Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Graeber's "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" had surely popped up in ET discussions several times. He had interesting thoughts about Medieval Irish (and many other) laws.

Somehow, these passages come to mind:

"Patriarchy" originated, first and foremost, in a rejection of the great urban civilizations in the name of a kind of purity, a reassertion of pa­ternal control against great cities like Uruk, Lagash, and Babylon, seen as places of bureaucrats, traders, and whores. The pastoral fringes, the deserts and steppes away from the river valleys, were the places to which displaced, indebted farmers fled. Resistance, in the ancient Middle East, was always less a politics of rebellion than a politics of exodus, of melting away with one's flocks and families - often before both were taken away [...]

The world's Holy Books - the Old and New Testaments, the Ko­ran, religious literature from the Middle Ages to this day - echo this voice of rebellion, combining contempt for the corrupt urban life, sus­picion of the merchant, and often, intense misogyny.

A culture war against liberals thousands of years ago?!

Further, citing Gerda Lerner:

... What remained problem­atic was how to distinguish clearly and permanently between respectable and non-respectable women.
This last point is crucial. The most dramatic known attempt to solve the problem, Lerner observes, can be found in a Middle Assyrian law code dating from somewhere between 1400 and 1100 BC, which is also the first known reference to veiling in the history of the Middle East  - and also, Lerner emphasizes, first to make the policing of social boundaries the responsibility of the state.


between the push of commoditization, which fell disproportionally on daughters, and the pull of those trying to reassert patriarchal rights to "pro­tect" women from any suggestion that they might be commoditized, women's formal and practical freedoms appear to have been gradually but increasingly restricted and effaced.

And then Greece:

"The poor," as Aristotle succinctly put it in his Constitution of the Athenians, "together with their wives and children, were enslaved to the rich."


Already by the age of Socrates, while a man's honor was increasingly tied to disdain for commerce and assertiveness in public life, a woman's honor had come to be defined in almost exclusively sexual terms: as a matter of virginity, modesty, and chastity, to the extent that respectable women were expected to be shut up inside the household and any woman who played a part in public life was considered for that reason a prostitute, or tantamount to one. The Assyrian habit of veiling was not widely adopted in the Middle East, but it was adopted in Greece.

by das monde on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 05:57:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brilliant comment...

Given that women were effectively their men's chattels, surely "commoditization" was almost a liberation, enabling them to live relatively independently as traders or whores in a city away from their family if required.. "Respectability" was defined by being the exclusive property of one man?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 08:05:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Debt relations define much of the social status. Being screwed by a financial-governing system is not that much fun - ask indebted college graduates. My impression is that (comparatively) egalitarian growth is more characteristic of the "axial" bullion phase of the credit/bullion cycle.

Eventually, urban centers tend to fall and whither at some overshot stage, while rural outskirts carry on with their culture. That could be a very important civilization cycle.

by das monde on Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 09:25:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ch. 2
Afterwards it came about that a party quarrel took place between the notables and the multitude that lasted a long time. [2] For the Athenian constitution was in all respects oligarchical, and in fact the poor themselves and also their wives and children were actually in slavery to the rich; and they were called Clients,1 and Sixth-part-tenants (for that was the rent they paid for the rich men's land which they farmed, and the whole of the country was in few hands), and if they ever failed to pay their rents, they themselves and their children were liable to arrest; and all borrowing was on the security of the debtors' persons down to the time of Solon: it was he who first became head2 of the People. [3] Thus the most grievous and bitter thing in the state of public affairs for the masses was their slavery; not but what they were discontented also about everything else, for they found themselves virtually without a share in anything.

See also Politics, discursion from common to private property and back again, as the hobbits are said to have said by generations of translators.

In connection with this we have to consider the due regulation of property in a community that is to have the best political institutions: should property be owned in common or privately? This question might indeed be considered separately from the system laid down by law with regard to the children and the women: [1263a] [1] I mean, even if there be separate families as is now the case with all nations, is it better for both the ownership and the employment of property to be in common. . . ,11 for example, should the farms be separate property but the farm-produce be brought into the common stock for consumption (as is the practice with some non-Greek races); or on the contrary should the land be common and farmed in common, but the produce be divided for private use (and this form of communism also is said to prevail among some of the barbarians); or should both farms and produce be common property?
for instance in Sparta people use one another's slaves as virtually their own, as well as horses and hounds, and also use the produce in the fields throughout the country if they need provisions on a journey. It is clear therefore that it is better for possessions to be privately owned, but to make them common property in use; and to train the citizens to this is the special task of the legislator.
if Socrates [Plato, Republic] intends to make the Farmers have their wives in common but their property private, who is to manage the household in the way in which the women's husbands will carry on the work of the farms? And if the property and the wives of the Farmers are to be common . . .

and on and on and on with the expiation of inequalities which Plato and Aristotle enjoyed.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Jul 8th, 2017 at 01:34:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More from Graeber's book, on Plato:
Not seven years before, he had taken an ill-fated sea cruise and wound up being captured and [...] offered for sale on the auc­tion block at Aegina. [...] A Libyan philosopher of the Epicurean school, one Annikeris, happened to be in the market at the time. He recognized Plato and ransomed him. Plato felt honor-bound to try to repay him, and his Athenian friends assembled twenty minas in silver with which to do so, but Annikeris refused to accept the money, insisting that it was his honor to be able to benefit a fellow lover of wisdom. As indeed it was: Annikeris has been remem­bered, and celebrated, for his generosity ever since. Plato went on to use the twenty minas to buy land for a school, the famous Academy. [...] even Plato wasn't especially happy about the fact that his subsequent career was, in a sense, made pos­sible by his debt to a man who he probably considered an extremely minor philosopher - and Annikeris wasn't even Greek! At least this would help explain why Plato, otherwise the inveterate name-dropper, never mentioned Annikeris.
Fact check
by das monde on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 02:25:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bad link (503) not in service.

