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The Wealth of Megalopolis

He does, however, state in the course of his narrative that, from the spoils of Megalopolis, six thousand talents fell to the Lacedaemonians, of which two thousand, according to custom, were given to Cleomenes. This shows, to begin with, an astounding ignorance of the ordinary facts as to the resources of Greece: a knowledge which above all others should be possessed by historians. I am not of course now speaking of the period in which the Peloponnese had been ruined by the Macedonian kings, and still more completely by a long continuance of intestine struggles; but of our own times, in which it is believed, by the establishment of its unity, to be enjoying the highest prosperity of which it is capable. Still even at this period, if you could collect all the movable property of the whole Peloponnese (leaving out the value of slaves), it would be impossible to get so large a sum of money together. That I speak on good grounds and not at random will appear from the following fact.
B. C. 378.
Every one has read that when the Athenians, in conjunction with the Thebans, entered upon the war with the Lacedaemonians, and despatched an army of twenty thousand men, and manned a hundred triremes, they resolved to supply the expenses of the war by the assessment of a property tax; and accordingly had a valuation taken, not only of the whole land of Attica and the houses in it, but of all other property: but yet the value returned fell short of six thousand talents by two hundred and fifty; which will show that what I have just said about the Peloponnese is not far wide of the mark. But at this period the most exaggerated estimate could scarcely give more than three hundred talents, as coming from Megalopolis itself; for it is acknowledged that most of the inhabitants, free and slaves, escaped to Messene. But the strongest confirmation of my words is the case of Mantinea, which, as he himself observes, was second to no Arcadian city in wealth and numbers. Though it was surrendered after a siege, so that no one could escape, and no property could without great difficulty be concealed; yet the value of the whole spoil of the town, including the price of the captives sold, amounted at this same period to only three hundred talents.

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378 BC (1)
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    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), SYMMO´RIA
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