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Athenian Economy and Society Paperback – January 26, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0691015927 ISBN-10: 0691015929 Edition: Reprint
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Editorial Reviews

From Scientific American

[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.

From The New Yorker

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.

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Product Details

  • Series: Banking Perspective
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (January 6, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691015929
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691015927
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,641,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book examines the extremely scarce references to banking in the Athenian world. The author argues that a form of deposit banking did exist and was deeply involved in both real estate (landed loans) and commerce (maritime loans). He puts this in the context of the social practices and customs of Athens (4th c. BC, after the Peloponnesian war). Marriage, slavery, and property ownership are among the issues looked at in close detail. The author succeeds in establishing the existence of a banking industry in Athens. It is clear that this extremely sophisticated society (in all respects) *also* had sophisticated credit mechanisms. It is difficult to say to what extent the existence of a developed credit industry must alter our concept of the Athenian economy to make it "more capitalist." But here we have at least a compelling basis for arguing that the existence of highly developed commerce must entail as well the existence of credit mechanisms. The! discussion of the Athenian banking practice of using slaves as key bank officers, and then taking the foremost slave and marrying him to the widow of the bank owner upon his death, is a fascinating look at the complexity of the oikos and legal context of immigrants and slaves in the Athenian economy.
This is a first rate piece of scholarship. Even if your interest in ancient Athens is primarily literary/philosophical, you should be familiar with this book. In addition to specialized legal documents and abundant reference to scholarly work on the Athenian economic system, the author makes use of well-known sources such as Plato and Aristotle. It is a tour de force. The author (Cohen) has a Ph.D. from Princeton in classics and also is a principal in a pennsylvania bank.
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