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from a pawn; prasis epi lysei, meaning a conditional sale which could be released from the buyer s claim; and apotimena, meaning an evaluation of security put up to guarantee performance of a contract. In the period 500 200 B.C. it was the custom in Attica to designate the ownership of real estate by marking stones, called horoi, which meant limit or boundary. The visible half of these horoi was sometimes blank and sometimes engraved. There were severe penalties for tampering with the horoi. Several hundred have come down to us. Certain of them give notice that the property is encumbered, and a few say how, for how much due to whom, and on what terms. The debtor remained in physical possession and, therefore, his name did not appear. At about 450 B.C. the deme Myrrhinus instructed its temple officials to obtain real security for all its loans and to place horoi on the encumbered property. An example of an unusually explicit Attic horoi inscription from about 300 B.C. is: In [date] N. and H. . . . put up as security to K. . . . their lands, house and roof . . . in full for 5000 drachmas in silver. N. will pay K. for each year 500 drachmas in silver. (46) Such loans were not usually for productive purposes, such as improvements to the property or to finance business ventures, but were often loans to wealthy or average farmers to meet personal emergencies. (47) There are indications that these real estate loans were usually for moderate periods, perhaps one year. However, certain transactions like the one quoted above appear to be for indefinite periods. The state itself was never mentioned in the horoi; public lending or borrowing was unusual. Groups of individuals, comprising lending clubs, often made such secured loans to friends, sometimes without interest. The horoi often refer to loan contracts on deposit with bankers or in temples. A number of specific horoi transactions are listed below under Interest Rates, Real Estate Loans. Public finance in Greece tended to be conservative and traditional. In contrast to the present day, states rarely borrowed. (48) Instead they accumulated treasure in their treasuries. Most famous is the vast treasure of the Athens of Pericles, removed in 454 B.C. to Athens from Delos, where it had been the war chest of the Delian League. Direct taxes were considered servile and were unknown in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. (49) However, voluntary direct taxes, that is, liturgies, or gifts to the state, were common, and much later they were merged into capital levies on wealthy men. The mines provided most of the ordinary revenue of Athens. Her armies were supposed to be self-supporting; a good general could find money. Loans to states were thus exceptional until the third and second centuries B.C. There were occasional early loans to states, but these were compulsory or of a political character. The famous loans of the Temple of
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Athena to the city of Athens during the fifth century B.C. were a religious fiction: the money was the war reserve of the people of Athens. Interest on these loans was nominal and was rarely paid, but an effort was made to return the principal to the Temple, that is to say, to restore the war reserve. (50) The credit of most Greek states was in fact very poor. It generally rated far below the credit of wealthy citizens. This situation existed also in the Middle Ages in Western Europe. Greek cities were often arbitrary with their creditors; money was usually scarce, and sound principles of public finance were unknown. Public loans were usually due within five years and hence repayment of principal was a burden. They were not amortized. They were usually secured by valuable pledges, and sometimes the security took strange forms. For example, state fortifications were sometimes hypothecated. Cyme pledged her public colonnades, and when the city defaulted her citizens could not use them to get out of the sun or the rain. Creditors were sometimes offered tax exemption. Public revenues were sometimes pledged. For example, Demosthenes, 385 322 B.C., once lent one talent (a large sum) to the city of Oreos at 12% secured by all the public revenues of the city. Often Greek states wishing to borrow had to offer the guarantee of individual citizens in good standing, who were called foreloaners or underwriters. In 377 373 B.C., thirteen states borrowed from the temple at Delos, and only two proved completely faithful; in all, four fifths of the money was never repaid. Thereafter the temple preferred loans to individuals, secured by land. The financial difficulties of Greek states reached their height after the Macedonian conquest. Athens then resorted to the eisphora, or capital levy, instead of loans. Athens was never a debtor. In 205 B.C., the city of Miletus experimented with a new credit form: the city borrowed from its citizens on life annuities. It paid back 360 drachmas a year for life for every 3,600 drachmas it borrowed; this innovation proved very popular. Although there is general agreement that in Greece the banking functions of deposit and loan originated in the temples, as they did in Babylonia, there is a difference of opinion as to the scope of temple lending in the classical period. The shrine at Delphi, the greatest of them all, is sometimes described as the great banker of the Greek world. There is certainly a long history of lending by the temple at Delos, largely to private persons, but sometimes to states and to money changers. Industry in classical Greece was generally on a small scale, consisting of workshops with a handful of slaves and limited capital. Local trade was left to shopkeepers and peddlers and was despised, (51) but foreign trade was held in high esteem in Athens. Since the state was not self-sufficient, commerce was encouraged and was largely free of tariffs and restrictions.
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