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The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0521837071
ISBN-10: 0521837073
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Editorial Reviews


Review of the hardback: '... the book succeeds in raising fundamental questions about the economy in imperial states. Aperghis' study is therefore relevant for more than economic history alone. Offering valuable insights into, and raising fundamental questions about, the finances of the Seleukid Empire, it is also of interest for political historians working on Greco-Macedonian imperialism in the East, perhaps even for those interested in the functioning of empires in general.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Book Description

The Seleukid empire, the principal successor-state of the empire of Alexander the Great, endured for over 200 years and stretched, at its peak, from the Mediterranean to the borders of India. This wide-ranging study of the economy of the empire shows how the rulers exploited their lands and subjects, undertook the building of cities, introduced coinage, financed their armies and administration and managed their finances. Adopting a highly-original numerical approach and drawing on different types of evidence, the book presents a model of the workings of an ancient state.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 378 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521837073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521837071
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,512,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is a scholarly book derived from the author’s PhD dissertation. Accordingly, it does not always make for “easy” reading and some probably be recommended for those with a special interest in the Hellenistic period in general, and the Seleucid dynasty in particular. As indicated by its subtitle, the focus in on the finances and the financial administration of the Empire.
While a number of points made may be conjectural or even perhaps speculative at times, there is some data, and generally more than most tend to believe, allowing Aperghis to make relatively strong cases in a number of areas.

One of the strongpoints of this book is to show the continuity, but also the differences, between the Achaemenid Persian Empire and the Seleucid one the followed it. In this respect, the author follows in the footsteps of Amelie Kuhrt (who was his main supervisor) and others, and he makes no mystery of it.

However, he also shows that the Seleucid Royal Economy was also more than just a continuation of the Achaemenids and is comparable to the Royal Economy of its Ptolemaïc rivals. In both cases, the Kings of the two Successor States clearly did they best, and were quite successful at maximising their revenues. This was achieved in somewhat different ways, although both started from the Macedonian concept of “spear-won” land, meaning that the whole country belonged to them.

The Seleucid monarchs – and Antiochus I in the East, in particular - are shown to have quite deliberately encouraged the monetisation of the economy and a shift away from payments in kind because this could help to maximise revenues and limit expenditure in several respects. The army was paid in coin and it was by far the main source of expenses, as was always the case in Antiquity (and well afterwards).
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