The Dog and His Treasure: A Fable about Priorities

Phaedrus, 1.27

“This tale has something to say to the greedy
And those who want to be  rich, though born needy.

A dog was digging up human bones when he found
A treasure and, because he offended the gods in the ground,
He was struck by a love of riches he couldn’t forget
To pay sacred religion back this debt.

And so, the dog thought not of food as he guarded his gold
And he died from hunger, and as a vulture took hold
he reportedly said, “Dog, you deserve it—
To lie there when you wanted royal wealth
After you were born in a gutter and raised on shit!”

dog

I.27. Canis et Thesaurus

Haec res avaris esse conveniens potest,
et qui, humiles nati, dici locupletes student.
Humana effodiens ossa thesaurum canis
invenit, et, violarat quia Manes deos,
iniecta est illi divitiarum cupiditas,
poenas ut sanctae religioni penderet.
Itaque, aurum dum custodit oblitus cibi,
fame est consumptus. Quem stans vulturius super
fertur locutus “O canis, merito iaces,
qui concupisti subito regales opes,
trivio conceptus, educatus stercore”.

Greed: Possessed by Love of Possession

Publilius Syrus, 560

“Greed considers what it wants not what is right”

Quod vult cupiditas cogitat, non quod decet

Dicta Catonis 31

“Greed always loves lies, secrets, and stealing”

Semper avarus amat mendacia furta rapinas

Seneca De Beneficiis 2.27

“Greed does not allow anyone to be grateful”

Non patitur aviditas quemquam esse gratum

De Beneficiis 2.27

“Greed always reaches beyond itself and one cannot sense his own happiness because he looks not at where he came from but instead to where he reaches.”

Ultra se cupiditas porrigit et felicitatem suam non intellegit, quia non, unde venerit, respicit, sed quo tendat.

Pliny the Younger, Letters 30.4

“Such a greed for possession has overtaken people that they seem to be owned by things rather than possess them”

Ea invasit homines habendi cupido, ut possideri magis quam possidere videantur

Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.8

“One is a slave to lust, another to greed, or ambition: all are slaves to hope, to fear. Certainly, no servitude is fouler than a voluntary one.”

alius libidini servit, alius avaritiae, alius ambitioni, omnes spei, omnes timori: et certe nulla servitus turpior quam voluntaria.

Publilius Syrus 438

“Greed loves nothing more than what is not permitted”

Nihil magis amat cupiditas quam quod non licet

Yates_thompson_ms_36_f002r
Yates Thompson MS 36, f. 2r

Another Plague: Profiteering

For more on how leaders make plagues worse, look around, or go here.

Philo, On the Virtues 92

“They were so messed up in the mind and so obsessed with making money, they treated every kind of profit as if they were dying”

εἰσὶ δ᾿ οἳ οὕτως ῥυπῶσι τὰς διανοίας προστετηκότες ἀργυρισμῷ καὶ δυσθανατῶντες περὶ πᾶσαν ἰδέαν κέρδους

Plato, Laws 906c

“But there are some souls who live with us on the earth and have come to possess unjust profit, which is clearly inhuman. They implore the guards, whether they are shepherds or guard-dogs, or the highest of all masters as they beg them, trying to persuade them with pleasing words and enchanting spells—as the stories of evil men go. They are able to profiteer among human beings without suffering anything!

But we say that the crime we call now “profiteering” is the same as a disease in the body’s flesh, or what we would call a plague in some seasons and years, or what, once the word is translated, is injustice itself in cities and states.”

