A Day in Old Athens; a Picture of Athenian Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 215 pages of information about A Day in Old Athens; a Picture of Athenian Life.

[*]As Von Falke (Greece and Rome, p. 141) well says of these monuments, “No skeleton, no scythe, no hour-glass is in them to bring a shudder to the beholder.  As they [the departed] were in life, mother and daughter, husband and wife, parents and children, here they are represented together, sitting or standing, clasping each other’s hands and looking at one another with love and sympathy as if it were their customary affectionate intercourse.  What the stone perpetuates is the love and happiness they enjoyed together, while yet they rejoiced in life and the light of day.”

Chapter XII.  Trade, Manufactures, and Banking.

76.  The Commercial Importance of Athens.—­While the funeral mourners are wending their slow way homeward we have time to examine certain phases of Athenian life at which we have previously glanced, then ignored.  Certain it is, most “noble and good” gentlemen delight to be considered persons of polite uncommercial leisure; equally certain it is that a good income is about as desirable in Athens as anywhere else, and many a stately “Eupatrid,” who seems to spend his whole time in dignified walks, discoursing on politics or philosophy, is really keenly interested in trades, factories, or farms, of which his less nobly born stewards have the active management.  Indeed one of the prime reasons for Athenian greatness is the fact that Athens is the richest and greatest commercial city of Continental Hellas, with only Corinth as a formidable rival.[*]

[*]Syracuse in distant Sicily was possibly superior to Athens in commerce and economic prosperity, although incomparably behind her in the empire of the arts and literature.

To understand the full extent of Athenian commercial prosperity we must visit the Peireus, yet in the main city itself will be found almost enough examples of the chief kinds of economic activity.

77.  The Manufacturing Activities of Athens.—­Attica is the seat of much manufacturing.  Go to the suburbs:  everywhere is the rank odor of the tanneries; down at the harbors are innumerable ship carpenters and sail and tackle makers, busy in the shipyards; from almost every part of the city comes the clang of hammer and anvil where hardware of all kinds is being wrought in the smithies; and finally the potter makers are so numerous as to require special mention hereafter.  But no list of all the manufacturing activities is here possible; enough that practically every known industry is represented in Athens, and the “industrial” class is large.[*] A very large proportion of the industrial laborers are slaves, but by no means all.  A good many are real Athenian citizens; a still larger proportion are “metics” (resident foreigners without political rights).  The competition of slave labor, however, tends to keep wages very low.  An unskilled laborer will have to be content with his 3 obols (9 cents [1914] or $1.51 [2000]) per day;

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A Day in Old Athens; a Picture of Athenian Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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