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Ways and Means - A Pamphlet On Revenues - IV

1. I

2. II

3. III

4. IV

5. V

6. VI

I come to a new topic. I am persuaded that the establishment of the
silver mines on a proper footing (1) would be followed by a large
increase in wealth apart from the other sources of revenue. And I would
like, for the benefit of those who may be ignorant, to point out what
the capacity of these mines really is. You will then be in a position
to decide how to turn them to better account. It is clear, I presume,
to every one that these mines have for a very long time been in active
operation; at any rate no one will venture to fix the date at which they
first began to be worked. (2) Now in spite of the fact that the silver
ore has been dug and carried out for so long a time, I would ask you to
note that the mounds of rubbish so shovelled out are but a fractional
portion of the series of hillocks containing veins of silver, and as
yet unquarried. Nor is the silver-bearing region gradually becoming
circumscribed. On the contrary it is evidently extending in wider area
from year to year. That is to say, during the period in which thousands
of workers (3) have been employed within the mines no hand was ever
stopped for want of work to do. Rather, at any given moment, the work to
be done was more than enough for the hands employed. And so it is
to-day with the owners of slaves working in the mines; no one dreams
of reducing the number of his hands. On the contrary, the object is
perpetually to acquire as many additional hands as the owner possibly
can. The fact is that with few hands to dig and search, the find of
treasure will be small, but with an increase in labour the discovery of
the ore itself is more than proportionally increased. So much so, that
of all operations with which I am acquainted, this is the only one
in which no sort of jealousy is felt at a further development of the
industry. (4) I may go a step farther; every proprietor of a farm will
be able to tell you exactly how many yoke of oxen are sufficient for the
estate, and how many farm hands. To send into the field more than the
exact number requisite every farmer would consider a dead loss. (5) But
in silver mining (operations) the universal complaint is the want of
hands. Indeed there is no analogy between this and other industries.
With an increase in the number of bronze-workers articles of bronze may
become so cheap that the bronze-worker has to retire from the field. And
so again with ironfounders. Or again, in a plethoric condition of the
corn and wine market these fruits of the soil will be so depreciated in
value that the particular husbandries cease to be remunerative, and many
a farmer will give up his tillage of the soil and betake himself to the
business of a merchant, or of a shopkeeper, to banking or money-lending.
But the converse is the case in the working of silver; there the larger
the quantity of ore discovered and the greater the amount of silver
extracted, the greater the number of persons ready to engage in the
operation. One more illustration: take the case of movable property. No
one when he has got sufficient furniture for his house dreams of making
further purchases on this head, but of silver no one ever yet possessed
so much that he was forced to cry "enough." On the contrary, if ever
anybody does become possessed of an immoderate amount he finds as much
pleasure in digging a hole in the ground and hoarding it as in the
actual employment of it. And from a wider point of view: when a state is
prosperous there is nothing which people so much desire as silver.
The men want money to expend on beautiful armour and fine horses, and
houses, and sumptuous paraphernalia (6) of all sorts. The women betake
themselves to expensive apparel and ornaments of gold. Or when states
are sick, (7) either through barrenness of corn and other fruits, or
through war, the demand for current coin is even more imperative (whilst
the ground lies unproductive), to pay for necessaries or military aid.

(1) Or, "on a sound basis."

(2) "Exploited."

(3) Or, "at the date when the maximum of hands was employed."

(4) Reading {epikataskeuazumenois}, or, if {episkeuazomenoi}, transl.
"at the rehabilitation of old works."

(5) Cf. "Oecon." xvii. 12.

(6) "The thousand and one embellishments of civil life."

(7) "When a state is struck down with barrenness," etc. See "Mem." II.

And if it be asserted that gold is after all just as useful as silver,
without gainsaying the proposition I may note this fact (8) about gold,
that, with a sudden influx of this metal, it is the gold itself which
is depreciated whilst causing at the same time a rise in the value of

(8) Lit. "I know, however."

The above facts are, I think, conclusive. They encourage us not only to
introduce as much human labour as possible into the mines, but to extend
the scale of operations within, by increase of plant, etc., in full
assurance that there is no danger either of the ore itself being
exhausted or of silver becoming depreciated. And in advancing these
views I am merely following a precedent set me by the state herself. So
it seems to me, since the state permits any foreigner who desires it to
undertake mining operations on a footing of equality (9) with her own

(9) Or, "at an equal rent with that which she imposes on her own
citizens." See Boeckh, "P. E. A." IV. x. (p. 540, Eng. tr.)

But, to make my meaning clearer on the question of maintenance, I will
at this point explain in detail how the silver mines may be furnished
and extended so as to render them much more useful to the state. Only I
would premise that I claim no sort of admiration for anything which I am
about to say, as though I had hit upon some recondite discovery. Since
half of what I have to say is at the present moment still patent to the
eyes of all of us, and as to what belongs to past history, if we are to
believe the testimony of our fathers, (10) things were then much of a
piece with what is going on now. No, what is really marvellous is that
the state, with the fact of so many private persons growing wealthy
at her expense, and under her very eyes, should have failed to imitate
them. It is an old story, trite enough to those of us who have cared to
attend to it, how once on a time Nicias, the son of Niceratus, owned
a thousand men in the silver mines, (11) whom he let out to Sosias, a
Thracian, on the following terms. Sosias was to pay him a net obol a
day, without charge or deduction, for every slave of the thousand,
and be (12) responsible for keeping up the number perpetually at that
figure. So again Hipponicus (13) had six hundred slaves let out on
the same principle, which brought him in a net mina (14) a day without
charge or deduction. Then there was Philemonides, with three hundred,
bringing him in half a mina, and others, I make no doubt there were,
making profits in proportion to their respective resources and capital.
(15) But there is no need to revert to ancient history. At the present
moment there are hundreds of human beings in the mines let out on
the same principle. (16) And given that my proposal were carried into
effect, the only novelty in it is that, just as the individual in
acquiring the ownership of a gang of slaves finds himself at once
provided with a permanent source of income, so the state, in like
fashion, should possess herself of a body of public slaves, to the
number, say, of three for every Athenian citizen. (17) As to the
feasibility of our proposals, I challenge any one whom it may concern to
test the scheme point by point, and to give his verdict.

(10) Reading {para ton pateron}, with Zurborg, after Wilamowitz-

(11) See "Mem." II. v. 2; Plut. "Nicias," 4; "Athen." vi. 272. See an
important criticism of Boeckh's view by Cornewall Lewis,
translation of "P. E. A." p. 675 foll.

(12) Reading {parekhein}, or if {pareikhen}, transl. "whilst he
himself kept up the number." See H. hagen in "Journ. Philol." x.
19, pp. 34-36; also Zurborg, "Comm." p. 28.

(13) Son of Callias.

(14) = L4:1:3 = 600 ob.

(15) Or, "whose incomes would vary in proportion to their working

(16) See Jebb, "Theophr." xxvi. 21.

(17) According to the ancient authorities the citizens of Athens
numbered about 21,000 at this date, which would give about 63,000
as the number of state-slaves contemplated for the purposes of the
scheme. See Zurborg, "Comm." p. 29. "At a census taken in B.C. 309
the number of slaves was returned at 400,000, and it does not seem
likely that there were fewer at any time during the classical
period."--"A Companion to School Classics" (James Gow), p. 101,
xiii. "Population of Attica."

With regard to the price then of the men themselves, it is obvious that
the public treasury is in a better position to provide funds than any
private individuals. What can be easier than for the Council (18) to
invite by public proclamation all whom it may concern to bring their
slaves, and to buy up those produced? Assuming the purchase to be
effected, is it credible that people will hesitate to hire from the
state rather than from the private owner, and actually on the same
terms? People have at all events no hesitation at present in hiring
consecrated grounds, sacred victims, (19) houses, etc., or in purchasing
the right of farming taxes from the state. To ensure the preservation
of the purchased property, the treasury can take the same securities
precisely from the lessee as it does from those who purchase the right
of farming its taxes. Indeed, fraudulent dealing is easier on the part
of the man who has purchased such a right than of the man who hires
slaves. Since it is not easy to see how the exportation (20) of public
money is to be detected, when it differs in no way from private money.
Whereas it will take a clever thief to make off with these slaves,
marked as they will be with the public stamp, and in face of a heavy
penalty attached at once to the sale and exportation of them. Up to
this point then it would appear feasible enough for the state to acquire
property in men and to keep a safe watch over them. (21)

(18) Or, "senate." See Aristot. "Athen. Pol." for the functions of the

(19) So Zurborg. See Demosth. "in Mid." 570; Boeckh, "P. E. A." II.
xii. (p. 212, Eng. tr.) See Arnold's note to "Thuc." iii. 50, 7.

(20) Or, "diversation," "defalcation."

(21) Or, "as far as that goes, then, there is nothing apparently to
prevent the state from acquiring property in slaves, and
safeguarding the property so acquired."

