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Additional resources for Ancient Iraq (3rd Edition)
34 Approaches to lending and borrowing 19 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE ANCIENT EVIDENCE Although comparative evidence is an integral part of this study, I have tried to ensure that major conclusions are based securely on the testimony of the ancient sources. Even there, the range of Greek material is (with the exception of the following chapter) effectively limited to Athens in the fourth century. That is not a matter of choice: the 'Atheno-centricity' of the surviving literature is notorious, and the primacy of the fourth-century Orators as a source of detailed information about Athenian credit operations has already been noted (above, p.
Unless he was intent on creating a public impression of generosity or extravagance, an ordinary citizen would limit the range of his reciprocal lending. 5-6) as claiming to have made mzwtfj-contributions to needy citizens totalling more than five talents. Common sense suggests the ways in which people with cash to spare would normally focus their lending on to fellow-citizens with whom they were directly acquainted. Such personal knowledge would typically depend on ties of kinship, locality and friendship - or a combination of all three.
25 The concept of non-reciprocal lending is presumably as old as reciprocity itself. What marked a new departure was its formal acceptance within the world of the polls. Such a major step, a potential threat to the ideal of citizen solidarity, attracted the attention of both contemporaries and later theorists. Apart from traces surviving in archaic customs and laws, the recognition of formal, interest-bearing loan transactions caught the concern of conservative thinkers like Plato and Aristotle.