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Prof. Em. Middlebury College
When we discuss the economics of the ancient world, we must be careful not to use the formal Economics which we employ in analyzing our own society, since Economics is a function of the way a society runs, not the set of rules under which a given society operates. We cannot remove ourselves from awareness of the economic disciplines which our schools teach, and even if we formally try to suspend Economics as a framework, we retain the image of the economic framework in our language and our general pool of ideas. Yet some distancing of ourselves from modern economic theory is necessary in starting an investigation of a foreign world, in order to let the economic operations of that world display themselves in their own documentation. We must construct some kind of intellectual tabula rasa for use in studying an area which is far removed in time and from a documentary point of view relatively unknown.
When we speak of Economics of the Ancient World, we usually think of the work pioneered by Rostovtzeff and his followers, of the interpretation of history from an economic point of view, and of the study of epigraphic and papyrological materials which bear on costs and commodities. But there is a much earlier layer of historical material, which strangely is incorporated in the quasi-religious cloak of Greek Mythology.
When one compares the myths of ancient Greece with those of ancient India, one sees that the Indian myths are essentially spiritual in nature, while the Greek myths show a disorganized array of unconvincing religion, erratic personal histories, and what appear to be fragmented chapters in the history of the rise of civilization after the last glacial retreat. It is the thesis of this paper that parts of the early Greek, and even the pre-Greek historical record became embalmed in the Greek myths, which themselves were rigidified into literary storytelling by the time of the Hellenistic academies, and finally petrified into the “myth systems” of Apollodoros and others, before being buried by a hostile Christianity.
The fact that the Greek myths were rediscovered in the Renaissance, popularized in the l8th century throughout Europe, and re-popularized recently by several unscholarly myth-enthusiasts, gives us the feeling that we know a great deal more about Greek mythology than we do. We know most of the story-lines well, but we are largely ignorant of their original use and meaning.
The familiar story of Gyges as told by Herodotos marks the appearance of a new kind of public person, someone unknown who “appears out of the earth” as the ancient saying goes, and attains power largely by virtue of being totally unseen. Gyges, a young Lydian shepherd, found a cave one day which he entered and found in it (according to Plato’s account) a hollow cast-brass horse with a dead man’s body inside. He discovered that the ring which he pulled off the dead man’s finger made him invisible when he put it on his finger. Using this newfound power, he went to the palace of Candaules, king of Lydia, the last of a long line of Heracleid royalty, first seduced the queen, then with her help killed the king and took his place as ruler of the country.
In a world of hereditary kings, the history of Gyges points to a new kind of person who gets riches and power specifically by not being seen. Working invisibly he creates a new kind of enterprise, in which “the transaction” serves as the unseen interface between buyer and seller. This opens a way for unknown people like Trimalchio in l st c. A.D. Rome (as documented in Petronius’ incisive novel) who owes his fortune to a sharp eye on the abstract flow of funds, although he started life on the lowest rung of the social ladder., For us this is a familiar pattern, many fortunes have been made in exactly the same way in modern times, one thinks of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Schliemann, Onassis, Ford and more recently the Korean Samsung company’s founder, Lee Byung Cheul. However these economics dynasties of the modern world seldom produce an effective son and almost never a grandson, they are first and foremost the work of an individual who only becomes known after his empire is fully constructed.
The history of Gyges has a clear meaning. Instead of inheriting vast wealth along with the title of king, this new “invisible” man grasps wealth by being perceptive and guileful, traits which throughout the ages have been proven as the best attributes of the successful businessman. With Gyges starts a long chain of little men from the underside of society who become rich and powerful, retaining their original invisibility until they are securely established. The fantastically wealthy and influential freedmen in the early Roman Empire fit this description well, they are a regular part of the court council of the early emperors. The un-Romanticized version of this economic tradition is given in Petronius’ portrayal of Trimalchio, whose very name (‘ tri- + ‘malach-‘ “King” in Semitic languages) clearly identifies his Eastern origins.
Equally economic, but much more complex, is the story of Midas, an ancient king of Phrygia, who entertained the satyr Silenus, a companion of the god Dionysos, getting him hospitably drunk, and accepting his offer of choosing any thing that he wished. Midas asked that all he touched be turned to gold, but was dismayed to find that his food an d drink became gold too. Finally he was instructed to go the Lydian river Pactolus and wash off his wish for gold there, with the result that the Pactolus became famous in antiquity as a river carrying quantities of the precious metal.
