previous next
It is to meet this requirement that men have introduced money; money constitutes in a manner a middle term, for it is a measure of all things, and so of their superior or inferior value, that is to say, how many shoes are equivalent to a house or to a given quantity of food. As therefore a builder is to a shoemaker,1 so must such and such a number of shoes be to a house, [or to a given quantity of food]2; for without this reciprocal proportion, there can be no exchange and no association; and it cannot be secured unless the commodities in question be equal in a sense. [11]

It is therefore necessary that all commodities shall be measured by some one standard, as was said before. And this standard is in reality demand, which is what holds everything together, since if men cease to have wants or if their wants alter, exchange will go on no longer, or will be on different lines. But demand has come to be conventionally represented by money; this is why money is called nomisma (customary currency), because it does not exist by nature but by custom (nomos), and can be altered and rendered useless3 at will. [12]

There will therefore be reciprocal proportion when the products have been equated, so that as farmer is to shoemaker,4 so may the shoemaker's product be to the farmer's product.

1 It is uncertain whether this merely refers to the difference in value (or perhaps in labor used in production) between the unit products of different trades, or whether it introduces the further conception that different kinds of producers have different social values and deserve different rates of reward.

2 Apparently interpolated from the last sentence.

3 ἄχρηστον also connotes ‘worthless,’ but an obsolete coin retains some value as metal.

4 See 5.10, first note.

load focus Greek (J. Bywater)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: