Athenian Economy and Society: A Banking Perspective

Athenian Economy and Society: A Banking Perspective

Paperback Banking Perspective

By (author) Edward E. Cohen

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 312 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 222mm x 22mm | 481g
  • Publication date: 26 January 1997
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691015929
  • ISBN 13: 9780691015927
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,335,823

Product description

In this ground-breaking analysis of the world's first private banks, Edward Cohen convincingly demonstrates the existence and functioning of a market economy in ancient Athens while revising our understanding of the society itself. Challenging the "primitivistic" view, in which bankers are merely pawnbrokers and money-changers, Cohen reveals that fourth-century Athenian bankers pursued sophisticated transactions. These dealings--although technologically far removed from modern procedures--were in financial essence identical with the lending and deposit-taking that separate true "banks" from other businesses. He further explores how the Athenian banks facilitated tax and creditor avoidance among the wealthy, and how women and slaves played important roles in these family businesses--thereby gaining legal rights entirely unexpected in a society supposedly dominated by an elite of male citizens. Special emphasis is placed on the reflection of Athenian cognitive patterns in financial practices. Cohen shows how transactions were affected by the complementary opposites embedded in the very structure of Athenian language and thought. In turn, his analysis offers great insight into daily Athenian reality and cultural organization.

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Review quote

Winner of the 1993 Herbert Feis Award, American Historical Association One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1993 "Cohen embodies a role of traditional relevance in research on classical antiquity, but one that is increasingly a rarity: he is a 'man of affairs' who brings his practical, professional experience to bear on his historical research... [He] has now given us a very fine book on ancient banking, a work that has been well worth the wait."--Thomas J. Figueira, Bryn Mawr Classical Review "[Cohen] possesses an impressive knowledge of the relevant classical and modern literature as well as a close practical acquaintance with contemporary banking, an unusual but fortuitous set of qualifications... Highly readable and contains a wealth of interesting details on social conditions generally."--John R. Love, American Historical Review "A thoroughly documented and imaginatively argued book that will mark a new stage in the study of Athenian banking."--David C. Mirhady, Classical World

Table of contents

Preface The Athenian Economy The Trapeza as True Bank Currency Exchange False Anachronism: The Modern Invention of the Athenian Pawnshop Ch. 2A Methodological Alternative to the Misuse of Statistics The Perils of Cliometrics "Forensic Attestation": An Alternative Approach Ch. 3Financial Context and Concepts Freedom from Regulation and Oligopoly In Lieu of Interest: "Maritime" and "Landed" Yields Ch. 4Wives, Slaves, and the Athenian Banker A "Strictly Personal" Business Assets, Human and Other Unavailable and Undesirable: Free Citizens as Bank Employees Slaves and Wives The Banking Household: A Traditional Form Transformed Adaptation to Slave Enterprise Women, Law, and Property Ch. 5Banking Operations: "Risk-Laden Revenues from 'Other People's Money'" Obtaining "Other People's Money" Deploying Other People's Money for Maritime Loans Maritime Finance Denial of the Role of Bankers in Sea Finance The Bankers' Own Money Ch. 6The Banks' Role in the Economy The "Invisible Economy" The Structure of Credit Bank Failures and Economic History Works Cited Index of Passages Cited General Index