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The economic problems of farmers, workers, and business owners

The Peloponnesian War meant drastic changes in their way of making a living for many men and women of Athens whose incomes depended on agriculture or their own small businesses. Wealthy families that had money and valuable goods stored up could weather the crisis by using their savings, but most people had no financial cushion to fall back on. When their harvests were destroyed by the enemy1, farmers used to toiling in their own fields had to scrounge for work as day laborers in the city, but these kinds of jobs became increasingly hard to obtain in proportion to the increase in the pool of men looking for them. Men who rowed the ships of the Athenian fleet could earn regular wages,2 but they had to spend long periods away from their families and faced death in every battle and storm at sea. Men and women who worked as crafts producers and small merchants3 or business owners in the city still had their livelihoods, but their income levels suffered because consumers had less money to spend.

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