ψυχαὶ δή τινες ἐπὶ γῆς οἰκοῦσαι καὶ ἄδικον λῆμμα κεκτημέναι, δῆλον ὅτι θηριώδεις πρὸς τὰς τῶν φυλάκων ψυχὰς ἄρα κυνῶν ἢ τὰς τῶν νομέων ἢ πρὸς τὰς τῶν παντάπασιν ἀκροτάτων δεσποτῶν προσπίπτουσαι πείθουσι θωπείαις λόγων, καὶ ἐν εὐκταίαις τισὶν ἐπῳδαῖς, ὡς αἱ φῆμαί φασιν αἱ τῶν κακῶν, ἐξεῖναι πλεονεκτοῦσι σφίσιν ἐν ἀνθρώποις πάσχειν μηδὲν χαλεπόν. φαμὲν δ᾿ εἶναί που τὸ νῦν ὀνομαζόμενον ἁμάρτημα τὴν πλεονεξίαν ἐν μὲν σαρκίνοις σώμασι νόσημα  καλούμενον, ἐν δὲ ὥραις ἐτῶν καὶ ἐνιαυτοῖς λοιμόν, ἐν δὲ πόλεσι καὶ πολιτείαις τοῦτο αὐτό, ῥήματι μετεσχηματισμένον, ἀδικίαν.

Theognis, 725-726

“No one goes to Hell with all his precious possessions”

… τὰ γὰρ περιώσια πάντα/ χρήματ’ ἔχων οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται εἰς ᾿Αίδεω

Image result for ancient greek money hoard
Money hoard. From the Smithsonian Magazine

The Dog and His Treasure: A Fable about Priorities

Phaedrus, 1.27

“This tale has something to say to the greedy
And those who want to be  rich, though born needy.

A dog was digging up human bones when he found
A treasure and, because he offended the gods in the ground,
He was struck by a love of riches he couldn’t forget
To pay sacred religion back this debt.

And so, the dog thought not of food as he guarded his gold
And he died from hunger, and as a vulture took hold
he reportedly said, “Dog, you deserve it—
To lie there when you wanted royal wealth
After you were born in a gutter and raised on shit!”

dog

I.27. Canis et Thesaurus

Haec res avaris esse conveniens potest,
et qui, humiles nati, dici locupletes student.
Humana effodiens ossa thesaurum canis
invenit, et, violarat quia Manes deos,
iniecta est illi divitiarum cupiditas,
poenas ut sanctae religioni penderet.
Itaque, aurum dum custodit oblitus cibi,
fame est consumptus. Quem stans vulturius super
fertur locutus “O canis, merito iaces,
qui concupisti subito regales opes,
trivio conceptus, educatus stercore”.

Four Years of Presidential Memory: Another Plague, Profiteering

For more on how leaders make plagues worse, look around, or go here.

Philo, On the Virtues 92

“They were so messed up in the mind and so obsessed with making money, they treated every kind of profit as if they were dying”

εἰσὶ δ᾿ οἳ οὕτως ῥυπῶσι τὰς διανοίας προστετηκότες ἀργυρισμῷ καὶ δυσθανατῶντες περὶ πᾶσαν ἰδέαν κέρδους

Plato, Laws 906c (Full text on the Scaife Viewer)

“But there are some souls who live with us on the earth and have come to possess unjust profit, which is clearly inhuman. They implore the guards, whether they are shepherds or guard-dogs, or the highest of all masters as they beg them, trying to persuade them with pleasing words and enchanting spells—as the stories of evil men go. They are able to profiteer among human beings without suffering anything!

But we say that the crime we call now “profiteering” is the same as a disease in the body’s flesh, or what we would call a plague in some seasons and years, or what, once the word is translated, is injustice itself in cities and states.”

ψυχαὶ δή τινες ἐπὶ γῆς οἰκοῦσαι καὶ ἄδικον λῆμμα κεκτημέναι, δῆλον ὅτι θηριώδεις πρὸς τὰς τῶν φυλάκων ψυχὰς ἄρα κυνῶν ἢ τὰς τῶν νομέων ἢ πρὸς τὰς τῶν παντάπασιν ἀκροτάτων δεσποτῶν προσπίπτουσαι πείθουσι θωπείαις λόγων, καὶ ἐν εὐκταίαις τισὶν ἐπῳδαῖς, ὡς αἱ φῆμαί φασιν αἱ τῶν κακῶν, ἐξεῖναι πλεονεκτοῦσι σφίσιν ἐν ἀνθρώποις πάσχειν μηδὲν χαλεπόν. φαμὲν δ᾿ εἶναί που τὸ νῦν ὀνομαζόμενον ἁμάρτημα τὴν πλεονεξίαν ἐν μὲν σαρκίνοις σώμασι νόσημα  καλούμενον, ἐν δὲ ὥραις ἐτῶν καὶ ἐνιαυτοῖς λοιμόν, ἐν δὲ πόλεσι καὶ πολιτείαις τοῦτο αὐτό, ῥήματι μετεσχηματισμένον, ἀδικίαν.

