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Title: The polis, its coinage and its historians
Author: Tsagouria, P.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis sets out to explore whether the Greeks had a concept of economics and whether it is appropriate to talk about the polis economy. These issues are explored, first by studying Greek coinage and economic practices related to polis public finance and, second, by studying Greek historians' understanding of economics. In the latter case, we consider Herodotus' treatment of the economics of the Persian Wars as well as Thucydides' and Xenophon's treatment of the economics of the Peloponnesian War. From the study of economics in Greek historiography, it is maintained that Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon were not only interested in economics but also understood war economics. This is due to the dominance of naval warfare especially in the last years of the Peloponnesian War, which resulted in the monetization of the polis economy. However, we claim that the above historians in varying degrees failed to encapsulate the ramifications of the polis economy and its complexity, because there is a disparity between the reality of the polis economy and its interpretation by the historians. Thus any reconstruction of the polis economy and of the rationale for economic practices based on fifth century Greek historiography is limited and insufficient. It is for this reason that we have studied Greek coinage and certain economic practices employed by the polis to manage public finances, finance public expenditure and deal with economic crises. From this study, we argue that the polis economy was a rational and independent institution operating within the polis. In a nutshell, the main conclusion of this thesis is that although the understanding of economic factors was 'embedded' in the prevailing ideology of wealth and money, there was indeed a polis economy as an independent institution.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available