Three stories seem to have become interfused: First, there is the story about the “wish”, which a satyr or troll offers an unsuspecting mortal. The fulfilled wish becomes burdensome only as the result of human greed and folly. In the Germanic version, the peasant who receives three wishes asks for a “wurst”, upon which his wife angrily wishes the wurst onto his nose, and their last wish is uselessly expended in getting it removed. Germanic and Classical myths often support each other despite the discrepancies in time and place.
The second theme is the concept of financially self-accruing fortunes, which might easily be styled as “everything turns to gold”. This is probably based more on interest and especially compound interest than on any alchemic magic. The Greeks had a hard time understanding the growth of funds, they considered growth of funds by interest inexplicable, distasteful and even unhealthy. Midas’ Golden Touch is evidence of the proper financial use of the resources which came with his kingdom, which he, better than many others, knew how to use in the most advantageous manner. But in an age in which growth by interest was unknown, or considered obscene, this would seem pure magic. We must remember that Greeks like Sophocles in the Fifth Century B.C. used works like “gain” and “interest” only in taunting insults, and that the Catholic Church forbid Catholics to engage in lending money at interest as late as the l5th century. Jews and Lombards were conveniently exempted from this injunction, so that business could operate as usual.
Third, the river Pactolus was known to wash out grains of metallic gold, so the story of Midas is at a later time joined with the panning of gold in the stream. But the gold panner-prospector is only verbally connected with Midas’ “gold”, which has already become currency and then directly wealth.
The way money grows fascinated and amazed the diners at Trimalchio’s Banquet in the first century A.D. novel. They talk endlessly about money, wealth and financial growth. In the Cena section of the Satyricon someone says of a local millionaire that he grew like a honeycomb” although he is also described as a “son of the earth”, that is someone who just came up like a mushroom or stalk of grass, unplanted and without roots as it were. Trimalchio is so rich that “he doesn’t know what he is worth”, his wife Fortunata has “barrels of cash”, actually “cash of cash” or “cash square”.
The story of Ixion is even more complex, since it draws on themes from at least three millennia of pre-Greek history. As the account goes, Ixion, having married, murdered his father-in-law when he came to claim the usual bridal presents, by arranging that he should fall into a pit in which a charcoal fire was burning. But Zeus apparently pardoned him and accepted him as a member of his society, upon which Ixion tried to seduce Hera and subsequently, tricked by a phantom called Nephele (“cloud”) substituted in her place, he fathered the Centaurs. Enraged, Zeus punished him by having him tied forever on a revolving wheel in Hades, which is how Ixion’s name goes down in standard Classical mythology.
The story begins with a device well known in all early hunting societies. To kill his father-in-law, Ixion uses a device known for tens of thousands of years for its effectiveness with animals, the pitfall covered with carefully camouflaged greenery. Setting a charcoal or wood fire in the pit later ensures that the animal is killed and at the same time starts the cooking process. But traps for animals are not to be used for humans, as is witnessed by the severe laws which most modern countries have enacted against “man-traps” of every sort, whether pit-fall, spring foot-trap, or aim gun fired by a wire. (Curiously these are all legal in time of warfare!)
After this episode, Ixion “produces” (actually he is said to “beget”) the Centaurs, which are clearly horsemen riding so closely connected with their mounts in swift motion, that unsuspecting peasants consider this a new cross-bred animal of fearsome proportions. Now advancing from Neolithic pitfall trapping, Ixion appeared on the forefront of a new art, the taming and breeding of horses, which he uses them for aggressive high-speed hunting. He replaces the passive-technology of pitfall traps with aggressive horse-borne hunters, which provides a far greater range of operations.
But now Ixion has advanced again by an innovative quantum leap to the invention and construction of the wheel, with which his story is always connected. (What would be more natural for an angered Zeus to devise for punishment than tying Ixion to his own infernal contraption, rotating forever in Hell?) The wheel must have been developed at a very early time, even in the pre-emigration Indo-European period, since the same root word persists from India to the British Isles. Once tamable horses are available and broken to be ridden, someone is sure to think of connecting a horse to a wheeled-axle. Ixion was such an inventor, and thus ushered in the concept of mass-transportation, and commerce over a wide range of territories. (Note: Skt. ‘çakras’ “wheel” on through Gr. ‘kuklos’ and Lat. ‘circus/ circulus’ to the Old Engl. ‘hweol’, all perfectly cognate forms. The same word consistency through a long period of time is also true of the companion invention, the cart, e..g. Skt. vahati “he carries”, Gr ‘(w)ochos’, Lat. veh-iculum’, Engl. wagon.)
