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The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets$
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Keith Roberts

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153270

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153270.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Business in Athens

Business in Athens

(p.71) 4 Business in Athens
The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets

Keith Roberts

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes how money, markets, and business actually looked in ancient Athens. Since the key to Athenian business activity was the widespread purchasing power of its residents, the discussion begins with its money and credit institutions that fueled the trade, manufacturing, and retail businesses. It then looks at the workforce: citizens, women, slaves, and resident metics, those foreigners allowed to live and work there. Finally, it contemplates the rather ambivalent social status of business. The Athenian economy's high level and broad distribution of purchasing power led to markets supplied by business entrepreneurs with ready access to credit. Its marketplaces were remarkably similar to modern malls, selling a vast diversity of products from many places. A sophisticated banking industry served it through money changing, depository safekeeping, trust services, investment banking, and finance. Slaves and women provided the bulk of the commercial workforce. Business, while considered somewhat distasteful, also served as a common and often rigorously ethical activity that fostered social mobility.

Keywords:   Athens, ancient Greece, business activity, purchasing power, money, credit institutions, workforce, social status

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