Money and the Early Greek Mind

Money and the Early Greek Mind : Homer, Philosophy, Tragedy

By (author) Richard Seaford

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How were the Greeks of the sixth century BC able to invent philosophy and tragedy? In this book Richard Seaford argues that a large part of the answer can be found in another momentous development, the invention and rapid spread of coinage which produced the first ever thoroughly monetised society. By transforming social relations, monetisation contributed to the ideas of the universe as an impersonal system (presocratic philosophy) and of the individual alienated from his own kin and from the gods (in tragedy). Seaford argues that an important precondition for this monetisation was the Greek practice of animal sacrifice, as represented in Homeric Epic, which describes a premonetary world on the point of producing money. This book combines social history, economic anthropology, numismatics and the close reading of literary, inscriptional, and philosophical texts. Questioning the origins and shaping force of Greek philosophy, this is a major book with wide appeal.

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  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 154 x 224 x 28mm | 621.42g
  • 28 Feb 2009
  • CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0521539927
  • 9780521539920
  • 666,524

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Author Information

Richard Seaford is Professor of Greek Literature at the University of Exeter. He is the author of commentaries on Euripides' 'Cyclops' (1984) and 'Bacchae' (1996) and of 'Reciprocity and Ritual: Homer and Tragedy in the Developing City-State' (1994).

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Review quote

'This book is of wider relevance than just to teachers and students of classics, for whom it affords an invaluable resource. It relates to all of us who, as Seaford says, 'live in a world in which the monetisation first observable in the Greek polis has had several centuries to develop ...' The Lecturer 'This book is a tour de force ... It is set to become a compulsory reading for all serious students and scholars of Greek thought.' The Journal of Classics Teaching '... masterful ... This intriguing, provocative book is essential reading for anyone curious about the dynamic forces which propelled Greek culture to its highest achievements in tragedy and philosophy.' The Heythrop Journal '... this is a book that brims with ideas.' Journal of Hellenic Studies '... a well thought through, carefully organised, well structured and competently balanced work. It promises a fascinating and stimulating read.' Ancient West and East

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