Wednesday, August 27, 2014


In Praise of Money

Libanius, Declamations 33.52-54 (tr. D.A. Russell, with his notes; a miser is speaking):
[52] What, in heaven's name, is not in money and through money? Does not money found cities, create kingdoms, raise trophies, make marriages, attract friends and cure disease? Money discovered arts, led men to sail the sea and work the land, to practise speech and to honour parents. With money we help our friends and grieve our enemies, build ships, construct statues, make sacrifices and offer splendid dedications. [53] The hero who is rich has more splendour, the general who is rich has more honour, the ambassador who is rich has more prestige. Wealth makes the orator wiser, gives the prosecutor credibility, and wins the defendant an acquittal. It is wealth, I am persuaded, that makes the poets possessed by the Muses, because they have filled their epics and their lyrics with hymns to wealth, giving him virtue and glory as an appendage, and calling him 'widely strong'.12 Quite right, too: he gives foreigners citizenship, he conceals the disgrace of birth, he gives fame to the obscure and the repute of wisdom to the foolish. Indeed, he leaves everything else behind in strength. Some have given him priority over kinship, and wealth has outstripped the necessary ties of nature. [54] But why do I speak of humans? The all-powerful gods love gold, and of gold is Zeus's floor made.13 They enjoy thank-offerings, and, if these are lacking, they demand them more vigorously than creditors.

12. Pindar, Pythians 5.1.
13. Iliad 4.2.
The Greek, which I am too lazy to transcribe, can be found at and

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