Honor and Profit

Athenian Trade Policy and the Economy and Society of Greece, 415-307 B.C.E.
Darel Tai Engen
A new assessment of the ancient Athenian economy relying on fresh documentary evidence


Honor and Profit offers a welcome corrective to the outmoded Finleyite view of the ancient economy. This important volume collects and analyzes economic evidence including government decrees for all known occasions on which Athens granted honors and privileges for services relating to trade.

The analysis proceeds within the intellectual framework of substantive economic theory, in which formal market behavior and institutions are considered to be but a subset of a larger group of economic behaviors and institutions devoted to the production, distribution, and exchange of goods.

Honor and Profit merges theory with empirical historical evidence to illustrate the complexity and dynamism of the ancient Greek economy. The author's conclusions have broad implications for our understanding not only of Athens and environs but also of the social and political history of Greece and the ancient Mediterranean world.

Darel Tai Engen is Associate Professor of History at California State University, San Marcos.


Darel Tai Engen is Associate Professor of History at California State University, San Marcos.

Praise / Awards

  • "Compelling too is Engen's larger claim that the blurring between "honor" and "profit" motives that we see in the decrees further exposes the limitations of both the formalist and the substantivist accounts of Greek economic life."
    —Greg Anderson, American Historical Review

  • "...this work has considerable merit for its compilation and classification of the evidence on what Engen has demonstrated was an important dimension of Athenian economic policy." -- Thomas Figueira, Classical World
  • "The present volume convinces us of the complexity and dynamism of the ancient economy, while encouraging us to carry on with further research, using the literary and epigraphic texts of the fourth century (and beyond), to deepen our understanding of the individuals and the complex motivations that shaped their experiences." 
     ---Bryn Mawr Classical Review
  • "Honor & Profit tiene la virtud de situar nuevamente en escena y poner al día una serie de debates en torno a cómo conceptualizar los fenómenos económicos en la Grecia antigua. ... el libro hace su aporte más importante con la edición y el análisis que realiza de los decretos honoríficos ya que constituyen un excelente punto de partida para volver a pensar en asuntos tan relevantes como el lugar del comercio en la ciudad clásica, las necesidades de abasto y cómo eran resueltas, las múltiples relaciones entre los valores sociales y las actividades económicas, etc."
    --Rey Desnudo

Look Inside

Copyright © 2010, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted October 2010.

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 410pp.
  • 3 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11634-8

Add to Cart
  • $94.95 U.S.



  • Athens, Athenian, economy, classical studies, classics, classical history, Greek, Greece, ancient history, antiquity, ancient Greek economy, Mediterranean, economic