We thus see Ixion on several levels,, spanning the pre-historical period from employment of Neolithic hunting traps, then taming and breeding the wild horse to be ridden, and finally constructing the wheel and the cart, which when linked to the horse, would make possible the great emigration of exploding populations out of the wheatlands of Southern Russia southwards into India, and then westwards across Europe.
Transportation made possible the conveying of agricultural materials as well as raw manufactured commodities back and forth within Europe. The two modes of transportation which made man’s population of Europe fruitful were land transport by wagon with horse or ox within the landmass, and water transport throughout the Mediterranean. Change always faces resistance, it is only in simplistic textbooks that we hear of the linear march of progress as Western Civilization. evolves into its present form. Ixion certainly represents several persons and many generations of restless change as the world altered is ways and pace of living, and nations became slowly international through trade. Trade disrupts comfortably static societies, and Ixion paid the price of this disruption. What could be more fitting symbolically that lashing him to his own finest invention, the wheel, in perpetual torture?
It was not only in the ancient world that novel inventions were resented and distrusted. Mary Shelley’s biological monster sutured together by a reputable Dr. Frankenstein has frightened generations of readers and movie-goers, while the movie 2001’s super-computer “HAL” typically becomes dangerous and turns on his crew. The word “robot” first appeared as a negative term in a Czech play of l935, while the only fear that remains as this century ends is that the industrial robot may do such a good job that it will increase the rolls of the unemployed. Modern Dr. Franksteins save lives by heart surgery, and the computer clearly promises us substantial benefits in medicine, pure science and business. Yet there remains a widespread public fear of the new, which is not far different from the fear the ancient inhabitants of the Mediterranean Basin had as they watched their societies grow and change.
If Ixion shows the growth of commerce through inventions, another less well known personage in Greek mythology is Autolycos’, who appeared to the Greeks the very father of dishonesty.. (Note: His name is from “autos + lukos”, hence “the wolf himself, a very wolf”. The Romans called a “woman for hire” a “lupa” or she-wolf. We use the word “shark” for an unscrupulous money-dealer, but all these terms connect money-matters with a voracious animal known for its sharp teeth.) His father, not un-incidentally, was Hermes the God of Trade, and his daughter was Anticleia, arch-trader Odysseus’ mother. On the earlier and also the later side of his pedigree Autolycos’ family is characterized by swindling and duplicity, the very things which made his name (in)famous in the Homeric world (as Homer sees it at Iliad X 267 and Od. XIX 295).
Like Gyges he was said to have had the power of making himself invisible, but he could also make invisible and unrecognizable the things which he had stolen. Since his father Hermes, the standard god of business and commerce, is also somewhat tricky and not a little dishonest, Autolycos may be suspected of having an inherited commercial trait in his thievery. The appearance of a person like Autolycus marks the beginning of the conversion from barter between proprietors, to purchase by agents for considerations and terms. These agents who are as invisible as their contractual agreements, which as interfaces between buyer and seller are invisible. Early people without written agreements had not yet understood the nature of commerce in an expanding world with varied and interlocking major markets.
Autolycos’ son in law Odysseus continues the mercantile motif and is distrusted not only in the Homeric epics, but in later times, when he was admitted to be clever, but somewhat of a scoundrel. Rockerfeller, Carnegie, Mellon and Ford have all been thought scoundrelly at one time or another, but we have learned to live with their astuteness as part of the commerce and financial growth which we realize our society needs.
Laomedon, king of Troy and the great grandson of Dardanos in the Trojan genealogy, somehow “employed” Apollo and Poseidon to build walls for him around the city, but later refused to pay them. Poseidon sent a sea monster against the city, to avoid which it was ordained that Laomedon must sacrifice his daughter, Hesione. (One thinks of Agamemnon sacrificing his daughter on the way to Troy in order to gain fair winds, also relating to Poseidon and his control over sea passage.) Heracles offered to slay the beast if Laomedon would give him his horses, but when the task was done, Laomedon refused payment to him too. Raising a band of soldiers, Heracles captured the city, claiming the girl for Telamon who had led in the attack.
