The Cancel Culture They’re Really Afraid Of

Appian 3, 1.9

“Persuaded by these arguments, the Senate voted for the cancellation of debts for all Romans and immunity for the public enemies at the time.”

οἷς ἡ βουλὴ πεισθεῖσα τὰς μὲν τῶν χρεῶν ἀποκοπὰς ἐψηφίσατο πᾶσι Ῥωμαίοις, τοῖς δὲ τότε ἐχθροῖς καὶ ἄδειαν

Aristotle, Constitution of Athens

“In his laws [Solon] appears to have established these conventions as democratic: before he legislated, he carried out he cancellation of debts and after that the standardizing of the measures, weights, and currency.”

Ἐν μὲν οὖν τοῖς νόμοις ταῦτα δοκεῖ θεῖναι δημοτικά, πρὸ δὲ τῆς νομοθεσίας ποιήσας τὴν τῶν χρεῶν ἀποκοπὴν καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα τήν τε τῶν μέτρων καὶ σταθμῶν καὶ τὴν τοῦ νομίσματος αὔξησιν

Plutarch’s Moralia: On the Fortune of Alexander 343d

“Solon carried out the cancellation of debts in Athens, naming it “shaking-off-burdens”; Alexander, however, paid off what debtors owed himself!”

Σόλων χρεῶν ἀποκοπὴν ἐν Ἀθήναις ἐποίησε, σεισάχθειαν προσαγορεύσας· Ἀλέξανδρος δὲ τὰ χρέα τοῖς δανείσασιν ὑπὲρ τῶν ὀφειλόντων αὐτὸς ἐξέτισε.

Sallust, War with Catiline  21

“Then Catiline promised the cancelling of debts, the slaughter of the rich, magistracies, priesthoods, seizures—all those things that war and the corruption of victors offers.”

Tum Catilina polliceri tabulas novas, proscriptionem locupletium, magistratus, sacerdotia, rapinas, alia omnia quae bellum atque lubido victorum fert.

Livy, AUC 32.38

“He had an assembly called and promised two things: a cancellation of debts and a redistribution of lands, dual torches kindling revolution of the people against the elites.”

contione inde advocata rogationes promulgavit, unam de tabulis novis, alteram de agro viritim dividendo, duas faces novantibus res ad plebem in optimates accendendam.

by Quintin Massys, c. 1520 see https://jhna.org/articles/massys-money-tax-collectors-rediscovered/

Four Years of Presidential Memories: A Student Debt Proposal, Collect The Balance In Hell

This charming detail from Valerius Maximus might be the perfect rider for an education bill right about now…

Valerius Maximus, Wondrous Deeds and Sayings 2.6.10

“This ancient custom of the Gauls returns to my mind as I leave their walls: The story goes that they used to loan money which was scheduled to be repaid in the underworld, because they considered human souls to be immortal. I would call them fools if they didn’t believe the same thing wearing pants as Pythagoras did wrapped in his cloak.”

Horum moenia egresso vetus ille mos Gallorum occurrit,quo[s] memoria proditum est pecunias mutuas, quae iis apud inferos redderentur, da<ri soli>tas,  quia persuasum habuerint animas hominum immortales esse. dicerem stultos, nisi idem bracati sensissent quod palliatus Pythagoras credidit.

Image result for Ancient Roman Loans

A Student Debt Proposal: Collect The Balance In Hell

Long before the plague hit us, economic reports were concerned that we are hitting a tipping point for student loans. It is telling (and damning) that certain sectors consider student loans a crisis only when delinquent payments reach a certain point. It was totally fine when two generations of students had their entire lives shaped by the cost of education….

This charming detail from Valerius Maximus might be the perfect rider for an education bill right about now…

Valerius Maximus, Wondrous Deeds and Sayings 2.6.10

“This ancient custom of the Gauls returns to my mind as I leave their walls: The story goes that they used to loan money which was scheduled to be repaid in the underworld, because they considered human souls to be immortal. I would call them fools if they didn’t believe the same thing wearing pants as Pythagoras did wrapped in his cloak.”