Theognis, 725-726

“No one goes to Hell with all his precious possessions”

… τὰ γὰρ περιώσια πάντα/ χρήματ’ ἔχων οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται εἰς ᾿Αίδεω

Image result for ancient greek money hoard
Money hoard. From the Smithsonian Magazine

Another Plague: Profiteering

For more on how leaders make plagues worse, look around, or go here.

Philo, On the Virtues 92

“They were so messed up in the mind and so obsessed with making money, they treated every kind of profit as if they were dying”

εἰσὶ δ᾿ οἳ οὕτως ῥυπῶσι τὰς διανοίας προστετηκότες ἀργυρισμῷ καὶ δυσθανατῶντες περὶ πᾶσαν ἰδέαν κέρδους

Plato, Laws 906c

“But there are some souls who live with us on the earth and have come to possess unjust profit, which is clearly inhuman. They implore the guards, whether they are shepherds or guard-dogs, or the highest of all masters as they beg them, trying to persuade them with pleasing words and enchanting spells—as the stories of evil men go. They are able to profiteer among human beings without suffering anything!

But we say that the crime we call now “profiteering” is the same as a disease in the body’s flesh, or what we would call a plague in some seasons and years, or what, once the word is translated, is injustice itself in cities and states.”

ψυχαὶ δή τινες ἐπὶ γῆς οἰκοῦσαι καὶ ἄδικον λῆμμα κεκτημέναι, δῆλον ὅτι θηριώδεις πρὸς τὰς τῶν φυλάκων ψυχὰς ἄρα κυνῶν ἢ τὰς τῶν νομέων ἢ πρὸς τὰς τῶν παντάπασιν ἀκροτάτων δεσποτῶν προσπίπτουσαι πείθουσι θωπείαις λόγων, καὶ ἐν εὐκταίαις τισὶν ἐπῳδαῖς, ὡς αἱ φῆμαί φασιν αἱ τῶν κακῶν, ἐξεῖναι πλεονεκτοῦσι σφίσιν ἐν ἀνθρώποις πάσχειν μηδὲν χαλεπόν. φαμὲν δ᾿ εἶναί που τὸ νῦν ὀνομαζόμενον ἁμάρτημα τὴν πλεονεξίαν ἐν μὲν σαρκίνοις σώμασι νόσημα  καλούμενον, ἐν δὲ ὥραις ἐτῶν καὶ ἐνιαυτοῖς λοιμόν, ἐν δὲ πόλεσι καὶ πολιτείαις τοῦτο αὐτό, ῥήματι μετεσχηματισμένον, ἀδικίαν.

Theognis, 725-726

“No one goes to Hell with all his precious possessions”

… τὰ γὰρ περιώσια πάντα/ χρήματ’ ἔχων οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται εἰς ᾿Αίδεω

Image result for ancient greek money hoard
Money hoard. From the Smithsonian Magazine

Justice and Taxes: Aristotle and Plato Say Just Enough

Aristotle, Magna Moralia 1194a

“For example, it is fair that one who possesses much should pay a lot in taxes while one who has little should pay little”

οἷον ἀνάλογόν ἐστιν τὸν τὰ πολλὰ κεκτημένον πολλὰ εἰσφέρειν, τὸν δὲ τὰ ὀλίγα κεκτημένον ὀλίγα·

Plato, Republic 8 (568e)

“But, I was saying, we have wandered off topic. Let’s talk again about the tyrant’s camp, how he is going to pay for such a large and strange crew that’s never in the same place.

He said, “it is clear that if there is any money sacred to the state, he will spend it as long as what is left over remains, so that he can demand fewer taxes from the population.”

Ἀλλὰ δή, εἶπον, ἐνταῦθα μὲν ἐξέβημεν· λέγωμεν δὲ πάλιν ἐκεῖνο τὸ τοῦ τυράννου στρατόπεδον, τὸ καλόν τε καὶ πολὺ καὶ | ποικίλον καὶ οὐδέποτε ταὐτόν, πόθεν θρέψεται.

