By M. I. Finley
"Technical growth, financial development, productiveness, even potency haven't been major objectives because the starting of time," announces M. I. Finley in his vintage paintings. The states of the traditional Mediterranean global had no recognizable real-property industry, by no means fought a commercially encouraged conflict, witnessed no force to capital formation, and assigned the administration of many giant businesses to slaves and ex-slaves. in brief, to review the economies of the traditional global, one needs to commence by way of discarding many premises that appeared self-evident prior to Finley confirmed that they have been dead or deceptive. to be had back, with a brand new foreword by means of Ian Morris, those sagacious, fertile, and sometimes combative essays are only as electrifying this present day as while Finley first wrote them.
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Again very straightforward, but it was precisely the exceptional character of Athens that Pericles was praising. Not many Greek states of the classical period, and none at all in the ancient world at any other period, allowed poor men of obscure condition to play a positive constructive role in political life, and even in Athens it is almost impossible to find a man of modest means, let alone a really poor man, in a position of leadership. Nevertheless, I do not wish to argue away the exceptions.
No one, and such an occasional attempt at humaneness as Julian's, when Antioch was suffering from a severe famine, was a complete and bitter failure. Trajan established an interesting and unique scheme of family allowances in Italy, known as the alimenta, but he was able to get it started in only a smallish minority of the cities, and, though it survived for at least a century, no other emperor save Antoninus Pius is reliably known to have extended it. Besides, there is reason to believe that Trajan's main concern was to increase the birth rate in Italy (but not in any other region of the empire).
Is wealth boundless? Is wealth a good if it is not used properly? Are there morally good and morally evil ways of acquiring wealth? Even, among a minority of moralists, is it possible to live a life of virtue without wealth? Fundamentally, however, "Blessed are the poor" was not within the Graeco-Roman world of ideas, and its appearance in the Gospels-whatever one's exegesis of the texts-points to another world and another set of values. That other world eventually achieved a paradoxical ideology, in which a fiercely acquisitive temper was accompanied by strains of asceticism and holy poverty, by feelings of unease and even of guilt.
Ancient Economy by M. I. Finley