

Synopsis

This is the first full work since Hasebroeks Trade and Politics in the Ancient World to deal directly with the place of maritime traders in ancient Greece. Its main assumption is that traders juridical, economic, political and unofficial standing can only be viewed correctly through the lens of the polis framework. It argues that those engaging in inter-regional trade with classical Athens were mainly poor and foreign (hence politically inert at Athens). Moreover, Athens, as well as other classical Greek poleis, resorted to limited measures, well short of war or other modes of economic imperialism, to attract them. However, at least in the minds of individual Athenians considerations of traders indispensability to Athens displaced what otherwise would have been low estimations of their social status.

Excerpt

Having come to terms with the words emporos and nauklēros in Chapter 1, I ask in this chapter about the principal items carried by maritime traders and how vital these were to the Greek poleis with which they traded. These queries entail four more particular questions: How much of the inter-regional exchange of goods in the classical period was by commerce as distinct from other means of exchange? What proportion of this long- distance trade was in the hands of those, described in Chapter 1, who made it their primary occupation? Even if quantification remains impossible, can we say anything meaningful about the number of maritime traders? And what was the level of demand for the principal commodities traders transported to Greek poleis? A great need on a large scale for imports of certain items might bear directly on the place of traders in the poleis of classical Greece — the subject of Chapters 3—6 and the heart of this book.

Implicit in that last sentence is an important working assumption: since this is a monograph on traders, not on trade, I take up trade only inasmuch as it illumines the place of traders. No attempt is made here to provide an exhaustive account of the modes and patterns of exchange in classical Greece. I do not offer, in other words, as a companion to the Catalogue of Traders, a Catalogue of Trade, wherein I extensively chart the passage of wares, detail finds of artifacts, or reflect at length on their places of production or destination.

Most of the evidence available for answering the four questions raised above relates to classical Athens, although a bit survives for other poleis. So, as elsewhere in Chapters 1—6, the principal focus is on Athens. I first examine the trade in grain, then the trade in timber for warships, and finally both the slave trade and slave traders, coupled with the traders who accompanied armies and fleets. So little is known about this ensemble of slave or army or fleet traders that I go ahead and ask of them here the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.