Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
→ Part 1.6.
Edward M. Harris, edition of March 22, 2003
page 7 of 15
Read about the evidence
Demosthenes (Dem. 34).
Demosthenes (Dem. 58).
Demosthenes (Dem. 35).
Lysias (Lys. 22).
Aristotle (Aristot. Ath. Pol.).
Demosthenes (Dem. 20).
Plot on a Map
Since the import of grain was so vital for the food supply of Attica, the laws of Athens contained several measures aimed at maintaining an adequate supply of grain and keeping prices low. First, there was a ban on all exports of grain from Attica (Demosthenes 34.37; 35.50-1; 58.8-9). Second, there was a law that made it illegal for any Athenian or metic to engage in transporting grain to any port besides Athens or to make a loan for such a trading voyage (Dem. 35.50). Third, there was a law that prohibited purchases of more than fifty phormoi of grain (Lysias 22.5-6). There is some debate as to whether this law aimed at preventing hoarding or the formation of cartels, but the intent was clearly to prevent the manipulation of grain prices. Fourth, there were laws fixing the amount of profit that millers could make on ground barley and that bakers could make on loaves of bread (Constitution of the Athenians 51.3). Fifth, a recently discovered law of Agyrrhius passed in
This brief survey reveals that the Athenians not only developed a market economy and carried on extensive overseas trade but also established numerous officials for supervising their marketplace and created the laws needed to regulate market transactions and resolve commercial disputes. The next section examines how some of these laws worked in practice in a dispute between two lenders and two borrowers involved in overseas trade.
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