Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 29 September 2023

wealth, attitudes tolocked

wealth, attitudes tolocked

  • John Davies


Classical societies developed a range of responses to the universal ambition of individuals to amass property and possessions. One extreme response, characteristic of societies where the wealthy had retained or regained preponderant influence in public affairs, was to impose little or no restriction on accumulation: early Hellenistic Sparta and late republican Rome were examples. Conversely, Greek colonies were often founded on an ‘equal and like’ basis, and Roman colonial foundations regularly assigned the same land-area to each colonist. However, few colonies remained egalitarian for long (Diod. Sic. 5. 9. 4–5 for an exception, Lipara; see aeoliae insulae). See colonization, greek and roman.More normally, attitudes oscillated unsystematically within such extremes. Amassing wealth, possessing it, and spending it aroused differing responses, and varied also with the nature and the status of the gainful activity (Cato, Agr. pref.; Cic.Off. 1. 150 ff. and 2. 52 ff.). Greeks saw the rich as potentially hubristic, extravagant, profiteering, and soft, probably dishonest if newly wealthy and lucky rather than worthy if of longer standing, but also as prudent and as potentially generous and magnanimous benefactors (cf. Arist.


  • Ancient Economy

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription