A History of Trust in Ancient Greece

A History of Trust in Ancient Greece

Steven Johnstone

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226405094

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


An enormous amount of literature exists on Greek law, economics, and political philosophy. Yet no one has written a history of trust, one of the most fundamental aspects of social and economic interaction in the ancient world. This volume explores the way democracy and markets flourished in ancient Greece, not so much through personal relationships as through trust in abstract systems—including money, standardized measurement, rhetoric, and haggling. Focusing on markets and democratic politics, the book draws on speeches given in Athenian courts, histories of Athenian democracy, comic writings, and laws inscribed on stone to examine how these systems worked. It analyzes their potentials and limitations and how the Greeks understood and critiqued them. The book links Greek political, economic, social, and intellectual history and examines contemporary analyses of trust and civil society.