Another Plague: Profiteering

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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

Thucydides 2. 44. 3-5

 

 

Only the love of honor is ageless; being honored, not making a profit, brings joy to the uselessness of old age

 

τὸ γὰρ φιλότιμον ἀγήρων μόνον, καὶ οὐκ ἐν τῷ ἀχρείῳ τῆς ἡλικίας τὸ κερδαίνειν, ὥσπερ τινές φασι, μᾶλλον τέρπει, ἀλλὰ τὸ τιμᾶσθαι.

 

The full text.