Horum moenia egresso vetus ille mos Gallorum occurrit,quo[s] memoria proditum est pecunias mutuas, quae iis apud inferos redderentur, da<ri soli>tas,  quia persuasum habuerint animas hominum immortales esse. dicerem stultos, nisi idem bracati sensissent quod palliatus Pythagoras credidit.

Image result for Ancient Roman Loans

 

To Save State And People, Make Like Solon and Shake it Off

Suda, Sigma 289

“Seisakhtheia: Shaking off burdens. The abolition of public and private debts which Solon introduced. Its name comes from the Athenian habit of having the poor work with their bodies for their creditors. When they finished the debt it was like “shaking [aposeisasthai] off the burden” [akhthos]. For this situation, as Philokhoros sees it, the burden was really “voted off”.

Σεισάχθεια: χρεωκοπία δημοσίων καὶ ἰδιωτικῶν, ἣν εἰσηγήσατο Σόλων. εἴρηται δέ, παρ’ ὅσον ἔθος ἦν ᾿Αθήνησι τοὺς ὀφείλοντας τῶν πενήτων σώματι ἐργάζεσθαι τοῖς χρήσταις· ἀποδόντας δὲ οἱονεὶ τὸ ἄχθος ἀποσείσασθαι· ὡς Φιλοχόρῳ δὲ δοκεῖ, ἀποψηφισθῆναι τὸ ἄχθος.

 

Suda, Sigma 779

“Solon the law-giver of the Athenians, persuaded by friends who were in debt, introduced the cancellation of debts.”

Σόλων: ὅτι Σόλων ὁ νομοθέτης Ἀθηναίων, φίλων ἡττώμενος ὀφειλόντων, χρεῶν εἰσηγήσατο ἀποκοπάς.

File:Solon, the wise lawgiver of Athens.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 1.2. 45

“Solon the son of Exekestides, born at Salamis, was the first to introduce the Abolition of Debts for the Athenians. This was a release of bodies and property. For people used to borrow money with their bodies as collateral and many were compelled to work as servants because of poverty. Indeed, he rejected a debt of seven talents due to him because of his father and advised the rest to do what he did. The law is called shaking-off-the-burden for obvious reasons.

Σόλων Ἐξηκεστίδου Σαλαμίνιος πρῶτον μὲν τὴν σεισάχθειαν εἰσηγήσατο Ἀθηναίοις· τὸ δὲ ἦν λύτρωσις σωμάτων τε καὶ κτημάτων. καὶ γὰρ ἐπὶ σώμασιν ἐδανείζοντο καὶ πολλοὶ δι᾿ ἀπορίαν ἐθήτευον. ἑπτὰ δὴ ταλάντων ὀφειλομένων αὐτῷ πατρῴων συνεχώρησε πρῶτος καὶ τοὺς λοιποὺς τὸ ὅμοιον προὔτρεψε πρᾶξαι. καὶ οὗτος ὁ νόμος ἐκλήθη σεισάχθεια· φανερὸν δὲ διὰ τί.

Debt, Asylum, Slavery, and Freedom

Plutarch, On Borrowing 828 e

“But because we are perhaps ashamed to be self-sufficient, we make loans and mortgages our masters even though we should stick only to what is necessary and sustain ourselves by selling what is useless and excessive and establish a temple of freedom for our selves, our children, and our wives.

Artemis in Ephesus gives asylum to debtors when they flee into her temple and provides shelter from their debts. For the asylum and refuge of restraint is open to wise people everywhere and it provides them a pleasant and honorable vastness of great leisure.”