Δῆλον, ἔφη, ὅτι, ἐάν τε ἱερὰ χρήματα ᾖ ἐν τῇ πόλει, ταῦτα ἀναλώσει, ὅποι ποτὲ ἂν ἀεὶ ἐξαρκῇ τὰ τῶν ἀποδομένων, ἐλάττους εἰσφορὰς ἀναγκάζων τὸν δῆμον εἰσφέρειν.

Plato, Republic 1 (343e)

“As matters of state go, whenever there are taxes, the just person pays in more from the same amount on which the unjust man pays less. And when there are refunds, the former takes nothing while the lesser profits a lot.”

ἔπειτα ἐν τοῖς πρὸς τὴν πόλιν, ὅταν τέ τινες εἰσφοραὶ ὦσιν, ὁ μὲν δίκαιος ἀπὸ τῶν ἴσων πλέον εἰσφέρει, ὁ δ’ ἔλαττον, ὅταν τε λήψεις, ὁ μὲν οὐδέν, ὁ δὲ πολλὰ κερδαίνει.

 

Image result for Ancient Greek money

Xenophon on Happiness and Things

From Xenophon’s Memorabilia 1.6.10

“You appear to think that happiness comes from delicacy and abundance. But I think that wanting nothing is godlike,  that wanting as little as possible is next-best, that the divine is the highest goal and next-best the closest thing.”

[10] ἔοικας, ὦ Ἀντιφῶν, τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν οἰομένῳ τρυφὴν καὶ πολυτέλειαν εἶναι: ἐγὼ δὲ νομίζω τὸ μὲν μηδενὸς δεῖσθαι θεῖον εἶναι, τὸ δ᾽ ὡς ἐλαχίστων ἐγγυτάτω τοῦ θείου, καὶ τὸ μὲν θεῖον κράτιστον, τὸ δ᾽ ἐγγυτάτω τοῦ θείου ἐγγυτάτω τοῦ κρατίστου.

 The full text.

Image result for ancient greek gift giving

Justice and Taxes: Aristotle and Plato Say Just Enough

Aristotle, Magna Moralia 1194a

“For example, it is fair that one who possesses much should pay a lot in taxes while one who has little should pay little”

οἷον ἀνάλογόν ἐστιν τὸν τὰ πολλὰ κεκτημένον πολλὰ εἰσφέρειν, τὸν δὲ τὰ ὀλίγα κεκτημένον ὀλίγα·

Plato, Republic 8 (568e)

“But, I was saying, we have wandered off topic. Let’s talk again about the tyrant’s camp, how he is going to pay for such a large and strange crew that’s never in the same place.

He said, “it is clear that if there is any money sacred to the state, he will spend it as long as what is left over remains, so that he can demand fewer taxes from the population.”

Ἀλλὰ δή, εἶπον, ἐνταῦθα μὲν ἐξέβημεν· λέγωμεν δὲ πάλιν ἐκεῖνο τὸ τοῦ τυράννου στρατόπεδον, τὸ καλόν τε καὶ πολὺ καὶ | ποικίλον καὶ οὐδέποτε ταὐτόν, πόθεν θρέψεται.

Δῆλον, ἔφη, ὅτι, ἐάν τε ἱερὰ χρήματα ᾖ ἐν τῇ πόλει, ταῦτα ἀναλώσει, ὅποι ποτὲ ἂν ἀεὶ ἐξαρκῇ τὰ τῶν ἀποδομένων, ἐλάττους εἰσφορὰς ἀναγκάζων τὸν δῆμον εἰσφέρειν.

Plato, Republic 1 (343e)

“As matters of state go, whenever there are taxes, the just person pays in more from the same amount on which the unjust man pays less. And when there are refunds, the former takes nothing while the lesser profits a lot.”

ἔπειτα ἐν τοῖς πρὸς τὴν πόλιν, ὅταν τέ τινες εἰσφοραὶ ὦσιν, ὁ μὲν δίκαιος ἀπὸ τῶν ἴσων πλέον εἰσφέρει, ὁ δ’ ἔλαττον, ὅταν τε λήψεις, ὁ μὲν οὐδέν, ὁ δὲ πολλὰ κερδαίνει.

 

Image result for Ancient Greek money

Plouthugeia: “Wealth and Health”

Some Words:

πλουθυγίεια: “wealth and health”

πλούταξ: “a rich churl”

πλούταρχος: “master of riches”

πλουτογαθής: “delighting in riches”

πλουτοκρατέομαι: “to live in a state governed by the rich”

πλουτοκρατία: “an oligarchy of wealth

πλουτοποιός: “enriching”

πλουτοτραφής: “raised on wealth”

πλουτόχθων: “rich in things of the earth”

Image result for ancient greek wealth

Some Ideas

Xenophon, Memorabilia 4.16.12

“[Socrates] believed that kingship and tyranny were both governments but that they differed from one another. For he believed that kingship was government of a willing people and according to the laws of the city, while tyranny was when people were unwilling and against the laws, but instead according to the wishes of the ruler. Whenever leaders were selected from those who meet the standards of the law, the governement is in aristocracy. When they are chosen from those who have enough property, it is a plutocracy. When they are elected from everyone, it is a democracy.”

Βασιλείαν δὲ καὶ τυραννίδα ἀρχὰς μὲν ἀμφοτέρας ἡγεῖτο εἶναι, διαφέρειν δὲ ἀλλήλων ἐνόμιζε. τὴν μὲν γὰρ ἑκόντων τε τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ κατὰ νόμους τῶν πόλεων ἀρχὴν βασιλείαν ἡγεῖτο, τὴν δὲ ἀκόντων τε καὶ μὴ κατὰ νόμους, ἀλλ᾿ ὅπως ὁ ἄρχων βούλοιτο, τυραννίδα. καὶ ὅπου μὲν ἐκ τῶν τὰ νόμιμα ἐπιτελούντων αἱ ἀρχαὶ καθίστανται, ταύτην μὲν τὴν πολιτείαν ἀριστοκρατίαν ἐνόμιζεν εἶναι, ὅπου δ᾿ ἐκ τιμημάτων, πλουτοκρατίαν, ὅπου δ᾿ ἐκ πάντων, δημοκρατίαν.

Sallust, Second Letter to Caesar 4

“Greed, however, is a feral beast, huge and not to be tolerated—wherever it wanders, it lays waste to cities, fields, places of worship and homes. It mixes up the human and the divine. No armies or walls can stand up to it when it pierces with its force. It despoils all portals of repute, shame, children, country and parents.”

Ceterum avaritia belua fera, immanis, intoleranda est; quo intendit, oppida, agros, fana atque domos vastat, divina cum humanis permiscet, neque exercitus neque moenia obstant, quo minus vi sua penetret; fama, pudicitia, liberis, patria atque parentibus cunctos mortalis spoliat

Dicta Catonis, 32

“Greed always loves lies, theft, and rape.”

Semper avarus amat mendacia furta rapinas

(Pseudo-)Aristotle, On Virtues and Vices

“There are three types of injustice: impiety, greed and arrogance. Impiety is offense against the gods and powers or even to those who have died, parents and country, Greed is taken what is against contracts, what is under dispute despite what one deserves. Arrogance is what makes people pursue pleasures for themselves while heaping reproach upon others.”

Ἀδικίας δέ ἐστιν εἴδη τρία, ἀσέβεια πλεονεξία ὕβρις. ἀσέβεια μὲν ἡ περὶ θεοὺς πλημμέλεια καὶ περὶ δαίμονας, ἢ περὶ τοὺς κατοιχομένους καὶ περὶ γονεῖς καὶ πατρίδα· πλεονεξία δὲ ἡ περὶ τὰ συμβόλαια, παρὰ τὴν ἀξίαν αἱρουμένη τὸ διάφορον· ὕβρις δὲ καθ᾿ ἣν τὰς ἡδονὰς αὑτοῖς παρασκευάζουσιν εἰς ὄνειδος ἄγοντες ἑτέρους,