There is this though.

So yeah. My go-to (online) to validate any of the various characters, rarely the famous and always the obscure, resurrected from European antiquity by modern public intellectuals with designs usually is Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The site supplies succinct biographical and epistemological information, a narrative index of terms, if you will.


In this case --being handicapped by literacy in only one language --I needed to collect additional reference points to triangulate my inquiry. yahoo! dumps Anniceris in the Free Dictionary article Cyrenaics. I read this, glibly conclude, Ah! Plato fanboyz; note with interest association with Plutarch, arch-enemy of Herodutus! and the article's primary source, in particular, Aristippi et Cyrenaicorum fragmenta* ; *so begins Athenian Constitution; and return to Stanford Encyclopedia search engine.

Then I will read each of the results returned as time permits. For the articles typically cross-reference biographical details in context of the philosophical critique as in the case of Plato, "An Athenian citizen of high status...", who eventually hit the skids too late to redeem his haughty airs.

In the case of Annikeris/Anniceris, the obscure, samaritan, emancipator, had the term obtained I would attenuate my Standford bibliography by opening each file and performing a simple keyword search "Annikeris", "Anniceris", then bookmarking only those articles obtaining the lengthiest related passages preferably containing quoted matter (concerning slavery or debt, perhaps) with citations.

Alas. I turn to my primary source go-to Annikeris,OOPS.


Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Anniceris >> Book I, fn. 12;

Book II, Ch.8, "... Slavery and freedom, nobility and low birth, honour and dishonour, are alike indifferent in a calculation of pleasure..."
Book III, Ch.1, debt? BWAH!

on this occasion Dionysius, the son of Hermocrates, being on the throne, forced him to become intimate with him. But when Plato held forth on tyranny and maintained that the interest of the ruler alone was not the best end, unless he were also pre-eminent in virtue, he offended Dionysius, who in his anger exclaimed, "You talk like an old dotard." "And you like a tyrant," rejoined Plato. [19] At this the tyrant grew furious and at first was bent on putting him to death; then, when he had been dissuaded from this by Dion and Aristomenes, he did not indeed go so far but handed him over to Pollis the Lacedaemonian, who had just then arrived on an embassy, with orders to sell him into slavery. [...] And then Charmandrus, the son of Charmandrides, indicted him on a capital charge according to the law in force among the Aeginetans, to the effect that the first Athenian who set foot upon the island should be put to death without a trial. ... There is another version to the effect that he was brought before the assembly and, being kept under close scrutiny, he maintained an absolute silence and awaited the issue with confidence. The assembly decided not to put him to death but to sell him just as if he were a prisoner of war. [...]  Anniceris the Cyrenaic happened to be present and ransomed him for twenty minae--according to others the sum was thirty minae--and dispatched him to Athens to his friends, who immediately remitted the money. But Anniceris declined it, saying that the Athenians were not the only people worthy of the privilege of providing for Plato. Others assert that Dion sent the money and that Anniceris would not take it, but bought for Plato the little garden which is in the Academy....


3 Points 4 Me

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 02:25:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In conclusion, neither Aristotle nor Plato objected much to the virtue or moral value of debt and slavery for others. They would quibble details of the conditions applicable for each element of the social hierarchy that described their ideals of the "unity" or "constitution" of polity; Athens being center of the universe.

This attitude is obvious in the body of work left by each to posterity. One ought read these manuscripts in their entirety in order to apprehend better moderne um interpretations of classical politics. Anachronism abounds.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 02:48:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
noun: anachronism; plural noun: anachronisms

    a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.

How very odd, in a piece about a fifth century BC philosopher!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 03:59:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I refer to the faults of modern translators. Consider for instance this passage in Athenian Constitution as its is also pertinent to the discussion here about the alleged calumny and greed of lawyers needing remedy.
This then was the nature of his reforms in regard to the offices of state. And the three most democratic [!] features in Solon's constitution seem to be these: first and most important the prohibition of loans secured upon the person, secondly the liberty allowed to anybody who wished to exact redress on behalf of injured persons, and third, what is said to have been the chief basis of the powers of the multitude, the right of appeal to the jury-court--for the people, having the power of the vote, becomes sovereign in the government. [2] And also, since the laws are not drafted simply nor clearly, but like the law about inheritances and heiresses, it inevitably results that many disputes take place and that the jury-court is the umpire in all business both public and private. Therefore some people think that Solon purposely made his laws obscure, in order that the people might be sovereign over the verdict. But this is unlikely--probably it was due to his not being able to define the ideal in general terms; for it is not fair to study his intention in the light of what happens at the present day, but to judge it from the rest of his constitution.

Of course there are more! but none more memorable to me than the one in "Ethics", iirc,  where gods is rendered "God".

Returning to Graeber: A spurious characterization of Plato's predicament and relation to debt is an "translation" error of greater magnitude. Read Plato, Letter Seven, wherein the proto-pauline [ANACHRONISM ALERT?!] issues with excruciating omissions how he did not temporarily become a slave, or prisoner of war (according to diogenene legend). Some familiarity with historical antipathy among Athens, Corinth, Syracuse, and Sparta is needed to appreciate Plato's boasting.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 10:53:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Regime change is tricky!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 10:58:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And it appears that only the editors of the online OED translate the prefix ana- as "backwards". How novel.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 11:48:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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