ἡμεῖς δὲ τὴν αὐτάρκειαν αἰσχυνόμενοι καταδουλοῦμεν ἑαυτοὺς ὑποθήκαις καὶ συμβολαίοις, δέον εἰς αὐτὰ τὰ χρήσιμα συσταλέντας καὶ συσπειραθέντας ἐκ τῶν ἀχρήστων καὶ περιττῶν κατακοπέντων ἢ πραθέντων ἐλευθερίας αὑτοῖς ἱερὸν ἱδρύσασθαι καὶ τέκνοις καὶ γυναιξίν. ἡ μὲν γὰρ Ἄρτεμις ἡ ἐν Ἐφέσῳ τοῖς χρεώσταις, ὅταν καταφύγωσιν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν αὐτῆς, ἀσυλίαν παρέχει καὶ ἄδειαν ἀπὸ τῶν δανείων· τὸ δὲ τῆς εὐτελείας καὶ ἄσυλον καὶ ἄβατον πανταχοῦ τοῖς σώφροσιν ἀναπέπταται, πολλῆς σχολῆς εὐρυχωρίαν παρέχον ἱλαρὰν καὶ ἐπίτιμον.

Demosthenes, Exordia 4

“Perhaps it is fated for these people to never think clearly when they’re doing well. It is nevertheless proper for you, because of who you are and because of what has been done by the state, to be eager to show to all people that we choose to pursue just acts now and always as we did before, while others accuse their fellow citizens before us because they want to enslave them.”

οὐ μὴν ἀλλ᾿ ἴσως τούτοις μὲν εἵμαρται μηδέποτ᾿ εὖ πράττουσιν εὖ φρονῆσαι· ἡμῖν δὲ προσήκει καὶ δι᾿ ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς καὶ διὰ τἆλλ᾿ ἃ πέπρακται τῇ πόλει, σπουδάσαι δεῖξαι πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ὅτι καὶ πρότερον καὶ νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ ἡμεῖς τὰ δίκαια προαιρούμεθα πράττειν, ἕτεροι δέ τινες καταδουλοῦσθαι βουλόμενοι τοὺς αὑτῶν πολίτας διαβάλλουσι πρὸς ἡμᾶς.

Image result for artemis in ephesus
Statue of the type of the Artemis of Ephesus

A Student Debt Proposal: Collect The Balance In Hell

Recent reports say we are hitting a tipping point for student loans. It is telling (and damning) that certain sectors consider student loans a crises only when delinquent payments reach a certain point. It was totally fine when two generations of students had their entire lives shaped by the cost of education….

This charming detail from Valerius Maximus might be the perfect rider for an education bill right about now…

Valerius Maximus, Wondrous Deeds and Sayings 2.6.10

“This ancient custom of the Gauls returns to my mind as I leave their walls: The story goes that they used to loan money which was scheduled to be repaid in the underworld, because they considered human souls to be immortal. I would call them fools if they didn’t believe the same thing wearing pants as Pythagoras did wrapped in his cloak.”

Horum moenia egresso vetus ille mos Gallorum occurrit,quo[s] memoria proditum est pecunias mutuas, quae iis apud inferos redderentur, da<ri soli>tas,  quia persuasum habuerint animas hominum immortales esse. dicerem stultos, nisi idem bracati sensissent quod palliatus Pythagoras credidit.

Image result for Ancient Roman Loans

 

A Student Debt Proposal: Collect The Balance In Hell

This charming detail from Valerius Maximus might be the perfect rider for an education bill right about now…

Valerius Maximus, Wondrous Deeds and Sayings 2.6.10

“This ancient custom of the Gauls returns to my mind as I leave their walls: The story goes that they used to loan money which was scheduled to be repaid in the underworld, because they considered human souls to be immortal. I would call them fools if they didn’t believe the same thing wearing pants as Pythagoras did wrapped in his cloak.”

Horum moenia egresso vetus ille mos Gallorum occurrit,quo[s] memoria proditum est pecunias mutuas, quae iis apud inferos redderentur, da<ri soli>tas,  quia persuasum habuerint animas hominum immortales esse. dicerem stultos, nisi idem bracati sensissent quod palliatus Pythagoras credidit.

Image result for Ancient Roman Loans

 

I am a tenured professor and I am still paying off my student loans. I know many people who have based their financial futures around certain assumptions about their fees and forgiveness opportunities. Our new administration is not taking this burgeoning crisis seriously.