The Ancient Library

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=the e7rl SpaxA"? nearly. = „ err' oktoj 6§oAoTs „

tlie rJ/cos tT


„ „ efftrptros = „

These nearly corresponding expressions are not to be considered as identical, however closely the rates indicated by them may approach each other in value ; although in the age of Justinian, as Salmusius (de M. U.) observes, the r6Kos eiroyfioas or 12^- per cent, was confounded with the cen-tesimae, which is exactly equal to the interest at a drachma or 12 per cent.

The rates, above explained, frequently occur in the orators ; the lowest in ordinary use at Athens being the r6Kos eTriSeicaTos or 10 per cent., the highest the to/cos eirirpiTos or 33-^- per cent. The latter, however, was chiefly confined to cases of bottomry, and denotes more than it appears to do, as the time of a ship^s voyage was generally less than a year. Its near equivalent, the eVl rpicrl $paxtucus or 36 per cent., was sometimes exacted by bankers at Athens. (Lys. Frag. b.) The tirl dpaxw, or rate of 12 per cent., was common in the time of Demosthenes (c. Aph. p. 820. 16), i but appears to have been thought low. The interest of eight oboli or 16 per cent, occurs in that orator (c. Nicos. p. 1250. 18) ; and even in the age of Lysias (b. c. 440) and Isaens (b. c. 400), nine oboli for the mina, or 18 per cent., appears to have been a common rate. (Isaeus, de Hagn. Hered. p. 293.) Aeschines also (c. Timarch. p. 15) speaks of money being borrowed on the same terms ; so that on the whole we may conclude, that the usual rates of interest at Athens about the time of De­mosthenes varied from 12 to 18 per cent. That they were nearly the same in range, and similarly expressed, throughout the rest of Greece, ap­pears from the authorities quoted l>y Bockh. No conclusions on the subject of the general rats of interest can be drawn from what we are told of the exorbitant rates exacted by common usurers (TOKQ-yKiHpoi, tocullioneSy r//Aepo§cwei<rTc«). Some of these (Theophr. Ckaract. 6) exacted as much as an obolus and a half per day for each drachma ; and money-lenders and bankers in general, from the high profits which they realised, and the se­verity with which they exacted their dues, seem to have been as unpopular amongst their fellow-citizens as Jews and usurers in more modern times. Demosthenes (e. Pant. p. 981), indeed, intimates that the fact of a man being a money­lender was enough to prejudice him, even in a court of law, amongst the Athenians. (M/croD-o~iv ol 'A£h?7'a?oi roi/y bavei^ovras.) It is curious also to observe that Aristotle (Pol. i. 3..§ 23) objects, on principle, to putting money out at interest (evXoy&TaTa juicreirai ?] o§oAo(TT<m/o7), as being a perversion of it from its proper use, as a medium of exchange, to an unnatural purpose, viz. the reproduction or increase of itself ; whence, he adds, comes the name of interest or to/cos, as being the offspring (rb yiyvtipevov} of a parent like itself.

The arrangement of a loan would of course de­pend upon the relation between the borrower and the lender, and the confidence placed by one in the other. Sometimes money was lent, e. g. by the banker Pasion at Athens, without a security, or written bond, or witnesses. (Dem. c. Timotli. p. 1185.) But generally either a simple acknow­ledgment (x€LP^7Pa<!>ov) was given by the bor-



rower to the lender [chirographum] ; or a regular instrument (ffvyypati'ti'), executed by both parties and attested by witnesses, was deposited wih a third party, usually a banker. (Dem. c. Law. p. 927, 'c. Phorm. p. 908. 22.) Witnesses, as we might expect, were also present at the pay­ment of the money borrowed. (Id. c. Phorm. p. 9 15. 27.) The security for a loan was either a viroO^K^ or an evexvpw- the latter was put iiito the pos­session of the lender, the former was merely assured to him, and generally, though not always, con­sisted of real or immovable property. The eVe-XvPa> on the contrary, generally consisted of movable property, such as goods or slaves. (Bockh, Ibid. p. 128.) At Athens, when laud was given as security, or mortgaged (oycrfa utto"-Xpews), pillars (opoi or (TTrjAcu) were set upon it, with the debt and the mortgagee's name in­scribed. Hence an unincumbered estate was called an Gamier oy x°>P'lov- (Harpocrat. s. v.) In the rest of Greece there were public books of debt, like the German and Scotch registers of mortgages ; but they are not mentioned as having existed at Athens.

Bottomry (to vavriK6v^ roicot vavnaoi^ or e/cSotns) Avas considered a matter of so much im­portance at Athens, that fraud or breach of contract in transactions connected with it was sometimes punished with death. (Dem. c. Phorm. p. 922. 3.) In these cases the loans were generally made upon the cargo shipped, sometimes on the vessel itself, and sometimes on the money received or due for passengers and freightage (eVl t<£ vav\y). The principal (e/cSocris, oiovel e£co So'cas, Harpocrat.) as well as the interest, could only be recovered in case the ship met with no disaster in her voyage (ata-0€t<n}ST?5s j/ec6s,Dem. c. Zenoth. p. 883. 16); a clause to this effect being generally inserted in all agree­ments of bottomry or crvyypatyai. The additional risk incurred in loans of this description was compensated for by a high rate of interest, and the lenders took every precaution against negligence or deception on the part of the bor­rowers ; the latter also were careful to have wit­nesses present when the cargo was put on board, for the purpose of deposing, if necessary, to a lonafide shipping of the required amount of goods. (Dem. c. Phorm. p. 915. 13). The loan itself was either a Sayeicr/ta IrepoTrAow, i. e. fora voyage out, or it was a 8dv£icr{j.a a/^orepoVAotn', i. e, for a voyage out and home. In the former case the principal and interest were paid at the place of destination, either to the creditor himself, if he sailed in the ship, or to an authorised agent. (Dem. c. Phorm. p. 909. 24, and p. 914. 28.) In the latter case the payment was made on the return of the ship, and it was specially provided in the agreement between the contracting parties, that she should sail to some specified places only. A deviation from the terms of the agreement, in this or other respects, was, according to a clause usually inserted in the agreement, punishable by a fine of twice the amount of the money lent. (Dem. c. Dio-nys. p. 1294.) Moreover, if the goods which formed the original security were sold, fresh articles of the same value were to be shipped in their place. (Dem. c. Phorm. p. 909. 26.) Some­times also the trader (6 e/wropos1) was himself the owner of the vessel (6 z/aw/cA^pos), which in that case might serve as a security for the money bor­rowed. (Id. c. Dionys. p. 1284. 11.)

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