“Economics” by Aristotle

The Use of Currency in Raising Revenue

The people of Clazomenae, owing their mercenaries twenty talents of pay and being unable to find it, they struck an iron coinage of twenty talents, bearing the face-value of the silver. This they distributed proportionately among the wealthiest citizens, and received from them silver to the same amount. Through this expedient, the private citizens possessed a currency which was good for their daily needs, and the state was relieved of its debt. Next, they proceeded to pay interest out of revenue to those who had advanced the silver; and little by little distributed repayment among them, recalling at the same time the currency of iron.

Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, had borrowed money from the citizens, promising to repay it. On their demanding its return, he bade each bring him, under pain of death, whatever silver he possessed. This silver when brought he coined into drachmae each bearing the face value of two: with these he repaid the previous debt and also what had just been brought in.

Timotheus of Athens during his campaign against Olynthus was short of silver, and issued to his men a copper coinage instead. On their complaining, he told them that all the merchants and retailers would accept it in lieu of silver. But the merchants he instructed to buy in turn with the copper they received such produce of the land as was for sale, as well as any booty brought to them; such copper as remained on their hands he would exchange for silver.

Model Marriage

A good wife should be the mistress of her home, having under her care all that is within it, but in all other matters, let it be her aim to obey her husband, giving no heed to public affairs. She should allow none to enter without her husband’s knowledge, dreading above all things the gossip of gadding women, which tends to poison the soul. She must exercise control of the money spent upon expenditure, dress, and ornament, remembering that beauty depends not on costliness of raiment, nor does abundance of gold so conduce to the praise of a woman as self-control in all that she does, and her inclination towards an honorable and well-ordered life.

She should consider that her husband’s uses are as laws appointed for her own life by divine will, along with the marriage state and the fortune she shares. Not only when her husband is in prosperity and good report does it beseem her to be in modest agreement with him, and to render him the service he wills, but also in times of adversity. If, through sickness or fault of judgement, his good fortune fails, then must she show her quality, encouraging him ever with words of cheer and yielding him obedience in all fitting ways; only let her do nothing base or unworthy of herself, or remember any wrong her husband may have done her through distress of mind. For though there be no small merit in a right and noble use of prosperity, still the right endurance of adversity justly receives an honor greater by far.

The rules which a good husband will follow in treatment of his wife will be similar; seeing that she has entered his home like a suppliant from without, and is pledged to be the partner of his life and parenthood; and that the offspring she leaves behind her will bear the names of their parents, her name as well as his. Rightly reared by father and mother, children will grow up virtuous, but who observe not these precepts will be losers thereby. For unless parents have given their children an example how to live, the children in their turn will be able to offer a fair and specious excuse for undutifulness. Such parents will risk being rejected by their offspring for their evil lives, and thus bringing destruction upon their own heads. Therefore, his wife’s training should be the object of a man’s unstinting care; that so far as is possible their children may spring from the noblest of stock. For the tiller of the soil spares no pains to sow his seed in the most fertile and best cultivated land, looking thus to obtain the fairest fruits. Seeing, then, that such care is lavished on the body’s food, surely every care should be taken on behalf of our own children’s mother and nurse, in whom is implanted the seed from which there springs a living soul. For it is only by this means that each mortal, successively produced, participates in immortality.

It is fitting that a man should approach his wife in honorable wise, full of self-restraint and awe; and in his conversation with her, should use only the words of a right-minded man, treating her with much self-restraint and trust, and passing over any trivial or unintentional errors she has committed. And if through ignorance she has done wrong, he should advise her of it without threatening, in a courteous and modest manner. Indifference and harsh reproof, he must alike avoid. Between a free woman and her lawful spouse there should be a reverent and modest mingling of love and fear. For of fear there are two kinds. The fear which virtuous and honorable sons feel towards their fathers, and loyal citizens towards right-minded rulers, has for its companions reverence and modesty; but the other kind, felt by slaves for masters and by subjects for despots who treat them with injustice and wrong, is associated with hostility and hatred.

For when wife and husband are agreed about the best things in life, of necessity the friends of each will also be mutually agreed; and the strength which the pair gain from their unity will make them formidable to their enemies and helpful to their own. But when discord reigns between them, their friends too will disagree and become in consequence enfeebled, while the pair themselves will suffer most of all. Husband and wife are to dissuade one another from whatever is evil and dishonorable, while unselfishly furthering to the best of their power one another’s honorable and righteous aims. In the first place they will strive to perform all duty towards their parents, the husband towards those of his wife no less than towards his own, and she in her turn towards his. Their next duties are towards their children, their friends, their estate, and their entire household which they will treat as a common possession; each vying with the other in the effort to contribute most to the common welfare.



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