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other people's money. This speaks volumes on the point, and is in itself sufficient evidence of the bad condition of banking.
But there were other difficulties in the way, among which the chief was the injustice with which aliens were treated even at Athens, and the disadvantages under which they laboured in asserting their rights. As these men had most of the trade in their hands, and also most of the banks, it is evident that there were insuperable obstacles in the way of any real business development. We happen to know a good deal about the celebrated banker, Pasion, because his son Apollodorus retained Demosthenes as his special speech-writer upon a large number of occasions, whereas his supplanter in the bank, and chief adversary, once, at least, secured the same orator's services, and this in a family dispute about Pasion's will and bequests. From these various speeches, which are strong evidence of the complete impartiality of Demosthenes, who abuses the contending clients in turn according as he is paid, we can sketch a picture of the social position of this remarkable banker, who was evidently something of a power in Greece, and probably one of the best-known men in the crowded Peiræus. It is not necessary for our purpose to detail the routine of his business, which consisted of keeping account books and making accurate entries just as at present.
This Pasion then had been a slave, from what country we know not, and had been the property of bankers called Antisthenes and Archestratus. Being
found both hardworking and upright, he was promoted to places of trust and enfranchised. He then set up on his own account, and became so important a man as almost to monopolise the banking of the traders to the port of Athens. He commanded credit all over the Greek world, and having done great service to the State, among other things by presenting it with 1000 shields (of which he owned a manufactory), he was made a citizen, and enrolled in the respectable Acharnian deme 1, by public vote. His wealth was sufficient to enable him to fit out and equip five ships of war at his own cost. He kept a mistress, whom he afterwards made his wife, but of whom we hear a very bad character from her own son, Apollodorus. For Pasion, doubtless perceiving that Apollodorus was an ostentatious and idle man, with no business habits, and that his second son, Pasicles, was a mere child, promoted a trusty slave, Phormio, just as he himself had been promoted, by making him free, and finally, as he became old and anxious to retire from business, allowing him to manage the bank at a fixed rent of nearly £700 a year. But in order to secure Phormio, he seems to have made himself a debtor to the bank for eleven talents (2,680). This Phormio certainly was a man of good business habits, for in a great monetary crisis, when all the other Athenian banks broke,
1 The Attic demes varied greatly in respectability, as appears from Demosthenes' speech Пpòs Evßovλ. p. 1316; the fact also, that Pasion, whose life was spent in the Peiræus, was enrolled in the distant Acharnian deme, shows that the people were not tied down by local considerations, when electing a new citizen by public vote.
he, in spite of his heavy rent, sustained the public credit, and remained unshaken. It was probably for this that Phormio, ten years after Pasion's death, was also made an Athenian citizen.
Pasion on his death-bed betrothed his wife with a large dowry to this Phormio1, and in other respects treated him with great favour. He probably saw that his business would go to ruin if left to his sons. Hence there arose long and grievous litigation. Apollodorus charged Phormio with falsifying the will; he openly accuses him of having seduced Pasion's wife, his own mother, and insinuates that his younger brother, Pasicles, who sided with Phormio, was the result of this intimacy, and not his legitimate brother. Phormio, on the other side, accuses Apollodorus of being an immoral spendthrift, endeavouring to plunder the faithful supporter of his father's house of his honest profits. We need not go farther into the quarrel, except to observe that Demosthenes appears to have been first employed to argue a demurrer for Phormio, which he easily carried, but afterwards to have written speeches for Apollodorus against Phormio, and against many other adversaries. His abuse of his old client contrasts curiously with his former abuse of his new client, and shows that the Athenian speech-writers were justly contemned as plying a venal and unprin
1 It was a usual proceeding for Athenians on their deathbed to betroth their wives to some friend or relation, especially if he was appointed executor in the will. This was not the least against Attic sentiment, but to treat a freedman with this confidence and intimacy, was thought strange even then. It is a melancholy proof of the low consideration in which women were held.
cipled trade. It is hard to make out the real state of the case between the contradictory statements, both of them compiled with art by Demosthenes; but this is certain, that though Pasion was so rich and important, he bore about him the traces of his low origin. Even his son Apollodorus apologises in court for his own bad manners. He attributes his vulgar face, his quick walk, and his loud voice to an unavoidable want. of breeding1, faults which constituted avaideía or bumptiousness, according to Attic taste. Doubtless the son was more ostentatious than the wiser father, who was evidently a quiet, peace-loving man, even conniving at injustice to avoid incurring enmity. He lived in the Peiræus, and in later years came up seldom to Athens, though he seems to have died there.
His business was so large that he did not know all his clients. In the interesting speech against Callippus we have a very characteristic picture of him from his son. He is asked by this distinguished but unprincipled Athenian whether one Lycon of Heraclea had lodged money with him, and he answers (p. 1238) that he thinks so, but that if Callippus would like to go down to his bank in Peiræus, he could at once find out accurately.' 'Do you know why I ask, Pasion?' replied the other; 'I am consul (proxenus) for the Heracleots here, and as this man was killed by pirates, it is better for me to have the money than a fellow who is a metic living in Scyros, and a mere nobody.' mere nobody.' This was
1 Cp. Dem, p. 1125, ἐγὼ δ ̓ ὦ ἄνδρες Αθηναῖοι τῆς μὲν ὄψεως τῇ φύσει καὶ τῷ ταχέως βαδίζειν καὶ λαλεῖν μέγα οὐ τῶν εὐτυχῶς πεφυκότων ἐμαυτὸν pivo, and a similar passage, p. 982.
Lycon's partner, entered in Pasion's books as the proper recipient of the money in case of Lycon's death. But Callippus thought that as a proxenus he could make good some claim, if he once got possession of the money. Callippus,' replied Pasion, I desire to do what I can to please you (indeed I should be mad if I did not), yet so as not to lose my reputation or my profits. I have no objection to tell this to the two guest-friends who were witnesses, or to his partner himself. But if they will not agree when I tell them, do you talk to them yourself.' 'Never mind, Pasion,' said the other, if you like you can force them.' This was Pasion's own story to his son. Of course the other people refused to have anything to say to Callippus' barefaced proposal, and then the money was given back to the proper owner. Callippus actually prosecuted Pasion in his old days, for giving back the money without his consent as proxenus, having (as he alleged) agreed not to do so.
This story shows very well the attitude of the richest banker at Athens, even after he had become a full citizen. We can imagine how submissively and cautiously those must have conducted themselves who were 'aliens and hence of no influence 1. It may therefore be inferred that the utterance of Demosthenes is hardly exaggerated, when he says that honesty and ability in business were held a surprising combination.
1 'Callippus,' says the speaker (Dem. p. 1243) ́ was one of our citizens, and well able to do either benefit or harm, but Cephisiades was both an alien, and of no influence, so that it is not credible that my father would promote his interests against justice, rather than do justice to Callippus.'