But with reference to an opposite objection which may present itself
to the mind of some one: what guarantee is there that, along with the
increase in the supply of labourers, there will be a corresponding demand
for their services on the part of contractors? (22) It may be reassuring
to note, first of all, that many of those who have already embarked
on mining operations (23) will be anxious to increase their staff of
labourers by hiring some of these public slaves (remember, they have a
large capital at stake; (24) and again, many of the actual labourers now
engaged are growing old); and secondly, there are many others, Athenians
and foreigners alike, who, though unwilling and indeed incapable
of working physically in the mines, will be glad enough to earn a
livelihood by their wits as superintendents. (25)

(22) Or, "with this influx (multiplying) of labourers there will be a
corresponding increase in the demand for labour on the part of the

(23) Or, "got their mining establishments started."

(24) Or, "of course they will, considering the amount of fixed capital
at stake," or, "since they have large resources at their back." I
have adopted Zurborg's stopping of this sentence.

(25) See "Mem." II. viii. 1, for an illustrative case.

Let it be granted, however, that at first a nucleus of twelve hundred
slaves is formed. It is hardly too sanguine a supposition that out of
the profits alone, (26) within five or six years this number may be
increased to at least six thousand. Again, out of that number of six
thousand--supposing each slave to being in an obol a day clear of all
expenses--we get a revenue of sixty talents a year. And supposing twenty
talents out of this sum laid out on the purchase of more slaves, there
will be forty talents left for the state to apply to any other purpose
it may find advisable. By the time the round number (27) of ten thousand
is reached the yearly income will amount to a hundred talents.

(26) "Out of the income so derived."

(27) Or, "full complement."

As a matter of fact, the state will receive much more than these figures
represent, (28) as any one here will bear me witness who can remember
what the dues (29) derived from slaves realised before the troubles at
Decelea. (30) Testimony to the same effect is borne by the fact, that
in spite of the countless number of human beings employed in the silver
mines within the whole period, (31) the mines present exactly the
same appearance to-day as they did within the recollection of our
forefathers. (32) And once more everything that is taking place to-day
tends to prove that, whatever the number of slaves employed, you will
never have more than the works can easily absorb. The miners find no
limit of depth in sinking shafts or laterally in piercing galleries. To
open cuttings in new directions to-day is just as possible as it was in
former times. In fact no one can take on himself to say whether there is
more ore in the regions already cut into, or in those where the pick has
not yet struck. (33) Well then, it may be asked, why is it that there
is not the same rush to make new cuttings now as in former times?
The answer is, because the people concerned with the mines are poorer
nowadays. The attempt to restart operations, renew plant, etc., is
of recent date, and any one who ventures to open up a new area runs a
considerable risk. Supposing he hits upon a productive field, he becomes
a rich man, but supposing he draws a blank, he loses the whole of his
outlay; and that is a danger which people of the present time are shy of

(28) Or, "a very much larger sum than we have calculated on." Lit.
"many times over that sum."

(29) Or, "tax." See below, S. 49; for the whole matter see Thuc. vii.
27, vi. 91; Xen. "Mem." III. vi. 12, in reference to B.C. 413,
when Decelea had been fortified. As to the wholesale desertion of
slaves, "more than twenty thousand slaves had deserted, many of
them artisans," according to Thucydides.

(30) Or, "the days of Decelea." Lit. "the incidents of Decelea."

(31) I.e. "of their working since mining began."

(32) Lit. "are just the same to-day as our forefathers recollected
them to be in their time."

(33) Or, "whether the tracts already explored or those not yet opened
are the more prolific."

It is a difficulty, but it is one on which, I believe, I can offer some
practical advice. I have a plan to suggest which will reduce the risk of
opening up new cuttings to a minimum. (34)

(34) Or, "I have a plan to make the opening of new cuttings as safe as

The citizens of Athens are divided, as we all know, into ten tribes.
Let the state then assign to each of these ten tribes an equal number of
slaves, and let the tribes agree to associate their fortunes and proceed
to open new cuttings. What will happen? Any single tribe hitting upon a
productive lode will be the means of discovering what is advantageous to
all. Or, supposing two or three, or possibly the half of them, hit upon
a lode, clearly these several operations will proportionally be more
remunerative still. That the whole ten will fail is not at all in
accordance with what we should expect from the history of the past. It
is possible, of course, for private persons to combine in the same way,
(35) and share their fortunes and minimise their risks. Nor need you
apprehend, sirs, that a state mining company, established on this
principle, will prove a thorn in the side (36) of the private owner, or
the private owner prove injurious to the state. But rather like allies
who render each other stronger the more they combine, (37) so in these
silver mines, the greater number of companies at work (38) the larger
the riches they will discover and disinter. (39)

(35) "To form similar joint-stock companies."

