This comprehensive introduction to the ancient Greek economy revolutionizes our understanding of the subject and its possibilities. Alain Bresson is one of the world’s leading authorities in the field, and he is helping to redefine it. Here he combines a thorough knowledge of ancient sources with innovative new approaches grounded in recent economic historiography to provide a detailed picture of the Greek economy between the last century of the Archaic Age and the closing of the Hellenistic period. Focusing on the city-state, which he sees as the most important economic institution in the Greek world, Bresson addresses all of the city-states rather than only Athens.
The book offers a groundbreaking new theoretical framework for studying the economy of ancient Greece; presents a masterful survey and analysis of the most important economic institutions, resources, and other factors; and addresses some major historiographical debates. Among the many topics covered are climate, demography, transportation, agricultural production, market institutions, money and credit, taxes, exchange, long-distance trade, and economic growth.
The result is an unparalleled demonstration that, unlike just a generation ago, it is possible today to study the ancient Greek economy as an economy and not merely as a secondary aspect of social or political history. This is essential reading for students, historians of antiquity, and economic historians of all periods.
Alain Bresson is professor of classics at the University of Chicago.
“This magisterial book provides an entirely new way of thinking about the ancient Greek economy. Alain Bresson is one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject and has contributed mightily to reconfiguring the debate about it. Combining new theoretical approaches, a deep knowledge of ancient sources, and a remarkably wide reading in the economic history of other periods, he provides a comprehensive introduction full of detail, evidence, and argument. And he avoids jargon and insider talk, writing in a direct and clear prose that invites one in. This groundbreaking book will be read for many years to come.”—Gary Reger, Trinity College