It has been claimed that ancient Athens was an aggressively commercial state with a business-minded elite. This work aims to refute that view. It argues that Athens and other Greek states had no merchant marine of their own.
This is the first full work since Hasebroek's 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.
Table of Contents
1. Coming to terms
2. Classical modes and patterns of exchange
3. The juridical place of maritime traders
4. The level of wealth of maritime traders
5. Official attitudes toward maritime traders
6. Unofficial attitudes toward maritime traders
7. Archaic modes of exchange and the personnel
involved, c. 800-475 BC
8. Conclusion: then and now