Early Christian attitudes towards merchants

Roman law was not the only influence on economic ideas in the Middle Ages. Ambivalent attitudes in the early Christian tradition also proved highly important. Economic matters were of course scarcely central to either the Old or New Testament, and scattered economic pronouncements are contradictory or subject to ambivalent interpretation. Fulminations against excessive love of money do not necessarily imply hostility to commerce or wealth. One remarkable aspect of the Old Testament, however, is...

The politics of the polis

When man turns the use of his reason from the inanimate world to man himself and to social organization, it becomes difficult for pure reason to avoid giving way to the biases and prejudices of the political framework of the age. This was all too true of the Greeks, including the Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. Greek life was organized in small city-states the polis some of which were able to carve out overseas empires. The largest city-state, Athens, covered an area of only about one thousand...

Xenophon on household management

A disciple and contemporary of Plato was the Athenian landed aristocrat and army general, Xenophon 430-354 BC . Xenophon's economic writings were scattered throughout such works as an account of the education of a Persian price, a treatise on how to increase government revenue, and a book on 'economics' in the sense of thoughts on the technology of household and farm management. Most of Xenophon's adumbrations were the usual Hellenic scorn for labour and trade, and admiration for agriculture...