The interesting point here is the matter of defaulting on debts, which is attributed to the Trojan ruling house. Such conscious fraud demands a certain level of business sophistication, which must be coupled with gullible sub-contractors who have no recourse to court or contract. It would seem that in the Trojan world of Asia Minor, which is closer to the Eastern seats of ancient culture and business, this sort of thing happened from time to time, but it was inconceivable to the European “Greeks” who were not yet aware of financial trickery as a component of business contracts.
Reasons for being cheated and deceived may be forgotten, but the idea of being treated badly has an way of persisting for centuries, and hate would seem regularly to outlast love We are probably simplistic when we explain the causes of the Trojan War as a need for Greek free trade into the rich Euxine Sea area, although this may also have been involved. But if the Trojans habitually distrained on debts, and the Greeks built up a bad memory of many such defaults, this would provide exactly the kind of insult upon which a war could be based. But since the common people who go to war and do the fighting need simpler reasons, and in the ancient world people prefer personal actors behind historical events, the Trojan abduction of Agamemnon’s queen, Helen, serves better as the nominal cause for the war.
Odysseus’ family is consistent, since each generation on his family tree is in one way or another connected with over-sharp dealing. Odysseus’ mother was Anticleia, the daughter of Autolycos, who was known as a professional thief and virtual con-man, while he himself was the son of Hermes, the habitual dealer in goods of trade. If Odysseus seems a bit tricky, he comes by it naturally. It is no surprise to find that when Cadmos imports the alphabet of Phoenician letters to the Greeks, who has lost their earlier Minoan writing system by the 12th c. B.C., Odysseus steals it and claims it as his own. We are not surprised to find that Odysseus has somehow wangled the famous arms of Achilles for himself, despite the claims of other warriors and the natural expectation of Achilles’ son Neoptolemos to inherit them. Sophocles negative treatment of Odysseus in the play “Philoctetes” may be slightly weighted, but it is certainly consistent with the general opinion of the times.
Odysseus is never a favorite son of Hellas, although they admire his cleverness grudgingly, much as we admire, while we deplore, the American “robber barons” of l9th century finance. Even the simple and fun-loving Phaeacians, when Odysseus turns down their invitation to participate in the games, note that he looks like a commercial skipper with his eye on trade, a remark which is not far from the truth. Odysseus takes good care of himself, and we see that when he arrives home at long last, he is the only survivor from his fleet. The businessman’s first business is to take care of himself, heroics are for those who finish last, while true heroism of the spirit is something which the practical Odysseus can easily dispense with. (Note: The Greeks derived Odysseus’ name from the verb ‘odyssasthai’, meaning “to be hated (by the gods?)”, but the derivation could also mean “hateful”.)
Odysseus has a reclaiming human characteristic, his basic monogamous-ness, despite many chances for fun with the ladies and nymphs who were probably a great deal more interesting than the down-to-earth wife he left behind. His instinct is entirely for homing, and this probably represents the theme of an earlier animal-story, in the manner of Aesop and his Indian sources. Animal stories in Greek, except for the late Aesopic importations from the East, are almost totally lacking, the only surviving example is the story of the nightingale, and the rest seem to have been converted to purely human stories at an early date. It seems fair to make this assumption, since all European societies, before and after the Greeks, have a goodly store of animal tales, and there is no reason to think that the earlier Greeks lacked them entirely. The key to Odysseus’ monogamous-ness lies concealed in his wife’s name, Penelope, or in Greek “Penelopeia”, which is identical with the noun ‘penelops’, “a duck”.
Wild waterfowl are regularly monogamous, and clearly the story of Odysseus’ years-long wanderings over the face of the waters, opposed by high seas and the god Poseidon, retells in human terms the story of the drake winging his way homeward against all odds. This is Odysseus’ nature, just as faithfulness to her drake is the mark of Penelope, who fusses and preens at her embroidery, while avoiding competitive males and waiting for her husband.
In the Odyssey (but not in the Iliad), Odysseus displays, a specialized kind of discourse almost every time he speaks, in which he sets out a pair of opposing possibilities for the situation at hand, and then selects the one which seems best, which he then puts into action. This way of thinking is not found in the Iliad, it is clearly a new method of discourse created by Odysseus in the Odyssey, and certainly a new way of thinking, This dual point-of-view logic witnesses the development in society of a new Greek “commercial” man, who is trading successfully after the seventh century all over the Mediterranean. He thinks both ways before moving, comparing alternatives, and no longer trusting gut reactions, or the sense of what is right. He is no longer a noble hero, but an effective man of affairs, which is what the Greeks needed after the population explosion in the 8th c. B.C.
To people who had never had heard of this double-headed tool of logic, it would be an important lesson in the structure of organized thought. Shades of this type of argument can be found in Heracleitos’ doctrine of the complementary opposites, and perhaps even Plato’s duality of ideas-versus-things. By the 4 th Century, society is in need of intellectual simplification of the possibilities, and Aristotle criticizes Plato’s Theory of Ideas in the introductory book of the Metaphysics, on the grounds that it doubles the number of entries for classifying things, since each item must have an idea-entry as well as a thing-entry. He clearly prefers a single entry system for his intellectual bookkeeping, since he is now living in a complex world in which the need to simplify comes before the development of new tools of thought.
The Odyssean world has no such constraints, indeed the idea of noting down the two major possibilities for an action, and the choosing the “best” one, leads to decisions which are “weighed”, even if they have to be made in a hurry. The more one engages in business, the more one has to think this way, since there are always at least two sides to any business venture. One will possible earn you a drachma or a dollar, and the other will probably lose it.
Seeing the polar possibilities of any situation suits a trader, it errs in placing both possibilities completely in the conscious mind, and avoids opening the unconscious storehouse of experience. Odysseus’ logicism never delves into deep or mysterious things, it must be used for immediate and practical matters, and it may be this superficiality of Odysseus’ mind which turned the later Greco-Roman world so entirely against him. But the important thing to note about this “new logic”, is that it is really new, and belongs to the revived Greek society which awoke after the Dark Age of the 12th through 9 th centuries.
Nestor, as portrayed in the Iliad, is a fine gentleman of the old school, garrulous and moralistic, with something of the tone of an earlier day Polonius. Here we have the portrayal of a worthy old grandfather, highly respected in a patriarchal society, who, despite his longness of speech and vagueness of memory as to the real actions of the past, is all the same quite bearable and rather lovable. In the Odyssey we find him back at home, ruling his ancestral city of Pylos, the name of which is so similar to the Gr. ‘pylai’ “Gates, gateway” that we must assume that Pylos was gateway to the well watered lands which lay north and east of its site. In this very town of Pylos we find Telemachos visiting after the war, bathing in a bathtub or ‘asaminthos’, of a design which we find abundantly represented at museum at Cnossos, enjoying the hospitality of a real Mycenean palace. And here we find the real Nestor, an effective ruler of an important town and major shipping port.
In the early years of this century archaeological discoveries revealed the real city of Pylos, and the surprising fact that some ten thousand clay tablets were buried there, with lists of commodities shipped in and out of the port. As we decipher the tablets, half of which are in Greek although written in a different alphabet, we begin to see the economic implications of such a Mycenean shipping center. Year by year more of these tablets are deciphered, and they reveal an entirely different level of culture than the Odyssey portrays. It is a business society, with accountants, scribes, managers, bosses, and upper level administrators, each with his own special prerogatives and title, although we are not always sure from the tablets about the exact organization of this economic hierarchy. Nestor and his economic empire represent a world once thriving but long since gone, with only a few verbal traces in the myths and the ten thousand clay tablets. What Odysseus is doing with his traveling and trading, follows in the wake of what had gone on for half a dozen centuries before the Trojan War, the Minoan-Mycenean societies were firmly established as important economic empires in the second millennium B.C..
Much of what we have been considering must date back into the pre-history of the three millennia before Christ, but the social resistance to inventions which represent change and threaten to disturb existing markets continues through the ages. Petronius tells, in his novel from the first century A.D., a story of a man who invented a new type of unbreakable glass, which he at long last demonstrated to the Emperor. The emperor asked if anyone else knew of his secret formula, the man said he and the emperor were the only two, upon which the emperor had the man killed. The emperor realizes that anything that disturbs the glass trade, which we know to have been a major industry at Rome if only from the amounts of glass which archaeologists constantly recover, will disturb the country economically, and this may easily lead to political turmoil. The Emperor’s action may seem cruel and reactionary, but it in terms of immediate economic effects, perfectly sound: If it is that good, it will be necessary to keep it off the market. But of course this is nothing new to modern society, which has its own myths of the hundred mile a gallon car, the undullable razor blade, and the cloth that never wears out, none of which (if they ever existed) will even be seen.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss all the facets of the pre-Greek society which have major economic implications. The discovery of technology for mining and smelting the metals, the alloying of tin from England with copper from Cyprus to make the improved copper-base allow which we call bronze, the development of ships large enough to carry loads of tin and other heavy materials, as well as cattle and sheep imported into Greece for local breeding from Tyre and Colchis respectively, the importation of the convenient Phoenician alphabet to replace the lost Minoan script- – – all these matters can be elicited from the tangled web of the fabric which we call Greek Mythology. Poseidon’s bull and the Argonautic Golden Fleece represent important stages in economically important animal breeding, and deserve a place in the annals of early history, alongside of the charmingly literary tales into which they are woven. Medicine and psychology each deserve a separate chapter in this vein of historical archaeology, along with the curious inability of the major Homeric heroes, from Heracles to Achilles, to convert their great powers to coherent social behavior.
After the last glacial retreat, which occurred some twelve thousand years ago, humankind went into a remarkable fast escalation in a dozen directions, which produced the whole fabric we call Civilization. The first step was probably the documentable selection and hybridization of certain plants, which in a developed form because what we call the “grain plants”. Seed amaranth and rice in Asia, maize in South America, wheat in the Near East, and cultivation of fruit and nut plants made possible a much larger food supply and naturally a much larger population. The availability of multitudes of human hands made feasible textiles made from cotton or wool, the cotton and wool trades, mines and the metals with their accompanying technologies, and in the wake of all this hustle and bustle, warfare as the earliest of the systems of transfer of goods from one set of hands to another.
When large numbers of people begin to over-produce, that is, make more that what they personally need, we begin to accrue surpluses, which immediately lead to trade. Barter may be complex in its processes, but it is intellectually simple, since it proceeds with what are arbitrary but always balanced equations.
But when we begin to evolve complex economic situations, in which the equations are balanced by considerations which lie outside the items which are being exchanged, we enter the world of true economics. Shortages of food or cloth, the need for tin from England to alloy copper from Cyprus to make bronze which will be sold in Denmark, opportunities to accrue capital in cash from deals prompted by famine, greed and a self-growing set of economic parameters – – -these are factors which began to emerge by the fifth millennium B.C., and changed the whole notion of what a society and a nation and an empire could be like.
Nothing like this had ever occurred before, in all the hundreds of millennia since man appeared as a Human Being. Now for the first time Man the hunter and gatherer is hard pressed by Homo Faber, man the fabricator and engineer. And they are both eclipsed in the fast ensuing millennia by a new breed of clever, useful, effective and often unscrupulous fellow, who can best be called Homo Economicus. He is clearly the man of the present world we live in, like him or not, we seem to be unable to do without him, and apparently we desperately need the skills he has. He is certainly in terms of the civilizations we have put up throughout the world, the man of the future.
It is a curious fact that the ancient writer and historian Euhemerus approached Greek mythology in virtually the same way, saying that the heroes were originally men who were later commemorated as heroes because of important roles or functions which they performed in their lifetimes. His work has not survived in more than a patchwork of ancient quotations which were collected in the last century by the Hungarian scholar, and we cannot tell how far he pursued this line of investigation. But the very fact that an educated Greek in the ancient period reached for an interpretation of the myths on a historical and social level, shows that even then a religious and spiritual base was felt to be absent. Perhaps it was not there in the first place, perhaps a basic folk-memory encompassing historical data ranging back some thousands of years was recast in Greece in the mould of myths which had emanated from India along with a handful of the Indo-European sky god personalities. There may even have been other influences from India early in the first millennium BC.,which we are not aware of, just as there were later influences from India bearing on the philosopher, and the appearance, in the generation of Socrates if not before, of “Aesopicß tales”, which are obviously recast from the materials of the Sanskrit Hitopadeça and Pançatantra.
All in all, an analytic study of the Greek mythological lore would seem to be inextricably tied up with the history of previous millennia, with the early history of the Middle East, and with the development of that special and novel breed of human behavior which we call Civilization.