(36) See "Cyneg." v. 5.

(37) Or, "deriving strength from combination."

(38) Co-operators.

(39) Reading {ekphoresousi}, after Cobet.

This then is a statement, as far as I can make it clear, of the method
by which, with the proper state organisation, every Athenian may be
supplied with ample maintenance at the public expense. Possibly some of
you may be calculating that the capital (40) requisite will be enormous.
They may doubt if a sufficient sum will ever be subscribed to meet all
the needs. All I can say is, even so, do not despond. It is not as if it
were necessary that every feature of the scheme should be carried out at
once, or else there is to be no advantage in it at all. On the contrary,
whatever number of houses are erected, or ships are built, or slaves
purchased, etc., these portions will begin to pay at once. In fact,
the bit-by-bit method of proceeding will be more advantageous than a
simultaneous carrying into effect of the whole plan, to this extent:
if we set about erecting buildings wholesale (41) we shall make a more
expensive and worse job of it than if we finish them off gradually.
Again, if we set about bidding for hundreds of slaves at once we shall
be forced to purchase an inferior type at a higher cost. Whereas, if we
proceed tentatively, as we find ourselves able, (42) we can complete any
well-devised attempt at our leisure, (43) and, in case of any obvious
failure, take warning and not repeat it. Again, if everything were to be
carried out at once, it is we, sirs, who must make the whole provision
at our expense. (44) Whereas, if part were proceeded with and part
stood over, the portion of revenue in hand will help to furnish what is
necessary to go on with. But to come now to what every one probably will
regard as a really grave danger, lest the state may become possessed of
an over large number of slaves, with the result that the works will be
overstocked. That again is an apprehension which we may escape if we are
careful not to put into the works more hands from year to year than
the works themselves demand. Thus (45) I am persuaded that the easiest
method of carrying out this scheme, as a whole, is also the best. If,
however, you are persuaded that, owing to the extraordinary property
taxes (46) to which you have been subjected during the present war, you
will not be equal to any further contributions at present, (47) what you
should do is this: (48) during the current year resolve to carry on
the financial administration of the state within the limits of a sum
equivalent to that which your dues (49) realised before the peace.
That done, you are at liberty to take any surplus sum, whether directly
traceable to the peace itself, or to the more courteous treatment of
our resident aliens and traders, or to the growth of the imports and
exports, coincident with the collecting together of larger masses of
human beings, or to an augmentation of harbour (50) and market dues:
this surplus, I say, however derived, you should take and invest (51) so
as to bring in the greatest revenue. (52)

(40) Or, "sinking fund."

(41) {athrooi}--"in a body." It is a military phrase, I think. In
close order, as it were, not in detachments.

(42) "According to our ability," a favourite Socratic phrase.

(43) {authis}. See for this corrupt passage Zurborg, "Comm." p. 31. He
would insert, "and a little delay will not be prejudicial to our
interests, but rather the contrary," or to that effect, thus: {kai
authis an (anutoimen ou gar toiaute te anabole blaben genesthai
an) emin oiometha} "vel simile aliquid."

(44) Or, "it is we who must bear the whole burthen of the outlay."

(45) {outos}, "so far, unless I am mistaken, the easiest method is the

(46) Or, "heavy contributions, subscriptions incidental to," but the
word {eisphoras} is technical. For the exhaustion of the treasury
see Dem. "Lept." 464; Grote, "H. G."xi. 326.

(47) Or, "you will not be able to subscribe a single penny more."

(48) {umeis de}, you are masters of the situation. It lies with you to
carry on, etc.; {dioikeite} is of course imperative.

(49) Or, "taxes."

(50) Reading, after Zurborg, {dia ta ellimenia}. Or, if the vulg. {dia
en limeni}, transl. "an augmentation of market dues at Piraeus."

(51) I.e. as fixed capital, or, "you should expend on plant."

