previous next


Would that gold could have been banished for ever from the earth, accursed by universal report,1 as some of the most celebrated writers have expressed themselves, reviled by the reproaches of the best of men, and looked upon as discovered only for the ruin of mankind. How much more happy the age when things themselves were bartered for one another; as was the case in the times of the Trojan war, if we are to believe what Homer says. For, in this way, in my opinion, was commerce then carried on for the supply of the necessaries of life. Some, he tells us, would make their purchases by bartering ox-hides, and others by bartering iron or the spoil which they had taken from the enemy:2 and yet he himself, already an admirer of gold, was so far aware of the relative value of things, that Glaucus, he informs us, exchanged his arms of gold, valued at one hundred oxen, for those of Diomedes, which were worth but nine.3 Proceeding upon the same system of barter, many of the fines imposed by ancient laws, at Rome even, were levied in cattle,4 [and not in money].

1 "Sacrum famæ." This is the reading given by the Bamberg MS. in substitution for "aurum, sacra fames" and other readings of a similar nature, in which Pliny was thought by the commentators to allude to the famous lines of Virgil—
"Quid non mortalia pectora cogis,
Auri sacra fames!"
Had he alluded to the passage of Virgil, it is not probable that he would have used the expression in the plural, "celeberrimi auctores."

2 Il. B. vii. ll. 472–5.—B.

3 Il. B. vi. l. 236.

4 We may infer that this was the reason why the figure of an ox or other animal was impressed on the earliest Roman coins.—B.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

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

hide References (6 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: