By Elgin Groseclose
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Extra resources for Money and Man: A survey of monetary experience
14 MONEY AND MAN The introduction of coined money produced what might be called in today's parlance "boom times" in the Mediterranean. It was an era of expansion, of the development of frontiers, of the exploitation of natural resources. While the physical results, due to the absence of the machinery and power which have characterized the expansion of European and American civilization in the past hundred years, were small in comparison to the present, and while the beneficial and deleterious results were slower, in point of time, in accumulating, the psychologic, economic and spiritual effects were the same.
In the time of Pericles, a bulging treasury led to a vast and uneconomic expenditure on public works which perpetuated the glories of Greek civilization but did not mitigate the hardships and inequalities of the day. Hesiod complained, at a later day, of financial corruption and bribe-taking judges. Diogenes searched the streets of Athens for an honest man, and Demosthenes inveighed against the mercenary spirit of the Athenian naval commanders. Nevertheless, the general effect of Solon's money measures was to purge Greek mentality of its absorption in pecuniary values and to purify the whole spirit of Greek commerce.
When the Greek city placed its emblem upon an ingot of metal and thereby certified to its weight and fineness, the ingot became money in an enlarged sense and capable of functioning on an extended scale. That certificate of the state is a definite and important addition to its value, and as society grows in complexity, and the money function increases, the contribution of the state rises geometrically in importance. In an ideal state of society, perhaps, the intrinsic quality of money might entirely disappear, and be replaced by the value derived from the control of the state.