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The rate of interest would of course vary with the risks and duration of the voyage, and therefore Ave cannot expect to find that it was at all fixed. Xenophon (de Vectig. iii. 7—14) speaks of the fifth and third parts of the capital lent as being com­monly given in bottomry, referring of course to voyages out and home. The interest of an eighth or 12f per cent., mentioned by Demosthenes (o. Polycl. p. 123 2), was for money lent on a trireme, during a passage from Sestos to Athens, but upon condition that she should first go to Hierum to convoy vessels laden with corn ; the principal and interest were to be paid at Athens on her arrival there.

The best illustration of the facts mentioned above, is found in a vo.vtlk.}] cruyy/m^??, given in the speech of Demosthenes against Lacritus. It contains the following statement and conditions.

Two Athenians lent two Phaselitans 3000 drachmae upon a cargo of 3000 casks of Mendean wine, on which the latter were not to owe anything else, or raise any additional loan (ovo* siriftavtiffov~ tcu). They were to sail from Athens to Mende or Scione, where the wine was to be shipped, and thence to the Bosporus, with liberty, if they pre­ferred it, to continue their voyage on the left side of the Black Sea as far as the Borysthenes, and then to return to Athens ; the rate of interest being fixed at 225 drachmae in 1000, or 25 per cent, for the whole time of absence. If, however, they did not return to Hierum, a port in Bithynia close to the Thracian Bosporus (Wolf, ad Lept. p. 259), before the early rising of Arcturus, i. e. be­fore the 20th of September or thereabouts, when navigation began to be dangerous, they had to pay a higher rate of 30 per cent, on account of the ad­ditional risk. The agreement further specified that there should be no change of vessel for the return cargo, and that if it arrived safe at Athens, the loan was to be repaid within twenty days afterwards, without any deductions except for loss by payments made to enemies, and for jettisons (eVreAes ir\}]v e/c£0A?jy. k. r. A.) made with the consent of all on board (ot o~u/x,7rAot) ; that till the money was repaid, the goods pledged (ret, viro-Ket./j.Gva) should be under the control of the lenders, and be sold by them, if payment was not made within the appointed time ; that if the sale of the goods did not realise the required amount, the lender might raise the remainder by making a levy (7Tj0a£ts) upon the property of both or either of the traders, just as if they had been cast in a suit, and became vTre/n^epoj, i. e. had not complied with a judgment given against them within the time appointed. Another clause in the agreement provides for the contingency of their not entering the Pontus ; in that case they were to remain in the Hellespont, at the end of July, for ten days after the early rising of the dog-star (en-i kwz/i), discharge their cargo (e^Xeadai) in some place where the Athenians had no right of reprisals (oVou Uv fJL-r] ffvXai Sxri rots 'AO'/fj'cuois), (which might be executed unfairly, and would lead to retaliations,) and then, on their return to Athens, they were to pay the lower rate of interest, or 25 per cent. Lastly, if the vessel were to be wrecked, the cargo was, if possible, to be saved ; and the agreement was to be conclusive on all points.

From the preceding investigation, it appears that the rate of interest amongst the ancient Greeks was higher than in modern Europe, and at Rome in the


age of Cicero. This high rate does not appear to have been caused by any scarcity of money, for the rent of land and houses in-Athens and its neigh­bourhood was not at all proportional to it. Thus Isaeus (de Hagn. Hered. p. 88) says that a house at Thriae was let for only 8 per cent, of its value, and some houses at Melite and Eleusis for a frac­tion more. We should therefore rather refer it to a low state of credit, occasioned by a variety of causes, such as the division of Greece into a number of petty states, and the constitution and regulation of the courts of law, which do not seem to have been at all favourable to money-lenders in enforcing their rights. Bockh assigns as an additional cause " the want of moral principles." (Bockh, Ibid. pp. 128 —139, 2nd ed.)

2. roman. The Latin word for interest, fenus or foenus, originally meant any increase, and was thence applied, like the Greek r<kos, to denote the interest or increase of money. " Fenus," says Varro (cqmd Gell. xvi. 12), " dictum a fetu et quasi a fetura quada-m pecuniae parientis atque incres-centis." The same root is found in fecundus. Fenus was also used for the principal as well as the interest. (Tacit. Ann. vi. 17, xiv. 53.) Another term for interest was usurae, generally found in the plural, and also impendium^ on which Varro (de Ling. Lat. v. 183, M tiller) remarks, "a quo (pondere) usura quod in sorte accedebat, impen-dium appellatum."

Towards the close of the republic, the interest of money became due on the first of every mouth : hence the phrases tristes or celeres calendae and calendarium^ the latter meaning a debt-bopk or book of accounts. The rate of interest was expressed in the time of Cicero, and afterwards by means of the as and its divisions, according to the following table: —

Asses usurae, or one as per month


?5 55 55 55 55 55 55 55 55 55

for the use of one hundred =12 per cent, Deunces usurae ...... 11






Quincunces „

Trientes .,

Quadrantes „


















Instead of the phrase asses usurae, a synonyme was used, viz. centesimae usurae, inasmuch as at this rate of interest there was paid in a hundred months a sum equal to the whole principal. Hence binae centesimae = 24 per cent., and quatemaa centesimae = 48 per cent. So also in the line ot Horace (Sat. i. 2.14), " Quinas hie capiti rnercedes exsecat," we must understand quinas centesimas^ or 60 per cent., as the sum taken from the capital. Niebuhr (Hist, of Rom. vol. iii. p. 57) is of opinion that the monthly rate of the centesimae was of foreign origin, and first adopted at Rome in the time of Sulla. The old yearly rate established by the Twelve Tables (b. c. 450) was the unciarium fenus. This has been variously interpreted to mean, (1) one-twelfth of the centesima paid monthly, i.e. one percent, per annum; and (2) one-twelfth of the principal paid monthly, or a hundred per cent, per annum. Niebuhr (I. c.) re-

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