(52) Or, adopting Zurborg's emend, {os an pleista eggignetai}, transl.
"for the purposes of the present scheme as far as it may be

Again, if there is an apprehension on the part of any that the whole
scheme (53) will crumble into nothing on the first outbreak of war,
I would only beg these alarmists to note that, under the condition of
things which we propose to bring about, war will have more terrors for
the attacking party than for this state. Since what possession I should
like to know can be more serviceable for war than that of men? Think of
the many ships which they will be capable of manning on public service.
Think of the number who will serve on land as infantry (in the
public service) and will bear hard upon the enemy. Only we
must treat them with courtesy. (54) For myself, my calculation is, that
even in the event of war we shall be quite able to keep a firm hold of
the silver mines. I may take it, we have in the neighbourhood of the
mines certain fortresses--one on the southern slope in Anaphlystus;
(55) and we have another on the northern side in Thoricus, the two being
about seven and a half miles (56) apart. Suppose then a third breastwork
were to be placed between these, on the highest point of Besa,
that would enable the operatives to collect into one out of all the
fortresses, and at the first perception of a hostile movement it would
only be a short distance for each to retire into safety. (57) In the
event of an enemy advancing in large numbers they might certainly make
off with whatever corn or wine or cattle they found outside. But even if
they did get hold of the silver ore, it would be little better to them
than a heap of stones. (58) But how is an enemy ever to march upon the
mines in force? The nearest state, Megara, is distant, I take it, a good
deal over sixty miles; (59) and the next closest, Thebes, a good deal
nearer seventy. (60) Supposing then an enemy to advance from some such
point to attack the mines, he cannot avoid passing Athens; and presuming
his force to be small, we may expect him to be annihilated by our
cavalry and frontier police. (61) I say, presuming his force to be
small, since to march with anything like a large force, and thereby
leave his own territory denuded of troops, would be a startling
achievement. Why, the fortified city of Athens will be much closer the
states of the attacking parties than they themselves will be by the
time they have got to the mines. But, for the sake of argument, let us
suppose an enemy to have arrived in the neighbourhood of Laurium; how
is he going to stop there without provisions? To go out in search of
supplies with a detachment of his force would imply risk, both for the
foraging party and for those who have to do the fighting; (62) whilst,
if they are driven to do so in force each time, they may call themselves
besiegers, but they will be practically in a state of siege themselves.

(53) Or, "the proposed organisation."

(54) See ch. ii. above.

(55) Or, reading {en te pros mesembrian thalatte}, "on the southern
Sea." For Anaphlystus see "Hell." I. ii. 1; "Mem." III. v. 25. It
was Eubulus's deme, the leading statesman at this date.

(56) Lit. "60 stades."

(57) The passage {sunekoi t an erga}, etc., is probably corrupt. {Ta
erga} seems to mean "the operatives;" cf. Latin "operae." Others
take it of "the works themselves." Possibly it may refer to
military works connecting the three fortresses named. "There might
be a system of converging (works or) lines drawn to a single point
from all the fortresses, and at the first sign of any thing
hostile," etc.

(58) I.e. "they might as well try to carry off so many tons of stone."

(59) Lit. "500 stades."

(60) Lit. "more than 600 stades."

(61) The {peripoloi}, or horse patrol to guard the frontier. See Thuc.
iv. 57, viii. 92; Arist. "Birds,"ii. 76. Young Athenians between
eighteen and twenty were eligible for the service.

(62) Or, "for the very object of the contest." The construction is in
any case unusual. {peri on agonizontai} = {peri touton oi}.
Zurborg suggests {peri ton agonizomenon}.

But it is not the income (63) derived from the slaves alone to which
we look to help the state towards the effective maintenance of her
citizens, but with the growth and concentration of a thick population in
the mining district various sources of revenue will accrue, whether from
the market at Sunium, or from the various state buildings in connection
with the silver mines, from furnaces and all the rest. Since we must
expect a thickly populated city to spring up here, if organised in the
way proposed, and plots of land will become as valuable to owners out
there as they are to those who possess them in the neighbourhood of the

(63) I adopt Zurborg's correction, {prosphora} for {eisphora}, as
obviously right. See above, iv. 23.

If, at this point, I may assume my proposals to have been carried into
effect, I think I can promise, not only that our city shall be relieved
from a financial strain, but that she shall make a great stride in
orderliness and in tactical organisation, she shall grow in martial
spirit and readiness for war. I anticipate that those who are under
orders to go through gymnastic training will devote themselves with
a new zeal to the details of the training school, now that they will
receive a larger maintenance whilst (64) under the orders of the trainer
in the torch race. So again those on garrison duty in the various
fortresses, those enrolled as peltasts, or again as frontier police to
protect the rural districts, one and all will carry out their respective
duties more ardently when the maintenance (64) appropriate to these
several functions is duly forthcoming.

(64) I follow Zurborg in omitting {e}. If {e} is to stand, transl.
"than they get whilst supplied by the gymnasiarch in the torch
race," or "whilst exercising the office of gymnasiarchs
themselves." See "Pol. Ath." i. 13.

(65) "State aid."

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